Police officer shares how she feeds her family-of-five for £50 a week

When you’re trying to save some extra cash, your food shop should probably be your first area of focus.

For loads of us, this is a major expense – so we’re keen to hear any and all tips from those managing to cut costs.

Heed the words of Lindsey Bebbington-Colbourne, if that’s the case for you, as she’s managed to trim her weekly food budget down to £50 for her family of five.

That’s thanks to some savvy shopping and hunting down reduced price items, such as pork and lamb for £1 a pop and fish reduced from £6 to £3.50.

Lindsey, a police officer who lives in Newtoft, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, with husband Mick and their three children, Elise, 19, Toby, 14, and Poppi, 12, said: ‘Growing up poor taught me to be a bargain hunter.

‘I grew up on free school meals and knew what it was like to go hungry as a child.

‘Now I’m determined that will never happen again. I’ve got five freezers and 11 slow cookers at home, so I can cook and freeze as I go along without wasting anything.

‘Maybe I’ve gone to the other extreme!

‘But I spend under £200 a month on food for the five of us – and my freezers are always jam-packed, so I’m clearly getting something right.’

As well as being conscious of money spent, Lindsey wants to ensure her household produces minimal waste.

She gives ‘a lot’ of food away, and focuses on buying yellow sticker items – reduced as they’re closer to their sell-by date – to use that same day.

Her system is simple: a big monthly shop, then smaller shops once a week for reduced price items.

The mum said: ‘I look for reductions of 30-50% at least. I often spend £100 on yellow sticker stuff for the month – but that food has been drastically reduced, so would cost an awful lot more full price.

‘I’ll also spend £20 a week on basics like bread, milk and yoghurts for the fridge.

‘I don’t spend more than £200 a month on food and that feeds a family of five.

‘If I wasn’t doing yellow sticker shopping, it would be more than £400 for full price food for us every month, so I slash my family’s food bill by up to half.’

Her favourite supermarkets for discounts include Lidl, Tesco and her local Co-op, but she has also found ‘great deals’ in Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, and even pricier Waitrose.

‘I try to go and bulk up on my yellow sticker buys a couple of times a week,’ Lindsey explained. ‘I always go to the reduced items first before I go anywhere else. You get some really good bargains.

‘I’ve had pizzas for 30p and sausages for £1.09, and caramel vodka which should have been £24.50 for £15 – I don’t normally buy alcohol but that’s a massive saving.

‘I don’t usually shop in Waitrose, as it’s an expensive supermarket, but I went recently and the reductions were unbelievable.

‘I got £140 worth of food for £60 and it was all good quality. People don’t realise Waitrose do reductions!

‘I won’t go out of my way to find a supermarket, though, as driving around and wasting petrol defeats the object.’

Stocking her freezers with normally expensive items like meat, fish and pre-prepared foods, such as pizzas, Lindsey had no worries about running out when the pandemic initially saw people panic-buying.

She buys vegetables to parboil and then freeze and berries, especially strawberries, to freeze then use for desserts, snacks, and smoothies.

She also has shelves in the garage of her semi-detached four-bedroom house, where she stockpiles reduced items year-round, such as breakfast cereals, kitchen rolls, tins and cupboard staples like rice and pasta.

‘I always bulk buy as it’s cheaper,’ Lindsey noted. ‘Dry goods and tins sometimes get reduced and I’ll always look for reductions throughout the shop – although the majority of the stuff I buy cut-price is fresh food like meat, fruit and veg.

‘People have always made jokes about my shopping habits – not that I mind – but in lockdown last year everyone turned to me when they ran out of things and, of course, I said they could help themselves.

‘I hate seeing food go to waste and with the savings I make by shopping like this, me and my family have a better quality of life.

‘There’s no shame in bargain hunting. Some people feel embarrassed, but I definitely don’t.

‘The stuff I buy is all good food within the use-by dates and can be popped in the freezer.

‘I’m proud of the way I keep the family bills down. It’s a real skill to be able to shop in this way.’

Lindsey’s top five savvy shopping tips:

  • Shop around at different supermarkets
  • Do not be ashamed to ask in store when things are reduced
  • Find the best times of day to go to each supermarket
  • Go with an open mind and do not have a set shopping list
  • Know what you have in your freezer at home

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