Woman shares cost-cutting tips for making delicious meals for less than £1 a head

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·5-min read
Clare Rice has shared her cost-cutting tips for creating meals for less. (PA Real Life)
Clare Rice has shared her cost-cutting tips for creating meals for less. (PA Real Life)

A waste conscious cook has shared her tips for making impressive cost-cutting meals for less than £1 a head.

Clare Rice, 33, from Tyne and Wear says savvy supermarket shopping enables her and partner Shaun Guillan, 34, who works in customer support, to eat gourmet dishes on a tiny budget.

By finding out when food is reduced by the supermarkets and shopping at night when prices are slashed, Rice can spend as little as £15 on the ingredients needed to produce 21 meals including showstoppers like duck a l’orange or a full roast dinner.

The therapist hopes that the advice she gives in her frugal food programme will help other families to enjoy purse-friendly delicious dinners during the cost of living crisis.

“Cooking on a shoestring can be difficult, but it can be done," she says.

“Seeing the way prices and the cost of living is soaring, it’s never been more important to find ways to save money.

“But food isn’t just important for sustenance, it’s also a big source of happiness, as it can be therapeutic and sociable, so I want people to make sure they can still enjoy it.”

Read more: Spend-savvy mum already has Christmas 2022 all wrapped up

Rice goes shopping in the evening when the biggest bargains can be found - pictured chilli cornbread ingredients. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Rice goes shopping in the evening when the biggest bargains can be found - pictured chilli cornbread ingredients. (Collect/PA Real Life)

In 2019 Rice was inspired by environmental concerns over food waste to create her Instagram page called Whoopsie Cooking, in which she showcases some of her cheap yet chic meal ideas.

Dubbing her frugal project the “MasterChef mystery box of the reduced section,” she has since dished up thousands of mouth watering meals to help families who want to save money without scrimping on quality.

Watch: Super-saving parents save £3,500 ditching their car and travelling by bus or bike

 

Rice says that by waiting for the yellow stickers, showing food has been reduced, to be put on by supermarket staff, she saves between 50 and 80% on every shopping trip.

"More people are looking into this way of shopping," she explains.

“It can be quite daunting to see prices rising and wondering what you can afford to make, but by shopping this way it really is possible despite inflation.”

Read more: Super-saver mum does food shop a year in advance

Clare Rice and her partner Shaun Guillan enjoy one of the gourmet meals created by Rice on a budget. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare Rice and her partner Shaun Guillan enjoy one of the gourmet meals created by Rice on a budget. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Interestingly it was the mystery box section on Masterchef Australia, which initially inspired Rice to combine her love of being frugal with creating something exciting.

“It started as a personal challenge to improve my own cooking and after watching the show I wanted to push myself,” she explains.

“But it has grown into so much more. It’s about reducing costs and waste, while showing how we can do more with food."

In order to find the best bargains and bag yellow sticker bargains, Rice usually shops in the evening.

“I go quite late sometimes, at around 8pm, when things are about 75% off, but there is less choice," she says.

“It’s about being resourceful with what you have and seeing it as something that’s quite fun.

“Shopping like this makes me far more adventurous cook and gives me a challenge.”

Read more: Woman made redundant during pandemic becomes full-time forager (and is better off)

A pork fillet meal created by Rice. (Collect/PA Real Life)
A pork fillet meal created by Rice. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Turkey curry created by Rice. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Turkey curry created by Rice. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Recently, Rice cooked up an entire turkey for a Sunday roast with all the trimmings for eight people for just £17.

The leftovers lasted all week, with the frugal shopper using the remaining turkey in a pie, sandwiches and salad and using the carcass to make stock for a tasty soup.

Rice is also a great advocate for using the freezer.

“Your freezer is your best friend," she explains. "If you see any good deals on meat you should just get it and freeze it immediately, even if it’s going out of date that day."

Some of Rice’s best dishes have included a fillet of cod with thinly sliced potato “scales,” with a potato and parsnip purée, topped with spinach and mint oil and pickled radishes, which cost just £2.70 for two hefty portions.

And for just 60p per portion, she was able to make a pulled BBQ chicken burger with salt and pepper chips and coleslaw, which she swears tasted better than any restaurant burger she has eaten.

“As a child, I was given £10 to go to the shops and I’d always see how far it would stretch,” she says of how her love of frugal shopping began.

“It’s the same now. I don’t go to the supermarket with a plan. I just see how it all pans out.

“Once you realise it’s possible to find bargains and cook nice food, it becomes a less stressful experience.”

One of Clare's yellow sticker shops. (Collect/PA Real Life)
One of Clare's yellow sticker shops. (Collect/PA Real Life)

As well as being able to eat well for less, Rice says her cooking skills have improved hugely since she started on her frugal eating project.

“I have realised that you can enjoy a wonderful meal on a budget," she adds.

“I think we all deserve to eat well, cost of living crisis or not.”

Rice's top tips for frugal shopping

  • Do not go shopping when you are hungry.

  • Do not buy more than you need.

  • Do not buy more than you have space for.

  • Find out what time of day your favourite supermarkets put out their yellow sticker stock.

  • Become best friends with your freezer and stock up on deals when you see bargains.

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

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