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?