Big Savings by Getting Back to Basics
Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman
Since 2003 the Department of Human Nutrition at Otago University has been publishing a healthy diet weekly food cost report. It is useful research so we thought we would highlight some of their findings.
- It costs about $60 a week to feed an adult (slightly more for a man than a woman). Adolescent boys cost $77 and adolescent girls $64. Ten year old appetites cost $50 and it costs $27 a week for a 1 year old. These costs assume a “basic” diet where foods are purchased at a supermarket and prepared at home.
- A “moderate” diet (which allows for an increase in the variety of meats, fish, fruits and vegetables and some convenience foods) costs 30% more, and a “liberal” diet (more convenience and imported foods, some out of season fruits and vegetables, more expensive cuts of meat and some specialty foods) costs 20% more again. In other words, those with liberal food buying habits could cut a third off their weekly grocery bill, by getting back to basics.
The reports also have some very useful food shopping suggestions to keep food costs down:
- In the year from March 2008 to March 2009, basic food prices increased by 13%. That means that the food bill for an adult couple increased from $105 a week to $119. In comparison, food costs between 2004 and 2008 increased from $98 to $105.
- Where possible make foods such as salads, baked goods, and yoghurt from basic ingredients at home.
- Buy whole chickens rather than boned chicken meat or portions. These can be cut into portions for cooking or freezing, or they can be cooked whole and the meat removed from the bone.
- It is often not cheaper to buy whole fish than fish fillets because of the high proportion of waste. Canned fish is often an excellent fish option.
- Remember that leaner cuts of meat may be better value for money if cheaper cuts have a higher fat content which may have to be discarded.
- Dry goods bought from bulk bins, are often cheaper than buying packaged products. However this may need to be checked. It is a good idea to take a calculator shopping to check which product is the cheapest on a unit weight basis.
The Otago University report has lots of other useful information and lists what it considers to be basic foods. The report may be viewed here
A reader, C.P. from Nelson, has also found savings by buying in bulk. “Buy products like baking soda, spices, herbs and other baking products from the bulk bins at Bin Inn. Check out the prices, which are often a huge saving on buying the same packaged items at the supermarket. I bought wild bird seed there yesterday and it is half the price of the supermarket for the same product. Also things like fennel seeds are a lot cheaper than in the supermarket, as well as epsom salts and baking soda (epsom salt is good for some plants). Some things are the same price as the supermarket but there are savings to be had and also if you take your own container to fill up with liquid products this can help too.”
Bulk buying is something we will be looking at in a future column so if you have bulk buying tips and suggestions to share then drop us a note via our website (www.oilyrag.co.nz
) or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. * Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.