You might be surprised to learn how much you really spend on takeaway food. Most of us would probably say that we don’t spend that much on eating out at all, but are we really being honest with ourselves? And how are our eating habits affecting our general health and physical and financial wellbeing?
New statistics from the ABS suggest that Australian households spend on average $95.05 a week on takeaway food and restaurants alone. For some perspective, that’s around three times the average weekly cost of electricity. Don’t forget that this is excluding the cost of your usual grocery shop, which can cost anywhere from $80 to $280 a week. That’s a minimum spend of $175 a week. Ouch! My wallet hurts just thinking about it. To add insult to injury, most people end up throwing away at least some of the groceries they buy without even using them. According to the Australian government’s Food Waste Initiative Australian households waste approximately $3800 worth of groceries each year, which is roughly 35% of the food they buy! All because they decided to eat out instead of cooking. What a waste!
Never fear, the gang from My Meals is here with some tips to help that hard-earned cash stay safe in your wallet, and that nasty junk food stays out of your belly.
- Plan your meals for the week before you shop
This may seem like a simple thing but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. The issue here is that you go to the supermarket without any idea what you need, or even want to buy. As a result, you tend to just buy whatever looks good and not necessarily the most cost-effective or healthiest options available. This can lead not only to overspending but also to buying things you don’t need or want, like takeaway food. Another big benefit of planning your meals is that you always have food in the house. You’ll never find yourself in a situation where you order in because there’s nothing in the fridge.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to eating the wrong food. You get hungry and realise that there’s no food in the house, or there is but you don’t feel like eating it, so you go to the supermarket. Once you get there, you’re more likely to buy junk food because it’s easy to eat and it’s delicious. The worst part is that if you already have food at home then you won't eat it, which means it will most likely get thrown away. This only adds more money to your total food expenses.
- Keep a cash allowance for eating out.
Instead of charging everything to your credit card you should decide on an amount you can spend on takeaway and similar things each week. Withdraw that amount in cash and once it’s gone, don’t spend anymore. It’s harder than you think, and the money disappears faster than you can imagine. If nothing else this method will give you a real and concrete idea of how much you spend on restaurants and takeaway.
- Eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week
Okay so this one may be aimed less at not eating bad food and more at keeping your grocery costs down, but that’s still a plus, right? There are two main benefits to eating vegetarian meals. One, they’re healthy and two, they’re cheaper than meals that contain meat. In most regular meals meat is by far the most expensive ingredient. So, by cutting it out you’re saving yourself some money, as well as reaping the health benefits of eating vegetables. It’s a win-win!
- Shop at local food and produce markets (and don’t be afraid to buy seconds)
Shopping at a produce market isn’t exactly a way to stay away from junk food, but it is a way to decrease the amount of money you spend overall. Local markets often have produce and other foods at heavily discounted prices. What’s more, they’re often fresher and better quality than what you will find at the supermarket around the corner. A lot of produce vendors at these markets (or even some supermarkets if you’re lucky) will sell seconds, fruit, vegetables or other products that are still perfectly safe to eat, but they may not look as delicious as the others on display. Of course, if you are the kind of person who needs all their apples to be perfect circles and exactly the right shade of red then this might not be the tip for you. However, if you don’t mind your apples slightly elliptical and more of a pink colour as long as they taste the same, then you could really benefit from this.
Of course, you could do all this, or you could just buy your meals directly from My Meals and save yourself the trouble. From as little as $98 a week for a week of lunches and dinners, you could make sure you always have food in the house. You don’t have to make trips to the supermarket because you’ve run out of food. The meals are all sugar and gluten-free and there are way fewer dishes to do. Bonus!