Did you know that Australia pays the most for food anywhere in the world? More than New York and Hong Kong? That’s just one of the many things I learnt on last night’s episode of Eat Well For Less.
The two-part series is all about helping everyday Aussies save some cash by changing the way we do our weekly grocery shop.
Last night, we met the Maioranos and the Stuarts, two families who were in need of a serious budget makeover.
First up was the Maiorano family, with part time flight attendant, Sabrina and Michael, who quit his full time job to start up his own business.
To understand where exactly their money was going, hosts Leila McKinnon and Ben O'Donoghue (as well as the rest of Australia) spied on the family’s trip to the supermarket - 24 tins of tomatoes and an unnecessary amount of cheese later, their bill totalled to just under $700.
Aside from the hefty grocery bill, the family also enjoyed eating out, spending around $300 a week and bringing their annual spend on food to a whopping $37,648.
The average family spends $156.54 a week, or $13,900 a year on groceries and takeaway.
“Food has always been a central part of our lives,” explained Michael Maioranos. “There is no structure around what we buy.”
So to get their finances back on track, McKinnon and O’Donoghue raided the Maioranos’ pantry and selected 36 items, wrapping them in non-branded packaging to see if they could taste the difference between the home brand items and their current big brand favourites.
At the end of the week McKinnon and O’Donoghue were back to deliver the results of how much they saved, thanks to the food swaps.
In that week alone, the Maioranos family saved $329 a week, or $17,000 a year, half their regular spend! Just think about where that money could go! My best bet is the mortgage, paying off credit card debt or even a high interest savings account.
Next were the Stuarts, a couple who couldn’t be more different when it came to shopping. Francesa wants to shop frugally, while husband John literally enjoys the taste of the good life, splurging on craft beers and luxurious meats.
Their weekly shop totalled to $430.22 or $20,000 annually, which is $6,000 more than the average yearly spend.
But what really got me thinking as I sat through far too many ad breaks is that if 58% of Aussies agree that home brand items are just as good as big brands, why are still choosing to pay a premium just for the sake of taking home a branded item?
But by skipping out on some of the big branded stuff, the Stuarts managed to shave $136.60 off their weekly grocery haul, a saving of$7,104 a year.
Simply swapping our well-loved Weet-Bix to Aldi’s Goldenvale Wheat Biscuits could save Aussie families $0.60 a packet, while ditching 2 takeaway coffees a day could save $1,642 a year.
But we’ve all heard the ‘give up your coffee’ bit, so let’s get to the stuff you might not know.
We’re all aware of the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet, but it’s also not bad on the wallet either. Having one vegetarian meal once a week, like a meatless Monday, can save you $650 a year! But if you don’t want to give up your meat just yet, switching to a cheaper cut meat, just like the Stuarts did, can save you $1,500 a year!
Anything they can do, you can do
It’s clear that Aussies love to dine out, so much so that the amount of money we’ve spent on food away from home has doubled since the 80s. While you don’t have to give up your favourite restaurant entirely, the Maioranos were able to whip up an ‘Instagram worthy’ salmon dish for $5.65 a serve, helping them save $2,980 a year on takeout!
Say goodbye to convenience foods
Before you groan at the concept of DIY, let me ask you this - would you pay someone $8 to crumb your chicken breast every week? That’s exactly what the Maioranos were doing each time they picked up a two 400g, $20 packets of crumbed chicken breast! Instead, grab the plain chicken breast at $11.20 and make your own crumbed chicken using your favourite herbs.
Inspired to give your budget a makeover? You’ll need our Life and Money Hub! It’s filled with great tips and tricks to help you live a more money-savvy life.