As inflation, cost of living and interest rates rise, many Australians are feeling the pinch - especially when it comes to groceries.
But while costs soar and budgets are tight, there are some simple hacks you can use to cut the cost of your weekly shopping bill, so you get more for less and still have room to enjoy your favourite foods.
1. Plan ahead: Planning your meals and snacks for the week ahead not only benefits your health but your wallet, too.
How? Firstly, planning before you visit the shops means you can see what you’ve already got on hand, and create meals around these foods.
Got some tinned tomatoes and lentils sitting in your pantry? Then why not make beef and lentil bolognese? Also, by planning, you can use certain ingredients across several meals for example, pumpkin in a soup or roasted in a salad or cooking a meal in bulk to re-purpose in another.
Try using that spaghetti sauce in a lasagna for later in the week. By doing this, you’ll have more money in your kitty for foods that you love or may cost more to purchase.
2. Go generic: Bread, pasta, canned goods - you name it - chances are there’s a generic version on the shelves for half the price.
And while most people think the generic alternative is lower in quality or taste, this is not always the case.
Branded products are typically more expensive as they’re passing on costs from research, marketing, and advertising to improve their sales, or transporting products to stores.
Sometimes they’re even made in the same factory as branded options! So next time you’re at the shops, try opting for generic products instead to make room in your budget for the foods you cherish most.
If you’re feeling a little hesitant, start by making the switch with household staples like sugar, flour, spices, and canned goods to make the transition a little smoother.
3. Try canned or frozen veg: The cost of fresh produce is where we’re seeing some of the big price hikes, so swapping to canned or frozen varieties is a great way to save on your weekly shop.
While these often get a bad rap, canned and frozen varieties are just as nutritious, as most are picked and packaged in season.
Plus, they also offer convenience given their extended shelf and storage life. You don’t have to swap all your produce for frozen and canned varieties.
Start with products like frozen peas, berries and broccoli, or canned corn and tomatoes that fare just as well in your meals and snacks.
4. Choose in-season produce: This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re still wanting to purchase fresh fruit and veggies, make sure they are in season.
Not only is in season produce cheaper given they’re in higher supply, but it's also because there are fewer travelling and storage expenses involved.
Plus, produce in season is also fresher, more nutritious and of greater quality, as it travels fewer km’s from farm to store.
5. Batch cook and freeze: If you’ve got the freezer space, then make the most of it! Purchasing in bulk tends to be more cost-effective, meaning you’re getting the most bang for your buck on your weekly groceries.
Meals like pasta sauces, curries, and slow cooker casseroles are all great dishes you can cook in bulk and freeze, so you can enjoy it later in the week, or even in the weeks to follow.
In doing this, you’ll have more money spare to prioritise the exy items like fresh produce, treats or even the occasional takeaway night!
Kamyra La Fauci is the senior dietitian at Heart Smart Australia.