REVEALED: We found the region's cheapest grocery store
WITH a husband, two toddlers, two dogs and a cat living in her Richmond home, Juanita McEwan has a lot of mouths to feed with her weekly shop.
As a mother of two, Ms McEwan does not have enough time to shop around to find the cheapest prices and usually ends up running to the store closest to her home.
"It's more about convenience with young kids. I don't mind paying a bit more for it to be convenient," she said.
But Mackay and Whitsunday shoppers who choose convenience over price could be paying more at the checkout.
For the same basket of milk, butter, bread, a box of Weet-Bix and a packet of dog food the final bill varied as much as $13.09 between the cheapest and most expensive stores across the region. The prices were collected throughout July and August.
Over a year, smarter shopping could save a family $680.68.
A grocery bill comparison of 25 different supermarkets found the cheapest basket of groceries to feed an entire family - including the dog - was just $36.20.
For the same shopping list, the price at the checkout cost an average of $45.75 at IGA, $42.64 at Woolworths and $36.31 at Coles.
In the supermarket giants' battle for low prices, Coles was the winner in the region.
Comparing smallest bills in both major supermarkets, Coles supermarkets were $6.10 cheaper.
Six stores tied for the cheapest shopping bill. All of them were Coles.
The Coles stores in the Northern Beaches, Sydney St, Mount Pleasant Centre , Caneland Central , Moranbah and in Cannonvale all had the cheapest bill - at $36.20.
A Coles spokesperson said, "we regularly review our product range and prices to ensure we are best meeting the needs of our customers while providing great value.
"We know our customers want lower prices with great quality and service, and we are determined to provide that both today and well into the future and there are thousands of items on Every Day pricing delivering exceptional value to customers year-round," the said.
Blacks Beach resident Louise Gray said she was a traditional Woolworths shopper.
Ms Gray said it was the products - rather than the price - that determined where she shopped.
"I think Woolworths has a nicer range of products," Ms Gray said.
While she said Coles had lower prices, she added "Woolworths are more in line with Coles than they used to. They've pulled themselves in line with Coles".
A Woolworths spokesperson said, "we work hard to offer great value to our customers when they shop at Woolworths. We always aim to offer competitive prices across the thousands of products we stock."
The most expensive grocery basket was at the Bucasia IGA, where the final bill came to $49.29.
The cheapest IGA, in Jubilee Pocket, was $7.57 more expensive than the cheapest Coles.
IGA was contacted for comment but did not respond.
Compared to the Mackay region, Whitsunday shoppers are paying more for the same groceries.
For the same list an average shopping trip in the Whitsunday is 50 cents more expensive than in Mackay.
A Coles spokesperson said the difference in prices was due to the distribution challenges in different stores.
"Transport costs and the use of a range of suppliers for some products mean we are unable to have exactly the same prices for all items in every location," they said.
At the Sydney St Coles Ray and Jodie Smith admitted they usually pick their grocery store for convenience.
"We just go to the one up the road," Mr Smith said.
The family of four's shopping trips vary in price from week to week, they said.
"A proper shop" could cost the family $150 Ms Smith said.