Shopping healthier is an affordable option

Broken Hill has been hosting three student dietitians from the University of Wollongong working alongside the Far West LHD Dietetics Department on a project investigating the cost of food in Broken Hill with the aim to show shopping healthier can be more affordable.

In 2013 and 2014, the Dietetics Department and student dietitians created a healthy food basket- which is an example of a weekly food shop that can meet a family’s nutritional needs – and it was specifically tailored for Broken Hill residents.

This was compared to a basket based on more common food consumption trends and it was found that the healthy food basket was considerably cheaper.

Fast forward to 2022 and things have changed substantially with many world and environmental factors impacting food prices and fresh food options.

This year’s student dietitians have re-costed the basket to monitor food cost changes over time.

They did find that although food prices have increased, it still remains cheaper to shop healthy.

“There is a common misconception that eating healthy is more expensive.

“We want to show people that this isn’t always the case,” said Nathan Clay, one of the student dietitians.

According to the findings, when based on median incomes for the Broken Hill area, the ‘healthy food basket’ was classed as affordable for families.

However, for those relying on welfare payments, it required a significant proportion of income and was deemed to be unaffordable.

The ‘common food basket was significantly more expensive and deemed to be unaffordable for some families on median incomes and all families on welfare payments.

An observation of the students acknowledged that some families in Broken Hill may find it difficult to afford either basket.

When looking at Census data it shows that over one third of households in Broken Hill are people living alone, so the students also created a healthy food basket for one person.FWLHS

“We know that it can be hard to shop and cook when you live on your own, so we want to help these residents of Broken Hill shop in a more affordable and healthy way,” said student dietitian Emma Rita.

“We hope our work can benefit the people of Broken Hill by demonstrating how healthy eating can save you money at the same time,” said Ben Thompson, student dietitian.

A resource has been developed based on the basket that includes a weekly meal plan, shopping checklist and budget healthy eating tips, which will be used by the Dietetics Department when educating clients.

  • They have offered some easy tips to help people shop and each healthier including:
  • Plan your weekly meals, to make best use of ingredients when they’re fresh to avoid waste.
  • Have a shopping list and stick to it!
  • Limit takeaway and utilise leftovers.
  • Shop for in season fruits and vegetables
  • Look out for food specials for items you plan to buy, but don’t be drawn by specials for things you don’t need.
  • Shop for home brands.
  • Limit discretionary food items that don’t provide much nutritional value (ie: soft drink, chips, chocolate).

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