As Kiwis are now well aware, the grocery bill is hitting the wallet harder than ever before. To rub salt on the wound, we’re entering into a recession, which makes putting a meal on the table that much more difficult.
While we all hope that the price of groceries will go down soon, in this article we tackle some ways you can approach grocery shopping and cooking differently, to make your food bill a bit lighter each week.
At Grossr, we create recipes and meal plans with affordability in mind. If you find this article helpful, take a look around and consider signing up for an affordable meal plan.
Out-of-season produce is often much more expensive than seasonal produce. This is either because it's imported from other countries (you're paying not only for an avocado, but for its cruiseship from Mexico), or because it was grown in a hothouse - which involves tonnes of extra resources.
For example, out of season limes can cost 6 times more than in-season limes. This means it’s always a good idea to cook meals according to the season, both for your wallet and for reducing the footprint of your food.
In winter, make use of seasonal vegetables like pumpkin, beetroot, carrots, limes, and leek. During summer, swap to veggies like cucumber, peas, capsicums and tomatoes.
For more information on which veggies are in season, visit Produce NZ’s seasonality chart.
Cheaper ingredients will of course lead to a cheaper grocery bill. Those which you can buy affordably in bulk like rice, oats, potatoes and onions are all good options to pad out a meal.
However, keeping meals cheap while also staying healthy by adding vegetables and protein is a balancing act at times. You can also use some slightly more expensive bulk ingredients like quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, and beans, which are already packed with nutrients.
As well as nutrition, half the battle here is ensuring our cheap meals are tasty enough to continue eating them! For this, we recommend using high quality recipes, instead of making it up as you go. This way you'll prevent getting fatigued by eating bland rice dishes by default every night, and can rely on someone else thinking up how to make the dish palatable.
We've listed a few recipes that might provide some inspiration at the end of the article.
If you aren't a natural gardener or don't have outdoor space, starting a veggie garden might seem daunting. However, even the smallest apartment likely has space for a few pot plants to grow things like herbs, lettuce, and chillies, which are pricey supermarket ingredients and add plenty of flavour to otherwise simple meals. You may also have a nearby community garden, if growing at home isn't an option.
While food waste is commonly associated with environmental concerns, it’s also a waste of money. According to the NZ Ministry for the Environment, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year in Aotearoa — about a third of what is produced.
Avoiding throwing out a third of your food is certainly a decent way to save money! Planning your meals in advance helps with avoiding food waste, by combining recipes so there are minimal leftover ingredients. There are also services (like us, Grossr) which do this thinking for you, to make reduced-waste cooking easy.
Scaling recipes to your desired number of servings also helps avoid being left with a fridge full of leftover meals.
Most recipes are made to be photogenic and (hopefully) tasty. Price is rarely a consideration. So when shopping around for recipes, ensure you choose those which intentionally aim to be price-conscious. Using recipes that make use of the cheap or seasonal ingredients mentioned above is a great place to start.
Every so often, we’re all guilty of popping down to the supermarket to get ingredients for that nights dinner. Because we all lead busy lives, this is unavoidable from time to time. However, bear in mind that better organisation can lead to a cheaper bill, by more efficiently buying ingredients in bulk, or in a way that ingredients are shared across recipes.
Meal plans, like fitness plans, are very helpful for keeping us on track. In a nutshell, they remove many of the obstacles for eating inexpensive, healthy and tasty meals. Ones that are focused on affordability are a good idea if you’re trying to keep yourself (and your wallet) in good shape!
Grossr currently offers a free meal plan which can be auto-shopped through the supermarket online. It was specifically designed with the above ideas in mind, and we hope it makes people’s lives just that little bit easier.
Grossr CEO and co-founder. Tired of worrying about what to put on the dinner table and finding meal kits too inflexible and expensive, I built Grossr as a solution for myself - and all Kiwis.
- Nick Sinclair