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As the new financial year kicks in and VAT rates increase, we may need to readjust our food budgets a little. Below is a list of foods that carry zero VAT as well as my top 5 cost conscious grocery shopping tips.

VAT Free Food Items

  1. Brown bread

  2. Maize meal

  3. Samp

  4. Mielie rice

  5. Dried mielies

  6. Dried beans

  7. Lentils

  8. Pilchards/sardines in tins

  9. Milk powder

  10. Dairy powder blend

  11. Rice

  12. Vegetables

  13. Fruit

  14. Milk

  15. Cultured milk

  16. Brown wheaten meal

  17. Eggs

  18. Edible legumes and pulses of leguminous plants

  19. Vegetable oil (sunflower and canola)

Some healthy eating cost conscious tips:

  1. It is always cheaper to eat home made products than ‘ready to eat’ products. The ready to eat foods such as sandwiches carry VAT, so it is better to buy your own bread and toppings and wake up a bit earlier to make your lunch. Over and above the cost benefits, by cooking your own meals you will be in absolute control of what you are adding to the meals to ensure it is prepared in the most nutritious way possible. In accordance with home cooking, remember precut fruits and vegetables are more expensive than whole ones. Buy whole fruits and vegetables and get the added benefits of a bit of arm exercises when preparing.

  2. Plan your meals so that all of your ingredients get used without being wasted. Freeze any unused foods.

  3. Eat leftovers for lunch. Cook extra portions of your dinners and at least you know you will be eating hearty nutritious lunch. Alternatively, you can also cook in batches and freeze. Speaking of cooking extra, buy foods in bulk and stock up on items when they’re on special. Be sure to check up on the expiry dates, and if necessary team up with a friend to share and split the costs.

  4. Buy cheaper cuts of meats. If you’re prepared to take a little more time with your cooking, buying cheaper cuts of meats is a great way to save money. Slow cooking methods gradually break down the muscle fibres in cheaper cuts of meats, giving a great taste at a lower cost.

  5. The cheapest way to buy chicken is to buy a whole chicken. From a whole chicken you’ll get two breasts, two thighs, drumsticks and wings, plus a carcass for making stock.

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