Menu image: “Food, Food, Food…” by | Fluke | is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Average Australian home$12200
Smart renter$8000
Very smart renter$6000 or less

The best food tastes great, is healthy, respects the producer, biosphere and goes easy on the hip pocket. Smart and very smart renters can use their gardening, foraging, shopping and cooking skills with a bit of storage to eat really well for a third less to half of what of the average Australian household spends.

Where do your food dollars go?

Here’s a breakdown of where the average Australian home spends their money on food and non-alcoholic beverages averaged across different income groups [1]:


Food typePer personPer average household
Meals out and fast food$1480$3900
Meat, fish and seafood$700$1820
Fruit and vegetables$660$1720
Condiments, confectionary, etc.$510$1320
Bakery products, flour and cereals$410$1070
Non-alcoholic beverages$300$780
Dairy products$320$830
Other foods$310$810


Want to do better? Here’s how smart renters eat better for $4000 less:

  • First, cut out food expenditure that doesn’t give you fulfilment by cutting out food waste, eating out less and enjoying food more at home or third places and by eliminating most highly processed food and sugary food.
  • Get high quality organic food for almost nothing by growing all of your herbs, leafy greens and some veggies (around 2m² to 4m² of garden bed space).
  • Put some of your savings into buying high quality grains, wholegrains, and legumes and if you are inclined to eat meat and dairy, eat less but choose higher quality (e.g. local and organic if possible).
  • Choose water and home grown herbal teas over soft drinks and fruit juices [2].
  • Most of the below ideas for renters and smart renters cost almost nothing to implement thanks to the use of recycled goods or stuff that you already have.

Here’s where the savings fall:


ActionOnce off costMoney saved per year
Hate food wasteNone$1100
Eat out less, enjoy food moreNone$2000
Gardening in small spaces$50 to $100 per m²$1000
Less sugary drinks (see above)None$400


Although the savings add up to $4500, smart renters can use some of that money to support local organic farming and will still end up with $4000 in savings. This is what is meant by eating well for less.

Very smart renters do all the things that smart renters do, plus they:

  • Use even more creativity to enjoy more food at home and in third places.
  • Grow even more veggies at home (over 4m² of gardening space).
  • Forage for herbs, tea herbs, greens and fruit in the wider neighbourhood.
  • Buy dry goods in bulk to save money on higher quality and sustainable food items and keep a supply of 6-12 months of these goods as a buffer.
  • Preserve excess garden produce and produce foraged from beyond their borders.


Here’s what very smart renters save:


ActionOnce off costMoney saved per year
Eat out less, enjoy food moreNoneExtra $1000
(More) Gardening in small spaces$50 to $100 per m²Up to an extra $2000 or more
Weed foragingNoneUp to $500
Bulk food storage and preservingNone Up to $1000


The potential savings for a very smart renter add up to an additional $4500 on top of what a smart renter can save for a grand total of $9000. In reality, we have suggested that a very smart renter will save $6000 over the average Australian household as they can use some of the savings to support locally and sustainably produced food.

As you can see, quality, sustainability, taste and frugality are no longer mutually exclusive when it comes to food. By adopting these simple ideas, smart and very smart renters can eat really well for a fraction of what the average Australian household spends on food.

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Further Reading:

[1] Here’s the original 2015/2016 figures broken down across different income groups if you want to compare:

[2] Fruit juices, even ones with no added sugar contain a lot more sugar than you would naturally eat. You wouldn’t eat six oranges, yet it is possible to drink a 500ml bottle of orange juice which gives you the sugar of six oranges.