Five frugal ways to do a #FoodBankAdvent reverse advent calendar

Picture of items in a hamper for #FoodBankAdvent, toothbrush, cereal, tinned pineapple and pasta and sauce packet

Day 4 of #FoodBankAdvent on a budget

 

This week, I started a reverse advent calendar as part of the UK Money Bloggers #FoodBankAdvent Christmas campaign.

I’ll be popping one item in a box each day for 25 days during November, so it can be delivered to my local food bank, FIND in Ipswich, ready for distribution in December.

(More details in my previous post

I started by checking out the kind of items food banks include in their parcels (Trussell Trust list here. FIND’s list here).

It’s also worth contacting your local food bank, to see what they need most. They might have mountains of pasta and tonnes of baked beans, for example, but be short on long-life milk.

Hopefully, adding one item a day shouldn’t break the bank. I shop on a tight budget, so I’m always keen to save money on food shopping.

Here are five frugal ways to make #FoodBankAdvent more affordable:

 

Picture of Batchelors Pasta 'n' Sauce on offer in the supermarket, down from £1.15 to 60p, for FoodbankAdvent

Pasta ‘n’ sauce: warm food, fast

Spot supermarket offers

This is an easy one. For my #FoodBankAdvent box, once I knew the kind of products to buy, I could look out for good offers.

So when searching for cereal, I went for Shreddies on offer at just £1. I chose Macleans toothpaste as it was half price, and Mac ‘n’ Cheese rather than Pot Noodles because the price was down from £1.15 to 60p in our local East of England Co-op. Buy one get one free type offers can also be great for donations. Hopefully I can snaffle a big box of cut-price biscuits or chocolates too.

Normally I buy a lot of own brand and value range products – and they’re still a great way to stretch money available for a reverse advent calendar. However, I’m including some branded products in my #FoodBankAdvent box, as they’re more familiar and predictable.

 

Picture of a screen grab of Shopmium cashback for tea bags for FoodBankAdvent reverse advent calendar

£2 on tea, £1 back via Shopmium

Take advantage of cashback apps

Check out supermarket cashback apps to see if you can get relevant items for less. With supermarket cashback apps, you buy the product, then use your phone to scan the barcode, submit a photo of the receipt, and get money back. Some products are even free!

For example, using Shopmium I got Yorkshire Tea teabags for £1 rather than £2. If you sign up for the Shopmium app using the code KFKKAMKL, you can also claim a free bar of Lindt Excellence Chocolate. Could make another food bank donation, if you can resist!

I also spent 75p on a McVitie’s Lyle’s Golden Syrup Bonfire Toffee Cake, then requested 40p back via TopCashback’s Snap & Save*.

Meanwhile you can get certain jars of Cow & Gate baby food entirely free from Superdrug, by claiming cashback for the whole price from CheckoutSmart.

Just make sure you choose appropriate items – so no alcohol, only products with a long shelf life, and perhaps not some of their more weird and wonderful options. I eyed up Primula cheese, which is 50% off with Shopmium. However, it has to be kept in a fridge, which is no good for a food bank.

It’s also worth checking whether you’re actually saving money compared to other products. I decided against 40% off £1.99 Kabuto noodles via Shopmium, as this would still be more expensive than £1 for more familiar Pot Noodles.

PIcture of screen grab from Latest Free Stuff website, with a free pack of Princes Tuna Sandwich Filler for FoodbankAdvent

Freebie sandwich filler via Latest Free Stuff

Load up on freebies

Apart from free products from cashback apps, you can also find freebies on sites like Latest Free Stuff. I printed out a voucher for a free pack of Princes Tuna Sandwich Fillers, which would normally cost £1, and sent off for a free sample pack of Aldi baby wipes. These kind of offers tend to have limited availability, so it’s worth snapping them up when you see them. By checking early in November, hopefully any free samples will arrive in time to add to the reverse advent calendar.

 

Picture of a £4 Morrisons More Voucher, which can be used to cut the cost of #FoodbankAdvent

Using loyalty card vouchers to cut costs

Cash in loyalty points and online shopping offers

Could you spend loyalty points, rather than cash? Every so often, I get £5 vouchers from using my Morrisons Match & More card, or build up Nectar points buying petrol from Sainsburys. Boots Advantage points would be good for essential toiletries and baby products.

Alternatively, many of the supermarkets offer money off your first online order, which could be used towards items for #FoodbankAdvent.

So for example, Sainsbury’s offer £18 off your first order over £60, using a code here. Meanwhile if you’d like a £20 voucher off your first Ocado order over £80, let me know so I can email you a voucher, and I’ll get £20 too (hello@muchmorewithless.co.uk).

Shop from the contents of your cupboards

Do you already have any brand new items needed by food banks?

For example, if you’ve got loads of tinned tomatoes, maybe you can pass on a can. Just make sure there are still several months left before the “use before” or “best before” date. Trouble is, after several store cupboard challenges, I don’t have many extra groceries stashed in my kitchen cupboards!

Otherwise, how about toiletry sets you’ve been given or  raffle prizes you’ve won, but are unlikely to use? FIND in Ipswich are particularly short of men’s toiletries. I’m adding an unopened bag of nappies, embarrassingly still at the back of a cupboard despite my children’s advanced ages. Our local food bank say they always need nappies in larger sizes, so hopefully they will be useful.

 

So now – over to you. Who’s up for taking part in #FoodBankAdvent? What have you put in your box so far?

 

Looking for more ways to save money on your food shopping? Check out my post with more than 80 ideas!

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!

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Pinterest size image of 5 frugal ways to do #fooddbankadvent reverse advent calendar, showing food in a basket

 

5 Comments

  1. Alice strang
    November 4, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I am doing all toiletries this year. If people cant afford food they cant afford these and somehow they are more embarassing to ask for (in my experience as a foodbank volunteer).

    Dog and cat food also greatly appreciated.

    • Faith
      November 4, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      Good luck with your reverse advent calendar. Also good point about cat and dog food – I’ll have to get advice on what kind to include!

  2. November 4, 2017 / 9:22 pm

    What about a few Christmas treats, too, chocolate, crackers, mince pies, etc.
    Margaret P

    • November 7, 2017 / 6:58 am

      Sounds good! I’m definitely planning some Christmas treats. My local food bank, FIND, specifically asked for boxes of biscuits and chocolates, but not advent calendars. Think mince pies can be tricky if they have a short shelf life.

  3. November 8, 2017 / 11:32 am

    Found this before doing my weekly shop! Guess who’s saving some money this week? Any chance you have any tricks up your sleeve for Christmas dinner, we have 26 People coming over.. Yes 26, I May have to sit my cousins on the roof, what do you think?
    I’ve shopped for many deals and discounts for Christmas presents and have already come across many items that I will definitely be purchasing, Check it out guys!
    https://blastmydeals.com/deals/home-garden/latest

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