NEW SERIES: Join Indira Stewart as she meets supermarket shoppers and learns how they spend, save and splurge their food budgets. This week, Kahoa Meimuli-Corbett, from Māngere Bridge, Auckland, who saves on veggies but treats the grandkids and will pay top dollar for a quality bag of cashews.

Watch Receipt Reveal on our new home for news, consumer and in-depth stories: TVNZ+.

The shoppers exiting Woolworths Onehunga on a nippy winter’s Thursday were a friendly bunch, more than happy to stop and chat about their Weet-Bix, their frozen chips, their wine and their peanut butter. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes steal a sneaky peek at what the stranger in front of me in the checkout queue is loading onto the conveyer belt. It’s a fleeting glimpse into a mysterious life. Why so much cheese? Gosh they like their fancy muesli! With all those chips, dips and olives, they must be having mates over tonight… But what if you could just be upfront and ask people exactly what they bought this week and why?

Hence, our new series Receipt Reveal, where we do just that. First up we meet Kahoa Meimuli-Corbett, a vibrant 60-something from Māngere Bridge, Auckland, who juggles being a grandma with working in finance. Kahoa invited me back to the home she shares with her husband Brendan, a teacher and impressive gardener, who ensures that the couple keep their grocery bills low with plenty of homegrown produce. Kahoa shared her receipt with me, and as she put away her shopping items and showed me around her garden, we had a no-holds natter about the items on her list. Indira: So all together, you spent $96.60 (for about half the week) is that usual?

Kahoa: yeah, yeah. I usually just shop for me and my husband but last week I did a big shop to buy some extra things to take to Tonga because I’m going there soon. And we always buy extra things for the grandkids whenever they come over.

What do other people buy in their weekly shop?

Indira: You’ve got Tasti Fruitsies ($4.50)*. Who’s that for?

Kahoa: That’s the grandkids’ treats. They do love that stuff and I buy popcorn because they love to come over and make popcorn – we all sit around and enjoy popcorn together. We try and stay away from sugary snacks. Sometimes they’ll turn up here after school and if they haven’t finished their lunch, they’ll sit here and eat that.

Indira: Do they often go to the backyard and just pick something to eat? You’re growing a million things back there.

Kahoa: Oh, always! They’ll pick the mandarins, oranges. They’re a big help in the garden too. They’ve helped Brendan to plant the ‘ufi (Tongan yam), the kūmara. They’re really into everything. Sometimes they do a little bit of moaning and say ‘are we finished?’.

Indira: What are you growing right now?

Kahoa: We’ve got kūmara – we used that for dinner last night. My husband’s growing different variations of Tongan talo or taro – my husband’s Palangi but he’s so good at growing our Tongan taro! We’ve got avocado trees, a persimmon tree, I’m growing bananas at the back but they’re not ripe at the moment. We’ve just finished picking guavas, I shared the guavas with my neighbour, she’s 95 years old! She loves the guava jelly. There’s celery, my macadamia tree. And my husband grows these pumpkins and hue (gourds, pictured on the porch in the image below) in the community garden at Onehunga High School. We’ve got apples, lime, quinces, feijoas. Our tomatoes are still fruiting. We’re growing some chillies, lettuce, oranges and also some sugar cane! And we grow kava – we don’t drink it but my husband just planted it after getting the roots from a friend in Ponsonby.

Having a garden is like therapy. It’s the best feeling ever.

Kahoa Meimuli-Corbett in her garden.

Indira: Have you always been into gardening?

Kahoa: No not really, funny thing is it was only a man’s job in Tonga but I always mow the lawns here. I blame the Christianity! I think they ruined the people of Tonga – they kept the women inside.

Indira: You’ve got Hubbard’s Berry Berry Nice muesli ($6.30) – are you particular about your cereals?

Kahoa: Yes, I love, love muesli. Sometimes I just have coffee and muesli all day. I add fruit from the garden like persimmon and some of my bananas. I’ve got some macadamia nuts in the pantry from last year’s harvest and I put those in too.

Indira: You’ve got a couple of loaves of Vogel’s Bread ($4.99 each) on your receipt. Is that your favourite bread?

Kahoa: Buying Vogel’s is actually a back-up. We usually bake our bread – Brendan bakes it. But we do love Vogel’s, especially the fruit one – that is more like a treat. When the kids come here, if they see it they’ll ask – ‘oh can I have toast please?’ Every time I go to Tonga I also take two loaves of Vogel’s.

Kahoa Meimuli-Corbett loves home-baked bread and then Vogel's.

Indira: What else do you normally add to your shopping list to take to Tonga?

Kahoa: I take a lot of cleaning stuff – because that’s expensive over there. Washing stuff for your laundry, sponges. Those things are normally like four times more expensive in Tonga. I also take peanut butter to Tonga, pasta as well.

Indira: I notice you’ve got a bag of onions ($2.28 for 1.5kg) on your receipt – you don’t grow any?

Kahoa: No, we don’t have onions actually. On the shortest day of the year (June 21) we put the garlic in the garden, and then you harvest the garlic on the longest day of the year which is in December. So yes… garlic in the garden, but no onions.

Indira: When you look at this receipt, is there anything you think you could’ve done without?

Kahoa: No, I think I need all of them, a snack for the kids – they always come and run into the kitchen. Can I have this? Can I have that? Yeah. I need all of it.

Indira: What’s your most expensive item here?

Kahoa Meimuli-Corbett in her kitchen.

Kahoa: Oh, it’s the (cashews, from the bulk foods, roasted and salted, 400g, $11). I love my nuts, but they’re quite expensive. I gotta have my nuts, but I do shop around for the ones that I really like the most and if the shop doesn’t have it then I go to my favorite Indian shop at Royal Oak. Oh, I love that shop, the lady gives you a nice smile.

Indira: I just noticed that your nuts are more expensive than your beef mince (500g, $9.50). You’ve got just one meat product in this entire receipt which I feel, as a Tongan, is kind of unusual. But that’s how you like it?

Kahoa: Yes, that’s how I like it. We do have heaps in the freezer. But I tell you what, the fish up the road – I’ll go and buy a little bag of salmon frames. I bake the frames in the oven and take the meat off, and then I do love to make white sauce and mix it with the kūmara from my garden and turn it into a fish pie. You barely need any ingredients, other than the fish brains. You’ve got the kūmara, kūmara flour, white sauce and a bit of chilii, you can add bacon if you want. Beautiful with the cheese on top.

Kahua's total spend.

Indira: I won’t even ask you about salad – I bet you’ve got it all in out the back.

Kahoa: Yes I like a mix from the garden. It’ll be kale. It’ll be spinach, Japanese spinach, a bit of spring onions, not so much. Chilies, tomatoes, gotta have tomatoes and add a bit of feta cheese. Avocado, oh my gosh, gotta have avocado.

Indira: Put any nuts in there?

Kahoa: Absolutely. Nuts in the salad or sometimes when you cook the broccoli, add a little bit of meat, a bit of soy sauce and all that, and then you put some nuts in that.

Indira: That sounds delicious. Kahoa, thanks so much for inviting me around and letting me be nosy.

Watch Receipt Reveal on our new home for news, consumer and in-depth stories: TVNZ+.

*All prices as of day of filming.

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