Most mums are all too aware of how important a balanced diet is for their family’s health and the benefits of eating nutritious foods. And along with helping your kids grow, the choices you make at the grocery store could also help you save money on household costs.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), there is a growing need for parents to pay closer attention to what goes into their shopping trolley.
Lisa McGlynn, a spokesperson for the organisation, said new research shows that Australians are not striking the right balance when it comes to food and beverages, with many people increasing their spending on so-called “extra foods” – which are usually high in fat and sugar.
“On average extra foods contributed to 36 per cent of energy intake for adults and 41 per cent for children, which is more than the recommended zero to three serves of extras per day,” she said in an official statement.
Ms McGlynn comments are based on findings from the Australia’s food and nutrition 2012 report – which was released earlier this week (July 17) – that show households are now spending as much on extra foods as energy bills.
Researchers from the AIHW have found that despite the fact Australia produces enough food to feed up to 60 million people, the nation’s average teenager still doesn’t consume the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.
The same report found that one in four children had an unhealthy body weight and the vast majority of adults were either overweight or obese.
At the same time, the amount of money households dedicate to buying what are widely considered to be unhealthy food choices was also brought to attention.
The AIHW estimates that the average Australian family spends up to $237 a week on food and beverages, while most individuals will put at least $63 towards fast food and alcohol during the same period.
These figures may not shock people who keep tabs on their own spending habits, but they take on new meaning as soon as you compare them with other household expenses.
In 2003-4, the average Australian household spent $176 a week on food and beverages – which represents an almost twofold increase in this area in less than ten years.
When it comes to gas and electricity bills, it quickly becomes apparent that Australians are having trouble keeping track of where their money goes.
While most people will be more than aware of the rising cost of energy, the reality is that the same can’t be said about alcohol.
Among many of the report’s key findings, it was revealed that an average Aussie spends $32 on alcoholic beverages – the same as they would put aside for energy bills.
Another major expense that families could easily cut down on was fast food spending, which now accounts for 27 per cent of the weekly grocery budget.
Throwing out food is also proving costly, with households emptying $600 worth of food each year into the waste and as a nation this figure jumps toward the $5 billion mark.
But now that you know the facts about how much we really spend on food and beverages as a nation, as well as places where it might be easy to cut back, how does the average person than turn this information into a real financial plan?
To reduce unnecessary spending on groceries, it is best to organise your meal plan at the start of each week.
This will help you budget for all of your household needs and make it easier to keep a watch over the nutritional content of the food you are eating.
Once you have a priced meal plan in front of you, it is okay to start hitting the shops and setting aside funds for the occasional treat.
ipac is one of Australia’s largest financial advisory firms and has offices based across the country. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the AMP Group, ipac specialises in research and financial advice that helps clients lead happier, more fulfilling lives.