Over five days Newshub reporter Scott Palmer visited five different food stores to see if creative consumerism could stretch $5 into three of meals a day.
DAY 2: Reduced to Clear
Manukau is a mythical place with large quantities of close to before-expired groceries.
This is expressed by the "Reduced To Clear" sign, presents itself on entrance and is reinforced by the countless stickers sharing the sentiments.
"NZ's #1 Grocery Clearance Outlet," it read and it read correctly. It was packed wall-to-wall with cheap food.
I walked around in a daze, dreaming up new $5 combinations, mentally savouring the flavours. My eyes glazed, my tummy rumbled in anticipation.
Bargains were aplenty. Pasta packets. Oatmeal. Was like a kid journalist in a candy discount food store.
But then it happened, haloed by the neon back light of the diary cabinet. Reduced priced yogurt. "Was this the work of the Gods?" I remember thinking, or "simply the work of the kind folk at Reduced to Clear Manukau branch? Maybe they are one and the same thing?"
Fact is we will never know for sure. What we do know is that is damn good value for pre-cheese-dairy-liquid. I grabbed the kilo yoghurt.
As I staggered to the checkout, still stupefied by my divine encounter, I wondered why this intervention didn't happen while I was at university.
Breakfast: Oatmeal and yoghurt
Lunch: Pasta packet and yoghurt
Dinner: Pasta packet
6/10 Ease: I had no idea that this place existed - and to get to it, we had to drive out to Mangere. The traffic was pretty bad on the way back into the city, so it gets a low score. For someone living close by, this would be fantastic.
8/10 Variety: This place had a pretty good selection of dried and dairy goods. There was even a decent meat selection. However there wasn't any fresh produce.
7/10 Meal satisfaction: Ok, not great. There was a bit too much packaged products for my liking.
8/10 Viability: Reduced To Clear is great if you want to make a bulk shop, and don't mind the more limited selections. Some of the food may also be dodgy soon - but you may snag a bargain.
What factors are making it hard for Kiwis buying food?
Inflation has surged this year. Inflation in the first quarter of 2017 is currently running at 2.2 percent, and one of its main causes is unusually high food prices.
Whether at the supermarket, the grocery store, or the takeaways, prices seem to be higher than the previous month.
Advocates for the living wage have put the figure needed for 2017 at $20.20 an hour.
The living wage is about an extra $5 an hour compared to the official minimum wage of $15.75 set by the Government, and is defined as income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life.
With so many Kiwi workers earning below this, people can't afford to live on the wages they receive.
The wallet-burning cost of Auckland and Wellington has been highlighted once again as they jointly ranked the 16th most expensive cities to live in the world.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey covered 150 cities, with Wellington climbing 26 places since last year's survey and Auckland 22 places.
Rental prices in Auckland are up 4 percent than where they were a year ago and almost 24 percent higher than in 2001.
Increasing food prices
Vegetable prices were up 10 percent last month - with a lettuce costing up to seven dollars.
Two months of record rainfall destroyed entire fields of crops, and now new crops of spinach and lettuce are being dumped on.
And the extra rain could hamper new crops, pushing prices up even higher.
China - our largest export market for sheep meat and second largest for beef - is expected to increase its demand to at least 2020.
Rabobank's report, China's Animal Protein Outlook to 2020, forecasts an 800,000 tonne growth in beef and 50,000 tonne growth in sheepmeat going to China.
This is expected to prevent meat prices from falling.
New Zealand is growing and fast. With population growth at 2.1 percent over 2016, we've reached our fastest rate of growth since the mid-1970s.
Annual net migration rose to 71,305 in the 12 months ended January 31 2017, eclipsing the record 70,600 set in calendar 2016, Statistics New Zealand said.
People arriving as permanent and long-term migrants outnumbered those departing by 128,290 to 56,985 in the latest 12 months - also an all-time high.