Everyone in Australia has been talking about the cost of living. The price of groceries has skyrocketed, and we are all wondering how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
My partner and I have been talking A LOT about the cost of groceries. Like you, we want to provide our family with the best nutrition possible. But sometimes, it feels like eating healthy can be expensive and unaffordable.
Yet, there are ways to save money on your groceries bill without compromising nutrition. So here in this post, I’m sharing 5 things we are doing to help you cut grocery expenses while still providing our family with delicious and nutritious meals.
Grow your herbs and save money on your groceries bill.
Growing your own herbs is not only a fun and rewarding activity but can also save you money on your groceries bill. Fresh herbs can be expensive at the supermarket (roughly $4 AUD a punnet – at least $16-$20 a week if you like flavourful meals). But when you grow them at home, you’ll always have a fresh supply. Plus, homegrown herbs tend to be more flavorful and aromatic than store-bought varieties.
To get started, choose a few of your favourite herbs, such as basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, or mint, and plant them in pots or a small garden patch. Herbs are super easy to grow and require little maintenance. Plus, including fresh herbs in your meals is a great way to increase their medicinal quality, supporting a healthy immune system and the gut microbiome. With minimal effort, you’ll soon have a thriving herb garden that will save money and enhance your meals’ flavour and medicinal value.
Make a meal plan to save money on your groceries bill.
Meal planning is another excellent way to save money on your groceries bill while ensuring that your family gets the nutrients they need. By planning your meals for the week ahead, you can create a grocery list that only includes the ingredients you’ll actually use. This will help you avoid impulse purchases and reduce food waste.
I’ve personally observed the difference in my own family’s spending: when we had a rough idea of what we were going to be eating during the week and when we didn’t. When we didn’t meal plan we spent more money (roughly $150) on food that didn’t make up a whole meal. We also came home with more junk food and snacks because we ended up having to visit the shops more often.
Meal planning also helps you avoid the temptation to order takeout or eat out, which can be more expensive and less healthy than homemade meals. Plus, you can take advantage of lower fresh fruit and vegetable prices by planning your meals around seasonal produce and sales.
Use Your Freezer to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money
Don’t underestimate the power of your freezer! It can be your best friend when it comes to stretching your grocery budget. In fact, I use the freezer everyday. My partner always laughs and says I have a little obsession with freezing things – I always tell him it’s about reducing food waste and saving money, heheh.
You can buy in bulk, cook large batches of meals, and freeze the leftovers in portion sizes. This not only saves you time but also prevents food spoilage. Plus, having a stash of frozen meals on hand can be a lifesaver on those busy days when you don’t have time to cook from scratch. You can also simply freeze any left overs from the dinner you just made (no batch cooking necessary).
You can freeze fruit that your children didn’t eat in their lunch boxes and use it for smoothies or juices. You can freeze fruit that has gone soft and use them in smoothies, juices or cakes. You can also freeze any meat that you haven’t got around to eating straight away or freeze bread to keep it fresh.
Make a waste-free ‘scraps’ meal to save money on your groceries bill.
One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to reduce food waste. Many people throw away food scraps that could be used to create delicious and nutritious meals. So once you start meal planning, make sure to leave a day or two during the week for meals that are made with left-over foods. For example, save vegetable peels, stems, and leaves instead of discarding them to make nutrient-dense vegetable stock. You can also use leftover cooked grains or pasta to create a delicious fried rice or pasta salad. For each waste-free meal, you are roughly saving $20-$30 AUD on ingredients.
Similarly, leftover meats and vegetables can be used to make a tasty stir-fry, soup, or casserole. If you have wilted vegetables or greens, you can sauté them with garlic, olive oil, and your favourite spices for a quick side dish or add them to a frittata, quiche, or omelette. Stews and curries are also excellent options for utilizing food scraps or wilted vegetables, as they can easily be customized based on the ingredients you have on hand. By getting creative with your food scraps, you’ll save money on your groceries bill and help the environment by reducing waste.
Food Waste in Australian Households
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment, food waste is a significant issue in Australia. In 2016-2017, Australian households generated approximately 3.1 million tons of food waste, which accounts for about 34% of the country’s total food waste. Of this household food waste, 2.2 million tons (71%) ended up in landfill, while the remaining 0.9 million tons (29%) were diverted for recycling, composting, or other forms of recovery.
These statistics show that food waste is a considerable problem in Australian households. There is an excellent opportunity to reduce waste and save money by adopting more sustainable practices, such as meal planning and repurposing food scraps.
SAVE MONEY WHILE YOU SAVE THE PLANET’S RESOURCES
Don’t Worry about Buying Organic
Let’s take the pressure off! While buying organic produce and products is undoubtedly the best option, it’s important not to allow this to become a source of financial stress. Organic options (unless homegrown) can often be more expensive, and it’s okay to opt for non-organic choice, especially when it means alleviating financial stress.
In fact, financial stress is one of the TOP main causes of depression and anxiety. Your mental health plays a vital role in maintaining your gut health and overall wellbeing. If you are stressed about your groceries bill then opt for non-organic options and aim to give all your fruits and vegetables a good bicarb and vinegar wash, see recipe here.
Remember, a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods is still beneficial for your health, regardless of whether they are organic or not. In today’s society, there is an immense pressure on mothers to provide the best for their children, including buying organic food. However, it’s important to let go of the guilt associated with not being able to afford or access organic produce.
The pressure to buy organic can often stems from the perfect mother myth, where mothers believe that unless they can buy organic food then they aren’t a good mother. This is not true! The constant ‘mouse wheel’ chase of trying to achieve perfection creates unrealistic expectations and unnecessary guilt.
Remember that providing a balanced diet for you and your child is what truly matters. Focus on making the best choices within your means, and prioritise financial stability and overall well-being over the pressure to conform to societal ideals. Letting go of guilt allows you to embrace a more realistic and balanced approach to feeding your family.
So to wrap it up, remember that saving money on your groceries bill doesn’t have to mean compromising nutrition. By growing your herbs, planning your meals, and using food scraps to create waste-free meals, you can cut down on your grocery expenses while still providing your family with the nutrients they need for optimal health. Try incorporating these strategies into your weekly routine, and watch your grocery bill shrink without sacrificing the quality of your family’s meals.
- Australian Government – Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. (2021). National Food Waste Baseline. Retrieved from https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste/food-waste/national-food-waste-baseline
- Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. (2021). Food waste in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste/food-waste/food-waste-in-australia