The South African Rand has been relatively volatile, leaving already cash-strapped consumers left to contend with buying the absolute minimum when it comes to food baskets at supermarkets or grocery stores.
Food inflation continues to accelerate, with the annual rate climbing to 13.4% in January 2023, the highest reading since April 2009 when the rate was at 13.6%. Most South Africans are being forced to become cost-conscious and not only give up on luxuries but cut back on their necessities to stay head above water.
Due to the tough economic conditions in the country, consumers have shifted their behaviours to an always-on saving mode to better adapt to the new economic realities.
Consumers are pivoting to fixed weekly and monthly budgets while constantly reassessing and rationalising all areas of the contrary, people are also actively searching for bargains and promotions when doing their shopping.
Mzansi sticking to their budgets
While people have become cost-conscious due to their plummeting grocery shopping budgets and variety of meal choices, this, unfortunately, does not translate to healthier food choices. South Africans are opting for budget-friendly “tummy fillers” such as maize, wheat and rice which allows them to stretch their pockets. Such eating habits offer sufficient calories, however, they don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals.
It is vital that we adapt our diets, and eating habits and make diversified food choices to nutrient-rich ingredients that are beneficial to our well-being and have a lower impact on our planet. We need to choose ingredients such as sprouts, beans and pulses, cereals and grains, vegetables and fruits, and leafy greens. South African consumers are under the false assumption that adapting to better eating habits is expensive and tasteless.
On average, a 1kg bag of orange sweet potato retails from R24.99, a 300g bag of spinach retails from R24;29, and a 500g packet of lentils retails from R22.99. Combined, these ingredients would cost you less than R100 from your food baskets, and provide a balanced plate full of nutrients.
Dealing with food waste
While adapting to these intense food basket restraints which are daunting to our economy, South Africans are being hit hard by load shedding which is forcing them to deal with food wastage directly in their homes.
South Africans are feeling the frustration of buying ingredients only to find them wilted away at the back of the fridge.
A game-changing hack to avoid food wastage in our homes would be to plan your meals for the week around the ingredients you have in your cupboards and fridges with low life spans. For instance, some recipes call for half an onion, a carrot and even a handful of mushrooms. By planning the next day’s meals around these “half-used” ingredients, South Africans will be utilising these nutrient-rich foods before they spoil and avoid having to throw them out.
DIY veg and fruit gardens
Another way consumers can cut down on their restrained baskets and try to fill up their fridges is by growing their own fruits and veggies at home.
This will not only save money but will allow the enjoyment of fresh produce at home that is good for well-being and sustainably grown to better the health of the planet.
Despite our unprecedented food challenges, globally and locally, there are encouraging methods that can assist our nation to develop sustainable coping methods to deal with the current tough economic times.
Food businesses have a huge responsibility to educate the masses about eating better with a balanced plate.
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