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A thrifty chef is cooking up gourmet delights for the price of a beggar’s banquet after buying yellow sticker food and shaving thousands of pounds off his grocery bills.
Boasting £101 in savings on a single trip to Asda earlier this year – paying just £4 for food originally priced at £105 – Premier Inn cook Neil Kennedy, 33, got a taste for savvy shopping when he moved from his Scottish hometown of Inverness to Glasgow in 2019.
With supermarkets aplenty, he soon became hooked on the thrill of bagging a bargain, as prices were slashed to as little as 5p by some outlets when food was reduced for quick sale.
Neil, who loves treating his Venezuelan partner Gianfranco Petrocco, 24, who works in a restaurant, to his cut-price culinary delights, said: “I’ve always had a keen eye for a bargain, so I love yellow sticker shopping.
“There’s a little adrenaline rush that comes with knowing you’ve secured something for a fraction of the price – and once you start, you do get a little bit addicted.
“I’ve saved a few thousand pounds each year since I started buying food like this, as it all adds up.”
For budget conscious Neil, bagging a bargain has always been top of his shopping list when it comes to buying everything from fashion to furniture.
He said: “Whether its fashion, food or home furnishings, I’ve always loved getting a bargain.
“I go to the sales and always try to get a good deal on holidays – shopping around for the best hotel offers and the cheapest dates to fly.”
But, relocating to Glasgow two years ago and renting a flat with Gianfranco, the supermarket deals were like gold-dust for the thrifty shopper.
He said: “Once I moved here, there was a much greater selection of supermarkets, making it easier to get access to deals.
“Now, I try to go once a week for a big shop, but I time it so I know they are making reductions.”
Preferring his local Morrison’s and Asda stores, Neil has his supermarket sweep routine down to a fine art.
He said: “If I’m passing a supermarket, I’ll always pop in for a look. Sometimes you get lucky!
“I do have my preferred outlets, though. I quite like Morrison’s, but my favourite is probably Asda.”
With high value items like meat and dairy sometimes being slashed to just pennies, Neil has found some wonderful, flavoursome food for next to nothing.
“Asda doesn’t discount by percentage,” he said. “You can get great goodies there. You just have to go with an open mind and not restrict yourself to a shopping list.
“When it comes to final reductions, they just slap 10p yellow stickers on everything – I’ve got things for as little as 5p before now.”
He continued: “I’ve had a gammon joint worth £6 reduced to 10p and £4 lamb chops for 5p – it’s amazing!”
Now something of a connoisseur of cut-price food, he also knows exactly where the best deals are to be found.
He said: “Aldi sometimes do 75 per cent off, as do Tesco and Sainsbury’s, so I avoid them, as they are less generous than Asda and Morrison’s.”
Neil added: “My nearest M&S haven’t been doing final reductions much recently, either.”
Neil always picks up a mixed basket of stuff – aiming to buy products he can freeze and cook later in the week, as well as food to be eaten straight away.
He said: “I tend to buy things that are quite versatile, so you can use them in various recipes.”
Beef mince - chilli, lasagne or spaghetti bolognese
Chicken - Mexican enchiladas or Hunters chicken
Hotdogs - chilli cheese dogs
Salmon - teriyaki stir fry
Fruit - breakfast smoothies
He continued: “My local Morrison’s has four reduced sections – fish, cold meats, dairy and the bakery – so I visit all of them and see what I can pick up.”
Back home, he makes sure that nothing goes to waste.
He said: “Generally, my freezer is jammed full. It can hold around two weeks’ worth of food shopping and as long as I can shut the door, it’s fine.”
He added: “If it’s full we’ll take a break for a week and use up what we have before we start looking for more.
“I’ll cook from the back of the freezer – it’s a first in last out system!”
And, naturally, Neil is head chef – preparing a selection of mouth-watering meals from his bargain ingredients.
He said: “Usually, I’ll leave something out the night before to defrost, such as a piece of meat.
“I’m predominantly responsible for cooking in our house, as I like being in control of what comes in and out of the kitchen.
“I buy the bargains, so I know what needs using up first.”
And Neil’s diligence has, so far, saved the couple a few thousand pounds a year.
He said: “I’d like to think I’ve saved at least a few thousand pounds each year – maybe even as much as between £3,000 and £5,000.
“I wouldn’t necessarily have bought a lot of this stuff if it was full price, but I always try and work out how much my shops would have cost if they weren’t reduced.”
He added: “Sometimes the savings can be remarkable.”
A particular highlight for Neil came in June, when he bagged food costing £105 just moments before when it was full price for just £4 in the Asda store in Ibrox, Glasgow.
“That was a good week. I don’t always get that lucky,” he admitted.
But his savvy spending regularly reduces their food bill from around £50 a week to £20 for two.
He added: “We rarely spend more than £20 a week between us.
“There is some stuff that’s never reduced – dried goods and things for the cupboard – but everything else, if you’re clever about it, you can get really cheaply.”
While Gianfranco was baffled by his boyfriend’s dedication to yellow sticker shopping at first, now he loves reaping the benefits of his bargain hunting.
Neil said: “At first, Gianfranco was a bit taken aback by it all. I think he thought it was a little bit out of control and would ask me why we needed to buy more food.
“But I’ve been doing it for so long now that he’s realised the amount of money we’ve saved, so he doesn’t object.”
Neil continued: “He definitely doesn’t have the same patience as me to seek the bargains out though, so he’ll send me off to do it on my own!”
Meanwhile, Neil’s parents are so impressed by their supermarket savvy son, that they ask him for tips.
He said: “I send pictures to my mum sometimes just to show off – she usually gets a laugh out of it.”
He added: “My dad was so impressed that he’s caught the bug himself and says he’s going to start going to Asda to pick up yellow sticker finds!”
As well as enjoying the thrill of bagging a bargain, Neil is stashing his savings towards a deposit on a house.
He said: “I’d like to buy a house in the not too distant future, so it’s good to build up the deposit by cutting down on bills.”
Do a circuit of your local supermarkets - ask staff politely when they start reducing food, so you know when to shop,
Be patient - sometimes you can be too early, or too late, but keep trying,
Hang around - sometimes staff take stuff out to the back to reduce it, so it can be worth waiting if you see food being taken off the shelf, in case that is what is happening,
Do not be a fussy eater - you cannot guarantee what will be reduced, but yellow sticker shopping provides an opportunity to try new food,
Be experimental - if you cook something and do not like it, it has only cost pennies
He said: “But the best thing about yellow sticker shopping is the buzz!
“I love getting something for next to nothing and knowing I can either be sensible and save the money, or use it to treat myself to a nice holiday or a day out.”