Food prices have risen for a variety of reasons, including rising costs of gasoline, fertilizer and labor.
You could “shop” for cheaper groceries, but that would cost you more in fuel or travel, not to mention time.
Research shows that a healthy diet costs low-income families 20 to 30 percent of their disposable income. But a healthy diet remains cheaper than one dominated by highly processed foods and drinks.
Cutting your grocery bill requires planning, flexibility and budget knowledge.
So how do you do it?
Start by checking which fruits and vegetables are in season and find recipes that include them.
Swap some fresh veggies and fruits for canned and frozen varieties, and swap out very expensive items with cheaper alternatives.
Eat a meatless meal at least once a week.
Then, create a shopping list. This helps save money by reducing impulse shop purchases. See what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer, and buy only what you need. This will reduce food waste.
Check the online catalogs for special offers before heading to the stores. Once in the store, compare prices and choose the cheapest brands. This makes nutritious meals more affordable.
How much do families spend on shopping?
A 2021 survey found that the supermarket’s average grocery bill was A $ 98 per week for one person, $ 145 for two, $ 168 for three, $ 187 for four, and $ 255 for five or more people.
An old 2016 survey found that the average family (2.6 people) spent $ 269 per week on all food ($ 237) and alcohol ($ 32) purchases, both at the grocery and other outlets.
About half of the money was spent on “discretionary” items like out-of-home meals or fast food ($ 80), with $ 20 spent on lollipops, chocolate, savory snacks, and chips, and $ 10 on cakes, cookies, and puddings. The supermarket spent $ 26 a week on fruit and vegetables.
A 2019 survey found that the average person spent $ 300 a week on all food and drink. This included groceries ($ 135), eating out ($ 52), alcohol ($ 31), takeaway ($ 22), barista coffee / tea ($ 13), food delivery services ($ 12), supplements ( $ 12) and health foods ($ 11).
These surveys show that it is common to spend more on food and drink consumed outside the home than on groceries and more on unhealthy items than healthy ones.
How about saving $ 50?
5 tips to help you save
Putting all this together, here are five key tips to keep in mind when planning food for your family:
1. Have a food budget
The total food budget dollars will be influenced by how many people you need to feed, their age and your family income. A rough rule of thumb is that it shouldn’t cost more than a third of the family’s total disposable income.
Assign target amounts in your budget for both basic and nutritious foods and discrete foods and drinks (soft drinks, chips, cookies, cakes, lollipops, cakes, pastries and cold cuts) and for out-of-home foods (cafes, fast food, pubs) , clubs, wine shops and restaurants).
2. Make a weekly schedule for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
Write a corresponding shopping list. Check your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have or if you can swap ingredients to save a purchase.
3. Prepare lunch
Buy a packed lunch and prepare it the night before. Put it in the fridge so you can pick it up and go in the morning. For ideas, check out our $ 5 homemade lunches.
If your mornings are too busy, pack your breakfast foods too.
4. Cook more meals at home
Cooking more meals at home might include cheaper, healthier versions of some of your favorite take-out dishes like pizza and burgers.
A US study found that those who cooked the most at home spent half as much money on food outside the home as those who cooked infrequently. They also spent 17% less on food in general.
Interestingly, both groups spent the same on groceries suggesting that rare home cookers wasted more food, ate more, or both.
5. Cook the double batches
Cook larger quantities of meals like curries, soups and casseroles and freeze them or eat the same meal twice.
For those who need to shop on a remarkably tight budget, we’ve developed a $ 60 / week meal plan on our No Money No Time website. This free resource contains a meal plan with inexpensive recipes designed to meet the key nutrients needed for health.
If you need help getting food right now, try the Ask Izzy website. By submitting your zip code, it shows support services, such as free meals, near you.
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Hannah McCormick and Ilyse Jones of the No Money No Time Project team in preparing this article.
Clare Collins, graduate professor of nutrition and dietetics, Newcastle University and Megan Whatnall, postdoctoral researcher in nutrition and dietetics, Newcastle University
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.