08 July 2014

It pays to shop around - these photos were taken within minutes


As a follow-on from our post about the various places you can shop for food, I thought it might be helpful to qualify what are average prices for us here in New Zealand.

Presently we shop weekly to a meal plan for 7 people, at a supermarket and an Indian grocery store (milk, potatoes and rice); with occasional visits to one other supermarket (marked down meat); and rare visits to a food warehouse and an epicurean shop when needed.

What we buy is usually the cheapest and includes seasonal specials, clearance prices and any discount we can find within reason - sometimes it's not viable to chase the last cent at the cost of spending dollars doing it though!

Our average spend over the last 12 weeks has been $160 per week.  This is probably not normal as I know a bachelor whose budget is $129 per week for food; and ours was $300 per week for the year previous. 

Incidentally some supermarkets offer you a fuel discount voucher when your receipt totals a minimum amount.  This may be at their own service station or an allied station.  The average is around 6 cents per litre discount (whether petrol or diesel) with some going to 20 cents or more during a particular promotion.  This is one way of saving on fuel especially if you don't have access to, or don't want to, sign up for a fuel card through membership organisations.  The discount is usually capped.


So without further ado, here are a few figures for you...


FOOD ITEMS (2nd quarter 2014)

    Price per kg
unless otherwise stated
apples, rose 1kg 0.98 0.98  
apples, gala 1kg 1.98 1.98  
bacon 1kg 10.14 10.14  
bacon, smoked streaky 250g 5.00 20.00  
baked beans 410g 0.68 1.66  
basmati rice 5l 10.99 1.09 per litre
biscuits, super wine 2 x 500g twin packs 7.00 7.00  
bread, toast wholegrain 600g 2.14 3.57  
broccoli 2 heads 3.00 1.50 each
butter 500g 3.69-4.28 7.38-8.56  
cannelloni 200g 3.19 15.95  
carrots 1kg 0.99-1.38 0.99-1.38  
chicken, boneless breast 354g 5.94 16.78  
coriander, ground 30g 1.94 64.67  
cream cheese 250g 2.99-3.48 11.96-13.92  
creamed corn 418g 0.48 1.15  
cheese, edam 1kg 9.40-9.48 9.40-9.48  
chicken breast, smoked 300g 5.92 19.73  
chickpeas  2.5kg 5.99 2.37  
chocolate bar 50g 1.00 20.00  
coconut cream 400g 1.09 2.73  
condensed soup 420g 1.48 3.52  
corned beef 1kg 6.00 6.00  
cream 500ml 3.36 6.72 per litre
cottage cheese 500g 4.48 8.96  
curry powder 40g 1.04 26.00  
dishwashing liquid 750ml 2.80 3.73 per litre
eggs size 6 x 20 tray 3.98 0.20 each
frozen mixed berries (1kg strawberry & blackberry) 8.44 8.44  
grapes green 900g 5.98 6.64  
gluten free bread 650g 6.99 10.75  
gluten free lasagne 200g 4.09 20.45  
honey 500g 3.89 7.78  
jam  350g 1.00 2.86  
jelly 85g 0.70 8.24  
kumara, orange 1kg 2.99 2.99  
kumara, red 1kg 3.48 3.48  
leeks 2 2.48 1.24 each
lamb rump steak 300g 6.72 22.40  
lamb, diced 373g 5.22 13.99  
lettuce 1.98 1.98 each
marshmallows 200g 1.88 9.40  
milk 2l 2.99 1.50 per litre
mince 1kg 10.99 10.99  
nashi pears 1kg 2.98 2.98  
oil spray 200g 4.65 23.25  
onions 5kg 4.98 0.99  
orange juice 3l 3.99 1.33 per litre
paprika, ground 40g 1.94 48.50  
passata / pasta sauce 680g 1.99 2.93  
peanut butter smooth 1kg 5.99 5.99  
potatoes 10kg 7.99 0.79  
potatoes, brushed 100g 0.98 9.80  
rice, medium grain 1kg 1.98 1.98  
sausages 450g (GF) 6.39 14.20  
silverbeet, bunch 1.68 1.68 per bunch
sour cream 500g 3.99-4.48 7.98-8.96  
spinach 300g 4.98 16.60  
sugar, white 1.5kg 2.78 1.85  
sultanas 700g 4.99 7.13  
thyme 15g 1.99 132.67  
toilet paper 12-pack 5.00 0.41 each
tomato paste 140g 1.99 14.21  
whole peeled tomatoes 400g 0.99 2.48  


Note that we currently have a goods and service tax of 15% that is included in all transactions including food (unless otherwise stated).


Added: Also, if a cashier asks if you want any bags at the end of processing your groceries, the cost will be extra and added to your bill.  So take your own plastic bags or use your own re-usable ones.

27 May 2014


Unless you plan to eat out wherever you go, you'll need to know where to forage for food.


Beyond the supermarket's one-stop-shop (average prices), there are a variety of alternative and complementary places to pick up your dietary needs.


  • Green grocers / market gardens
Fruit and vegetables - often a combination of what is grown on the premises (in season) supplemented with what they can buy in.  Least expensive
  • Road side stalls
Anything that is abundantly grown on the premises whether private or commercial.  Fruit, vegetables and even flowers. Least expensive.
  • Local markets
Any food produce - fresh (ie market gardens and road side stalls) and processed (food stalls).  Average.
  • Ethnic grocery stores
Food commonly used in one or a variety of different cultures eg, Asian, Pacific Island, Indian... Average.
Any food produce - fresh (ie market gardens and local growers) and processed (brewed, preserved, cooked) from local artisans. Average to expensive.
  • Butchers
Meat, of course!  Average to expensive.
  • Bulk stores
Basic ingredients for cooking /baking
Prepared lunch foods & baked goods.
Average to expensive.
  • Farm or factory door sales
Commercial products manufactured/grown on the premises that often you are able to try before you buy. Average to expensive.
  • Dairies
Packaged and processed convenience foods, and milk.   More expensive.
  • Service stations
Packaged and processed foods, and milk.  Some have a hot beverages area / cafe.   More expensive.
  • Health food stores
Organic and speciality foods ie gluten free, lactose free etc. More expensive.
  • Epicurean / Gourmet
Exclusive (often imported, although also local artisian) food products, not available in mainstream stores. (Average to) Expensive.


Usually your green grocer / market garden, dairy, and service station will be open 7 days; your butcher, road side stall, health food, epicurean, ethnic grocery, bulk food stores, bakeries, farm & factory door sales weekdays and often Saturdays; and your local markets, farmer's markets only once per week. Asking at the local i-Site may be useful to find out where the weekly markets are.

Guten appetit!  Bon appétit! Enjoy!

09 January 2014

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!


As a follow-on from our going-out basket post, here are some ideas for a (supermarket or grocery) lunch on the run.  You could even use the ideas for a quick, shared work lunch with colleagues.


Green salads - you can buy all the individual ingredients; pre-washed leaves; or many supermarkets have salad boxes with all the extra ingredients ready to toss with the lettuce and dressing.  How about one or two of the following: feta, smoked or cooked chicken, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, chopped frankfurters, sun dried tomatoes, diced salami, tinned tuna (with pull-tab lid), mushrooms, olives, avocado, grapes, alfalfa sprouts, salmon, parsley / basil, or capsicum?  Mete out the ingedients into each person's plate and they can toss them at will.

Other salads may be available from in-store salad bars.  Countdown had a decent potato salad that we bought by the bagful before it got a little expensive for our family's size. 


Bacon & egg pie or quiche.  If you like yours cold this could be a compliment to the salads.  Just make sure to eat the lot immediately or have a cold box ready for any leftovers.  We don't want you getting food poisoning.


Filled rolls or buns or whatever else you can stuff fillings between: ciabatta, croissants, cobs, loaves of fresh specialty bread, french sticks, pita pockets, tortillas etc

As for the ingredients, think about something fresh, flavoursome and moist. Some of these ingredients cover more than one category:

Fresh Flavoursome Moist
Lettuce Pastrami Hummus
Coleslaw Salami Cream cheese
Gherkins Smoked chicken Tzatziki
Tomato Ham


Capsicum Salmon / Tuna Baba ganoush
Cucumber Curried egg salad Sweet chilli philly / Salsa
  Camembert / Brie Avocado / Guacamole


Antipasto platter - any raw vegetables, and a sliced delicatessen sausage or two.  Use any of the 'moist' ingredients above as a dip, or try a mixture of half sour cream and half pickle or relish.  Any leftover vegetables can be used in a stirfry back at home.


Fruit salad & dip.  Who said lunch had to always be savoury.  Occasionally we get a selection of seasonal fruit that can be cut up into bite sizes, and dollop some thickened yoghurt or the like onto each person's plate.  Marshmallows are nice too, and for extra decadence sprinkle a portion of flake bar over everything.


Ice cream.  This one is a treat, moreso for afternoon tea on a really hot day, and only if you are comfortable sharing.  A 2-litre tub of ice cream.  That's it.  No bowls, just spoons.  Plonk the container in the middle of a picnic table rather than the grass, for easier 'controlled' access.  Goody Gum drops works well as long as you don't mind the boasts from those who are counting their catch.  We like Brent & Toby's as they are affordable for a treat and more natural than the rest (our local supermarket doesn't carry it though and I couldn't find a website online for them either).  The photo above is Tip Top Hokey Pokey with The Natural Confectionery Co's Lolly Disguises that have been cut up into small pieces, after most of the 'teeth' were eaten straight from the packet.  [The baby's ice cream is put aside into a bowl.]


For an evening supper, or even a date night - exchange the water bottle in your going-out basket for a thermos of hot chocolate (and marshmallows), Turkish apple tea, or your favourite hot beverage.  Pack some fudge or chocolate and you are ready to go!


Lunch doesn't have to be complicated, but it will work out cheaper than fast food, cafes, or bakery lunches.   What are your thoughts?