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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: cbr shadow on June 30, 2014, 01:50:50 PM

Title: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: cbr shadow on June 30, 2014, 01:50:50 PM
My wife and I are moving from a Chicago suburb to Sydney Australia for two years.  Weíre doing this because a job opportunity has popped up and it makes sense to take it.  I have some questions about being Mustachian in Sydney though, and since Iíve seen so many AUS members popping up lately I thought this was the perfect place to ask.

My wife and I have been saving about 65% of our income here in Illinois.  This is due to a better than average income, but also due to being frugal.  Iím looking at the cost of living in Sydney though, and itís shocking to say the least.  Iíd like to find out some ways to save money on food while in Sydney.  Obviously weíll be cooking at home a LOT, but even groceries are insane.  Here in Chicago suburbia I can fill my dining room table with produce for $40, boneless skinless chicken for $1.99/lb, avacadoís for $0.50, etc.  It seems the trick here to keeping food costs really low is to eat lots of veggies and lots of oatmeal, lentils, etc.   Q: What are the tricks in Sydney?  Any main staples that are surprisingly inexpensive?  How about produce?
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: urbanista on June 30, 2014, 06:15:36 PM
No inexpensive staples in Australia.

To find "less expensive" food, the main rule is to avoid shopping in Coles and/or Woolworth. They are the two major retailers and keep the prices high.

Other alternatives are:

- Aldi (not Coles or Woolworth)
- small ethnic food shops (Italian, Chinese, Indian, Russian). There are even quite large ethnic supermarkets but I can't give advice about Sydney.
- large markets.
- note that farmer markets are not usually cheaper.

All of it will depend heavily on the area where you live. Traffic is busy even on the week-ends, you don't want to be commuting for an hour to go to the market.
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: bigchrisb on June 30, 2014, 06:45:04 PM
Hi,

I'm in Canberra, but spend a couple of days a fortnight in Sydney.

My suggestions:
- I use Aldi as my regular shop.  Basics are cheaper there.  I also buy what's on sale/in season.
- As mentioned, make use of the "ethnic" markets.  Australia is a culturally diverse country, and there are lots of small businesses that typically offer produce much cheaper.  Depending on which part of the city you are in will impact on these.  For where I am, there are a few asian grocers that are good value for meat and produce. Typically not in the CBD, but in the urban hubs.
- Agree on farmers markets being a fashionable rip-off.
- Consider bulk butcheries.  I buy meat by the whole cut (e.g. whole rump/scotch/porterhouse/pork belly/) and then cut up into my own steaks. Means buying and freezing ~5kg at a time, but typically less than half the price.   For example, the last cut I bought was a whole porterhouse at $7.99/kg. Note that we follow the British names for cuts of meat - e.g. porterhouse = new york strip.
- Poultry (chicken and turkey in particular) are really cheap in the US compared to here - the cheapest I can get skinless chicken breast for is about the same as the cheapest I can get decent steak.  Buying whole chickens isn't bad, and will come in about $3.50/kg at places like Aldi.

Australia is a pretty high cost country I'm afraid - when I've traveled to the US, I've thought as the US as a cheap place to live.
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: marty998 on July 01, 2014, 02:56:56 AM
You can have a high salary, or a low COL. Can't have your cake and eat it too, certainly not in Sydney anyway!

Only buy fruit when its in season. Mangoes in summer, Bananas on special ($2 a kilo). Milk is $2 for 2L at Coles & Woolies, but one day that will kill off the dairy industry here. It's not a sustainable low price.

Bread is truly getting to ridiculous prices, but you can still get no-name brand loafs quite cheaply.

O/T but shopping at Aldi has never sat comfortably with me. One reason is that a significant chunk of everyones Super is invested in an ASX200 fund, and WOW and WES make up a significant chunk of the ASX200.

Much as I despise defending big business, by not shopping at Woolworths and Coles we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Short term gain, long term loss!
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: Sydneystache on July 01, 2014, 08:34:01 AM
1. Aldi
2. Local butcher - near my area I can recommend Moree Meats at North Strathfield next to Aldi, and a cheaper butcher who doesn't have to pay as high a rent near the Direct Factory Outlet (DFO - good place for designer goods) at Homebush West.
3. Flemington/Haymarket markets for fresh fruits and vegetables
4. Costco
5. Ethnic groceries depending on suburb - Cabramatta for Chinese/Vietnamese, Harris Park for Indian, Auburn for Turkish/Persian, Lakemba for Lebanese, St Ives for Jewish, Northbridge for Japanese etc
6. Sydney Fish Market for seafood

The quality of meat is great here and the fruits should be more varied than Chicago. There are (diminishing) farms on the outskirts of Sydney where you can pick your own fruit - google Hawkesbury Harvest

I used to be a member of Costco but aside from the liquor, I don't miss it much and glad not to have to run thru the gauntlet of spending temptation but I know Americans who can't live without it.

Since it is winter here, just slow cook the cheaper cuts of meat. Unashamedly our meats - beef and lamb especially - are great. In summer, half of us have fled Sydney for lower cost/coastal areas then you can go fishing as long as you have a licence. Freeze the catch.

If you are an opera/theatre lover, enjoy them as much as you can up there because it is very expensive here. We don't have NYC or London's cheap tix. What I miss about the northern hemisphere especially Europe is the appreciation of culture and the arts across all tiers of society.

Finally, welcome to Sydney. Enjoy the scenic natural beauty of the place because that is free.
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: cbr shadow on July 01, 2014, 12:22:49 PM
No inexpensive staples in Australia.


What about "less expensive" staples in Australia?  I realize I wont be able to make a $2 dinner like I can here in the US, but what are some of the better choices for food?  More produce and less meat seems to be a universal rule for keeping things cheap.  What are some of the veggies that are generally inexpensive?  What about lentils or oats?

Thanks everyone!
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: chouchouu on July 02, 2014, 06:24:57 AM
You can have a $2 meal. Eg would be an omelette, you can get a dozen eggs for $3.50 and if you have a few pots of herbs and onions ($1 a bag at Aldi today) and some cheese your 3 egg omelette is $2 a person, even if you add some bacon ($7 kilo)

You just need to shop the basics and cheap cuts of meat. I learnt to cook cheaply with a French cook book called "I know how to cook" by ginette mathiot. The book is about a hundred years old and for old French housewives, so uses cheap meats and veg. Instead of chicken make beef Bourgogne, the stewing meat only costs me $3/4 for four people and just a bit of cleanskin wine, potatoes and carrots. Oats I found cheapest at Harris Farm markets, $6 a kilo for organic oats. Honestly food cost isn't all that bad, you'll be earning much more here too. You can get a five kilo sack of rice for $10, delicious pink lady apples for $2 kilo. Aldi bread for $1.50 for multigrain/whole meal and I think white bread is $1. Even if you don't have Aldi the big supermarkets keep the basics at the same price. So coles bread is also $1.50, oats were about $2 a bag, pasta for $1. Don't get the .65 cent pasta, it's atrocious. Coles $1 pasta is the best. Canned tomatoes are .80 cents. Coles is actually very good for staples, their pasta, canned tomatoes, Brie ($2) etc are all very good quality.

Costco is expensive here, unless you're buying a lot of processed foods there isn't much price difference. A big saving will be commuting. If you can get next to a train line or biking to work you will save big. For a phone aldi mobile is cheap and the cheapest way to call home would be to get a free wifi hot spot and Skype. Considering how good the pay is here if you're frugal you can save much more than in the US. As a college student I worked a minimum wage job and could still afford an overseas holiday every year. So yes, Australia is expensive but the increased earnings more than pays the way!
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: chouchouu on July 02, 2014, 06:39:38 AM
Also "gumtree" is the local version of Craigslist but you will probably need to stock up on some stuff at ikea. You can get 24 piece cutlery set there for $8, full set of plates, bowls etc for $18, mugs for $1 and I think the ikea 365 pots and pan set were about $40. Add in a knife, spatula etc and you've pretty much got all your kitchen essentials for $100.

For picking up furniture sign up to a zip car service, they have minivans too. No birds is the cheapest car rental. Medicine is pricey except for paracetamol so if you have a prescription it's worth checking out how much it would cost here.
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: alsoknownasDean on July 25, 2014, 05:34:22 AM
No inexpensive staples in Australia.


What about "less expensive" staples in Australia?  I realize I wont be able to make a $2 dinner like I can here in the US, but what are some of the better choices for food?  More produce and less meat seems to be a universal rule for keeping things cheap.  What are some of the veggies that are generally inexpensive?  What about lentils or oats?

Thanks everyone!

Of course it depends on the time of year, but I tend to see stuff like carrots, onions and celery around pretty cheap at the moment. As stated, pasta and oats are pretty cheap (pasta's about $1 for 500g, oats about $1.20 for 750g, for no-name brands).

If you can find some fresh food markets (less fancy than farmers markets, I'm sure there's some in Sydney), you can get cheap vegetables, especially if you're there near closing time when the stallholders are discounting their stock. Often they'll only be open a few days a week though. I've often been able to score bags of capsicums (bell peppers) for a dollar or two.

Ground beef (known as mince here) can be pretty cheap too (especially the higher-fat versions). Beef in general is pretty reasonably priced, but lamb is expensive.

Oh, and as far as alcohol goes, you'll quickly notice how expensive beer and liquor is, and how comparatively cheap wine is.
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: chouchouu on July 25, 2014, 08:13:14 AM
No inexpensive staples in Australia.


What about "less expensive" staples in Australia?  I realize I wont be able to make a $2 dinner like I can here in the US, but what are some of the better choices for food?  More produce and less meat seems to be a universal rule for keeping things cheap.  What are some of the veggies that are generally inexpensive?  What about lentils or oats?

Thanks everyone!

Of course it depends on the time of year, but I tend to see stuff like carrots, onions and celery around pretty cheap at the moment. As stated, pasta and oats are pretty cheap (pasta's about $1 for 500g, oats about $1.20 for 750g, for no-name brands).

If you can find some fresh food markets (less fancy than farmers markets, I'm sure there's some in Sydney), you can get cheap vegetables, especially if you're there near closing time when the stallholders are discounting their stock. Often they'll only be open a few days a week though. I've often been able to score bags of capsicums (bell peppers) for a dollar or two.

Ground beef (known as mince here) can be pretty cheap too (especially the higher-fat versions). Beef in general is pretty reasonably priced, but lamb is expensive.

Oh, and as far as alcohol goes, you'll quickly notice how expensive beer and liquor is, and how comparatively cheap wine is.

Yes, I did some price checking and brown rice works out at .40cents for 677 calories and that's from a regular supermarket without discount. One thing to know is that the supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) have regular cycles for discounting. Every month or so there will be 30% off brown rice, laundry detergent for half price etc. I've also worked out quite a few $2 dinners since the OP mentioned it.

Fettuccine carbonara
Fried hoki fillet, brown rice, broccoli and carrots (hoki fillets are $10 for 10 frozen at Aldi)
Tuna Fish cakes made with canned tuna and steamed veg
Pumpkin soup
Pasta with spinach and feta sauce (frozen aldi spinach)
Spaghetti with tomato sauce and substituting red beans instead of meat
Title: Re: Members in Sydney Australia - Being Mustachian here? Food?
Post by: happy on July 25, 2014, 06:55:03 PM
I'm not quite in Sydney but not that far away.

+1 to Aldi
Quote
the supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) have regular cycles for discounting.
My local Coles intermittently has excellent deep discounts: 40-50% off. I wait and stock up 12 months worth of nonperishable staples e.g. dish detergent etc. Also buy whatever vege/fruit they have on big special  if its what we eat- its usually a good deal. Its taken a while to build up all my stocks but I now just cruise around the supermarket looking for the specials and buying a lot of those.

I don't like the big 2 supermarket chains so I tend to buy meat and vege/fruit from local small businesses where the quality is better. Unfortunately I haven't found farmers markets to be cheap around here.

Groceryrun.com.au can have cheap v items but beware of all the crap and do your research, sometimes its not that cheap. It has a whole USA food section if you are homesick.