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1. Read Labels & Choose Your Battles
When deciding between brands like store-brand (such as Essentials, Pams, Value) versus name-brand, I always read the ingredients list first. If the cheaper alternative has similar, or perhaps even better nutrition contents, I will obviously go for the cheaper option.
It is a common misconception that cheaper brands fill their products with additives, sugar, salt etc. It's not always the case and unlikely for products with only a few ingredients to begin with (like milk).
In other instances, I choose to pay for a premium.
When to buy premium
While a $1 loaf of bread sounds good budget wise, I would argue that buying a loaf that costs a couple of dollars extra but contains twice as much fibre (which keeps you fuller for longer), as well as more whole grains and seeds is worth it.
If you drink non-dairy milk, I would also recommend looking at the ingredients and nutrition information panel because the amount of calcium and other fortified nutrients can vary between brands and price-ranges.
Personal preference obviously plays a huge part in your buying decisions. If you simply cannot give up the fancy $6 jar of peanut butter, then look elsewhere in your shopping trolley to make those savings.
2. Think Fruit & Veggies Are Expensive? Think Again.
Bananas cost $3 a kilogram. A bag of the cheapest potato chips costs $1.00 per 100g. So that’s $10 a kilogram. Tim Tams? At $3.50 for a 175g packet, I could buy enough bananas to last me a week. I don’t know about you but I could polish off a tray of Tim Tams (that’s 9 biscuits to be exact), pretty damn quickly.
The point is, keep snack foods like biscuits and potato chips for a treat, rather than a regular item on your grocery list. It's good for your wallet, and your health.
- Cheaper fresh fruit and veg can usually be found at Asian grocery stores, and the Countdown Odd Bunch range is also great!
3. Frozen Veg = New BFF
It wouldn’t be a budget grocery shop without a bag of frozen veggie trio right? Well, a huge part of eating healthy is to have a variety of foods and colours in your diet, so the humble carrot-pea-corn combo is doing just that. Half a cup is equivalent to one serving size of vegetables - you are aiming for three serves a day!
Frozen fruit and vegetables retain a lot of their nutrients because they are picked at peak ripeness and snap frozen. One down side to some frozen produce is the change in texture and flavour, but it all depends on what you're using it for. Smoothies, baking, soups, curries and stews are all good times to use frozen!
4. Eat More Pulses & Less Meat
Is your fave flat meal Spaghetti Bolognese? How about next time, cut the amount of mince you use in half (you can freeze it for another time), and add in a cup of lentils? There is no doubt that beans and lentils are much cheaper than meat, and they are still a great protein source.
- Opt for dried lentils because they don't require soaking and are easy to cook.
- Dried beans are a cheaper option but require more prep time, usually a soak of 45 minutes is required. I prefer canned beans for the convenience (no soaking needed), but an easy solution for dried beans is to start soaking them the night before in the fridge.
And finally, here are my favourite budget-friendly items to add to my trolley...
- A great site for looking at what's in season is through 5aday here.
And a sample of a few grocery shops in Dunedin
Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post, and found a few useful tips for how to save money next time you're at the supermarket! Small amounts add up, so don't look down on saving a few cents here and there.
You can find me on Instagram for more healthy food ideas and recipes! Catch you next time!