'Salmon is now a luxury. So are chips.' How the cost of living crisis is impacting the way we eat.

You know that moment after you pick up something off the supermarket shelf, and just before you drop it in the trolley, where you ask yourself: Do I really need this?

According to a new report, it's a question we're asking ourselves more and more as we deal with the cost-of-living crisis. And the food most likely to go first? Meat with over 60 per cent of Aussie adults cutting it from their diets to save money.

Makes sense. A quick Google search for meat at both Coles and Woolworths shows a small pack of chicken breast starts at $7.80 and a steak starts at $8.

While you can get a can of tuna for as little as $1.10 or tofu for $2.50.

Watch: How to make 21 meals for under $100. Post continues after video.

Video via Janice Fung.

Not only are people cutting back on meat, but according to the research conducted by Compare the Market, 58 per cent of Australians are spending less on chocolate and lollies. 

44 per cent of people aren't buying savoury snacks anymore and another 43 per cent are done with soft drinks for the time being. (We've seen the price of a case of canned Coke. We don't blame you.)

Worryingly, a quarter of Australians are also cutting back on fruit and vegetables.


Polly is one of those people, who tells Mamamia, she's now buying whatever vegetables are on special, not the vegetables she actually wants. She also shops online now, so she can vet her basket before she pays and consider what she actually needs.

"It also saves me doing multiple 'top-up shops' which end up costing so much more if you're not organised and are always popping in for a few items," she says.

Brielle has cut back to only buying meat once a week.

It's usually mince or chicken, which she can use in pasta or nachos over a few nights. She's also stopped buying packets of chips and biscuits and try tries to stick to the essentials.

Laura no longer buys salmon because it's a "luxury" these days. 

"It doesn't go as far as other proteins and we can't afford $15 or so of salmon per meal. It's not viable," she tells Mamamia

"Instead, we meal plan using cheaper veggies and canned tuna or tofu."

 Andi has stopped picking up her favourite snack: chips.

"It feels wrong to spend a minimum of $6 on a packet of chips it used to be half that price or less," she says.

"Along with cheese, especially outside of the everyday parmesan or tasty variety, it's too much for something that only gives you a little taste and doesn't last very long."

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting our health.

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting Australians hard, with new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing we have experienced the highest yearly jump on record.


Over the past 12 months, the Consumer Price Index (which measures household inflation) has risen 7 per cent.

The most significant price rises were medical and hospital services, tertiary education, gas and other household fuels, and domestic holiday travel and accommodation.

Then there are interest rates – the RBA has just hiked rates for the 11th time in a year - and the rental crisis.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. In this episode, they speak to people about their tips and tricks to make ends meet. Post continues below.

It's no wonder we're cutting down on certain groceries when our money is needed for shelter and medical services. But what is that doing to our diets?

Speaking to accredited practising dietitian Chloe McLeod, founder of Verde Nutrition Co, it's both a good and bad thing that Australians are eating less meat.

"On the one hand, most Australians would benefit from eating less meat, particularly red meat; the Mediterranean diet recommends 80-100g of red meat per week. Most of us would eat that in a single sitting (if not more than that)," McLeod tells Mamamia.

"On the flip side of that, we need to ensure it is being replaced with something with similar nutritional value, which from my experience working in my clinic, is not necessarily what happens."


What McLeod found more interesting is the finding around snacks.

"Again, it's positive if it means people are cutting back on cakes, biscuits, chips, etc, however, if it means people are eating less nuts, fruits, yoghurt and cheese, the positives are less clear," she says.

"Simply eating less is not the goal, we need to ensure we are eating the right things, in the right amounts, at the right times to support optimal health and wellbeing."

If you are ditching meat to save some extra cash, there are things she recommends replacing it with.

"It's important to not simply skip the protein and other nutrients the meat would have provided. Legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, black beans and kidney beans make a great meat alternative, as they are rich in protein and iron," McLeod says.

"Other pantry and freezer items that are particularly cost-effective include rolled oats (especially home brand), canned tomatoes and frozen veggies."

Black beans; canned tomatoes; frozen veggies. Vegetarian chilli con 'carne', anyone?

How is the cost of living affecting your diet? Are you eating differently? Eating less? Let us know in the comments.

Feature image: Getty.

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