“Am I stingy?” This is the question I often ask myself whilst shamelessly and gleefully scavenging the ‘Yellow label’ section of my local supermarket. This usually takes place in the company of a close friend, or better still a relative, mostly looking away in horror or worse, walking away in shame. After a brief moment of self evaluation I quickly conclude that I am not tight, merely prudent.
This ‘prudence’ is a source of great entertainment to my loved ones, always at my expense (excuse the pun); to the extent where my mother regularly says “I should have called you Prudence” when I tell her of a ‘successful’ shopping trip (‘successful’= super bargains). I know when my mum uses that name – her face plastered with a smirk it’s just a euphemism for ‘cheapskate’. Before I continue, I would like to state that I am more than happy to pay the full price for an item especially if it’s worth it, but why bother if you can get it cheaper?
As a single person I shop on a weekly basis for the essentials but prefer to buy additional ingredients as I go along simply because I don’t like to plan my meals too rigidly. I love the freedom of picking up different items at a reduced rate and creating something unexpected with them. In the past too much food has gone to waste when I’ve tried to be ‘sensible’ and purchase things in advance.
‘Yellow label’ shopping is not just for singles; I know several families that make an art of ‘yellow label’ shopping, picking up fresh fruit & vegetables to add to an evening meal or fresh meat produce which can be frozen and used at a later date. ‘Yellow label’ shopping isn’t a substitute for doing a proper shop especially if you have a family. And as a general rule pre-planning meals is actually a better way of shopping and saving money but yellow labels can be great for picking up last minute treats / deals.
This obsession with ‘yellow label’ shopping actually started with my beloved Godfather who has since passed away. He was an expert ‘yellow label’ shopper to the point where he knew what times of day supermarkets were most likely to make significant reductions and which stores would have particular items based on the demographics of that location. From Swansea to South London, Brian knew the score and I have somewhat ‘followed’ in his footsteps. At times I often make myself laugh as to whether he would be ‘proud’ of me for exercising such prudence and for carrying on the ‘yellow label’ legacy.
Gourmet meal for one?
But beyond the sentimentality and obvious financial benefits- ‘yellow label’ shopping does in fact allow me to have more money available to help other people. The thing is, if I spend less on stuff it means I have more money freed up so that when someone does come to me with a financial need I can actually help them.
Anyway before I continue extolling the virtues of yellow label shopping I want to leave you with a few pearls of wisdom I have learnt along the way:
- Items are not always sold at a bargain rate– like a magpie to shiny coins is a keen bargain hunter to yellow labels. But the savvy one knows that sometimes the difference between the original and the reduced price is minimal, therefore check carefully that you are bagging a bargain!
- Beware of greed– I know many people who have been overcome with greed and bought multiples of things they didn’t need just because it was a bargain. Don’t fall into the trap- only buy what you can realistically consume or give away to others! I once bought 6 punnets of grapes because they were down from £2.00 to 25p (BARGAIN!!) and though I gave half to my parents I ended up eating grapes for the WHOLE week- to the point I needed a 3 month break from them.
- It can be addictive– If like me getting a bargain gives you a buzz you might quite easily find yourself becoming a little addicted. I always gravitate to the reduced section even if I don’t need to buy anything. Don’t fall into this trap either because it becomes counterproductive.
- Buying good quality food for the fraction of the original price is good for the purse strings which means you have more money available to spend on other stuff like helping others if you so wish!
- Opportunities to be creative and experimental with your cooking– for example you might be more inclined to try new unusual recipes if it doesn’t cost you the earth to purchase the ingredients. Similarly I like the element of surprise which comes from creating something out of what ingredients I happen to come across that day.
- Reduced foods are more often than not FRESH foods– which has a number of nutritional benefits especially if its fresh fruit and vegetables.