However, some experts offer several tips that families can do to ease the pain and bolster the family budget.
The first general suggestion that they offer is to approach food purchases in a strategic manner. This means sitting down and examine how much one spends on food at a supermarket each week and how much food and what type of food is wasted a week. It could help cut non-essential purchases and reduce purchases of high-wastage food.
Once a consumer have a good overview of their shopping habits and feel that they have skimmed themselves to the bone, the following can be considered:
- Buy generic brands for food where there appears to be no major difference in the sourcing of produce.
- Bulk up on sale items, particularly for packaged goods with a longer shelf life.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meats. Often people use overly expensive cuts in dishes such as stir fries, casseroles and stews when it is not needed.
- Learn to cook and use different cuts of meat and offal. This can save money and improve health. However, it is getting harder to obtain cheap offal given Asian cooks often consider it a delicacy and are providing strong markets for gizzards, kidneys, livers, tripe and brains.
- Consider limiting household consumption of meat to three or four meals a week and relying on egg-based meals such as quiches, vegetarian dishes such as pastas, and tinned salmon dishes such as fish pies and potato bakes.
- Buy bulk for items such as meat if you have a good freezer.
- Buy cheap fruit and vegetables in bulk — it is often possible to get great deals at the big roadside fruit markets — and try stewing, bottling or freezing. This can give you a healthy base for great desserts, frappes and smoothies and help improve your fruit and vegetable intake.
- Find recipes that help you convert leftovers into a gourmet meal.
- For those who are keen to lose weight, eating smaller meals is an excellent option.
- If you are prone to wasting food, only buy the food for your meal on the day you will eat it.
- Limit your purchase of processed foods. These are normally expensive for the amount of food offered. This also puts the onus on you to prepare food before eating it, giving you greater control of the food content and volume.
- Substitute fruit for chocolate and candy bars. If chocolate is not negotiable in the diet, buy melting chocolate and dip fruit pieces fondue style.
- Incorporate broth-based soup into the diet. It is very filling as an entree or as a cleansing post-dinner drink, and is relatively inexpensive. It is usually very healthy. Once it becomes part of the main meal, it will be very hard to part with. This is a very popular practice in Asian cultures.
- Buy larger cans of goods if they are cheaper by the unit.
- Buy from wholesale markets where practical and when cheaper.
- Take note of specials in supermarket catalogues and buy up big.
- Buy clean-skin wine instead of labelled brands.
- Substitute expensive oils such as olive oil with less expensive oils.
Cheap carbs are just that — cheap. Energy-dense foods provide more calories per unit weight but can provide more empty calories per unit cost. So on a per-calorie basis, they are much cheaper than meat, fresh vegetables, fish and fruit but provide less real energy per unit.
Some experts are suggesting people eat less, which, in a western world where obesity is an epidemic, is not such a bad idea.
However, not all people are fat. But if they are forced to eat cheap carbohydrates they soon will be.