Frugal Feast: Christmas lunch supermarket showdown

December 4, 2013 4 Comments »
Frugal Feast: Christmas lunch supermarket showdown

No Christmas lunch would be complete without the classics but where should you shop for the best price on everything from turkey, prawns and ham to mince pies and must-have table decorations? To find out, Mozo sent out secret shoppers to put Aldi, Coles and Woolworths to the test. Our helpful elves shopped up a storm to see how much (and how little) a traditional feast for 10-12 guests could cost you and reveal where to shop to bring home the Christmas cheer for less this year.

The Christmas List …

Where to shop for Christmas Lunch?

Item

Quantity

Aldi

Coles

Woolworths

Whole frozen turkey

5kg

$32.15

$40.90

$40.00

Ham on the bone

5kg

$34.95

$40.00

$39.95

Fresh cooked tiger prawns

2kg

$39.98

$62.00

$59.98

Cranberry sauce

300g

$2.28

$3.27

$3.33

Cherries

1kg

$9.98

$16.90

$17.98

Custard

1kg

$2.50

$3.00

$3.80

Christmas pudding (aged 6 months)

700g

$7.00

$7.98

$7.91

Chocolate covered almonds

600g

$6.18

$7.62

$8.22

Mince pies

12pc

$6.00

$9.96

$9.00

Christmas crackers

12pc

$21.96

$8.40

$9.96

Triple cream brie

200g

$5.99

$7.97

$5.90

Water crackers

125g

$0.94

$1.79

$1.79

Trolley Total

$169.91

$209.79

$207.82

Source: mozo.com.au. Note: Prices shown have been calculated based on unit price for a fixed quantity. Products compared were ‘premium private label’ with other included brands matched exactly wherever possible. Prices current in stores as at Nov 28, 2013 in Bondi Junction, Sydney stores.

How little could you pay?

Matching premium private label brands and equivalent products, we found that Aldi offered savings of 19% when stacked up against the average trolley price at Coles and Woolworths. Definitely the best value place to shop across most items you’d see on the Christmas lunch or dinner table – the only exceptions we found were premium Christmas crackers which were cheapest at Coles and triple cream brie, cheaper at Woolworths.

Our trolley total for Aldi came to $169.91 nearly $40 cheaper than either Coles or Woolworths.

The biggest dollar savings were on 2kg of fresh cooked tiger prawns where you’d save $21 (30%) by switching your shop to Aldi. Mince pies, cherries and water crackers were also amongst the biggest bargains, between 43-58% cheaper.

Coles v. Woolworths head to head over Christmas Lunch

When put head to head, Coles and Woolworths varied item by item on which was the better place to shop this Christmas. Overall, the Woolworths trolley came out just $1.97 cheaper than Coles, making the majors a fairly even match for your Christmas spend.

Looking at the product breakdown, Woolworths did live up to their “fresh food” claim offering marginally cheaper prices than Coles on most of the important fridgeables on the list including turkey, ham on the bone and fresh cooked tiger prawns.

However, Coles is the better choice for sweet treats as cherries, custard and chocolate-covered almonds were all cheaper at Coles.

How much could you pay?

What if money was no object? How much could you pay for Christmas if you were prepared to take out a mortgage on lunch?

Our Christmas investigators found you could spend nearly four times as much by gathering your Christmas feast from specialty retailers and delis around Sydney.

Mozo’s Ultra Luxury Festive Feast

Details

Retailer

Price

Organic Whole Turkey, 5kg

Victor Churchill

$156.25

Kurobata Berkshire Traditional Leg Ham On the Bone with free limited edition Stephano Canturi designed Ham Bag, 5kg

Victor Churchill

$102.8

Cooked Large Tiger Prawns, 2kg

David Jones

$89.9

Wilkin & Sons Organic Wild Cranberry Sauce, 300g

David Jones

$12.78

Loose Organic Cherries, 1kg

Taste Organic

$29.95

Hill & River Creamy Custard Sauce, 1kg

David Jones

$55.8

Luke Mangan’s Fig & Walnut Pudding, 700g

David Jones

$51.73

Simon Johnson Hazlenut Filled Milk Chocolates, 600g

Simon Johnson

$63

Phillipa’s Mince Pies, 12pc

David Jones

$29.76

David Jones Home 6×12″ Handmade Crackers (New Yule Tree design), 12pc

David Jones

$99.96

Rouizaire Truffle Brie, 200g

David Jones

$26.79

Fine Cheese Co. Stoneground Wholemeal Crackers, 125g

David Jones

$8.75

 TOTAL

$727.47

Source: Mozo.com.au December 2013, *luxury items were different to basic items, and sourced from different retailers

 

The average price of our three standard trolleys from Aldi, Coles and Woolworths came to $195.84 across 12 items. But a gourmet gold-plated Christmas table came to $747.47 – a difference of $531.63.

If you wanted to go for broke, it’s amazingly easy to blow the budget at David Jones food hall and specialty food stores around Sydney.

If your pockets are bursting with cash, lighten your load with Rouzaire Truffle Brie for $133.95 per kilo. Then, pick up your heritage breed Berkshire Ham (and complimentary designer hambag) from Victor Churchill along with a 9.8kg free range Turducken (an absolute steal at just $299 right?)

Secret Shopper tips

  • Steer clear of Christmas Sparkles.  While interrogating the aisles we noticed a serious mark up on Christmas cheer. Packets of classics repackaged for the Christmas aisle such as lollies and chocolate covered almonds were a lot more expensive than the basics sitting in the confectionary aisle.

  • Use unit pricing. When making purchasing choices, double check the weight of items as unit pricing can reveal a lot about whether you’re paying for content or fancy packaging.

  • Peripheral bargain hunting. Look up and down for the best deals – the tops of shelves and at ankle height a little bit of grocery aisle gymnastics will stretch your Christmas dollar further.

It’s the season for giving! If you have any tips and advice you’d like to share with on how to save money this silly season (without compromising on cheer!) we’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment with your tip below!

Kerry Lotzof

Kerry Lotzof

Kerry is Mozo’s Communications Manager and a self confessed “money geek.” She loves nothing more than helping Aussies take the stress out of financial matters by making money concepts fun & easy to understand. Kerry also has a clandestine passion for vintage fashion, and adventure travel.

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4 Comments

  1. Sarah December 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Who buys prawns from Aldi?? Go to the fish market.

    And why are we so caught up in saving a couple of dollars? This Christmas let’s make sure we buy Australian made/grown products. Let’s support our farmers and our local industries. Then we can have our pudding and eat it too!

    • admin
      Mozo December 4, 2013 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah, Thanks for your comment. You make a strong argument regarding the choice to buy local and Australian grown products and you might be surprised to find out that a large percentage of Aldi’s products are just that. They were also the first supermarket in Australia to introduce a private label range of certified sustainable seafood. Of course, going to the fish market and buying fresh is a great family tradition to have but for some – especially at Christmas time, every penny counts.

  2. David December 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    I was shocked today to learn that hamper companies like crisco etc are making upwards of $250 profit on every hamper. I compared a hamper at $13.60 per week for 50 weeks ($680 per year) and found that those items at a supermarket would only cost around $432. This is a lot of money to pay for convenience. Putting that same amount of money into an online savings account earning 2.75% would net you $706.75 for the 50 weeks. Are we becoming lazy and prepared to pay this kind of money for convenience? Or are they marekting at the vulnerable and desperate people who really need the extra $250 a year

    • admin
      Mozo December 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      That’s certainly an interesting finding, thanks David. I think for the most part these kinds of products are marketed to low-income earners as a way to try to spread the relatively high cost of Christmas out over the year – but you’re right, if the markup is so great people would certainly be better off setting up an automatic payment into a savings account (and earning interest) so the money they need it there for them at the end of the year, but it would take a bit of discipline not to dip into it when cash is tight.

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