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CHRISTMAS can be an expensive time of year, especially when it comes to keeping the fridge full of festive goodies.
But Sophia Barber, from Essex, has managed to fill her kitchen on the cheap, including stuffing the freezer drawers full of all the ingredients she needs for her Christmas dinner, with a nifty supermarket trick.
The mum of two, who is a site operations manager by day, managed to bag an array of yellow-sticker items from Tesco that saved her from overspending on the roast dinner staples.
At the end of her haul she had found she'd spent only £16 on a glut of food that should have cost well over £60.
It's not long until the big day now, and while some supermarkets are battling it out to be the cheapest, some foodie favourites will still cost an arm and a leg due to demand.
But with all eyes on chef mum, Sophia had to find a way of making the Christmas dinner delicious and cost effective.
She said: "We always do a big family Christmas, so I have lots of mouths to feed."
Often the yellow sticker-reduced items will allow families to feed for a whole week on extremely low budgets – one mum fed her whole five-person clan for under £3.50 in the same way.
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They may be items with a short shelf life left, or something might have been damaged along the way, but popping them in the freezer usually means they'll keep for ages – and it's a cheap way of doing the weekly shop.
"My freezer is now full," Sophia said. "Christmas food has been sorted and it’s hardly affected the bank account. Everyone is happy."
But Sophia happened upon the yellow sticker bargains by accident.
She doesn't usually go searching for discounts, but it means she makes an even bigger saving when she does watch what she buys.
She said: "To begin with I was a little embarrassed searching through the reduced bins and boxes, but when I realised I’m saving around £30 a week, I was excited!
"The first time that I stocked up on a haul like this it was by chance – right place right time.
"Since then, I’ve been shopping later in the evening and finding good deals, such as ready meals, stuffing and more."
Armed with the new method of bargain hunting, Sophia has managed to take the stress out of Christmas this year by stocking up on things now.
She also tried swapping out some of the more traditional table toppers with cheaper options.
Her family has ditched the classically Christmas bird that usually takes centre stage in order to save a few pennies.
Sophia said: "All of our meat is reduced this year, so instead of paying £25 for the usual turkey crown, we’re having pork and beef for a combined cost of under £7."
She managed to save £18 on the biggest dish of her dinner alone, but that's not where the savings stopped.
"We have lots of stuffing also from the reduced box for between 50p-65p." she said.
"Sausages, too, for 43p which will be used for the festive pigs in blankets. And I've got my eye on Aldi’s veg that's meant to go down to 19p on December 16 so that will save a little more.
"It's not all about Christmas either, I cook fresh meals daily, so being able to have cheaper meat just means my weekly shopping cost has reduced massively."
There are other ways that shoppers will drive down their supermarket spends too – usually with food waste apps like Too Good To Go, and more.
It means they can get foodie bits that would have otherwise been thrown out, like Sophia's picks, at a bargain price.
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