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Groceries are costing almost $2000 more per year: Three tips for savings

More Australians are needing a helping hand to keep their bellies full.

More Australians are needing a helping hand to keep their bellies full. Photo: OzHarvest

Australian households could be forking out thousands more for their groceries this year, leaving many to look for savings tips and charitable help.

Finder data shows the average Australian household spent $185 on their weekly groceries in February – up $37 a week compared to February last year.

That figure adds up to a whopping $1924 increase per household over 12 months.

Clare Collins, laureate professor in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle, said rising prices at the checkout are definitely a factor.

But some of shoppers’ extra spend could also stem from eating out less to cut costs – which a previous Finder survey revealed more than half of Australians are doing.

OzHarvest founder and CEO Ronni Kahn told TND that the overall rising cost of living, including petrol, rent and food, has charities unable to keep up with the growing number of people needing help.

The food rescue organisation can’t keep up with demand; there are currently 600 charities on its waiting list.

“For example, at our OzHarvest Market [in Sydney last week], we served 420 people in one day. That’s probably the highest number we’ve seen,” Ms Khan said.

“What we’re finding [is] that there’s a new demographic of people who have never needed help before.

“They have a job, they have huge mortgages, and the struggle for them is absolutely real.”

So if you’ve found yourself struggling to put food on the table, you’re not alone, and resources have been developed to help.

OzHarvest runs a Nutrition Education Skills Training (NEST), a six-week program teaching adults easy ways to cook and eat healthily on a budget; Dr Collins helped develop a website, No Money No Time, featuring advice from nutrition experts on how to eat healthy food for less.

Read on to find some quick tips on how you could save on your next grocery shop.

Write a shopping list

Writing a shopping list before you head to the supermarket will remind you to check your fridge and pantry to make sure you’re not doubling up on anything.

Sticking to the list while shopping will help prevent extra spending.

“We always say make a shopping list, because that actually saves money, because then you are buying exactly what you need and you’re not adding anything else in that you might already have,” Ms Kahn said.

Swap out pricey ingredients

Meat and seafood prices rose 8.2 per cent over the past year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

If you’re looking to keep costs down, Ms Kahn said swapping meat for lentils or canned beans in your dishes is the way to go.

savings

Leaning to simpler and cheaper recipes can make a world of difference to your budget. Photo: OzHarvest

Fresh produce can also leave a bigger hole in your pocket, so you could head down the freezer aisle and pick up frozen fruit and vegetables.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are often cheaper, can be stored for longer and can hold even more nutritional value than their fresh counterparts.

Use everything up

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, make sure you’re not wasting the food you do buy.

Dr Collins said research shows people who eat out during the week often have to throw out food they have not eaten at home.

“That tells me that people probably do their grocery shopping on autopilot,” she said.

“They don’t look in the fridge and freezer to see what they’ve still got. They don’t look in the pantry … we kind of buy the same old, same old every week.”

Savings

Don’t let your fresh food go to waste. Photo: OzHarvest

Plan ahead if you want to have a couple of meals out during the week, and shop accordingly.

Dr Collins also suggested introducing something like a ‘Waste-not Wednesday’, where you use every Wednesday as an opportunity to look at the food you have and figure out what will be wasted if you don’t eat it in the next couple of days.

Other savings tips include using unit pricing to figure out which product is offering the most for your dollar, signing up to supermarket loyalty programs, and switching to home-brand products.

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