HEARING her phone alarm shout out ‘Bargain Alert’, Ellie Wardell woke up and quickly logged onto one of her favourite cut-price websites.
“It was just 7am but I reacted quickly when I learnt there was a rare, cut-price sale on booze,” she said.
Ellie uses Olio Sharing App for free supermarket food[/caption]
Ellie started going to charity shops aged just 15[/caption]
Environment writer Ellie, 25, from Kingston, south west London, managed to grab bottles of gin worth £30 for just £10.
“It’s my mum Holly’s favourite drink so I was really pleased,” she said. “I added two bottles to my basket, plus a dozen tins of posh beer for £12 and two bottles of nice wine for £5 each.”
Ellie popped the booze in hampers for friends and family and saved a bit back for Christmas day.
The super bargain-hunter has seven main tips to save cash and believes she has saved “thousands” on Christmas 2022.
“You’d be mad if you didn’t listen to me,” she said. “With inflation skyrocketing and grocery prices going up I am proud to still be able to have a nice Christmas dinner.
“I’ve always been a bargain shopper so it makes sense I would move onto making Christmas cheap.”
Ellie started going to charity shops aged just 15, prompted by a geography lesson about the impact of fast fashion in year nine.
“I realised I could buy on-trend fashion at a fraction of the price by using charity shops,” she said. “It’s been over five years since I have bought a new outfit.
“I haven’t bought something from a high street store in years.”
And it isn’t just booze single Ellie gets cheaply. She also buys chocolates, sweet bottles, Christmas biscuits and drink mixes as well as cleaning products.”
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She gets her pals gifts from charity shops too, spending as little as 50p.
“I’ve found unused Christmas gift sets, soaps, books, wine glasses, mugs and bowls,” she said.
“I like to buy secondhand photo frames and put a nice picture of my pal in it for a gift.”
This Christmas Ellie will be hosting Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for just £5 a head.
She said: “I’m a vegan and my family including mum and dad, Holly and Kevin, and sister, Katherine, are having a vegetarian and vegan Christmas.
“I’ve started buying yellow ticket items like vegan sausage, and vegan pies at discount rates in October this year and freezing them for the big day.
Ellie also uses the Olio App to get free food for Christmas dinner.
Olio connects people with local supermarkets including Tescos so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. You can also find household items and offer up items you don’t need anymore.
“I started looking for items on Olio I could freeze or store for Christmas in October.”
“I have already stored away potatoes to roast. I also got carrots, broccoli and leafy greens for free from Olio and froze them.”
She also visits her local Tesco and Sainsbury supermarkets everyday to pick up yellow ticket vegan deli meats, fruit salad and mixed vegetables salads.
“It’s a critical part of my weekly shop,” she said.
“I refuse to pay full price for my weekly food shop item if I can avoid it. That’s why my daily yellow ticket items or reduced products buys are essential. What I get daily will determine what meals I cook that week.”
“I have a list of the times the food going out of date that day is put on the special yellow ticket shelves. I work it into my shopping and work schedule. I freeze sometimes and use the rest.
“In some stores barriers are put up because there are so many people clamouring for reductions It stops people being pushed over.
She said you had to move quickly to bag the best yellow sticker bargains.
“My advice is keeping a list on your phone as to when and where the bargains are put out in stores in your area and setting alarms on your phone,” she said.
She also loves the toogoodtogo app which gives people all over the world the chance to buy surplus or unused offerings from restaurants and cafes. Users can find out what local shops have end of day bags and pay a small fee, often getting food products valued at over £20.
Most major cities and towns have restaurants which offer food using the site.
“I log on and check out which restaurants in the local area have surplus food and meals on offer,” she said. “I pay around £3 to secure a bag and visit the restaurants or stores at 6pm.
“I also use the app when I am visiting different towns.”
“Over Christmas it allows me to try different meals and food I wouldn’t normally eat because of the price.
She’s the queen of secondhand gifts too.
“I haven’t given anyone a new item except booze in five years,” she said. “It’s amazing to know I can find secondhand gifts in charity shops, and no one knows the difference.”
The first secondhand items Ellie gifted was to her parents when she gave her dads a t-shirt and her mum a jumper for Christmas in 2016.
“To this day they still don’t know the presents were secondhand,” she said. “At Christmas people normally remove the price tag so if you choose quality second hand items at charity shops and car boots and wrap them nicely no one can tell.”
Ellie loves visiting specialist online sites which sell short-dated food that is either near or just passed its ‘best before’ date.
“You can get bags of sweets for 25p, a 15-bag box of Walkers crisps for a fiver and bulk boxes of fizzy drinks at 50 percent off,” she said.
She also visits cash and carry stores.
But she said there was a “snobbishness” around bulk buying and getting food for free. “I love going to these stores because you can also grab that day only bargains like cut price wrapping paper and Christmas decorations,” she said.
“However, people do judge. Still, it’s time people stopped being so narrow-minded and frankly snobbish. These organisations give us access to food and household items that would have been turned into landfill.
“This Christmas I will be having an amazing time and spending virtually nothing. I also love the fact I am helping the environment by reducing waste..”
Ellie’s Seven Top Tips
- Only gift top quality second hand charity shop items
- Use Olio Sharing App for free supermarket food
- Try Toogoodtogo App for end of day discounted restaurant meal bags
- Gift second hand sports kit from specialist websites
- Sign up for bargain booze alerts on cut price websites
- Know the time local supermarkets put out discounted items or yellow sticker items
- Buy Christmas chocolates from close to use buy sites
Ellie visits cash and carry stores[/caption]