Doing a big food shop in the supermarket the other day, I bumped into someone I knew in the aisles and greeted her warmly.
To my surprise, instead of returning my welcome, her eyes darted around nervously and she looked totally flustered and ill at ease.
After surreptitiously sniffing my armpits to make sure I wasn’t pongy, I realised her expression was one of guilt and embarrassment than horror.
“Maybe she’s having an affair!” I thought while I looked around to see if there was a man circling her who wasn’t her significant other.
“Or maybe she’s shoplifting.” was my next deduction as I eyed her pockets to see if I could spot any suspicious bulges.
That’s when I clocked the contents of her shopping trolley. It all had little yellow reduced stickers on. Now I’m no snob when it comes to picking up the odd bargain from the reduced to clear shelf. In fact, what I really can’t abide waste and hate to think of supermarkets discarding perfectly good food just because the date on the packaging has passed.
After all, just because the clock strikes midnight, does that mean the pasty you were going to sink your teeth into minutes earlier has suddenly gone off? I didn’t know food could tell the time.
When so much food can be frozen perfectly safely, why shouldn’t shoppers take advantage of treating themselves to quality food at rock bottom prices. While I wouldn’t advocate poisoning yourself by eating out of date food that is past its best, I usually find the sniff test works pretty well in judging whether to scoff or leave it because it’s gone off.
The extreme reaction of my acquaintance at being spotted with her haul of clearance bargains made me realise that our bargain bragging doesn’t seem to extend to foodstuffs.
How many times have you admired someone’s dress or new top only to have them reply smugly: “£10 from Primark.” Or: “This? It only cost me six quid from George at Asda!”
We all love bagging a bargain – and now it seems we love boasting about our cut price deals.
Most of us have experienced the thrill of snaffling a superb deal in the last few seconds of bidding on eBay and we get a real kick out finding something perfect in the sale racks that is just our size. And we love sharing our savvy stories on bargain purchases from clothes to holidays and cars.
A recent study has shown that typically, people start boasting about their great deals within 24 hours – and 30 per cent tell someone within an hour.
One in 10 people even admits to preferring the thrill of getting a bargain to sex.
Bargain boasting even overtakes people bragging about their children, holidays, cars, home and social life.
But while you often hear people crowing about paying well under the odds for most things, you rarely hear them say: “I got a great sandwich for 10p” or invite you to dinner and boast about the dessert being reduced to a quid in Marks.
For some reason, while in other areas of life, bargain hunting is seen as being shrewd, when it comes to reduced food, people are afraid as being seen as miserly.
It can be amusing to see people surrounding supermarket staff like vultures when they see them with a reduced price label gun in their hand.
A former boss who was a regular Waitrose shopper went against the grain of most people and took great pleasure in sharing tales of all his reduced to clear bargains with us.
He regularly regaled us with stories of how going to the store at just the right time meant food bargains galore and he dined like a king.
The only problem was, he convinced himself that getting something for cut price was a good excuse for eating double – which wasn’t great for his waist line.
He also told how he could elbow other shoppers out of the way in his haste to get a bargain with the best of them.
You know what they say: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
Happy bargain hunting.