Are Food Package Sizes Too Big These Days?

Are Food Package Sizes Too Big These Days?

If you live on your own, portion sizes for food often seem very impractical. Should food producers be trying harder to address non-family buyers?

The challenge of buying bulk amounts of food was a theme that kept emerging during my recent Mastercheap experiment, but it turns out that I’m not alone. A recent report in the Australian Financial Review (which I’d happily link to if the paper didn’t have a paywall) noted that the number of single-person households in Australia is expected to rise from 1.86 million currently to 3.6 million by 2031, at which point it will be a larger demographic than couples with children. BCM ad executive Kevin Moreland told the AFR the issue is already becoming a concern for young singles:

Marketers will ignore them at their peril. We often see in our focus groups, for example, young single men and women talking about the size of packaging and how impractical it is. The serving sizes are simply too large.

So I’m wondering: which foodstuffs would you like to be able to purchase in smaller portions? Share your wish list in the comments.


  • Snacks. It would be nice to be able to buy a much smaller serve of hot chips, or a small slice of cake, or a mini donut. As it is, I either have to buy a serve with enough kilojoules to count as a meal, or resist the temptation entirely.

  • I’m annoyed at the cost of different portions. I don’t need a family size jar of peanut butter*. but it is more economical to spend the extra money & get the extra amount of product. but i don’t need it & buying the smaller jar is so expensive in comparison.

    *peanut butter is an example. I can’t think of an actual product I have had encountered this problem at the moment.

  • Equally, it has to be said, I find many ‘For One’ meals/portions insufficient to satisfy my hunger.

    I’m fairly sure I have a larger-than-average appetite, but I much prefer to cook ‘For Two’ and stash any leftovers for another time rather than find myself still hungry and end up raiding the bikkie barrel or the cake tin to make up for it.

  • I used to get this problem a lot when living alone. Purchasing portions or meat and ingredients to make meals out of often ended up in having a serving of 4. Whilst I’m a fairly big guy and can eat a bit, that’s still to much for me, so usually it resulted in me throwing out over half of what I made if I decided to go down this route. I would have loved to have frozen it (as I do now), but at the time I was living in a tiny apartment that barley had room for my 200 litre fridge as it was, there was no way I could get enough freezer space to keep leftovers. The other option was buying those crappy frozen meals, which was just crap. It would have been great to be able to buy say 200gms of mince and a small jar of pasta sauce so I could have made enough for just me.

    • Its easy to get 200g of mince – go to a butcher.

      As for a sauce – yes a standard jar/pack normally suits 400-600g of meat. What I tried to do was when cooking up a meaty pasta sauce was to freeze only the meat/sauce after it was cooked.

      I really don’t like re-heating pasta & the sauce/meat takes up less freezer room.

      Other than that I’m regularly caught out with leftovers. If you plan your meals you can manage it better but some are unavoidable.

    • Oh god this so much. Even living with my girlfriend we never finish cream. Buy it once when we’re cooking something that needs it and then the rest just sits in the fridge for two months and goes off.

  • I used to live on my own, with a very small fridge/freezer and even smaller budget. But I never really had a problem.
    I guess bread was a bit difficult – a whole loaf wouldn’t fit neatly in my freezer, and I didn’t eat that much – but damned if I was forgoing the $1.79 home brand loaf to buy a gourmet $4.00 half loaf!! It’d stay in my fridge until it fitted in my freezer, and would last me a long time. (I should point out I’d only use it for toast, and not for things like sandwiches, so if it went slightly stale, didn’t matter.)

    However, I’m now living with my parter (I’m vegetarian, he’s not) and him getting through meat/cheese/milk seems to be difficult for him. If he gets bacon he’ll have to eat bacon with every meal for the rest of the week. Had to throw out a bag of shredded cheese because he didn’t finish it before mold got to it.
    So maybe highly perishable things like meat & dairy might be ok for smaller portions – but as suggested above, we could go to a butcher or deli and get as little/as much as we wanted.

    For me, I’m more annoyed at how packages have reduced in weight, but stayed the same price (corn chips I’m looking at you!), rather than not being able to get smaller portions in the first place.

  • The weekly discounts on ‘buy 2/3/5’ ect of the same item to get the discount in over 50% of cases I find useless. Just how many cans of baked beans or soup can one use. Bread multiple discounts is okay because its easy to freeze and later use. This bulk buying trend to get a discount is damn frustrating.

  • Food pricing is most often a reflection of the cost of packaging so smaller servings are almost the same packing cost as larger ones. Perhaps we need collective freezers like Kennards self storage so we all can share the space and costs associated with large freezers. We have lived on a boat for the last 5 years and found that if we shopped with friends we could buy the bigger packages/servings and divide them up later. I am amused how difficult it is to buy a jar these days. With a cupboard full of jars and freezer bags and a mid sized freezer and some willing friends you can beat the big supermarkets at their own game.

  • I encounter this problem, but I am a single person with a child. I find that some things come in a single serving which is too little for the two of us, or they come in family size which is far too much. I freeze a lot though, which helps. But you end up with odd things. Like if something is packaged in 4s, I might have two and kiddo has 1 and we end up with a spare left over that sits in the freezer for ages waiting until we buy some more (if we ever do).

    I have to agree with others though, the packaging and cost thereof is a primary factor in what we buy and/or waste. So many bulk/family options are better value for money and it makes buying the smaller packages seem so expensive. Its a strange old world where you feel like you are better off buying the larger one and wasting some of it, rather than buy the smaller one and have not quite enough.

  • I currently live in Japan and I’m struggling constantly with the tiny packaging options here. Either you get one meal out of it and it’s done and you’re back to the store, or you buy one of something, stick it in the freezer and you get visitors. Trust me, the ability to buy in packaging sizes bigger than “tiny” would be great. The worst are cereal that comes in 200g boxes (three-four bowls and its gone and i’m back to the store).

    Even something you’d think would be “bulk” as frozen veggies only comes in tiny bags. Drives. Me. Nuts. Can’t wait to get back to Aus and be able to buy things in regular sizings again.

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