Grocery prices are sky rocketing, onions are sprawled over the streets of Pukekohe, eggs are being rationed – what is happening in this world! We have had to change our ways and become smart shoppers, but there’s always something worth splurging on. I asked the Nourish community where they save their pennies and what they won’t sacrifice when it comes to their shopping basket.
Vicki Ravlich-Horan, Nourish magazine editor
Forget that chemical essence crap, Vicki always uses proper vanilla extract – almost always Heilala Vanilla. She loves Heilala because she’s seen it being produced in Tonga and loves what they have done with this community just as much she loves the product.
Currently it feels like even the basics, like butter, is a splurge but a can of tinned tomatoes is still a trusty save. With a few additions, a tin of tomatoes can become anything from a tasty pasta or pizza sauce, will bulk out a casserole or mince and even make a half decent minestrone soup.
Kathy Paterson, food writer
Kathy splurges on good quality parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and meat. She saves with a garden bursting with green leafy vegetables, and she tops up her fridge by buying perfectly imperfect vegetables and fruit.
Amber Bremner, food writer
Amber’s family made the decision years ago that fresh produce was not something they would cut corners on. Of course, they’ll always buy what’s seasonal, but as a mostly plant-based household, veggies are the cornerstone of their diet. However, she always buys the cheapest legumes available, whether dry to cook from scratch (which is both the cheapest and nicest way to have them) or canned for convenience. You won’t find any gourmet beans in a glass jar in their house!
Fiona Hugues, food writer
When it comes to ingredients, Fiona is a firm believer that you should buy the best that one can afford. Inferior old anchovies, tasteless olives, metal tainted olive oil and tired watery mozzarella can completely ruin a dish or meal, so she’d rather leave them out. For this precious reason she’s the gal that buys up all the reduced to clear products to save her pennies. She just loves a bargain and those bright wee stickers beckon her from across the store. The discounted best before products are what she’s after (not to be confused with best by) as they usually have weeks of life left in them.
Kris Beehere, Ambrosia Rotorua
Kris can’t go past Maldon sea salt to season his food to perfection. He spends his money with local butchers, farmers and producers, and keeps his pantry stocked with good quality spices. Kris puts in the effort to minimise food waste and use as much of the product as possible. Taking the time to look after your products and rotate them correctly saves you a fortune!
Liz Gore Cerdeira, Vetro Tauranga
Liz’s splurge would always be parmesan. She means the real good parmesan that comes in from Italy in big chunks! If possible, she’ll go for a Reggiano but is usually happy with a Grana Padano. She’s currently getting budget canned cannellini beans, chickpeas and lentils from Vetro as they had a big stock come in during Covid that has come up to its date. Canned products last well beyond their BB date, so don’t turn your nose up at them!
Chris Gore, Vetro Tauranga
Chris splurges on quality canned tomatoes and pasta. She says there’s a world of difference between the low acid, low seed count, tomatoes grown in the mineral dense areas of Italy, and the rest. A quality can of tomatoes will give noticeable depth, creaminess, and nutrition to your dish. Likewise, always spend that little more on quality pasta. Don’t be fooled by the shiny stuff. The best pastas are dull, so your sauce will stick. Chris always cooks seasonally so rarely buys expensive fruit and veg that has had to be imported. She doesn’t mind ugly fruit, uses broccoli stalks, and if it’s on special will buy in bulk and make up soups for the freezer.
Jo Nolan, Bin Inn Papamoa
Jo always splurges on exotic rice, either Wild Rice, Black Jasmine, or Organic Red rice. She loves the crunch, colour, and flavour of these rices. If you’re going to have rice, it’s worth flashing things up! She saves with the Bin Inn peanut butter. Because you can make your own while in store, you know it’s truly fresh, has nothing extra added, and is totally moreish.
Ian Harrison, Sugo Tauranga
Ian goes cheap on seasonal vegetables and fruit. He keeps berries and tomatoes out of the trolly in winter and makes the most of them in the summer. Ian doesn’t skimp on meat. He only buys free range and grass-fed meats from his local butcher. It costs more, but it has a story and is much better for you.
Denise Irvine, food writer
Gutsy, grassy roast lamb is the taste of Denise’s childhood. Her father raised their meat and her mother cooked it beautifully. In memory of this, when she craves roast lamb, she splurges on a butcher’s best.
Denise does what we all should – saves on water! She always drinks it straight from the tap, at no cost, and feels thankful to live in a country where we can do this. She thinks bottled water is over-rated, overpriced, and there’s the issue of recycling the plastic involved. You can tart tap water up a bit with ice, lemon and mint, and you’re still saving money whilst treading a little more lightly on the planet.
Lisa Quarrie, Hayes Common and Weave Eatery
Lisa splurges on good olives, olive oil, chocolate and coffee. The quality is noticeably better, and deeper flavour is a bonus. Good quality chocolate and coffee are often sourced more sustainably and ethically too, which is always something to consider when shopping. She saves on tinned beans and tomatoes, as well as using frozen veggies to boost up dishes such as edamame, cauliflower rice and peas.
Wayne Good, Arkanda Living and Interiors
Wayne never worries about labels when it comes to the basic staples. He buys whatever is cheapest on the day. But he does invest in good quality, fresh ingredients, especially free-range chicken. As one of the perks of going to France, Wayne always brings back the luxurious fois gras to stash away in his cupboard, which is always a splurge!
Anna Greentree, Vetro Hamilton
Anna always spends a good amount of money on a decent vinegar, especially if using it for dipping or drizzling purposes. A little goes a very long way and makes all the difference if it is high quality and well-aged. She’s always happy to save money on frozen veggies – there is no need to pay top dollar for branded frozen veggies when they have all been manufactured in the same way.
Jana Hart, The Bikery
Jana splurges on maple syrup. She says the 100% Canadian maple syrup has a better flavour and no nasties in the ingredients. I’m with her on that one! She also splurges on champagne ham, as its thicker and better tasting than the sandwich ham. Jana goes budget when it comes to tinned beetroot, pineapple and tomatoes. She feels tinned items are much of a muchness.
As for myself, it’s my weekly challenge to keep the grocery bill as low as possible. I write a weekly menu and a detailed shopping list that I stick to, which makes a huge difference. I save on pantry staples, buy seasonally, and work out how I can adapt a recipe if one of the ingredients has an eye watering price tag. Flaky salt is something I won’t compromise on though. I use it far more than I should but you just can’t beat it.
Words Harriet Boucher