A WOMAN who slashed her weekly shop to just £4 amid the cost-of-living crisis has revealed her secret.
Helen Morrison, 55, started cutting down her food costs and waste after she quit her job as a wedding planner in November 2021 for a better work-life balance.
And the savvy mum from Newcastle-upon-Tyne has managed to cut her weekly shop by £50 by using free food sharing app OLIO.
She has also made massive savings by switching from mainstream supermarkets to community grocery stores.
Helen, who also lives with her husband Darren, 56, became a whizz in the kitchen, concocting fabulous feasts out of free food from the app.
OLIO was first launched in 2015 with the aim of reducing food waste – food must be edible but it can be raw, cooked, sealed or open.
UK supermarkets such as Morrison's, Tesco and Sainsbury's have dubbed the site an "online food bank".
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Helen said: "I don’t shop like normal people.
"Normal people go to the supermarket in the day and buy their shopping.
"Instead, I sit on the app from about half past eight at night waiting for the food. I would say that 75 per cent of our food is from OLIO."
Originally a wedding planner, Helen left her job in the hope of finding a better work-life balance, but the switch forced to re-evaluate her spending.
The savvy saver said: "At 55 I decided it was time to take an easier job in life.
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"I worked as a wedding planner. It was a fabulous job but it was seven days a week and there was no life balance at all.
"I had to re-evaluate my life, however that meant less money coming into the household.
"So, I started researching tips on how to save money and somebody mentioned OLIO.
"By January I was so impressed I decided to become a food waste hero myself. I now have regular collectors and I love doing it."
Alongside using OLIO, Helen also joined community grocery stores.
"The main bulk of my food comes from OLIO," explained Helen.
"But I also use a couple of other facilities. One of them is called The Bread and Butter Thing.
"You get three bags of shopping for £7.50. You don’t know what it will be, but you know you’ll get a selection of fruit, veg and cupboard staples.
"I also use the community grocery store, which is £4 for five fruit and veg items and you can get seven shelf items.
"It’s amazing – a bag of pasta works out as little as 20p."
We've saved £50 a week on the food shop easily. It's saved us a lot of money, especially because of the cost-of-living crisis."
In 10 months Helen has slashed her weekly shop by £50, only needing to stop at her community grocery store every couple of weeks for essentials.
She said: "We’ve saved £50 a week on the food shop easily.
"One of the biggest things for me and my husband is our work lunches, we used to spend five pounds a day each and now we spend nothing.
"It’s definitely not a normal lifestyle but it’s saved us a lot of money, especially now the cost-of-living crisis is having an effect on so many of us."
Shocked at the amount of leftover food from her collections, Helen started planning ingenious ways to keep groceries from going in the bin.
She said: "I collect on my way home from work. I make a plan of everything we have and how I’m going to use it.
"Vegetables are prepped and bagged and frozen. I make my own soups and freeze portions using one a day for our lunches at work.
"I’ve become very experimental over the summer months. I’ve put cocktail sausages in a pasta dish, it was weird but delicious.
However, alongside her shop costing less, Helen is determined to help stop food waste.
She said: "I feel good that I’m sharing the food and giving it away, and I have regular collectors.
"The amount of food waste that’s out there really upsets me.
"We shouldn’t turn our nose up at reduced items. We have to start thinking differently because there is nothing wrong with this food that we are throwing away."
And the kitchen whizz has even started making her own butter.
She said: "You put the cream in a food mixer and you literally just put it on for five to 10 minutes.
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"It’ll go like whipped cream first, then it looks a bit cheesy and then eventually all of the milk comes out of the cream.
"The price of butter at the moment is ridiculous and this way it tastes even better in the morning!"
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