Whole Story

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The Value Guru Gets the Good Stuff for Less

Share your Ideas and You Could Get Some Good Stuff Free!

BetterBag In a recent Harris Interactive survey, 76% said they don't want to compromise on the quality of the food they buy and 65% say they would like to find ways to be able to buy natural and/or organic foods on a budget. I was thrilled to read these stats because not only have I known in my heart that the former was true, I also knew that the latter happens all the time, so it's clearly possible…and maybe this Value Guru actually provides some help. Honestly, though, while I never seem to run out of ideas-and certainly not words-I don't have all the answers for how to get the most value out of great-quality natural and organic products. That's where you come in. Share your best tip for how to get the good stuff for less and you could win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card along with a Better Bag loaded with our pantry favorites. We'll choose a winner at random, but get on it...the entry deadline is October 12th! And, if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for The Whole Deal e-newsletter. You'll hear from us a few times each month about in-store specials and money-saving tips...and future contests, too. Tune in to our Whole Story blog each Wednesday in October for a special value-focused weekly contest!

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337 comments

Comments

Maria says …

The best tip for buying good stuff for less is shopping the 365 brand ALWAYS when available. From shampoo to laundry detergent to milk to bread. We love the 365 brand and even the kids are trained to reach for this brand before even looking at another. Prices are phenomenal and the taste is amazing.

Aimee says …

I find that it's easy to save money using coupons from the wholefoods newsletter, buying in season produce and bulk for things like rice. The price is never going to come all the way down to conventional shopping, but the cost on the body is less when you're doing away with high fructose corn syrup and nasty chemicals. The ABSOLUTE most helpful thing is making a menu for the week and shopping directly from the menu. If you go in without a plan, you always spend more! I used to let a lot of produce go to waste because I just bought too much...with the higher price of natural and organic, it forces me to just buy what I need...which is better for everyone

Justine says …

I, too, buy in the bulk section (which is great for saving the environment from the extra energy use it takes to package individual servings), and make almost all of our meals from scratch. I prepare several meals' worth of food at a time, so I stretch our dollar and my time. Soups are hearty and healthy, and you can make a little go a long way! I also make my own breakfast muesli (no prepackaged oatmeal for us), etc.

Aileen says …

The 365 brand is a great deal, so I try and buy that when possible, as opposed to a "brand name." I also think about portion sizes and what will actually be eaten before the food spoils. I only consider buying organic and natural an expensive practice if the food goes to waste. I also enjoy sampling food before purchasing, so that I know for sure that we will use and enjoy an item.

Stephanie says …

I'm very luck to live a couple blocks away to a Whole Foods that has a community center attached. I tend to go there on Saturday while running errands and will peruse the store for sales. Then I will go home and make a menu plan for the week based on what I saw on sale. It took a couple times of being at the store and saying "Oh, I wish I had brought the list of ingredients to make beef stew since stew meat is on sale!" but I finally figured out to scope out the deals ahead of time. If you're not lucky enough to have a Whole Foods that close, I would recommend visiting your favorite natural and organic brands' websites. Several of them offer coupons for their products which is like free money! :) And if you can't find coupons for your favorite brand name, definitely check out the 365 products available at Whole Foods. Always a great value and I have yet to be disappointed in any of them!

katie says …

We took our budget and cut it in half. I lost 40 pounds. And I eat three meals a day instead of 1. We buy mostly bulk. We Eat Food. Not so much. Mostly Plants. As Michael Pollan writes in Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. We buy "whole foods," as much as we can: fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, oil, agave, eggs. we try not to buy much processed food; maybe a jar of tomato sauce now an then, as long as its organic. i only spend $60 a week on food for 3 meals a day, seven days a week, for my husband and myself. We might eat out once, at a local food/vegetarian friendly place here in athens, ga. it's so simple and easy and delicious and healthy to really cook from scratch, and to eat seasonally when the produce price reflects its natural abundance. live and love the food you eat, yall!

Wendy Vincent says …

I pride myself on my ability to feed my family of four solely on "the Good Stuff" while paying "Less" than what I had been while shopping at the large stores where I spent "more" for the "not-so-good Stuff". The day before I head out to do my shopping, I sit down at my computer and download the weekly sales flyer from Whole Food's website. I also have in hand the current store flyer with TONS of coupons. In addition, I have signed up on various organic and natural brands' websites (like Mambo Sprouts and 7th generation) to receive e-mails about product specials and coupons that I print at home. With the sales flyer and coupons in hand, I make out my menu for the next few weeks based on the coupons I have and what's on sale for the week. I also utilize Whole Foods' web-site's recipe section where I can look up new recipes to make from ingredients that are on sale. I make my shopping list for what I need for my menu and stick to it! While shopping, I also choose the 365 brand which is a great value and just as good, if not better, than the leading brands. I also shop the bulk aisle which is another cost-saving and environmentally savvy way to get more for less ( both cost AND packaging).

Taylor C says …

College student? Vegetarian? Eat quinoa once a day to save money and get a complete source of protein.

Kerry B says …

I am allergic to gluten, soy and casein, and many alternative foods are very expensive. I try to order special/favorite items I can buy in bulk or case amounts at natural food stores or coops that will give me a discount for the bulk order. Flours, brown rice tortillas, things that will freeze well.

Dawn says …

I try to pick a couple recipes each week, preferably using the same "extras" - fresh parsley, cilantro, avocado, scallions etc. That way none of it goes to waste. If those fresh ingredients are only used for one recipe, I try to incorporate them into a pesto or dip that I can use for snacks. I try to cook those recipes over the weekend so I have good healthful meals ready. It keeps me from eating convenience foods which are more expensive. I also spend time every couple months cooking up a bunch of different beans to freeze and have on hand. It's cheaper than canned.

Jeanette Trosell says …

Coupons, coupons, coupons, sales. First thing I do when I walk into whole foods is go to the front desk & get the coupons.

heidi says …

here are three tips to get good stuff for less. It's easy as one two three. 1) look for weekly special. 2) buy 365 brand ( they are as good as other or better). 3) don't over load your frig, shop enough for five days. Eliminate spoilage. have fun bargain hunting and stay healthy.

Ty says …

I get the best quality items for the lowest possible price by comparing Whole Foods prices with Publix and also by getting larger quantities when items are on sale at a reduced price.

Stephanie says …

I shop the sales and clip coupons...and when there is a coupon for a sale item the savings are even better:)

Anna says …

I get the good stuff by buying the "family sized" packages of chicken breast and ground beef as well as getting anything I can in the bulk food section (rice, sugar, nuts, dried fruits, etc.) Whole organic carrots are great, too. A little more work but worth it for the value and taste! When buying bananas they don't necessarily have to be organic as their rind is thick enough to protect the fruit and you can save a few cents by going with "regular" bananas. The large boxes of baby mixed greens and spinach are a more economical value as well! Happy shopping everyone!

Heather Jones says …

I get good stuff for less by buying in bulk with friends from local farms; We know and see the farms where we are getting the food and splitting with friends means nothing spoils and we all get a good deal. :)

Crystal W. says …

I love the "Bits and Pieces" basket in the cheese department at Whole Foods, it's the perfect way to experiment with rare varieties without investing too much.

Rochelle says …

I save money by shopping with friends. We each plan out our weekly meals and when we shop we buy items in bulk and split it in 4. There may be items I don't need that week, but I always contribute to the shopping pot and try to use that leftovers in next weeks menu.

elizabeth says …

shopping with coupons definitely help! and also buy the 365 brand instead of others, its cheaper and the same compared with other brands.

Cynthia says …

I look for what's on sale, plan meals around that. Look for prints coupons when I can get them. Also I buy store brand organic lines. Mainly we keep things simple with other non food purchased items because I'd rather skimp on the designer in season items then have to skimp on my organic produce!

greenbean says …

buy in bulk. and the bulk section is also great for many items like oatmeal! combine store coupons with manufacturers coupons. whole foods included! plan shopping list and meals around what's on sale eat local. good deals to be had farmer's markets! combine store sales, especially BOGO, with coupons. awesome deals to be had!

Christy says …

I always check out the whole deal for coupons, stop at the service desk at whole foods for coupons, buy in bulk for the discount whole foods offers, buy cases for the discount whole foods offers, buy what I need for example if I need half a pineapple I ask a produce team member and they will take care of it same with cheese!!, go to my favorite products web sites for coupons, sign up for mambo sprouts printable natural coupons, bring my own bags, sign up for value tours!, buy 365 products (they taste just the same or even better) ( I learned that from the whole food brand wars class)try a sample before buying if you are unsure....and when in doubt on how to save ask someone from whole foods, their customer services is the BEST anywhere!

Megan says …

I get the good stuff as much as I can on a budget but one thing I make sure of is that I buy my kids organic and natural snacks. With a growing 3 yr. old and 6 yr. old who love to snack I don't have to feel bad about their snacks. I buy them organic yogurt, chips, fruits, cookies, snack crackers and even fruit snacks. In doing this I have noticed that my kids now prefer "healthy snacks" and food. I believe paying a few cents more is definitely worth the long term reward.

Nadja says …

We shop with coupons- Mambo sprouts, the Whole Deal, the Blue Sky Guide, online coupons from brands like Kashi.com- and we build our meals and menus around what we can get with coupons. We save anywhere between $40-50 each trip, and we get to be creative for how we use our goods. We also buy only what we know we will use with the coupons- so we avoid a lot of the health and beauty coupons, etc.

Carol S. says …

Wonderfully so, and more often than not, whenever I shop at WFs, most of the items I need are on sale, or short-time lower priced. This past weekend was a prime example - I use Follow Your Heart Omega 3 Mayo(purple label), and 2 pints are selling for $6, making the two pts 69 cents less than the quart size - yay! Further, what really compliments my visit(s) is that while cruising the aisles finding what I need(and I DO check all of aisles), I continue to discover deals on other personal staples and favorites which allows me to have a larger selection for meals, etc., during the course of the next week than I originally planned for(how cool is that??). PLUS, I can even get a couple of extra treats(bakery or deli) because I'm not going above my budget!! - it's kind of like Christmas, in that, surprises are every where in the store - one just need to seek and find!

Lidia Seebeck says …

My value tip is simple, although it does require an investment... get a deep freezer. Sometimes you can find these at second hand, saving even more. It does not take long to recoup the cost of the deep freeze in savings. For instance, butter freezes well, so buy it when it's on sale and use it when it's expensive or your budget won't stretch. Bell peppers in summer are generally less expensive-- buy them on sale, cut them up into strips or cubes, and freeze for winter. Learn how to freeze and dehydrate foods. With a dehydrator (or a solar dehydrator!) you can make your own sun-dried tomatoes. I then pulverize them in a blender, add dried onion, garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram, salt, and pepper, and have a winter dried soup mix. Rehydrate for a really quick meal!

Jason says …

I usually attempt to use fruits and veg that are in season because there is more of it, it is fresher, and it is usually cheaper (due to how much they have). Another thing I do is plan out my weekly meals and do most of my cooking once or twice a week so we're not tempted to run out and buy other snacks or "quick" meals.

mcoker says …

When my budget is tight (and even when it's not) I buy mainly in bulk. Mix bulk dried fruits and grains for cereal, bulk salt/sugar, etc. And I love the 365 brand, and opt for it over major brands when I'm trying to save money. Actually, I opt for 365 most of the time, except when it's not available for a certain product. It's a great brand.

Sarah G says …

I plan my meals around what is on sale that week, and I combine sale prices with coupons to score even better deals! I've written to many of the organic companies (Horizon, Stonyfield, Colemans, etc), and they have generously sent me coupons whenever I've requested. Some companies (such as Kashi) offer you coupons for free items, if you promise to review their product once you eat it. Coupons are the best way to eat well on a limited budget!

Oscar Feliciano says …

Clip those coupons, buy store-brand (LOVE the 365-branded items), buy from the bulk aisle, and bring a reusable bag or two to save at the register.

Michelle says …

I miss some of the good stuff! Bring back Sunspire caramel & pecan chocolates that you had in the bulk section. #5494?? (5493?). WF ceased carrying them nationally.

Karrel Bell says …

We get the weekly email of sales and if an item that we frequently use is on sale we buy it in bulk (case). It saves us money in the long run and you get a bulk (case) discount to boot!

Danielle says …

I buy as few pre-packaged items as possible. The bulk foods section in my whole foods is incredible with everything from dried fruits and nuts to rice, pasta, desserts and even spices. I also buy all of my produce in moderation (just what I need for the next few days) and leafy veggies come from the bins, not in packaged containers. This helps my bank account and also the environment. There is nothing more frustrating than all of that unnecessary packaging.

Rebekah says …

I'm on a very tight budget so getting to shop organic is a luxury right now. I make sure to always try and buy good quality produce and I look up new recipes to try and find several ways to use whatever I buy. I also try and buy produce that is on sale so I am getting a great deal that can be used for several meals!

aaron says …

the best way to save money for us is to shop with recipes in mind. we only buy food that we know we are going to use. and for snacks we buy bulk nuts, dried fruit and granola for trail mix. it goes a long way and is much cheaper that way

Amy Blue says …

I love the bulk section- rice, nuts, oatmeal. I save by purchasing a lot of the stuff in the bulk section. Also, I am very fortunate to live near a whole foods so I never buy too much at one time so I eliminate waste.

Judy says …

I save on groceries by cooking from scratch as much as possible and taking advantage of sale items each week. I also stick with 365 brand items for the most part. Ironically, the economic downturn has made me a better cook because we eat less processed foods. I use more fresh herbs for example and add more of my own flair than making things from a package. I have found that my family has eaten healthier in this time of budget crunching more than ever before!

Anne Falasco says …

Get more for less - buy dried beans - they use less packaging than canned beans, more bang for your buck and taste 10xs better. Adding beans to your meals provides the nutrients and fiber - they can replace more expensive meats.

Beckie Tetrault says …

Choosing to eat vegetarian a few nights a week can save a lot on your grocery bill. By cutting back on how much meat you purchase, you can maximize the savings into more to spend on whole grains and organic fruits and veggies!

Wendy says …

Surprisingly, shopping MORE frequently can save money! Buy only the fresh produce that you are going to use in the next few days. You will waste less and have better quality. This will also enforce efficient meal planning so that if you stick to your pre-determined shopping list, you are guaranteed to spend less!

Angela says …

I buy fruits when on sale and stock up. I either freeze them or use my food dryer to preserve them

Donna Marie says …

As a single person, Whole Foods helps me afford natural and organic foods AND stay within my budget by offering custom portions in almost every department. For example, unlike traditional supermarkets that require you to buy a whole pound or more of meat and poultry, at whole foods I can buy one steak or one fish fillet which means no waste and it's always fresh. Also the bulk foods let me buy only the amount I need (no waste) and gives me the opportunity to try new things (variety in my diet). The Whole Deal value guide helps me stock up on my favorite non pershables and every weekend there are additional values in my local store.

Robbyn says …

I make it my personal goal to have quality AND quantity. I try to stock up on certain items when they are on-sale, especially all-natural and organic items. These items are great to stock up on when they are buy one, get one or have a special in-store coupon. Just decide what your product loyalties are and stick with them. It's easy to spend smart if you are purchasing items that have a heavy rotation on your shelves.

Phyllis says …

Like many here, I buy in bulk, but I am a single person, so sometimes that's not an option. If there is a certain jam, soup or frozen product I like, I go to the website for that product, and sign up for any newsletters/coupons that they send or have available. I think many companies are more green nowadays and only send the coupons on request or by email.

Julie says …

I like to buy the bulk steel cuts oats. I put them in the slow cooker at night and in the morning when I wake up they are done. I throw a little pasture butter and walnuts in there. The kids get raisins in there (also from the bulk bin). It feeds our whole family nutritionally, easily and cheaply.

Jenny Lynn says …

I get the most value out of my organic foods by buying the Wholefoods 365 brand. They are always more than $1 cheaper than the name brand organic goods, and usually have equal or more ounces per package - and they taste great! Buying foods in bulk also saves me a lot of money because I am not paying for the packaging, and I only get exactly what I need, preventing food from being wasted if me or my daughter cannot eat it fast enough. I also always bring my used bags back to the store because Whole Foods gives me 5 cents per bag that I bring! People spend a lot of time talking about how buying organic is so much more expensive, but it is just because they don't know how to really shop!

N Smith says …

This where I am at righ now. I decided that switching to organic whole foods is what I want for my family. I have been doing it a little at a time. It started with organic milk. Then I researched what produce is more important to eat organic than others. I am trying organic gardening. I also found a local source for eggs. I always start my weeks shopping at whole foods by shopping sales for meat and produce and then plan my meals from there. Their bulk bins help buy only what you need for recipes which helps to reduce a grocery bill.

Kris says …

I get the good stuff for less by buying in bulk, purchasing the lower-priced 365 everyday value brand itmes when possible, and using coupons.

Stan says …

Slowly decrease your fear of working with raw materials. Don't buy a can of beans. Buy the dried beans. Don't buy tortillas (only to throw out a few next week). Buy the flour, make a batch, and freeze the dough for fresh warm tortillas next time. Get basil, garlic and walnuts from bulk and make an ice tray of pesto to drop into pasta later. Sure, it's a time investment at first, but once routine it is all very efficient and economical. Buy strong flavors of higher quality, but purchase less quantity. Stronger flavors can be used sparingly and still have an impact. Cheeses are a good example. The WF cheese person will cut down a prewrapped hunk of pricier but more flavorful cheese for you. Bulk spices are a great deal too. Most of what you need is under $0.35 for a little half-scoop bag. The prepackaged 1oz.-and-up stuff will sit in your pantry forever losing flavor anyway, and probably get thrown out eventually. Two small trips per week is better than one large trip, because you can buy cheaper fresh items rather than longer lasting but more expensive prepackaged items. Local products are usually cheaper too (or should be), having little transportation overhead worked into the price. And they're usually fresher. Items locally in season are cheaper too. And if you like to cook it's fun to accept the challenge of leveraging that unique local ingredient into a new dish you've never attempted. It's a great way to increase your flavor-combining skills. IMHO

Suzanne says …

I love the bulk bins too.

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