Embarking on a new adventure in Australia brings not only excitement but also the opportunity to explore the local cuisine and grocery shopping experience. We sat down with some of the Agri Labour Australia team, hailing from different corners of the world, to learn about their initial impressions of Australian food and their top tips for candidates when it comes to grocery shopping in the land Down Under.
- When I am strapped for time I love to prepare meals in advance, with my favourites including ingredients that only need minimal cooking to make a healthy, filling and voluminous dish! My favourite is my Mexican bean dish, which can be made vegetarian, vegan or with meat. To make my dollar stretch further I head straight to Aldi for all the ingredients!
- Always look for specials or marked down food. Usually an hour before closing, or after 3pm on a Saturday or Sunday, are the best times to go for markdowns.
- Put money together as a group and cook family meals for all to share. Similarly if everyone contributes to a food fund you could also go to weekend markets or farmers markets to find cheaper and higher quality (longer lasting) fruit and vegetables.
- Buy seconds, for example, the odd bunch at Woolworths, the produce doesn’t look as pretty, but it’s just as good and cheaper.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach! The times I’ve gone shopping when I’m already really hungry never ends well and I make a lot of impulsive purchases and unnecessary spending, especially on things that aren’t very healthy. This means I always try to plan my shopping trips when I know I’m likely to have already eaten.
- It’s very likely you’ll be doing 12 hour days and as a lot of sites are quite a distance from the local shops, planning and preparation will become your best friend! Start by ensuring you have an idea of the meals you want to prep for the week and then get to writing a list. This is the first step in being successful when it comes to sticking to a budget and not wasting food or money!
- Home brand is just as good as name brand, for example, paracetamol is the same strength as leading brand name painkillers but for a fraction of the price (80 cents as opposed to more than $5). Ibuprofen and brand name pain relief are the same strength and again a fraction of the price ($1.55 as opposed to over $7). This applies across the whole range of grocery store items so when shopping, you can get more for your money if you look at the store named brand. You’ll also find that the cheapest brands are located on the lower shelves, so don’t forget to look down and not just at shoulder height for the foods you’re looking for.
- Cook in bulk whenever possible! This can be tricky though as shared accommodation can make it hard to stick to a space allotment in the fridge, freezer or cupboards. Another option would be to use a freezer whenever possible in order to freeze your pre-made meals and sometimes you can find these available in an eski format from Bunnings or Aldi.
- For breaks it’s always good to keep some fruit (fresh and/or dried) and muesli bars/protein bars as these can easily be stored in a locker or backpack.
- Always start the day with a good breakfast! Something like a high fibre breakfast or oatmeal porridge, keeps your stomach full for a long time.
Grocery shopping on a budget?
Shopping on a budget while working in regional Australia can be a smart way to make your hard-earned dollars stretch further. Here are some tips to help you save money on your grocery shopping adventures.
- Plan your meals ahead and make a shopping list based on the ingredients you need. Stick to your list and avoid impulse purchases.
- Look out for weekly specials and discounts offered by supermarkets, as they can help you score great deals on staple items.
- Buy Home Brand products, they are cheaper than the big brand names as they cost less to produce by using no frills packaging and marketing campaigns.
- Consider purchasing in bulk when possible, as it often offers better value for money.
- Keep an eye out for reduced-price items near their expiration date, as these can be a budget-friendly option for immediate consumption or freezing for later use.
By being mindful of your spending and making savvy choices, you can make the most of your grocery budget while enjoying your time in regional Australia.
*Jane wanted to remain anonymous for this article.