How to eat well when the cost of living is going up

Nov 20, 2022
Keep grocery prices low while still eating healthy. Source: Getty

Do you feel as though the major supermarkets are charging a hidden entry fee at the moment? You’re not alone! With the cost-of-living soaring, many people tend to think eating healthy is just not attainable, or simply, not affordable!  

But eating healthily doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg at the checkout– even as grocery prices soar. Here, accredited practicing dietitian, Alicia Brown from the online health program, Waist Busters Australia,  shares her top tips for filling the fridge with nutritious foods without emptying the bank account: 

1. Make a list and stick to it

Have you ever heard the saying “By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail”? It’s true in this case too! A simple plan before hitting the grocery store can help stretch each dollar further.  

First off, it’s important to know what you are going to eat for the week. So, start off with meal planning. This helps you create a list of ingredients that you actually need, rather than buying on impulse at the supermarket. Plus, you can opt for meals that use the same selection of vegetables to minimize wastage.  

2. Buy in bulk

In order to stretch your money further, paying a bit extra for more can really help. Take natural almonds for instance, as these are a great healthy snack. At Woolworths, when bought in a 150g bag they are $21/kg, then the pre-portioned 6 packs are $16.67/kg, and lastly, when bought in a large 750g bag they are $13.33/kg. That is between a $3 to $7 saving right there, just by buying in bulk.  

If you look closely at the fine print on the food labels, you’ll be able to see the price per kilogram under the item price – use this to compare and ensure you’re getting bang for your buck!  

The same goes for the meat aisle! Purchasing meat in bulk and then freezing it into meal-friendly portions helps to stretch that penny even further. Just remember to write the date of purchase on the freezer bag so you don’t leave it for too long. 

3. Frozen and Canned produce

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables tend to get a bad wrap, but, from a nutritional standpoint they can be just as good and, in some cases, are even better than the fresh alternative!  

Frozen fruits and vegetables are actually picked and frozen at their peak. This means they are packed with nutrients! They work nicely in smoothies, soups, and stir-fries. Canned vegetables may not always have the same taste or texture but are super budget friendly and keep for ages. In both cases, they help to reduce food waste. Just be mindful and check to see on the labeling that there isn’t any extra added salt or sugar. 

4. Forget the brands

When it comes to saving money at the supermarket, this is the easiest swap you can make. Home brand items are just as good quality as the ‘real thing’, just without the fancy packaging and the hefty price tag. Let’s look at oats, a staple breakfast food.

You could be saving close to $5 just by removing a name! 

5. Give vegetable mixes and odd bunches a go

Believe it or not, but those big bags of pre-cut coleslaw or stir fry vegetables are not only a time saver but also a money saver too. If you think about the cost to buy broccoli, capsicum, carrot, and cabbage to throw in a stir fry you will far exceed the $3-5 it costs to buy a pre-mixed bag. Perfectly portioned for 2-4  services, these pre-mixed salads help to reduce food waste and provide a wide range of variety of options you might not otherwise be game enough to try!  

Now it’s time to stop being judgmental and give the odd bunch a go! These slightly differently shaped or discolored fruit and vegetables are just as good as their ‘perfect’ brothers and sisters! They have the same taste and nutritional composition but can be around $2 cheaper per kilogram. 

6. Shop around

When it comes to groceries, it truly does pay to do your research and shop around! Start by looking at weekly catalog specials to see where you can make some savings on your trolley staples.  

Lastly, convenience costs. So doing all of your grocery shops at one major supermarket may really empty out that wallet. Where possible, try to go to local farmers’ markets or green groceries to get direct discounts straight from the farm. 

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