Beat the price rise: 6 tips to shop healthy and save money


Across the country, we’re all feeling the pinch of a rising cost of living and many of us are feeling this most in our regular trips to the supermarket. 

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed this price rise showing that underlying inflation was at its highest since 2009. 

The price of food groceries has been some of the biggest impacted, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showing prices increasing across all food and non-food grocery products in the March quarter. Groceries overall recorded a 4% increase, with the main contributors to this rise including vegetables (6.6%), water, soft drinks and juices (5.6%), fruits (4.9%), and meat and seafoods (4.8%). 

While the prices of everyday groceries continue to soar, Cancer Council Victoria’s LiveLighter® program is helping families keep their bill down with helpful tips to shop healthy and save money at the checkout. 

LiveLighter® Victoria’s Campaign Manager Alison McAleese said that a rise in grocery prices doesn’t mean that we can’t still eat a healthy, balanced diet. 

“Fresh foods are price elastic, which means that they can go up and down frequently depending on a range of factors but there are a lot of helpful tricks we can use when prices are on the rise to cut costs whilst still filling our trolleys with a range of nutritious foods. 

“To maintain a healthy diet, we need to eat a wide variety of foods mainly from the five core food groups, which include vegetables, fruit, grains and cereals, dairy and alternatives and meat and alternatives and limit the amount of energy-dense, nutrient poor, processed foods,” said Ms McAleese. 

To ensure you’re spending your budget on the foods your body needs, Ms McAleese recommends using the 60/30/10 rule, dedicating 60% of your food budget to fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, 30% on protein foods such as meats, dairy, nuts, eggs and tofu and no more than 10% on unhealthy products such as sugary drinks, cakes and chips. 

“'Cutting back on buying processed foods like chocolate, chips, crackers and sugary drinks will not only improve your diet but also help cut costs,” said Ms McAleese. 

Getting creative with your shopping and not being afraid to try new ingredients and swap out more expensive ingredients is a great way to keep your dishes healthy without breaking the bank, said Ms McAleese. 

6 tips to shop well on a budget 

  • Buy in season: Not only are fruit and vegetables freshest and most delicious when they’re in season, this is also when they are the best value. This is because when these foods are in season is when they are at their greatest supply and high supply means cheaper prices.  

If you're unsure about when your favourite fruits and vegetables are in season, LiveLighter® has seasonal calendars to show the best times to buy this fresh produce. 

  • Make healthy swaps: Getting creative with our shopping list can help us replace pricey ingredients with something cheaper that still provides similar nutritional benefits.  

“If your favourite meat cut is too expensive, try swapping it out for eggs, tofu or a can of chickpeas. If you enjoy the meat flavour, try swapping half the required meat and with other sources of protein such as lentils, which remain relatively consistent in price throughout the year,” explains Ms McAleese. 

  • Plan your meals: There are many benefits to planning your meals: saving time, money, reducing stress and cutting back on waste.  

“Set aside a few minutes every week to brainstorm your meals and try to choose meals that share some of the same ingredients to cut costs and reduce food waste by using the leftover ingredients,” said Ms McAleese. 

  • Write a list and stick to it: Once you’ve planned your meals for the week write a list of all the ingredients you need and only buy from the list. Ms McAleese said 2 for 1 deals and promos can make it tricky to stick to the list, so try to only go down the aisles you need to, to avoid tempting promotions. 

“The outside edges of the supermarket are where all of the fresh food is stored, so sticking to the areas around the aisles and only going down the aisles you need to can help you avoid adding pricey packaged foods to your trolley that aren’t on your list,” explains Ms McAleese.  

  • Cut back on costly snacks: Discretionary foods marketed as snacks are often full of fat, salt and sugar and carry a hefty price tag without providing any of the nutritional benefits you need. Ms McAleese recommends making some of your favourite snacks at home using ingredients you already have in the pantry.  

“Snacks such as pita crisps, popcorn or banana sorbet can be whipped up with only a couple of ingredients in little time. These homemade snacks are not only cheaper but they’re also healthier and will keep you fuller for longer,” Ms McAleese said. 

  • Use unit prices to find the best value: Unit pricing can help us compare the cost of products when they come in different sized packets and tell which items are the best value (not just the cheapest). Ms McAleese says to look for the for the price per 100g, per litre or per kilo to compare like products and to avoid products portioned into single serves.  

"Buying in bulk can be a lot cheaper, but this is only the case if you are going to consume all of the food before it goes off. Try purchasing larger packs and splitting them into smaller serves using containers. If the product is freezer-friendly, you can freeze some of the serves to make it last longer,” explains Ms McAleese. 

The LiveLighter ® website’s Shop Smart Hub has more tips, information and resources to help you spend more of your budget on healthy foods while saving money at the checkout.