Food prices are on the rise again in New Zealand and a Northland couple renowned for their prowess on living off the smell of an oily rag have some clever tips for shopping smarter for groceries.

Food prices are in the news again, for all the wrong reasons, say Frank and Muriel Newman, the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.

“Food prices have risen by more than 40 per cent in the last ten years, higher than many other countries,” say the Newmans.

“The accusations have been flying as to why this could be in a food growing country like NZ. Some are pointing the finger at retailers, but we reckon the best way to beat higher prices is to shop smarter and grow your own.”

Here are some smart shopper tips the Newmans have come up with to help their fellow kiwis:

• If you don’t like supermarket prices, shop elsewhere. Try your local butcher, deli, green grocer, and bakery. They want your business too and very often have great deals.

• Buy fresh fruit and veges directly from local vege growers and orchards. We are about to enter the busiest harvest time of the year, so check out road-side stalls, and pick-your-own places.

• Check out bulk suppliers like the Bin Inn. There are definitely some bargains to be had but take your calculator.

• Buy unbranded products. The last time we ran a calculator over the savings we found unbranded products were about 20 per cent cheaper than brands. In most cases the only difference between the unbranded and branded products was the packaging.

• Support local growers and buy at your local farmers /growers markets. This is where local growers go to sell their own produce at competitive prices. You get produce fresh, in many cases grown organically, at a good price, and you get to chat to the grower and gain tips on recipes and so on. These markets have a huge range of produce, everything from bread, to eggs, cheese, meat, seafood and more.

• Try ethnic food outlets. Many have bulk deals on staples like rice and flour and may have deals on fresh fruit and veges sourced directly from market gardens.

• Grow your own! It really is dead simple. You don’t even need much space. One oily ragger has made a garden out of car tyres. They simply lay a tyre flat on the ground and fill it with soil. For bigger plants they stack another tyre on and top it up with soil. Easy, and portable! Now’s a good time to start growing so get cracking and you will soon be enjoying a harvest from your own backyard and will not have to buy veges from the supermarket at all! Instead of mowing that lawn and wasting petrol, turn the space into an oasis. It would be interesting to see how many people complaining about food costs don’t grow their own!

• If you have some spare land, graze your own animals and home kill.

• Raise your own chickens or rabbits. Or fish for your supper – combine recreation and family fun with food by taking the kids out fishing… available now, at a coastline near you!

• Rotate your supermarket excursions around two or more supermarkets so you can see which are offering the best deals.

• Only buy specials to fill your pantry. That way you can be sure you are cooking with bargain ingredients. Another way to reduce your grocery bill is to cut out the junk food.

Living Off The Smell Of An Oily Rag In NZ is available from bookstores and online at Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at

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