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The Ultimate Guide on How to Save Money on Food Shopping

Recent surges in supermarket prices and interest rates have caused a considerable amount of financial stress for many Australians.

For many Australians, finding ways to reduce spending on the weekly food shop has never been more important. In this guide, we explain how to save money on food shopping without compromising on nutrition. Deakin University’s Professor Adrian Cameron joins us to share his insights.

Food inflation and what causes it

Food inflation was above ten percent in 2022, however it has come down to be below five percent now, with the reserve bank increasing interest rates to control inflation.

‘Inflation in general, and especially for food prices, can depend on a number of factors like wars, global pandemics and the frequency of natural disasters, so the food system remains vulnerable to shocks, especially given the impacts of climate change will not be going away any time soon,’ explains Professor Cameron.

The food price crisis we have seen over recent years has shown how vulnerable our system really is. It is essential for us to recover from this; however, it must become a steadier food system with stable food prices over time.

As food inflation rises, many of us have been left wondering how to save money on food shopping.

How to prepare your meals for the week and save in the long run

Meal-prepping and designing your very own ‘at-home menu’ is a great way to save money on food shopping.

Smart options are those that you can whip up quickly, cook in bulk, freeze and reheat. It’s also a good idea to look for ingredients that can be used on more than one meal.

Meal prepping can take time, so make sure you allow for a few hours in the kitchen. This could be a good opportunity to also have fun with family or friends!

As a bonus, meal prepping is great to stay on track and eat healthy.

What should be on my shopping list?

If you’re not already in the habit of preparing a list before you head to the supermarket, now would be the time to start.

‘Shopping with a list and planning what you will buy will stop you from being influenced by the marketing tactics of the food industry. Although looking at what’s on special is a good strategy to save money on food shopping, our research has shown that unhealthy food is on special in Australian supermarkets twice as often as healthier food and the discounts are found to be twice as big.

It’s also important to think about what fresh food is in season, because it’s usually much cheaper at that time of year,’ Prof. Cameron recommends.

In other words, keeping your eyes on your list will save you money on food shopping – steer clear of those flashy sale signs!

Essential healthy suggestions for what to include on your shopping list include:

  • Protein: eggs, chicken, salmon
  • Legumes: lentils, peas, chickpeas
  • Fibre-rich vegetables when in season: broccoli, carrot, cauliflower
  • Grains: rice, oats, wheat

Aldi vs Coles and Woolworths: where should you shop?

With food prices skyrocketing, Prof. Cameron suggests looking around.

‘Don’t forget to think about shopping at discount supermarkets too.’

Aldi is a great option when it comes to discount supermarkets. While it is still large, it tends to be a lot cheaper than Coles and Woolworths.

How is Aldi different from other supermarkets? They have a smaller selection of mostly private label (home brand) products  and spend less on marketing and staff, making the regular price at Aldi often cheaper than Coles and Woolworths.

To compare and find the supermarket with the best prices, download the frugl app!

Does growing your own food save money?

Growing your own food is also a cost-saver if possible. Deakin has a community garden on campus and Prof. Cameron says he grows his own too.

‘Grow your own food, especially things like herbs which are easy to grow, perennial and expensive at most supermarkets. It will be also be fresher straight out of the garden’

It can be good to start in pots and then think about building a bigger vegetable garden if all goes to plan .

Creating your own compost, saving seeds to replant and keeping out pests will help keep the cost of gardening down. Gardening is also relaxing, educational and fun!

With these key tips in mind, you will find yourself saving money on food shopping before you know it.

How to save money on food shopping: key takeaways

  • Prepare a shopping list prior to your weekly shop.
  • Meal preparation is essential for saving across the week.
  • Compare prices to get the best deals.
  • Growing your own food will save you in the long run!

Making a few small tweaks to your meal planning and grocery shopping routine will help you cut costs, minimise financial stress and keep you on track.

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Adrian Cameron
Adrian Cameron


Faculty of Health,

Deakin University

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