If you’ve been to a café, restaurant or supermarket lately, you may have noticed you’re paying a bit – or a lot – more for food than you were a year ago.

The combination of inflation and supply-chain issues has pushed the price of everyday items to new heights, creating financial challenges for lots of Tasmanians.

While you can’t do much about the economic conditions, there are several things you can do to reduce your food bill if it starts to cut into other parts of the budget. Here are 10 ideas.

1. Press pause on eating out

    Who doesn’t love dining out? Sadly, this little luxury can add hundreds or thousands to your spending total over the course of a year, depending on how often you visit restaurants, cafés and fast-food outlets. On the other hand, pausing the habit for just a few months can quickly give you a bit of a cash buffer for the future.

    2. Forget the brands

      When you hit the shops, think about targeting generic or home-brand groceries. While the quality is often similar, generic products usually cost less. 

      3. Grow your own

        If you tend to use a lot of herbs or veggies in your cooking, think about heading to the nursery and starting your own kitchen garden. Not only will you save at the checkout, you’ll also be eating produce that’s freshly picked.

        4. Head to the source

          Depending on where you’re located, you may also be able to gather some cheaper raw ingredients by shopping wholesale. Think farmers’ markets, which often sell fresh food for less than you’d pay at the supermarket. You may be able to save even more by buying imperfect items – such as potatoes with a few bumps and bruises that can easily be cut off.

          5. Buy in bulk

            For non-perishable items, it often pays to upsize. A quick way to do the maths on how much you could save is by looking at the per-item cost of the things you’re buying. For example, if you’re thinking of bulk-buying a box of 12 tins of tomatoes, divide the cost of the box by 12 and compare that to the single-tin cost.

            6. Shop the season

              Fruits and veggies that are abundant often come cheaper than those that are out of season and harder to get. You’ll often be able to save by choosing produce based on the current season.

              7. Rethink your protein sources

                If you’re a meat-eater those chunky steaks and juicy chops are becoming more expensive. Switching to plant-based sources of protein like tofu, legumes and vegetables might require some creativity in the kitchen but you’ll be paying a whole lot less.

                8. Use apps for savings

                  Supermarkets now advertise their weekly specials via their app, so it’s worth having a scan to see what may be on sale before going to the shops. There are also a number of apps, like SmartCart and Frugl, that compare grocery costs at different retailers.

                  9. Stick to the plan

                    For many of us, it’s easy to overspend if you’re hungry or shopping with a vague idea of what you’d like to buy. Instead, make a plan of meals for the week, create a list and try not to waver from it.

                    10. Make the most of leftovers

                      Reducing food waste is another way to cut down on how much you need to buy. Think about making slightly bigger portions and freezing leftovers for a second meal. It all counts.

                      It’s important to be realistic too. Try to make changes that you know you can maintain. Start small. Try one or two things and see how you go and then you can start to incorporate more. You’ll see some results in no time!

                      Please note this information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. You should consider this before acting on any of the information contained.