5 simple shopping changes to save you thousands

IT'S a kitchen scene that's all too familiar for the majority of Australian households.

Jars of unfinished Vegemite, boxes of half-eaten Cornflakes, tins of tuna and bottles of tomato sauce waiting patiently to be consumed.

But it's this expensive habit of not finishing what you've got in the fridge or pantry that's costing some Australians thousands of dollars.

The Government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year, with one in five shopping bags ending up in the bin.

New parents Daniella and Greg Marshall aren't exempt from the expensive habit.

Since becoming new parents to their son Hunter, the Marshalls have found themselves caught in the trap of convenience food, weekly takeout meals and impulse buying at the supermarket.

The Marshalls’ pantry contains food worth $2000
The Marshalls’ pantry contains food worth $2000

Daniella, who says she used to love to cook, says she now often turns to packaged foods and items of convenience for lunches and dinners for her small family.

Property valuer Greg says he can't resist his lunch time McDonald's, his five daily servings of soft drink and truckloads of bottled water.

The pair never shop with a list, meaning they are often buying more of what they don't need, and not enough of the items they could use.

The Marshalls, who will appear on Tuesday night's episode of Eat More for Less on Channel 9, are forking out around $20,580 a year on groceries - but it's what's lurking in their pantry and fridge that's causing the most damage.

Annually, the Marshall household were forking out $20,000 on groceries.
Annually, the Marshall household were forking out $20,000 on groceries.

The premise of the series is to offer practical advice to help Australians eat better while also saving thousands annually in the process.

Eat Well For Less hosts Ben O'Donoghue and Leila McKinnon assess families' shopping habits, and provide practical changes to save thousands annually.

With more than $40 worth of unused berries in their freezer, $15 worth of juice and $50 in Pepsi cans waiting to be consumed, the Marshall's pantry checks out at $2000 worth of items waiting to eaten - despite the pair buying more of the product every week.

"These guys are haemorrhaging cash," host and chef Ben O'Donghue said.

"They've got $2000 in the cupboard..and [they've] just spent $400 more."

One of their biggest problems when at the supermarket was buying product they already had in the fridge or pantry.
One of their biggest problems when at the supermarket was buying product they already had in the fridge or pantry.

But it's their coffee and McDonald's spending habits that's also costing the young couple thousands each year.

Combined, the Marshalls spend around $130 each week on said items - and that's on top of their already hefty grocery shop.

"I feel slightly ashamed," Greg told hosts McKinnon and O'Donoghue.

"This would pretty much be the second biggest cost to the household. It's a big chunk of money that could be put into something else.

"We don't need so many drinks," Daniella added. "We are food hoarders."

1. LOOK BELOW YOUR EYELINE:

Supermarkets will often put their most expensive items at the eyeline height of the average Australian shopper, and place the cheaper or 'homebrand' items at foot level where you're not looking.

And when it comes to buying fresh vegetables, be mindful that they will go off quicker than the frozen variety. For brussel spouts, on average, you'll save $4.17 for the frozen variety over buying fresh for the same amount.

2. BE WARY OF SUPERMARKET TACTICS:

Ever noticed how milk and bread is often located at the back of the supermarket? That's so you have to weave through the aisles, which - according to 81 per cent of Australians - will result in impulse buys.

Household staples like milk and bread are often shelved at the back of a supermarket.
Household staples like milk and bread are often shelved at the back of a supermarket.

Also be mindful of 'buying for the sake of buying'. Often supermarkets will place things that you need to cook together in the same aisle to encourage shoppers to buy extra items. But you may not actually need both, which is why a list can be so handy when doing the weekly shop.

3. KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT:

Before doing the shop, knowing what you've got in the pantry and fridge could save you thousands each year at the checkout. According to OzHarvest - over 5 million tonnes of food ends up as landfill from households and the commercial sector, and 35 per cent of the average household bin is food waste.

Millenials, according to The Mitsubishi Electric Home Trends report, conducted by Lonergan Research, are said to be the worst offenders by spending $163.07 a week on average on groceries, but wasting $20.59 of that on food that's either forgotten about or expires.

"Millennials are the biggest wasters of food, despite also being the most passionate about food wastage," Chris Lonergan, CEO of Lonergan Research, said.

4. SWAP BIG BRANDS FOR GENERICS:

The Marshalls love their drinks, with Greg throwing back at least five cans of Coca-Cola each day. If he were to swap to a more generic brand, such as Woolworths Cola which is 72 cents a litre, he'd be saving more than $1.70 per unit compared to the more expensive brand. And with the amount he's consuming, he could be saving $424 per year on canned Coke alone.

Try swapping big brands for generic.
Try swapping big brands for generic.

If Greg simply swapped his 24-packet of bottled water to filtered water out of a tap, he'd save around $260 a year. On average, water in a bottle is more expensive than petrol, milk and bread. If you're drinking the recommended 2 litres a day, your bill will be around the $2800 mark annually. For the same amount in tap water, you're looking at $1.50.

5. MAKE RESTAURANT MEALS AT HOME:

We all know smashed avo on toast is costing millenials a motza and cafes. Last year, the 'smashed avo generation' were deemed more financially stressed and faced with greater savings challenges than any other generation before them.

KPMG partner and The Australian columnist Bernard Salt wrote in October last year that "the evils of hipster cafes" were contributing to the woes of young people struggling to buy a first home.

"I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbed feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more," he wrote.

Try making smashed avo at home to save some serious dollars.
Try making smashed avo at home to save some serious dollars.

His so-called "rabbiting on about the old days" was tongue-in-cheek but many young people took offence.

But, if you decided to make your beloved brunch of avo, fetta and tomato on toast - you could get away with a serving for as little as $3.80 per serve. For a family of three, having this trendy brunch meal at home just once a week will save around $1900 a year.

A chicken burger plus delivery often ranges between $18 to $25, but by making your own version at home - including chicken breast, white rolls, aioli and lettuce - you're serving up a meal that's only $4.50 per serve.


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