Microwaveable rice is extremely convenient, you just throw it into the microwave, wait 30 seconds and presto, you’re good to go. However, the price comes out at about $1.25 for a 125g serve or 1 cent per gram of rice. Alternatively, if you have a rice cooker and buy a 5kg bag (5000 grams) for $10 which contains 40 servings of 125g, then the cost breaks down to $0.25 per serve. If you were to buy the same amount of rice in the microwave packets, that would cost you $50. Therefore, if you’re willing to wait an extra 20 minutes to cook your rice, you only pay 20% of what you would to get the convenience of those 90-second packets. The added benefit of a rice cooker apart from having fresher rice is that you can simply set and forget it while you prepare the rest of your dinner, so the time saving of microwaveable rice doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re preparing the rest of your food as per normal.
Yoghurt is another food that can cost a lot to buy, especially if you get those little flavoured tubs that fetch anywhere from $1-2. If you invest in a yoghurt maker which you can pick up at Woolworths and Big W for about $20, you can make 1kg of yoghurt with yoghurt bases for about $3.50 with the only other ingredient you need being hot water. Compare this to other 1kg yoghurt options which typically cost twice as much and you’ll start to notice the savings. So if you have a lot of yoghurt during the week, this one can be a game-changer.
Premade Salads are tempting due to the convenience that they offer, it’s very simple to just pick up a salad that someone else has made and eat it on the go, but to do so can cost you north of $5 and there’s always a chance that you dislike some of the ingredients or the dressing. Alternatively, if you have some leftover veggies from what you used for last night’s dinner or if you grab some cheap veggies like lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes, you can make your own healthy, tasty salad for a fraction of the cost and guarantee that you like your ingredients.
This one is a bit debatable because some vegetables like the aforementioned are quite cheap, but there’s also a fair few that can cost an arm and a leg depending on the season. There are three tips I’d like to offer for minimising the amount you spend on fresh veggies. The first one is to simply grow your own. Gardening can be a great way to get some extra exercise, it’s peaceful and you know there aren’t any GMOs being added if that’s something you’re worried about. If you manage to keep your plants alive, the initial investment of some soil and a few seeds can pay for itself tenfold over the years. If you’re a plant serial killer like I am and would struggle to cultivate a cactus, then there are other options. Firstly, you can buy frozen veggies which are often much cheaper. The benefit of this approach is that you can get seasonal veggies that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy. The other option you can use if you hate frozen vegetables and can’t cultivate plant lifeforms, is to check your grocery aisle for discounted produce. A lot of the time, foods that are about to expire are discounted anywhere from 50-90% because people like to be able to store their food for a long time. If you’re going to eat the food that night, then there are no issues in you picking up something that’s about to go off in a day or two, because it won’t last that long (the same applies for meat!). It’s a great way to get your food cheaper and it ensures that you eat it rather than letting it go to waste at the bottom of your fridge with the other forgotten relics of the past.
We all love this Mexican delicacy, what better to put on some nachos or in a burrito? But here’s the thing, you’re paying almost twice as much for someone’s premade guacamole, that’s loaded with preservatives. This may come as a revelation but guacamole is just avocado and salt. For half the price, you can make healthier, fresher guacamole just by getting a fresh avocado and mashing it yourself. Add in a bit of lime/lemon juice to your flavour with some salt and/or pepper and you have a better tasting, freshly made batch of guacamole.