Clare Rice whips up culinary delights for just $1 a head using yellow-sticker deals told how her tasty creations have made her an Instagram sensation gaining 1,700 followers on her "Whoopsie Cooking" page.
Timing shopping trips to find reduced food bargains, Rice then prepares restaurant quality dishes ranging from duck with fondant potatoes to roasts for rock bottom prices.
And fellow frugal cooks have gone wild for her culinary delights since she launched her Instagram account in January, where she also passes on her pearls of thrifty wisdom and encourages others to be more mindful of food waste.
Clare and Shaun (PA Real Life/Collect)
Rice tries out her delicious dishes on her boyfriend Shaun Guillan, a self-published writer.
“I want to show people what you can do with reduced food," she said.
“So much food is wasted every day, and lots of it is still totally useable. All it takes is a bit of outside-the-box thinking."
Thrifty even as a child, Rice loved seeing how far she could make her $13 pocket money stretch.
A Morrisons yellow sticker haul (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I'd come back from shopping trips with my friends and show off all my bargains and the things I'd picked up in charity shops cheaply," she said.
As an adult, she discovered a flair for cooking and loved spending hours in the kitchen mastering tricky recipes inspired by TV shows.
“I love MasterChef Australia, as they have one challenge where the contestants get a mystery box of food which they then have to create a dish from," she said.
Chicken tacos costing £2.46 (PA Real Life/Collect)
“There's no planning – they have to really think on their feet," she said. “In one episode, they got a box of reduced stuff, which got me thinking."
“I decided to challenge myself and try to make dishes from things other people would throw out."
In January 2020, Rice launched her Instagram account and began increasingly buying yellow-sticker stock.
A £10.13 Co-op and Sainsbury's yellow sticker haul (PA Real Life/Collect)
Now, while she pays full-price for staples like dried herbs, spices and oils, she estimates that around 80 per cent of everything else she buys is reduced.
“Once you have some basics in, like nice spices and things to season with, you can make even the most miserable old cauliflower taste amazing," she laughed.
According to Rice, organization is key when snapping up a bargain as supermarkets put out their reduced items at different times of day.
An £2.34 Sunday roast for four people (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I live opposite a little Sainsbury's, which is great as I can easily pop over and see what's on offer," she continued.
“I've found that many shops start reducing things from lunchtime onwards. It's often the things that go off that day and they will get cheaper as the day goes on."
“It depends on how much of a bargain you want. If you go right at the end of the day, you can pick things up for 5p or 10p as, by then, the shops just want them sold. But things like meat tend to get snapped up earlier, as more people want that sort of thing."
Rice is also careful to take advantage of discounts and BOGOF offers, which she will store in her freezer until she needs them.
“My freezer is basically jam-packed with reduced meat," she said. “I'll get it when it's cheap and then store it until I need it."
Although her weekly shop can vary depending on how many bargains she has bagged, Rice estimates that most of her meals cost just $2 to create for her and Shaun.
Clare (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I can't go into the supermarket with too much of a plan of what to make, as it totally depends what's on offer," she said.
“Sometimes, I'll get a staple out of my freezer – like some chicken or beef – but what goes with it depends on what I can find. It's fun to think outside the box and cook up a recipe from scratch."
A four-person Mediterranean feast for £4.50 (PA Real Life/Collect)
Some of Rice's best dishes to date include a Mediterranean feast for four, complete with pomegranate and honey pork and three different types of salad for just $5.8, honey chicken tacos for $3.88 and chicken maple wraps with two side dishes for just $4.55.
She has also whipped up a roast for four people for $3, three different types of sushi rolls for between $2 and $3, depending on the filling and falafel with tomato and mint salad, new potatoes and Sriracha dip for just 96p.
But her piece de resistance came in July, when she challenged herself to make a restaurant-quality dish from yellow-sticker bargains and cooked duck with chestnut puree, orange jus, leeks and fondant potatoes for just under $5 for two.
The duck dish Clare made (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I used these old potatoes that I cut the moldy bits away from, plus some chestnuts from another recipe," she said, adding that her dishes can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours to produce.
“I like to get as much use out of my food as possible. I know some people like batch cooking and that it really works for them, but I prefer to mix it up."
“So, for example, I might get a load of tomatoes that I make into a soup, then the next day add some extra ingredients and turn it into a pasta sauce or something like that."
36p falafel, Greek salad and new potatoes (PA Real Life/Collect)
“The other day, I made Yorkshire puddings for a Sunday roast, then saved the batter to make pancakes with the next day. I'm trying to use all my food up without eating the same thing every day," she said.
Also, while she is strict with sell-by dates on some items, such as meat, Rice has some handy tips to extend the shelf life of other foodstuffs.
“So much goes in the bin when the food would be absolutely fine to eat. Don't just look at the date – have a sniff, see if there's any visible signs that something is on the turn," she said.
Turkey and courgette meatballs costing £2.28 (PA Real Life/Collect)
“Most things you can get a few extra days out of – especially if you look after your produce properly," Rice said.
“For example, with vegetables, I take them all out of the plastic and put them in my crisper drawer so that they don't go all wet and mushy."
“With herbs, you can get more life out of them by putting them in some water and treating them as if they're flowers."
Rice, who shares handy hints with other savvy shoppers on Instagram, now hopes to inspire other people to be creative in the kitchen and also to encourage them to reduce food waste.
“Some people can be a bit unsure in the kitchen, or are worried to try a recipe in case it goes wrong," she said.
“Reduced produce is a great way to get practice in. You're not going to mind if a recipe doesn't go to plan if it only cost you about 20p."
“We waste so much food. Perfectly good produce gets thrown out every day and it isn't sustainable. If we can focus on what we as individuals can do to help, that's a good place to start."
Clare (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I absolutely love whoopsie cooking, as I call it. It challenges me and gets me thinking," she concluded.
“Also, the kitchen is my tranquil place to switch off and get away from it all for a while – which is something we all need at the moment."