Menu planning and shopping tips

To help stretch your food dollar further, you might find the following tips useful:

  • Plan your menu in advance.
  • Plan your menu around the specials for that week (fresh produce that is on special is on average 35% cheaper than normal price).
  • Buy vegetables and fruit in season.   Fruit and vegetables cost more when they are out of season.
  • Include more fruit and vegetables and less meat in the menu. Meat is almost always more expensive per kilogram than fruit and vegetables, though many people believe fruit and vegetables are more expensive. Click here for more information.
  • Buy less pre-packaged items e.g. chopping your own coleslaw ingredients rather than buying them pre-chopped.
  • Offering fruit and vegetable snacks for morning and afternoon tea rather than expensive packaged snacks such as muesli bars and fruit rollups.
  • Use unit pricing to compare value for money e.g. a 250-gram pack of chopped mushrooms may only be $4.50, but if the cost of loose mushrooms is only $9.99/kg then the pack becomes very expensive by comparison (250g x 4 = $18.00 per kilogram).
  • Avoid shopping when hungry.
  • Buy in bulk where available and practical. Make sure that you have sufficient space to store the bulk items under the right conditions to prevent them from spoiling.
  • Consider buying marked down fruit and vegetables if they are still in a reasonable condition.
  • Do one big weekly or fortnightly shop rather than many smaller shops throughout the week.   The more often you visit the supermarket, the more you’ll spend overall.

Ways to Decrease Cost and Improve Nutritional Content of Meals

  • Decrease the amount of mince in Bolognese sauce, shepherd’s pie, tacos and home-made hamburger patties by adding finely chopped or grated vegetables such as carrot, celery or zucchini or cooked red lentils (aim for each individual serving of a recipe to include a maximum of 100g meat/fish/poultry).
  • Decrease the amount of meat on pizza by adding vegetables such as mushrooms, capsicum, onions, corn kernels, thinly sliced potato and pumpkin and fruit such as pineapple.
  • Decrease the amount of meat and increase the amount of vegetables in stir-fries.
  • Add cooked or leftover vegetables to omelettes.
  • Use leftover vegetables in soups.
  • Add soup mix, beans such as red kidney or Lima, split peas, lentils or barley to soups.

Meal Planning and Fruit & Vegetables
To ensure that your meals contain an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables for each person, use the following points as a checklist once you have completed your plan:

  • Are 2 pieces of fruit included daily for each person?
  • Are 5 serves of vegetables included daily for each person?
  • Is there a minimum of 6 different varieties of vegetables offered throughout the week?
  • Are the foods offered in season and readily available?