Tips for budget buying

Where to shop? How to shop? What to shop for?

We all love to eat a wide range of different foods, however getting the most out of every dollar we spend can be tricky. Shopping for our food may not always be at the top of our to-do-list, and with so many different varieties of foods available, selecting the best option can become a chore.

Finding the balance between good nutrition and value for money is a challenge, however we have put together some helpful tips to help make your shopping trip more enjoyable without burning a hole in your wallet.

Following the Healthy Eating Pyramid is a great place to start when organising and planning food for the week. Spend most of your money on foods from the plant-based food groups in the foundation layers: fruit, vegetables, legumes and grain foods. Followed by foods in the 'milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives' food group and the 'lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes' food group, as well as small amounts of unsaturated fats.

How to become a smart shopper
  • Plan your meals and snacks for the week
  • Make the best of what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer
  • Prepare your shopping list
  • Set aside enough time to do your shopping
  • Shop around - become familiar with your local food stores and the foods they offer
  • Pay attention to weekly specials and additional mark downs found later in the day
  • Buy in bulk foods that you eat a lot of and those that can be stored for later use e.g. rice, oil, sugar, meat, vegetables, canned food, bread, pasta, tomato sauce
  • Purchase meat in bulk, divide into portions and freeze for later use according to your meal plans
  • Add legumes (e.g. beans and lentils) to your meat recipes to lower the cost and bulk out the meal at the same time


  • Include at least one meat free meal per week, substituting with other protein sources such as beans and lentils
  • Try not to shop when you are hungry
  • Divide your budget and allocate your money on food items
  • Buy your basic food items such as bread, dairy, fruits & vegetables, cereals and meat first. This was you get all the essentials you need without all those extra foods
  • Compare prices of the brands you love with those you are less familiar with (e.g. home brands) - you never know, you might be surprised
  • Use cost per 100g to compare products and not cost per item, especially when buying in bulk

  • Shop for fresh food where possible, otherwise frozen or canned food can be a cheaper alternative

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  • Start your own vegetable or herb garden - not only will your food be fresh but you will be saving money as well
  • Make use of your local farmers market - this is a good way to find out what is currently in season
  • Shopping online can be a convenient alternative for busy people
  • Shop less often - this will save you time and petrol
  • Make your own snacks instead of buying overly priced pre-packaged snacks
  • Cut down on packaged food items as packaging increases the cost of food products, and you will be helping the environment at the same time
  • Look for food items placed below or above eye level on the shelves as cheaper foods are often placed outside of eye level

 Updated January 2012


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