1. Plan your meals

You’re going to need to cost out a basic meal plan, experiment with an online basket at one of the supermarkets to see what you can get for your budget, but be sure to keep an amount back for reductions of fresh food (see top tip 2).

2. Get to your supermarket at the right time to score the best reductions

You will find this varies from shop to shop but as a guide this is usually somewhere between 7 and 9pm, the best way of knowing is to ask the staff in there politely. I got most of my fresh vegetables this way with items starting from just 2p and upwards.

3. Make the most of supermarket own brands for your cheap ‘fillers’

Pasta, rice and cereal will be essential to keep you from feeling hungry, there’s no cheaper option than own brands when it comes to these basics.

4. Make no bones about it

If you’re lucky enough to find some reduced meat then don’t throw away the bones, these make a great stock for soup. If you’re feeling brave then head down to your local butcher and ask if they have any chicken bones/carcasses they are throwing away. I was able to land a whole bag full for free, there was plenty of meat to make a cracking chicken soup or skeleton soup as it was (harshly) dubbed!

5. Cook in bulk

Whether you are taking the challenge with your family or just for yourself, cooking a dish that will last you over a day or two will help to spread the cost out and give you a bit of flexibility in the budget. Freezing dishes can also be a handy option if you simply can’t face the same casserole two days on the bounce.

6. Go on a charm offensive

Just because something is reduced in the supermarket doesn’t mean that it can’t be further, the people with the pricing guns wield the power and I’ve had a few knock downs simply from asking the question. Remember to always be polite though and don’t simply demand money off!

7. Don’t stick religiously to expiry dates

This is a matter of common sense, bread can last well beyond the stated date and be used as croutons in soup if it’s become a little solid. The scratch and sniff method is usually good as is simply sawing off any potential dodgy bits.

8. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

It’s cliché but it’s true. Porridge is the best thing you can eat to keep you going through the morning, if you can score some reduced fruit in the reduced aisles this should liven it up a little. Just don’t throw anything away - leftover porridge can be refrigerated and made into tasty pancakes!

9. Try something new

The supermarket reduced aisles can be an Aladdin’s den of delight for the canny shopper, I tried my first (and last) oyster for 8p from a reduced section. Challenge yourself to see what exotic ingredients you can locate.

10. Be creative

You can’t always create the combinations you want within your budget constraints so it’s time to get a little inventive… I had some leftover haggis which had gone a little dry I used to bulk out a sweet and sour dish. It was absolutely delicious (in my view) and I’ve certainly seen Heston Blumenthal combine equally random ingredients!

Good luck and enjoy!

Alice Biggar

www.challengealice.com