Your grocery bill is influenced by more than just your chocolate cravings. Droughts, the strength of the rand and other factors have an impact on the number at the end of your grocery bill. However, some planning and smart decisions will not only help you save on food but engage with our local agricultural industry. We spoke to Senior Agricultural Economist, Wessel Lemmer, at Absa AgriBusiness on how to save when buying groceries.
Buy your vegetables in bulk from the fresh produce market
Did you know that there are more than 13 fresh produce markets all over the country that are open six days a week? These warehouses, heaving with the freshest fruit and vegetables from local farmers, are a best-kept secret. Anyone can go, so bring your family and friends and make an outing of it. Another pro tip: buy kitchen staples like carrots, onions and potatoes in bulk and store them.
Try yellow maize instead of white maize
In South Africa, we’re used to eating pure white maize. However, milled yellow flour should cost less and there is no difference in taste or quality. This small change to a grocery staple can translate into big savings.
Buy locally produced meat from the butchers themselves
You won’t find better quality meat than our locally produced meat and poultry. If you love your meat and want to save, get some friends together and drive into the countryside. Just a few kilometres out of the city, you’ll find high-quality butchers that will cut and process the meat for you. The petrol will cost too much if you go on your own, but if you go with a group, this can result in a 25% saving. Your business helps the local producer as well.
Buy fish from wholesalers
Follow your local restaurant and buy fish from wholesalers that sell it in volume. Even bulk discount stores like Macro will sell fish that you can buy in bulk and freeze until you need it.
Grow your own food
You don’t need a huge field to grow your own food. A small wooden box or even an old tyre is enough to grow vegetables to feed your family. Leafy vegetables such as marog and spinach grow particularly well and don’t need any fussing around their conditions.
‘Spinach is a vegetable I grow in my vegetable garden. You don’t need too much space to cultivate a few rows of spinach. As it is a longer-term vegetable, it will stay growing for the whole season. If the soil is prepared correctly, you will get more than you would expect!’ says Wessel.
Buy in season and store it
South Africa produces a wealth of fresh produce, more than we could ever eat. When a fruit or vegetable is in season, it is much cheaper. However, that doesn’t mean you have to pay more for your favourite staples later on. For example, if you buy pumpkins in season, you can store them for up to three months. Simply put it on a shelf out of the sun, or even under your bed! Potatoes keep for months in a cool, dark room and onions can be hung up and used for months after they have been bought. Just be sure to weed out any rotten vegetables as they will spoil the whole bunch.
Stop the shortcuts
While things like bread and sugar are the cheapest foods, they have a long-term impact on your health. Obesity levels in South Africa currently stand at 60%, which goes hand in hand with a rise in expensive disorders such as adult-onset diabetes.
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