Eating on a Budget

Eating on a budget! ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‡
How To Shop To Reduce Your Spend and the real cost of food.

There is a general consensus that healthy food is more expensive. My response to this, is always: “No. And yes!” It totally depends!

For those on low incomes or beneficiaries, then yes, healthy food is probably out of their reach. (Benefits have been calculated to give people 20% LESS than a very low and unrealistic food budget. This budget was designed by an Otago dietitian, who later said, it was not feasible, as it was too low. But that’s another matter!) I know people that have $80 to $100 to feed their family of 4 for a week. It is virtually impossible to fill up kids, on that kind of budget.

Then there are people that spend lots on food and purchase more of the pre-packaged health food items like goji berries, bliss balls, paleo cereal and organic sausages. If you choose to buy these products that’s totally fine, but they aren’t necessary to eat healthily and if budget is a concern, then taking items, such as these, off your shopping list, will save you heaps of dosh.

I thought it would be best to start with the Otago University Food Costs Survey (FCS), 2016, to find out exactly how much it costs to feed our families.

The FCS looks at how much it costs to buy food, in 4 major NZ cities and breakdown the costs into food groups and ages and give 3 different budgets (basic, moderate and liberal).

Let’s take my family for example. We have 2 adults and 3 kids, living in Auckland. My kids are nearly 12, nearly 10 and 8, so we will class the children as x1 adolescent and x2 10 year olds.

The cost of food for us, for a week, on the 3 different budgets are:
Basic: $280.00
Liberal: $438.00

I aim to spend around $300 a week, but its probably more like $350 – so somewhere between basic and moderate.

If you want to know more about how the Otago Food Costs Survey is calculated and what factors they consider, you can check out the FCS document (link below).

Food values: What drives your decision to buy certain foods? Research shows that food cost is the main factor that influences our buying decisions. But other factors come into play when we are deciding what products to buy and that’s where Food values come in. For example: Food Specific eg. preservative, colour, additiv

e, gluten, dairy (etc) free. Free Range Recyclable Packaging Reduced packaging (eg. choosing not to buy individually packaged items) Made by an ethical company Locally made or grown Spray Free SPCA approved Animal welfare eg crate/cage/barn free Food Miles Organic Fair Trade Before we can talk about how to reduce our spending, we need to decide what food values are important to us. These will be different for each of us, depending on our budget, availability of food (what shops/markets etc are close by and whether we have reliable transport) and personal preferences.

๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ†Shopping Strategies๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ‹

๐Ÿ‰1. Shop around!
Local grocers, farmers markets, butchers, and bin inn stores are often cheaper than the supermarket. Shopping like this, does take more time, but allows you to shop around for quality and price. If you live in a rural area or don’t have access to different shops, try shopping online or joining a co-op, this will help you reduce your spend. For example, Organic Polenta in Pak n Save was $4.89 for a 450gram pack. Polenta in my local Bulk barn is $3.40 a kilo. It’s a no brainer.

๐Ÿ‰2. Don’t be a brand snob!
Often, products are marketed to be of higher quality than other ‘brands’ but are actually identical, some even come from the same factory and simply have different packaging. This particularly applies for dairy products, such as yoghurt, milk, cheese and butter. Buying that budget brand milk will save you heaps of dosh, with no difference in quality.

๐Ÿ‰3. Reduce the amount of packet foods you buy.
Packet foods are expensive and companies make more money, the more processed a food is. Especially individually packaged items, like muesli bars. For example, The Tasti brand, wholefood type muesli bars are $4.49 at Pak n Save for 5 bars. You could make 40 bliss balls, in ten minutes, for half that price! Or you can buy a jar of Pics Peanut butter for around $5.90. Or you could buy 1 kg of raw peanuts for $4.50. Roast them. Whizz them. And have 2 jars of peanut butter for less money. This rule applies to every item you can buy, you can always do a cheaper version at home, for less money and not too much hassle. The more food you make from scratch, the more money will you save.

๐Ÿ‰4. Keep your shopping list basic
You don’t need to eat goji berries and matcha powder (for $436.00 a kg at the fancy new Ponsonby shop!๐Ÿ˜ฑ) to be healthy. Buy these if you choose to, but they are not necessary for a healthy diet. Base your food shop on in season vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, legumes (tinned or dry), dairy products (or dairy free alternatives), oil, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices for flavour and grains such as oats, rice, buckwheat and flours. Anything on top of that, is extra.

When you’re in the Supermarket:
๐ŸŒHave a full stomach. If you shop when hungry you are way more likely to buy stuff you don’t need
๐ŸŽHave a list and stick to it.
๐Ÿ‰Buy in bulk
๐ŸHave a few favourite brands/items and buy the ones on special
๐Ÿ“Reduce the frequency of your shops, to reduce the amount of impulse spends
๐Ÿ†Buy half a beast and shove it in the deep freeze
๐ŸBuy seconds and cook them straight away – any left overs can go in the freezer for later.
๐Ÿ‹Choose cheaper cuts of meat. Eye fillet steak is delicious, but chuck steak is just as nutritious, the only difference is you can’t fast fry chuck steak!
๐Ÿ‡Buy fruit and vegetables from local sources and in season