A mum is struggling to get by with just £27 left each week after paying her bills amid the UK’s worsening cost of living crisis.
Stacey Victoria, 35, forks out almost £300 per month on gas and electric leaving her with no choice but to rely on the reduced section at supermarkets.
The savvy stay-at-home mum has managed to rustle up meals costing no more than £1.40 per head with reduced buys such as 17p organic milk, 95p sandwiches and a £1.12 large chicken.
It comes after her electric bill rose from £102 to £152 per month and gas rose from £91 to £144.
“Having around £27 a week left over is a struggle, but I make it work and try to save what I have,” the mum-of-two said.
“The best haul I’ve done to date was a £81 shop that came to £21 because everything was reduced.”
“The rising costs of everything have affected me massively and have given me more of a drive to cut costs even more than I already have.
“Both my gas and electricity bills have gone up by £50 each, but I’m not using any extra energy.
“By living on reduced and free grocery items, I’m able to have that little extra saved on the side for any surprise extortionate bills.”
Stacey, from Huddersfield, West Yorks, shops around weekly to find the best bargains possible; she spends roughly £40 per week on a food shop.
She said: “I can make my family meals from as little as £1.33 per head a day.
“A pack of reduced mince costs around £1.88, a big bag of Jersey potatoes cost 90 pence, other reduced vegetables like carrots can cost 20 pence a bag, or even less than that if you get a single carrot.
“Adding the ingredients all together with some leftover gravy from a slow cooker pork roast, and it costs about £3 altogether, and can go quite far if you bulk it up with vegetables.
” Tesco reduced sandwiches cost about 50 pence each and make for a great lunch when out and about, especially if they are the three tier ones which me and my daughters, who I do not wish to name, can share.”
Stacey loves to bulk buy reduced items, as well as batch cooking and bulking up meals to make them stretch much further.
She said: “I have four freezers, so love it when I can bulk buy things like bread and milk, as they can last quite a while when frozen.
“I find freezing meals works out quite well if I’ve made too much of something or have made a variety of meals from one item, like with mince beef, I can make a chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognese and stew out of a big pack.
“I like to shop around for yellow sticker items, and I’ve managed to get everything from a turkey crown reduced from £40 for £1.99, to milk for 13 pence and fresh chicken for £1.12.”
Stacey’s secret to making the pound stretch is bulking meals with vegetables to make the meals bigger and healthier.
She adds: “I tend to bulk up a lot of the fresh meals I make with vegetables so that it will go further, and I find that lots of fruits and vegetables get reduced before they are thrown.
“I got an aubergine from a petrol station for just two pence which was I able to make a chunky vegetable curry with.”
As an Olio volunteer, Stacey gets to keep 10 percent of the items she picks up from shops and local eateries but loves to share meals with the wider community.
She added: “I collect quite a few bits from Tesco on the Olio app and have received some really good items like a pork joint, potatoes, and pasta.
“I ended up making some pulled pork sandwiches and pulled pork pasta with my Olio haul recently, and put it back on the app, they got snatched up immediately.”
Stacey’s frugal habits extend further than her grocery shop, from using sites such as Groupon and loyalty schemes like Tesco Clubcard.
She said: “I’m always on the hunt for vouchers and freebies, like when you see vouchers for theme parks on cereal boxes.
“With Tesco Clubcard, you can exchange your points for theme park tickets as well, which is really useful for days out with the girls.
“If I see an advert for a freebie, I’ll usually do the survey for it, and have actually just got a free £10 voucher for filling in a survey that came through the post.
“I bought my daughter an iPad through Groupon which cost me £37, you have to wait a little longer for the items to be posted, and sometimes they’re not in the best condition.
“But it was the perfect gift, as it didn’t cost an extortionate amount, and my girl loved it.”
She now tries to share her budget tips and tricks via social media via @eating_fresh_on_a_budget to help other struggling families.