Ever since I have been living near the Tesco on Wine Street, I have become incredibly aware of the amount of food that gets reduced at the end of the day. I usually use food planners, but the thought of a challenge to live off reduced food for an entire week was something that came up frequently.
The rules are simple: I have to eat at least one reduced meal a day, for seven days (breakfast and lunch always float into one. Dinner is the only meal I have every single day. Sorry mum.), preferably consisting out of entire reduced goods. If that is not possible, I am allowed to use things out of my cupboard. After all, food reductions all depend on chance and luck.
One the first day, Friday, I was first very excited, soon to be very anxious. What if there was nothing reduced? What if the point I was trying to make with this article was actually not achievable? What if there were only horrible things reduced and I’d have to eat something disgusting?
Day One: I had no luck at my usual small Tesco: a singular wrinkled pepper. Reluctantly, I walked down the massive hill that is Union Street to the bigger Tesco. I found a chef’s assortment of vegetables, reduced from £2.35 to 59p, so I chucked them in a pan with some noodles, stock and soy sauce: day one was a mediocre success.
Day Two: Saturday was another mediocre day. The only things I could find were mushrooms for 75p and courgettes for £1.21: again not enough to make an entire meal from. Thought my man-friend managed to make a pasta sauce with leftover cream, onion and said reduced items (romantic).
Day Three: A roast chicken sub and a pack of fruit for a sum of 28p. I ended up reheating the pasta sauce I had last night and saved the sandwich for Monday’s meal.
Day Four: Monday was full of treasures. I decided to pop in at about 4.00pm, which is a bit of an odd time, but there happened to be lots of reduced food. I found bacon for 42p, a pot of mac-n-cheese for 15p, a salmon bagel for 65p, new potatoes with herbs and butter for 10p, and a pack of pittas for 43p. This would be enough for (at least) two days.
Day Five: Everything I had on Tuesday was reduced except my dinner (it was pancake day- please). I had a dry pitta for breakfast (a life of luxury), the salmon bagel for lunch, and the macaroni cheese in the afternoon. I still nipped into Tesco, but nothing was reduced.
Day Six: On Wednesday, I ate the bargains I purchased two days ago. It was a bit of an odd combination, but thinly sliced courgette, marinated potatoes and bacon in a pitta was actually a really decent combination. I also found two packs of loaded potato skins with bacon and cheese (38p), Mediterranean vegetables (43p), and Tzatsiki sauce (31p), which was enough for both Thursday and Friday.
So all in all, the challenge was a success. I managed to find enough reductions to feed me for a whole week, and I only spent a rough total of £6. Ironically, I have eaten more healthily this week than I would normally, because most reduced items involve vegetables.
I found the best reductions around 3pm-4pm in the afternoon: the opposite to what I expected. It is worth going in a few times. You will find the best stuff from Monday-Wednesday.
If you’re a student that lives on a tight budget and a keenness to eat healthily, reduced is definitely the way to go.
By Diana Helmich