15 Simple and practical ways to help bring the food costs down

11/07/2016


TransUnion’s quarterly Consumer Credit Index shows that disposable income is reducing significantly. While grocery stores haven't gone out of business, current economic conditions have affected the overall cost of food.

Since taking the freelancing route, I had to cut down on spending on almost everything including food. Still, I find that food is one of the most expensive part of my budget. So while thinking about how to tackle the food issue, I thought I should speak to people who work with food everyday. So I asked three chefs for money saving tips on food. Here are their simple and practical ways to help bring the food costs down while still maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.

Charmaine Ramalope , owner and founder of Glam Foodie.

1. Only buy seasonal produce. Your local grocer will stock out of season fruit and vegetables which tend to cost more. Its best to familiarise yourself with seasonal produce and make sure you never have to spend more than necessary. Even better, you could grow your own fruit and vegetables.
2. Compile a shopping list of needed items and stick to it. Being prepared before heading to the grocer is the best way to stick to your shopping budget. Preparing weekly meal plans helps when you do your weekly shopping more effectively. You'll find that you'll make less trips to the grocer which will save you money.
3. Buy in bulk, only when it when it makes sense. Prices per weight for certain bulk items usually give you better deals but its always advisable to compare first and not assume.
4. Look for versatile food which can be used in multiple dishes. Lean beef mince for instance is a budget friendly food, its inexpensive, healthy and has many uses eg. Meatloaf, burger patties, spaghetti bolognaise...the list is endless.
5. Eat out less and cook meals at home. Eating out is quiet a luxury these days especially with high food costs. Make cooking at home a fun activity involving the rest of your family. Eg. instead of going out for pizza on Friday night, get the kids involved and turn it into a fun learning occasion.

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Vanessa Marx owner and founder of Savages Fine Food

1. Plan, plan,plan!  Do NOT go into the shops without knowing why you are there. Plan meals ahead so you can compile a list and know what it is you are buying. Otherwise, you will be distracted and buy all sorts of goodies you really don't need. If you plan meals ahead and do a shop for those particular ingredients, it will avoid the late night ready-made-meal purchases. This should also help you to stick to an eating plan, making you feel and look your best!
2. Never go shopping hungry!  When you are starving and craving all sorts of things, you are most likely to grab what is in front of you. Not to mention a mean case of being 'hangry' (so hungry you are angry!) in the queue.
3. Don't get distracted. Often beautiful branding and packaging can lure a ladies eye in a flash! That's sort of the point! Focus on the ingredients and goods you need.
4. Go fresh. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only really good for you, but are a little easier on the pocket. If you plan carefully you can also easily use the same ingredient in many dishes.
5. Buy bulk. The more you buy, the cheaper. This applies to dry goods. It's also a good idea to keep an eye out for specials and make use of all those loyalty programs on offer.

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Joanne Clegg - owner and founder of The Food Crew

1. Plan your meals for your family and freeze extra sauces etc for another meal and plan for leftovers for the following day if necessary.
2. Focus on purchasing the very best quality ingredients. Do your best to eat the healthiest food you can find, etc, organic and free range products.
3.Buy what is on sale, especially at Woolies where they often have bundled offers. It might be more expensive in the short run, but you can create the freshest, healthiest meals with their products for your family.
4. Make smaller portions for your family and buy only what you need. Keep your food waste to an absolute minimum. There is no excuse to throw away food due to excess or expiry. Purchase and use food correctly.
5. Eat out a bit if you can ... this is probably false economy, but I call it market research for your next meals.  And remember to support food markets and small operators.

Follow Joanne on Twitter and  Facebook

The idea here is not to deny yourself all the food pleasure entirely. Rather, have a balanced perspective about food so that it does not continue dominate the monthly budget. Happy shopping.

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