Standing outside Sainsbury’s at 6:55pm, I began psyching myself up for the unexpected.
I was going in search of yellow sticker discount items – products that had been marked down for a quick sale – and I felt in turmoil about it.
I’ve been in the supermarket before, watching on as bargain hunters, circling like hungry wolves, pounce on a staff member pushing a trolley filled with discounts.
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I am a fan of heavy metal, and I’m no stranger to a mosh pit, where enthused fans push and shove one another to the sound of their favourite bands.
Thinking that this experience might be a little like that, I gritted my teeth and headed inside.
I’d heard that 7pm would be a good time to find bargains in Sainsbury’s and, keen to come home with a good story, wanted to give myself the best chance of getting the goods.
I lingered at the end of a chilled foods aisle, where I found a pretty well-stocked shelf of baked goods.
A white, thick sliced farmhouse loaf for just 19p (down from 79p) caught my eye, as did a packet of four apple and cinnamon hot cross buns for 39p.
But it was the chilled foods I was after. Seven came and went and I approached a staff member to ask: “When does the Whoops! man come round?”
He looked suspicious. “Any time,” he answered simply. “Is there a section where he’d be? Or where he’d put things?” I asked. “No, just anywhere…” he answered.
I wondered whether he was trying to put me off the scent so he could get the best bargains for himself. I wouldn’t blame him.
I wandered around more bays and spotted a few more things that didn’t popularity – a smoked gammon steak for £1, down from £1.33.
I decided to try again with another staff member, this time a very helpful and cheery young man who was stacking ambient tins.
“We do have a section,” he corrected, taking me round to a fridge near the ready meals. “Have a look there and it’s worth having a look down by the sandwiches too!” What a helpful guy.
I took a step forward and another staff member, seemingly off the clock, swooped in with her basket, throwing items in and whisking away before I knew what was happening. Fair play.
Perhaps I’d just missed out on a big bargain, but this is what I did find: A box of Linda McCartney vegetarian sausage rolls for £1.49, down from £2.25, some vegan potato salad for 24p (down from £1) and mature cheddar and tomato gluten free boxed sandwiches for 74p, down from £3.
Meat eaters would have had a better experience. A pack of peppered ham slices was 49p, down from £1.90, and a pack of barbecue chicken chunky breast pieces were 64p, down from £2.50.
A bit less of a bargain, but nevertheless with a yellow sticker, was a chicken sausage, down to £2.59 from £2.80.
I also found a packet of chopped liver for 99p, down from £3.95. I thought about taking it to the man who’d told me they didn’t have a yellow sticker section asking: “What’s this then, chopped liver?!” but let him be and escaped with my sausage rolls.
Marks & Spencer
Now half past seven, I decided to try my luck in M&S. Rumour has it that going in an hour before closing is your best bet to grab a deal so I was bang on time.
I couldn’t find a dedicated yellow sticker section, but I did identify them peppering the aisles, which I thought was probably a smarter move. I headed down to vegetarian and vegan section, wondering if any of the new Plant Kitchen range would be yellow-stickered.
To my amazement, they were all over! I was made up.
Plant Kitchen veggie balls were down from £3 to £1.26 and some veggie mince down to £1.08 from £3! It was a Veganuary miracle.
Also discounted was the Plant Kitchen breaded smoky mature style bites and creamy wedges (fake cheese stuff) for £1.53 instead of £4.50! And piri piri no chicken pieces were £1.23 instead of £3. Bargain!
A Plant Kitchen vegan bean chilli caught my eye, for £2.92 instead of £4, and I basketed it.
I walked the other aisles to see what else I could find. In the ‘two dine for £10’ meal deal section I found boxes of their Gastropub greens were now £1.49 instead of £2.75 and in another chilled section, I found big Scotch eggs for 47p, down from £1.50.
already without yellow stickers, I found M&S had some reasonably priced things to go along with what I’d found to make dinners. An all-butter garlic baguette is just £1 and their typical tomato ‘everything’ sauce is just £1.20. Some whole wheat spaghetti costs 65p.
That method I could make a (basic) veggie spaghetti Bolognese for two, with garlic bread, for £3.93. Quite good for M&S, I thought!
Compared to Sainsbury’s, I’d chalk this up as a huge success! M&S! Who knew?
I didn’t mess around in Morrisons, it was edging closer to my 9pm bedtime and I was desperate to eat my M&S chilli, so I bombed straight towards the bay by the pies where the discounted food was. Nothing. Not a zip.
On the shelf, there was one pack of brie bites and they didn’t already have a yellow sticker. I must be too late.
I apprehended a staff member, a young man, who couldn’t have been more helpful. His insight was golden.
He told me that their label machine was broken, hence there being no bargains around, but he did confirm that first thing in the morning was the best time to visit for quantity – there’s always a lot to choose from.
But, he additional, if you want the best bargains, come at around 6pm when the food is discounted again, by around 75%. There’ll be less to choose from, he informed me, but it’ll be cheaper.
So with Morrisons, I found, you need to pick your battles. Next time I’d get out early, to see what I could get.
But with my M&S food singing to me like a siren from my car, I left Morrison’s empty handed. Why bother fighting for stickered items in Mozzers when Marks & Spencer feels like such a sure thing?!
Back at home, I demolished the delicious veggie chilli in record time, glad that I hadn’t had to batter anyone with a cut-price bloomer to get my hands on it.
It wasn’t just a yellow sticker bargain, it was an M&S yellow sticker bargain.
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