Five ways you may be wasting money on food

Here are five ways you may be wasting money on food.

Man with trolley holding grocery receipt at supermarket

Food doesn’t come cheap, so if an option to save money arises, wouldn’t we all take it? These are five common ways you could be wasting money on food – and how to start saving.

1. You don’t plan meals

If you find yourself making last-minute trips to the supermarket to find something for tonight’s dinner, then you’re probably not planning your meals well. Deciding what to cook ahead of time and writing a grocery list is a sure-fire way of saving time (and money).

The advantages of planning meals ahead of time are numerous. You can:

  • shop once per week
  • take advantage of catalogue specials
  • choose healthier meals
  • avoid the takeaway temptation
  • vary your diet
  • track your spending
  • reduce last-minute dinner stress.

2. You don’t cook

Maybe you don’t like cooking or simply don’t know how. If the idea of cooking every night frustrates you, then batch cooking is the perfect solution. This way you can prepare a few nights’ meals in one go, saving yourself time later in the week. Cooking extra portions for lunch leftovers is also handy.

3. You buy your meals out

Buying lunches and eating takeaway for dinner is the number one way people tend to waste money on food. Going out for meals – for those who can while part of Australia is in lockdown – is one of life’s pleasures but with a meal costing around $15–$30 on average, who can afford to eat out regularly? Try to limit how often you eat out. Instead, pack lunches that you know you will enjoy.

4. You buy on-trend foods and at fancy shops

There is a large trend towards organic, allergy-free and paleo-friendly foods, but unless you have specific dietary restrictions, you’re probably paying through the nose for products that you don’t really need. In supermarkets, shoppers end up paying a premium for foods with buzzwords such ‘organic’, ‘hand-picked’ and ‘superfoods’ written on the packaging. Companies often use these words to exploit shoppers into buying trendy, more expensive food items. So while fresh and local groceries are generally best, be mindful of not getting caught by savvy marketing.

5. You spend too much on fresh produce

What’s in the bottom drawer of your fridge? Many of us are guilty of stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables only to end up forgetting to use them before they spoil. Nothing beats fresh produce, but packets of frozen fruit and vegetables are pretty close. You can also buy in-season fruits, such as berries, and freeze them for later in the year. If you’re the crafty type, you might like to try canning and pickling your own produce.

Read more on how to stretch your food budget.

What are your tips for saving money on food?


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    casper dude
    25th Aug 2020
    Grow your own 'easy to grow' salads and veggies in a raised bed if you have a bad back. I have a raised herb garden and never have to buy the staple salads and herbs all year round. Just open the back door, pick and eat the very fresh home grown. Saves loads and healthy.
    Ted Wards
    25th Aug 2020
    I wish I could Casper, i live in a tiny studio unt!
    25th Aug 2020
    You can grow sprouts Ted, and also there are these things you can buy to grow indoors, Urbipod and others. If you have a window letting in enough sunlight you could grow a few herbs and leafy greens in small pots.
    Yes Casper, best way to stay healthy eat as fresh as you can.
    25th Aug 2020
    Number 5, well just eat your fresh produce more, the cost of packaged food is much more expensive when you consider the nutrition of fresh verses packaged. My fridge is so full of fresh produce I cannot get anymore in, and it all gets eaten or juiced. Organic is free of pesticides and worth the extra money but you need to buy it from an organic supplier not the supermarkets.
    25th Aug 2020
    Might mean more trips out - which I walk, so it's good exercise - but I prefer to buy only the food I will eat within the next 3-4 days. Don't like frozen meals, I don't eat meat but have frozen salmon & trout, prefer fresh (can't freeze a salad). My fridge is pretty bare, but rarely anything gets thrown out. I refuse to buy pre-packaged products as much as I can.

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