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Five Ways To Keep The Family Fed, When Your Bank Account is Low

The five ways you might be able to keep food on the table when money is tight

Jump To: ▶︎ Yellow Stickers ▶︎ Olio ▶︎ Too Good To Go ▶︎ Food Club Card ▶︎ Food Banks Five ways you might be able to obtain food for free, cheap, or on manageable credit terms

January is tough! One in three people won’t have enough money to last until the end of the month, which is a pretty scary prospect if you don’t have enough food in the house to last till payday.

So what can you do? You’ve got to eat, so these 5 tips should be able to help keep food on the table.

Yellow Stickers

1. We all know about yellow stickers; they’re a great way to save cash on your food. Obviously, they can be hit-and-miss, as so many people now rely on these useful supermarket savings to help stretch their budget, and the availability of these bargains isn't helped by better technology, which has meant that supermarkets are getting better at forecasting demand, which means that there may be less short-dated food on the shelf that needs to be reduced, which is great to avoid food waste, but means there are fewer bargains to be had.

If you don't see any yellow stickers on the shelf, speak to a member of staff to find out if there's a specific time that the bargains are put out for sale. Some stores have set times that the reductions will be put out to buy, so its worth asking and then adjusting your shopping times to match the reductions going out times!

I worked as a code checker during lockdown, and my job was to put the yellow stickers on short-dated food. I can confirm that supermarkets do chop and change the time they put out their reductions, often due to the amount of food that needs to be reduced/cleared.

The more food they have, the earlier it will go out as it will take longer to clear, as they don't want anything left over at the end of the night, as throwing it away hurts the stores profits. Equally, if they don't have very much to reduce, they'll often leave it as late as possible to reduce it, in the hope that customers will buy it before it needs to be reduced!

The Olio App

2. The Olio app is a fantastic option for those people who are really struggling. It lists food that would otherwise be thrown away by supermarkets and other food businesses, that’s been collected by Olio volunteers who then distribute it to anybody that wants it.

All Olio food products are totally free, so it's a fantastic way to help keep food on the table at zero cost. Most Olio volunteers collect and distribute food daily, so you can potentially get free food every day.

The types of food do vary. Many supermarkets don't like to giveaway higher-risk food products such as dairy and meats due to the volunteers not being able to control refrigeration, and therefore, this could cause food spoilage or illness, so you'll normally find offers include products such as vegetables, fruit, bread and other similar products.

You can also give away your own unwanted food products as well, so if you have foods that you aren't going to use, you can offer them for free to anyone who wants them, reducing food waste and helping to keep families fed.

You can read more about Olio on our blog here

Too Good To Go

3. Too Good To Go offers discounted food that would normally be thrown away at the end of the day, but that’s still perfectly edible.

This is a bit different to Olio. The food comes from supermarkets and restaurants.

The food isn't free. Instead, You pay a discounted price for the food via the Too Good To Go app. As an example, you can get a Morrisons 'Magic Bag' that contains a minimum of £10 worth of groceries for £3.09.

This ‘Magic Bag’ is a 'surprise' bag of short-dated products from the retailer or restaurant. it's a surprise because the bags are made up close to the advertised collection time using whatever is left over and, if not sold, would likely be thrown away. This will change daily, and it could be a mixture of items, or equally, it could be a whole bag of bread or onions, so that makes it more challenging to rely on the Magic Bag to feed the family.

Again, while working for a supermarket, I did put the Magic Bags together and would always try and ensure to give as varied as possible

You can read more about Too Good To Go on the blog

Iceland Food Club Card

4. Iceland offers its Food Club Card, which offers interest-free loans of between £25 and £75, which is pre-loaded to the Food Club Card and can be used to make a purchase in Iceland or Food Warehouse stores.

You can take out further credit for additional Iceland shops (6 times per year when notified by us) up to a total limit of £100 outstanding at any one-time

The loans are then repayable at a set rate of £10 per week, and you can choose which day of the week you'd like the repayment to be taken.

It’s very useful for anyone who might need an extra food shop at the end of the month while waiting to be paid. These prepaid cards work just like any other loan; you agree to a repayment schedule, and payments are taken from the agreed date. As with similar loan-type applications, a credit search will be performed, which will show up on your credit file and could affect your credit score.

You can apply for the loan HERE

Food Bank Help

5. Food banks are, of course, often in the news. You’ll usually need to get a referral to a food bank before you can use it. This includes all food banks run by the Trussell Trust. Speak to Citizens Advice about this, as they are the ones who can refer you. The Citizens Advice adviser will ask you some questions to check if you’re eligible for the food bank. If you’re eligible, they’ll give you a voucher for your nearest food bank.

They can also check if you should be getting any benefits you're not currently claiming and tell you about other local help you could get. The adviser can give you advice about budgeting and any debts you have.

You can get a referral for yourself and any family members you live with - including your partner.

In some situations, you may be able to have food delivered to you, rather than needing to actually attend a food bank. Speak to your local council abut this.

You can also speak to your GP, housing association or social worker about getting food bank assistance. Your local council might also be able to tell you how to get a referral to a food bank, and in some cases, may be able to help you with extra support from their household support fund’ or ‘welfare assistance scheme, however with rising costs and limited government assistance, most councils are no longer in the financial position to offer this.

Many churches also offer food bank help. Some require you to be referred to them, others operate on a basis where anyone can attend if they need assistance. Use a search engine to search for 'free food bank churches in **add your location** ', and you'll often find local schemes that can help you.

Your local pantry is a church-led initiative where for a small weekly membership fee (often around £4), you'll be given access to around £20 worth of groceries. There can be a waiting list for this service, and these aren't in all locations, but they have helped around 90,000 people to date so it is worth looking into, as is: FoodCycle, The Bread & Butter Thing & Hubbub for similar types of schemes.

Keep your eye out for local community food larders as well; often, you'll find these mentioned on local Facebook groups. These are locations where members of the public can drop off excess food, which can then be collected by those in need, at no cost. You may find that some companies also contribute to these.

I have a community food larder located a few minutes from my home. I collect gift cards that aren't going to be used from my Instagram followers who have the Vodafone Rewards app. Every so often, Vodafone give free gift cards, usually £2 in value, that can be used in either Morrisons or Sainsbury's as a "Friday Freebie' and my followers send me their gift card if they aren't going to use it; or if they'd simply like to donate it, and I'll collect them up and buy supplies for the food larder.

I've been able to supply hundreds of pounds worth of much-needed food for those people in my community. (massively helped by a super generous £600 gift card donation from the JamDoughnut cashback app).

Local community food larders can help feed the family at a zero cost

The food larder is located inside an old red phone box outside of a church, and anyone can come and take what food they need to help them out. I like this concept, and it is the reason I support it, as it allows people to collect food, from this unmanned larder, whenever they want; they don't need to be referred, it is open to everyone, and they don't have to speak to anyone, or feel they have to justify why they need the food; they can just come, take an go, which is a massive thing for many people who mentally struggle with the concept of asking for help, and don't want to ask for help.

No matter the reason you need help with food, you should NEVER be ashamed to ask for it! Everyone faces challenges and hardships at various points in their lives and needing assistance with something as fundamental as food should not be a source of shame.

If you'd like to help support/donate/get help from, this community food larder project, based in Aldershot, Hampshire, you can email us for information. Gift card or Paypal donations can be sent to the same email address:


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