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Five ideas for reducing your food bill

While eating well and supporting your community

10 Aug 2023
News 4 min read
A woman wearing a yellow turtleneck is chopping up vegetables. on the bench next to her is a baking tray of vegetables.

The cost of living continues to increase

More and more of us are finding it challenging to access and afford healthy food. 

While many of the important levers rest with governments, fortunately there are some small things we can all do to relieve pressure on our budgets and our communities, while contributing to a healthier and more sustainable food system. 

Three women are standing net to a farm like shed. Two of them are holding a basket of fruit and veg. Bird's eye view of vegetables spread out on a table. We see tomatoes, capsicum, onions, mushrooms, carrots, potato, beans and radish.


Let's evolve the food system


The events of the past three years have taught us that the way we grow, manufacture, transport, market and sell food and groceries in this country needs to evolve.  

Food is getting more expensive. CPI estimates tell us that overall food prices went up by 8% between January 2022 and January 2023 alone.  

But the reasons for the price hikes are complex – climate change and extreme weather events like floods are a big driver of higher food prices. They’re disrupting our food supply chains, leading to more demand, and higher prices. 

Compounded by global crises like COVID-19, plus higher fuel and energy prices exacerbated by conflict in Europe, and the impacts on food manufacturing and supply chains are significant. 

The way food is bought, priced and distributed in Australia also puts financial pressure on farmers and consumers.  

Fortunately, there are many actions we can take right now to support and help create healthier communities. Here are a couple of simple, cost-effective solutions.  


Support local grocers, farmers and producers


Local markets and grocers, farmers, and producers are the backbone of our communities.  

They work tirelessly to provide fresh and healthy food options. Buying from them not only supports their work, but also benefits our bodies, wallets and the environment too.  

So, consider shopping at a local market, or fruit and veg store for your next weekly shop.  

You’ll have access to seasonal produce and the ability to buy in bulk. Produce is typically cheaper, fresher and has less packaging, plus you’ll be supporting your local community.  


Grow what you can, when it's possible


Most of us don’t have the time or space to grow what we eat. But planting and harvesting food can reap benefits for our mental and physical health – as well as save us money. 

Start with growing a few simple herbs on a balcony or in a pot. Get kids involved where you can. 

Fresh herbs are often quick cropping and easy to grow. They’re also a quick way add flavour and colour to a ready-made-meal or batch cooked dinner.  


Fruit and vegetable box deliveries


Since the pandemic, we’ve excitingly seen a jump in the number of companies delivering affordable fruit and vegetable boxes straight to your front door.   

These are an excellent way to experiment with new recipes and eat healthier, without having to research which foods are in season.  

By supporting these local organisations, we can contribute to the efforts of communities and individuals who are working to make healthy food more accessible and affordable.  


Get behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned food businesses


Methods used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for growing, harvesting and distributing foods are regenerative and support the health of the environment and people.  

By supporting these businesses, we can invest in food sovereignty efforts that are crucial to building a more just food system and caring for our country. 


Sharing is caring


As the cost of living continues to pinch, food sharing services are growing in demand so why not share your leftover food with others. It’s a great way for households and businesses to reduce waste while supporting others in the community. It also sees us spend less time cooking, and batch cooking for economies of scale, but without menu monotony. 

Another option is to share food with your neighbours, colleagues or other parents at your local school or community group – you could start a workplace soup club. It’s a nice way to share recipes and connect, while relieving stress for people in your network who are time poor. 

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.