What's better than a freebie? A freebie you can eat. This week, whether you're after a snack, a sweet treat, a full meal, or a voucher for a swanky restaurant, they're all on offer. You can even get a helping of Ikea meatballs for free.
Free Mars Celebrations
Whether you're looking for a sweet treat for yourself, a gift for mum or you're stockpiling goodies for Easter, you can get 240g box of Celebrations for free from Sainsbury's or Tesco through Quidco. Just buy the box, then upload your recipe showing all the key details to Quidco. You'll get £2 refunded - covering the cost of the chocolates. You'll need to be quick through, as the deal is only available until midnight on Saturday.
Free popcorn or crisps
The users of latestdeals.co.uk have discovered that you can get a free bag of popcorn or crisps from Greggs if you have the rewards app. You can claim yours by downloading the app, creating an account, and then swiping across the top to reveal the freebie. When you're in Greggs, you then click 'scan now', and you'll get your code to show at the till.
Free Ikea Meatballs
Technically you don't need to pick the meatballs - you can get any meal for free when you buy any piece of furniture. The deal was tracked down by users of HotUKdeals.com, who point out that to qualify you'll need to get an Ikea Family card. You then pop in Monday-Friday after 4.30pm, have a meal, and then buy a piece of furniture. You need to hand over your family card along with your food receipt, and you'll have the cost of your meal subtracted from your purchase. There are a few terms and conditions, and a few stores that aren't taking part, so it's worth checking before you go.
Every so often, New Covent Garden Soup Co will offer a voucher for £1 off any soup. They can be printed off at the moment from the website - while stocks last. The key to this particular freebie, however, is the fact that sometimes when this deal is running, one of the supermarkets will have a special offer running, offering some flavours of the soup for £1. This time, the obliging supermarket is Asda, so all you have to do is pop along with your voucher, and get your freebie.
Free £20 to spend with Gino D'Acampo
The users of HotUKdeals.com have discovered that if you sign up for a card with Individual Restaurants - and register it - they'll load it with £20 worth of points to spend at any of the chain's outlets. These include Gino D'Acampo's restaurant and pasta bar, as well as Bank restaurant and bar, The Restaurant and bar, Zinc and Piccolo. You could, for example, grab yourself a two-course menu for free at Piccolino - or opt for a Sunday Roast for two - and pay the £7.50 extra.
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.
There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.
They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.
The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.
It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.
While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.
Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.
However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.
Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.
The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.
If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!
Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.
Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).
It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.