7 ways to save on your food bill | Rabobank New Zealand
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7 ways to save on your food bill

New Zealanders are spending more on their groceries than ever before. Household food spend makes up a significant portion of New Zealand household budgets. In fact, a 2018 study reported that the average grocery bill in New Zealand was a whopping $290 for a weekly grocery shop for a family with two school-aged children. But do we eat it all?

The statistics speak for themselves. New Zealand households throw away 86kgs of edible food every single year. Households are the main offenders, but primary production, restaurants and supermarkets rel="noopener noreferrer" have food wastage too. When our food waste ends up at our local landfills, the lack of oxygen as our food decomposes means that our landfills are releasing more methane. These carbon emissions affect our environment, our future and our wallets. There has never been a better time to start shopping smarter.

Reducing your food waste is one of the best ways to immediately reduce your grocery bill. Ready to start saving? In this blog, we look at seven practical ways you can start cutting down your spend on groceries today.

Fruits and vegetables.

1. Set a budget

Your budget doesn’t have to be the bare minimum. To help you stick to the numbers, allow for a few treats or luxuries. Ask around your household for things each family member can’t possibly do without. Then get creative with investigating cheaper brands or buying in bulk to bring your grocery costs down. Your household might have some good ideas on ways to trim grocery expenses too, so make sure you get everyone involved and on board.

There are some simple ways to ensure your budget keeps on track - try online shopping for both the convenience of home delivery, and the comfort of knowing that you have an ongoing tally as you add each item into your shopping cart. It’s simple to delete non-urgent items at the end to meet your budget, and you don’t have that temptation of slipping a few extra items into your physical shopping trolley!

2. Meal plan

Never go to the supermarket hungry! The worst food purchase decisions are always made with empty stomachs - the temptation is to purchase easily prepared and often unhealthy food options. Instead, carefully plan your meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks!) and shop accordingly. You don’t necessarily need to plan what you’re having every second of the day, but loosely what meals you’ll prepare over the course of the week.

Meal planning has a few added bonuses. Knowing what you’re making for key meals certainly takes the panic out of busy lives and action packed schedules, as does knowing you have all the ingredients to throw together when you’re ready to cook. It’s also a great way to stay within your budget, save you time, reduce those extra trips to the supermarket for ingredients and prevent those additional impulse purchases while you’re there! What’s more…meal planning is a fantastic way to ensure you only buy what you need and reduce your household food waste as a result.

If you’re super organised, a great approach for your household might be to collect your fresh rel="noopener noreferrer" fruit and vegetables weekly, a fortnightly supermarket shop and a monthly meat shop. This will really reduce your supermarket trips and impulse buying, and allow you plenty of scope to mix up meal plans week to week.

3. Use shopping lists

Laser focus at the supermarket is essential for keeping your budget on track. That’s where the good old fashioned shopping list comes in. If you visit the same supermarket each week, consider breaking up your list into sections. You know the layout of your local supermarket well, so break your list down so that it follows a logical order:

  • fruit and veggies
  • meat
  • breakfast cereals
  • baking and canned goods
  • health and beauty
  • cleaning supplies
  • frozens and cold shelf items
  • alcohol

This will make it easier to stick to your list, quicker to move round the store and to make sure you have everything.

Like meal planning, sticking to a shopping list means you are less likely to buy food that you don’t need. This is a fantastic way to prevent potential food waste. If we all only buy the food we need, we can make a huge dent in New Zealand’s food waste problem. The impact on your savings is a bonus!

4. Eat seasonally

By eating seasonally, you’re often eating rel="noopener noreferrer" locally too. At Rabobank, we are incredibly proud of the local growers and farmers we work with everyday, and encourage you to support them by buying New Zealand-grown where possible.

Eating seasonally usually has a positive impact on your wallet. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are plentiful and therefore at a great price point. Not to mention, the freshest produce you’ll find. Look out for fruit and vegetable seconds too, which will taste the same, but won’t be able to be sold offshore as they won’t look as ‘attractive’.

For households with a chest freezer, you can save time and money by buying seasonal produce when it’s cheap and freezing to use later. Think about the storage of it - try chopping up broccoli so it’s ready to steam or stir fry, or slicing bananas so they’re perfect for your next smoothie.

If you’re environmentally conscious, you’ll appreciate the reduced carbon footprint that local, seasonal produce can provide you. Are the imported, out–of-season raspberries really worth the food miles and exorbitant cost you’ll pay for them? Can you justify this expense at the cost of other essential items on your shopping list?

5. Shop at local farmers markets

For some, the weekly trip to the local Farmers Market is the highlight of the weekend! There is something special about talking to the people that have grown or made your food, that helps you really connect with it. There are of course high-end items being sold at these, but for many, the local farmers market is a source of locally grown, in season produce and food items.

Working a Farmers Market trip into your grocery budget can be appealing to get cheap deals (it’s cheaper because you cut out the ‘middleman’), and it can be really rewarding to know that you’ve directly supported the families in your community too.

Here at Rabobank Online Savings, we love knowing that we’re helping farmers and growers feed our nation.

Crate of goods from a farmers market.

6. Eat your leftovers

If leftovers bring back memories of tasteless, overcooked meals that no one enjoyed the first night, then it’s time to re-think this budgeting lifesaver! Reheating last night’s dinner makes a quick, easy and free lunch so it’s time to prioritise. You can also look to consciously make extra of something one night and freeze for an easy meal another night. Think how you can save time with meal preparation so that the next night’s meal is a few steps ahead (for example, cooking extra pasta and saving half for tomorrow night’s pasta bake).

If you have fruit and veggies getting past their use by date, this is the time to blitz them in the blender to make smoothies, or add them to simple muffins or other baked goods for more nutritious snacks. If you don’t have time or inspiration, freeze them so they’re ready to go when you’re ready.

Hot tip: Label and organise your frozen foods so your chest freezer doesn’t become overwhelming.

7. Don't use shortcuts

Heat and eat, microwaveable meals are quick and easy but you do tend to pay for the convenience. Instead, buy bulk rice and cook it the old fashioned way, rather than using the microwaveable pouches. Quick porridge sachets are another offender, as are individually packaged cereals. Budget conscious shoppers should look to buy the bulk foods they use often, as they’ll start to see savings quite quickly.

What to do with those hard earned savings?

Try not to give into temptation and ‘treat’ yourself with your hard earned grocery savings. Instead, top up your savings accounts and make your money work for other financial goals. Whether it’s a family holiday, new car or a house rel="noopener noreferrer" deposit, you’ve worked hard for your money, so work hard to save it too. Our NoticeSaver account is a great option for keen savers!

Savings jar.

It's never too late to start

We get it, it’s hard and boring to save, but the right goal can motivate you to put that plan into action. It’s never too late, or too small. Small savings can really add up over time, especially when rel="noopener noreferrer" you take interest you’ll earn into account.

What’s more, an online savings account with Rabobank Online Savings helps support local New Zealand farmers and growers. To read more about how we are building awareness on the issue of food waste in New Zealand and our role as New Zealand’s only specialist food and agri bank bank supporting sustainable food production rel="noopener noreferrer" – check out this video.

For more great ideas of how to save money and reduce your household food waste, check out our Food Waste page – we have recipes for your leftovers, tips and tricks for making the most of your food, to help New Zealand eat healthy nutritious food with minimal waste.

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