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Eight Tips to Shop Smarter at Whole Foods

Shopping smarter at Whole Foods. Photo credit: Kate Towell.

The following article is being reproduced with permission of its author, Kate Towell. Kate is a holistic wellness counselor who supports individuals to create the balanced, vibrant life they imagine.

I have to admit when Whole Foods moved into the neighborhood I had second thoughts about shopping there. I try to support farmer’s more directly at farmers markets and through CSA’s (community supported agriculture), when they are seasonally available. But most importantly I’m concerned about shopping healthy on a budget, and I’ve avoided Whole Foods because I too have heard it called, “whole paycheck.

When winter came along and the farmers’ markets closed up shop until Spring I ventured into the new Whole Foods that opened in my neighborhood. I have to admit I was drawn to their beautiful produce, incredible salad bar and delicious coffee. The first time I walked out of there with few items and a fairly pricey bill.

After making a few mistakes I figured out how to shop smarter and am happy to share the tips with you.

Eight Tips to Shop Smarter at Whole Foods

  1. Shop with a Plan - Make the list and shop the list. My rookie mistake was to get drawn in by all the glimmer of pre-packaged and pretty foods. Stick to your list and you’ll be fine. I usually allow myself one or two things that catch my eye—if they are on sale.
  2. Seek the 365 brand – A good rule of smart shopping is to buy store generics, although not all generics are created equal. Whole Foods’ exclusive 365 product line is wholesome and has consistent high quality at a fair price. Just be aware that not all 365 items are organic, but most are.
  3. Get the Whole Deal – The Whole Foods booklet, called the Whole Deal, includes store coupons, manufactured coupons, recipes, savings tips, and a meal planner. The coupons are good for a couple of months. You can print them off the website or pick up a booklet at your local Whole Foods. I’ve checked out several times and the cashier has used a coupon I would have otherwise missed.
  4. Shop in Season – As always when you buy produce that is in season you save money. At Whole Foods the local, seasonal produce has the biggest markdowns and they are easily identified by a yellow sign.
  5. Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen – When shopping organic produce consult the “clean 15, dirty dozen” list. If you have to buy conventionally grown produce stick to the ones with the least pesticides and always try to but organic varieties of the dirty dozen. Click here for the list.
  6. Chop It Yourself – Pre-cut produce at Whole Foods is a tempting time-saver, especially the way it’s neatly arranged. While there are definitely times you may want to splurge, try to resist the lure of perfectly cut produce—they’re way overpriced. The markup is typically 40 percent or more so, instead, grab your cutting board and knife and get chopping. Although I have to admit the one pre-cut item I do buy is squash.
  7. Buy in Bulk – Don’t skip the bulk section. There are tons of organic products you can buy for under $2 or $3 per pound. Some of the best deals I’ve found include quinoa, raisins, almonds, walnuts, steel cut oats, brown rice, and lentils.
  8. Get your Nut Butter Elsewhere – Whoa their nuts butters are pricy and the 365 brand has added sugars. I’ve found that Trader Joes has the most affordable, sugar-free, organic nut-butters around.

Shopping at Whole Foods can be expensive if you don’t pay attention to what you’re putting in your cart and shop without a plan. But if you shop your plan you can get a cart full of healthy, organic food at a reasonable price.

Wishing you Vibrant Living

Kate

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