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Avoid Woolworths, Coles and Aldi: Mum reveals secret to $87 weekly shop

Moving away from the big three has seen Cara save money and have better quality food.

An Aussie mum has revealed how she's turned her back on Coles, Woolworths and Aldi as grocery costs continue to soar and ended up saving money and getting better-quality food.

Cara Bell spent just $30 at the farmers market for a selection of "mostly organic" fruits and vegetables, plus a carton of eggs. She managed to get two trays of beef mince, marinated chicken wings and a pack of five grass-fed rump steaks from the local butcher for $57. That's a whole weekly shop for $87.

"I definitely don’t buy ​​fruit and vegetables or bread from the supermarket anymore. I make my own bread now and my own muffins," she told Yahoo Finance.

Woolworths fruit, vegetables and eggs - groceries - bought from the farmer's market.
Woolworths won't be getting this mum's money after she decided to shun the supermarkets to save. She got this haul for just $30. (Source: Facebook)

Do you have a story to tell? Contact yahoo.finance.au@yahooinc.com

On top of making a lot of food herself, the frugal mum grows her own produce and has chickens.

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She said money-saving alternative that really changed the way she shopped was joining a food co-op buying group, which helps people combine their buying power to purchase a range of products at lower-than-usual prices.

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“We buy bulk organic foods and split between many families," she said. "So, things like nuts, seeds, organic flours and dates are all cheaper than the supermarket still - plus they are organic and Australian grown."

Steaks, marinated chicken wings and beef mince from the butcher.
This meat haul cost Bell $57 at her local butcher. (Source: Facebook)

Moving away from the supermarkets means she’s also been able to avoid food shortages by making a lot of things herself.

“There has been no (pickled) beetroot at the shops so I've been making my own and my own granola," she said. "I also ... [have] a huge veggie patch plus fruit trees. I hope this inspires others to try and do the same.”

Apart from saving money, Bell said her food now lasted longer, tasted better and produced limited waste.

“The quality is much better, nothing goes to waste, as I have chickens and a compost heap," she said. "Then it goes onto my garden with chook manure and it helps to fertilise my six large veggie patches.”

Pickled veg in jars (left) and homemade sourdough bread (right).
Going back to basics and making things herself has been a big money-saver for Bell. (Source: Facebook)

Bell said she had "always been careful" about how she shopped, but started making more herself when the pandemic hit.

"Things like sourdough bread were getting too expensive to buy [and] the produce available at the shops was terrible and expensive or unavailable," she said.

Aussies fight back as supermarket prices bite

Bell is just one of many Aussies looking for a better deal as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission continues its investigation into supermarket pricing practices as the cost-of-living crisis continues.

Her $87 spend is a far cry from the average household's supermarket grocery bill of $188, according to Finder.

Consumer expert Gary Mortimer told Yahoo Finance more and more consumers were shopping around to secure themselves the best deal.

"Most shoppers today will shop across multiple brands of supermarkets in order to save," he said. "It's not uncommon to shop at Aldi for the basics like lunchbox snacks, and then pop into a greengrocer for fruit and veg, and even Woolworths or Coles to buy other products on special."

Mortimer added that recent CHOICE research indicated shoppers were also prepared to "cut out the middle man by shopping directly with suppliers".

Other Australian shoppers have shared the tricks they are using to reduce their grocery bills.

"I'm going back to the old ways of making and baking food. More healthy too,” one person said.

Another shopper had found a cheaper alternative to buying “perfect” fruit and vegetables from Coles and Woolworths.

“I’ve been getting fruit and veg from “Farmers Pick” for six weeks now. Around $65 per fortnight for four adults,” the shopper said.

“The produce is the stuff the big 2 reject based on size/shape/maturity. [There's] nothing wrong with it. It’s a mystery box but makes me think outside of my usual boring meal plans.”