Spending more of your food dollars on healthy foods can save you money at the checkout.

One approach is to use the 60/30/10 rule:

  • Spend 60% of your food budget on vegetables, fruit and wholegrains.
    • If you started with $100, around $60 would be spent on these foods.
  • Spend 30% of your food budget on protein foods like fish, lean meat, chicken, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds and tofu.
    • If you started with $100, around $30 would be spent on these foods.
  • Spend 10% or less of your food budget on highly processed foods like sugary drinks, chips, chocolate, pies and biscuits.
    • If your started with $100, no more than $10 would be spent on these foods.

Click on the different sections of the trolley to find out more about each group.

Try this activity to get an idea of where your money is going at the supermarket.

What you’ll need:

  • At least 2 weeks of grocery receipts. This includes receipts from the supermarket, deli, greengrocer, butcher, and anywhere else you buy food e.g. snacks from the petrol station, milk from the corner shop etc. Don’t include meals you eat out for this activity.
  • 3 different coloured highlighters or textas.
  • Calculator or a phone with a calculator function.

What to do:

  1. Go through each food item on your grocery receipts and highlight it as ‘Veg, Fruit and Wholegrains’ (blue), ‘Protein Foods’ (yellow) or ‘Foods to Limit’ (red or pink highlighter). Don’t include oils or fat spreads (like margarine) or non-food items (like cleaning products and pet food).
  2. Add up the cost of the items in each of the three groups of food to get the total amount spent on the group (Group Total).
  3. Add up the Group Total of each of the three groups to find out the overall total (Food Total).
  4. Divide the Group Total by the Food Total for each group of food.
  5. Multiply by 100. This will tell you what percent of your food dollar is spent on each group.
Veg, Fruit & Wholegrains Total $21.91
Protein Foods Total $24.15
Foods to Limit Total $51.05
Food Total $97.11
Coco pops 375g 5.50
Carrots 1kg 1.15
Reduced-fat milk 2L 2.00
Eggs XL 12pack 4.60
Wholemeal bread 680g 1.50
Soft drink cans 10pack 13.2
4 star beef mince 500g 6.50
Chicken thighs 500g 6.00
Pink lady apples 1kg 4.99
Onions 360g 0.79
Washed potatoes 720g 2.88
Bacon 200g 5.50
Canola oil 1.5L 5.80
Rice 1kg 2.00
Shampoo 375ml 7.50
Self-raising flour 1kg 2.00
Chocolate biscuits 250g 3.15
Mayonnaise 365g 3.50
Party pies 550g 6.20
Muesli bars - choc chip 375g 4.80
Corn chips 175g 3.40
Yoghurt 5.05
Dog food 1.8kg 13.20
Weet Bix 1kg 4.00
Frozen peas 500g 1.80
Tinned tomatoes 400g 0.80
Total $117.81

Tips to shift your spending

Spend less on Foods to Limit

  • Don’t put sugary drinks in the trolley.
  • Swap from a sugary, low fibre cereal to a plain one like Weetbix or rolled oats. Add your own fruit, nuts and seeds to jazz it up.
  • Swap mayonnaise for hummus or avocado in sandwiches.
  • Make your own “corn chips” by cooking wraps in the oven or sandwich press.
  • Swap sausages and bacon for lean mince or tinned tuna.
  • Make fruit your go-to snack.

Spend less on Protein Foods

  • Reduce the amount of meat.
    • 100g of meat per person is plenty for a stir fry, pasta sauce or curry.
    • Swap half the mince in a recipe for a tin of lentils or beans.
  • Buy in bulk.
    • Meat is often cheaper if you buy big pieces or packets. Divide, label and freeze.
    • Make individual portions of nuts, yoghurt and cheese cubes in reusable containers.
  • Reduce food waste by freezing foods getting close to their use-by date. Milk, grated cheese, meat and chicken all freeze well.