Saving money on groceries and reducing food waste
Saving money on groceries is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment, and cost savings don’t have to compete with eating healthily. A staggering 20% of food that Australians buy at the supermarket goes in the bin, so planning ahead when you shop and cook is sure to save you money, as well as reduce food waste.
Planning your meals for the week is one of the best ways to limit unnecessary purchases and get the most out of what you buy. You’ll need a shopping list, so write one that you stick to. It’s a great idea to first look at the supermarket catalogues (these can also be found online) and if possible, plan your meals around staples and healthy options that are on special. Also be sure to check what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
When you shop
Timing can work in your favour, as supermarkets often reduce the price of items later in the day. Bakery, fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy usually go on sale in the evenings. Consider buying canned or frozen foods, as this can also reduce food waste. For more tips, see our previous post on fresh, frozen and canned foods.
Buy your fruit and vegetables loose, not pre-packed. This has been shown to help save on food waste (you only buy what you need), and is better for our environment. Shopping in bulk when things are on special can be a great money saver, but be sure to have a plan for effective storage, as it won’t be a bargain if it spoils and ends up in the bin.
Cooking and storage
Meat can be a costly part of your shop. Knowing the recommended serve sizes to cook can be helpful as meat is often something we over-eat. By weight, approximately 100g of uncooked meat or chicken is what to aim for per person. Meat dishes can be bulked out with budget friendly ingredients such as tinned lentils and beans, which work well in mince dishes like tacos, bolognaise, meatloaf and burger patties.
Keep your fresh produce out of direct sunlight, and store ripe fruit away from fruit that is less ripe, as it will speed up the ripening. If you store your fresh vegetables and fruits in plastic bags or containers in the fridge, put 2 sheets of paper towel in with it. This will absorb moisture the food produces, and prevent soggy spoiled produce. Some fruit and vegetables naturally last longer than others, so are good options to have in your weekly shop. These include cabbage, celery, carrots, onions, fresh beetroot, potatoes and pumpkin.
Prepared by Kara Vogt – Accredited Practicing Dietitian