Want to cut your supermarket spend? Here are the pros and cons of the alternatives

So you are sick of shopping at the supermarkets? What are your alternatives?

With a bit of looking around there are plenty, and we discuss the pros and cons.

Farmers’ markets

Farmers’ markets can now be found in almost every decent-sized town and across metropolitan centres.

Pros: A good array of produce, and plenty of it has been picked within the past 24 hours. Also, if you are in a rural or regional area, much of it has been grown locally, so the food miles are low. You can also often talk directly to the farmer and learn how the food is produced.

Cons: They can be expensive. At our local version, the meat products are often twice the price of supermarkets. Also, if you are in a metropolitan area, the food miles can be considerable. The citrus guy at our farmers’ market has great oranges, but he drives four hours to get there.

Subscription boxes

These are an increasingly popular option. There is a subscription box out there for you, from meal planners to pickles of the month to Japanese snacks. They won’t replace a supermarket shop, but you can certainly cut down on it.

Pros: You can tailor your choices. Looking for fresh meat, there’s a box out there for you. Want to increase your protein intake, streamline your meals or try a new salami every month? There’s a subscription box for that. You can also tailor some to more specifically meet your needs.

You also don’t have to leave the house for food to arrive at your door, and they make great gifts.

Cons: While some you can tailor, some you can’t. A good example is fruit and vegetable boxes. Some come with produce you may simply not like or are not used to cooking.

There can be a lot of packaging. Those meal planners come with a tonne of packaging, especially for meat and fish.

Our advice: If you are thinking of a meal planner option, ask around for recommendations. Some cycle through the same recipes and ingredients again and again and others are hard to cancel.

Go local

How long has it been since you have made an effort to go to your local butcher and fruit and veg shop?

Pros: Supermarkets offer convenience, but your local shop is putting money directly back into the community.

The product offering is often superior. Supermarkets have to buy a lot of product that conforms to standards. This often means they sell bulk products that look good, and not much else.

However, smaller businesses can buy from individual farmers or producers in quantities and quality that supermarkets would never even consider. I haven’t bought garlic from a supermarket for years. It’s almost always better at the local fruit and veg shop.

The smaller fruit and veg shops can also offer the weird, niche stuff supermarkets don’t sell because it’s not profitable for them such as your lesser-known herbs or heirloom tomatoes. Check them out, you might be surprised.

Cons: Once again, the cost. They are almost always more expensive than the supermarkets.


Produce swaps are a gathering of people who swap home grown fruit and veg between them. It’s a small-scale way of reducing food waste. You can find your local group through Facebook or a local Facebook gardening group.

Pros: The produce will be exceptionally fresh. No chance of it sitting in cool storage in this situation.

It’s also a good opportunity to meet the neighbours and maybe get some gardening tips.

Cons: If you are growing seasonal produce, your neighbours will also probably be growing the same seasonal produce. Try to think of something different to swap in your yearly rotation plan.

Your choice of the amount you want or need will also be limited by what’s on offer.

Have you tried cutting back on the amount you spend at supermarkets? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.

Also read: Six quick-growing crops for impatient gardeners

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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