8 great ways to eat healthy while saving money on your grocery bill

Posted December 2020

Woman buying vegetables at supermarket

Top tips for a healthier shopping list and bank balance...

Did you know that grocery shopping takes the next largest chunk out of most Kiwis’ wages?

It’s second only to rent and mortgage repayments.

No wonder it feels like you’re eating your money at times!

Fresh and healthy foods have a bit of a bad reputation for breaking the bank. But while fast food or takeaways may feel cheaper, the costs can add up fast. Not to mention the long-term medical costs as they affect your health.

To help, we’ve made a list of our favourite ways to save money at the supermarket.

This includes:

  • Eating in-season fruits and veggies.
  • Making the most of multi-purpose vegetables.
  • Freezing, meal planning, and keeping it simple.

Let’s get started…

1. Stock up on in-season fruits and vegetables

in season fruit vegetables

Have you ever noticed how the price of fruits and vegetables fluctuates?

This is all due to seasonality! Take Feijoas, for example. They can start around $12.99kg at the start of the season. By mid-season, they’ve hit $6kg. And by the end of the season? You can score this delicious fruit for as low as $2-$3kg.

As you can see, it - quite literally - pays to do your research.

Mark your calendars and only buy in-season fruits and veggies to save yourself some pennies.

2. Buy in bulk and throw them in the freezer

It may sound silly to purchase fresh veggies and then freeze them, but picking up vegetables in bulk when they’re on sale and freezing them is a great way to save a few cents. You won't be paying for the convenience of them being cut, packaged, and frozen for you.

3. Purchase multi-purpose veggies

fresh produce potatoes

This isn’t just a simple money-saving hack.

It’s also a great way to mix up your usual weekly menu and explore new and exciting recipes.

Multi-purpose vegetables and herbs like potatoes, carrots, capsicum, broccoli, beans, courgettes, cabbage, parsley and coriander are great. You can toss these in stir-fries, curries, slow cooker meals, and even roasts. Just to name a few!

Plus, you won’t waste money on recipe ingredients that end up tossed in the bin.

4. Go Vegetarian a few nights a week

Surprise, surprise, veggies aren’t the most expensive part of most shopping trips.

In fact, the most expensive part of your food bill is likely meat. Let’s take beef mince as an example. You can buy Prime Beef Mince at $9 for 500g, Value Beef Mince at $9 for 1kg, or you could have a meat-free Monday and spend just $1.20 on a can of lentils and make vegetarian Nachos, Tacos, or Lasagne.

How’s that for some scrumptious savings?

5. Plan your meals for the week

shopping list menu

Do you end up wandering the isles looking for inspiration?

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. As you might have guessed, this isn’t the best plan if you are wanting to save some money. You’re likely to end up buying something you already have, don’t need, or won’t end up using.

Take the time to think ahead and create a meal plan for the week. Take stock of what you already have in the fridge or pants, so you know what you have, and plan your meals - and shopping list - accordingly. You’ll be in and out in record time!

6. Buy fewer convenience foods

You can save a lot by cutting down on convenience foods. This includes stuff like pre-cut fruits and vegetables, pre-packed meals, as well as those pesky snack items that sneak their way into the kids’ lunch boxes.

Instead, take a half hour to cut your own fruits and vegetables. Or make a batch of bliss balls or no-bake muesli bars instead of buying snacks. Both you and your bank balance will feel that much healthier by the end of the week.

7. Shop at farmers markets

farmers market2

Buying local from farmers markets is a great way to pick up a bargain, support local producers, and enjoy shopping with fewer queues and temptations. You’ll find a bunch of veggies to choose from and experiment with, often at lower prices than big-name supermarkets…

...just don’t forget your grocery list and reusable bags.

8. Keep it simple

Have you ever looked in a cookbook, and stumbled on an ingredients list that looks more like a language you’ve never seen before? This is probably a sign the recipe is a little complex, and will require a bunch of ingredients you’ll use once, place back in the cupboard, and never see again.

Save money by doing things simply! Easy recipes don’t require hundreds of ingredients. They’re quicker, too, so you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and less money on stuff you don’t need.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank

Making small adjustments to your weekly grocery shop can make a big difference in the long run. There are benefits if you stick to a budget, but you’ll also feel better too as those fresh fruits and vegetables support your nutrition, waistline, and overall health!


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The article published on this page is not financial advice and should not be relied upon as such. The opinions published in this article is not those of Unity Credit Union.