Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

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

Jamie says …

We are a single income family. We look at shopping at Whole Foods as an investment in our health. I buy as many 365 brand items as possible to save $. Also, I buy what is on sale each week. Whole Foods does a good job at having a variety of items on sale, especially in the seafood and meat department. Thanks for being so "right on" Whole Foods!!!!

Deborah Carapella says …

I want to do the best I can for my family. Since I started shopping at Whole Food's I can see a difference in all of us. I am enjoying the taste of the produce. Amazing how much different it tastes WITHOUT all the pesticides! I know I still have a long way to go, but we are slowly making changes for better health, and my job of buying and preparing the food they eat is the key. Now to get my husband to love the taste of soy and tofu! =)

Monte says …

I shop from a list and plan my meals. Then compare prices while shopping off of my list. The 365 brands and bulk items help on the budget. Planning, being aware of cost vs price and sticking to a list works for me.

Ginger says …

I love the bulk section! Nice glass jars in my pantry (also, some cleaned and reused food jars!) filled with high quality products not only saves me money, but makes me feel like the chefs on the food network!

kate says …

I always hit up Whole Foods weekend deals and use my great coupons from Mambo Sprouts. As I write this, I'm enjoying some country choice organics iced oatmeal coupons I purchased on sale with a coupon at Whole Foods :-D!

Natalie Howard says …

I stock up on sale items. When I find a grocery item on sale I buy it in bulk. I bring the item home and distribute it into smaller containers (plastic wrap, aluminum foil, zip top freezer bags and plastic reusable storage containers). Most everything can be frozen. I also rinse and reuse the zip top bags.

JenniferJ says …

My best tip is something I learned from reading a coupon column in the newspaper -- the stores put things on sale about every 12 weeks. So if you can, buy enough of the sale item to last you for 3 months, so you can again snag a good price. I did this on Back To Nature macaroni mixes recently, and it has worked great. We are slowly eating down our supply and keeping our eyes out for the next sale! -- Jen

Kazuko Ono says …

Good Stuff for Less~ *First of all buying from the bulk sections prove to be a better buy. *Avoid pre packaged, pre-prepared foods. *Always check the flyers, coupons, and sale announcements for local sales within the stores you shop. *Keep a creative and open mind. *Occassionaly, check websites ( WholeFoods, and other organic farming sites) We need to keep ourselves educated on both the farming and selling of our foods. Become active by contributing to these sites. How we spend our money and how we are informed effects our shopping and cooking. *I love to bake and cook. Casserols, stews, and soups are less expensive and one can source many cultures, thereby adding a large variety of flavors for less expense, with a "home-cooked" essence that cannot be found anywhere else but "home". *Support your local farmers and grocers who cater to your preference. You will have an impact on the quality of foods and how foods are raised. Get to know your grocerer. I visit Whole Foods 3xs per week, also other local grocerers because they carry the products I need and the price is RIGHT!

Brian says …

Love the bulk and watch for the sale items. I also try and use the coupons in the Whole Foods publication they have in-store. Even use Mambo Sprouts.

Nancy says …

Love freezing portions using my Foodsaver!

Blakely Sullivan says …

I try to buy the whole, unprocessed, unpackaged version of a product. For example, buying whole, dry beans from the bulk bin is super cheap! Only a few pennies for a cup of cooked beans. And if you make them in the pressure cooker they only take a few minutes. This way I can buy healthy, organic food and still save money!

Wendy Keegan says …

Use Mambo Sprouts coupons at Whole Foods to get the good foods that are healthy. Look on line also for coupons from companies that sell the products you use. Get on a mailing list and you will continue getting coupons to save money on food that do not make you compromise.

Brett says …

Only buy what you plan on consuming. Do not buy something just becuase it's on sale, unless you can freeze or store it away for future use. When my family switched to buying primarily organic and natural food, we discovered that we were buying way too much produce and throwing some food away before the next shopping trip. Now when we shop, we only buy what we plan on eating over the next 5-10 days. Also, try to avoid buying convenience items, like pre-cut fruits, vegetables or prepared meals. Buy in bulk when possible, and after you unload the groceries at home prepare your food items for consumption. For example, a whole pineapple is only $3 or $4. We usually buy one, cut it up into bite sized pieces, and store in tupperware for easy access. If you bought the same quantity prepared, it would easily cost 2x or 3x more.

Blossom Dawes says …

I count on Whole Foods for many items we use all the time at great prices- seriously! The 365 brand coffee, cat food, tortillas, bags of organic potatoes, tofu, toilet paper, and soy milk are examples of products whose quality I love and the prices are amazing. I honestly can't buy these things for less without compromising quality. Thank you! Blossom Dawess

Jenn Goldstein says …

Buy a Vacuum sealer so you can buy fresh sale items in bulk , not just frozen and packaged goods. Items such as cold cuts, cheese, fruits and veggies will last longer in the fridge when Vacuum sealed. I make homemade sauce about once a month in bulk and than freeze in smaller containers so I can have cheap yet delicious sauce all month long!! Much cheaper than jarred and it's a quick easy dinner in the middle of the week :-)

Angela says …

My husband and I are buying for a 4yr old and 6mo old in addition to us. Everything we consume is WFM. Household products, produce, formula, EVERYTHING. We are not wealthy, but choose to make our health, which is mostly vegetarian, vegan, and RAW, our number one priority. Best Tip: I have a spreadsheet of every single item we buy and the price. I make a shopping list ahead of time, a MUST, and determine the total in advance. I am usually within $3. Since WFM has a lot of fun stuff that is easy to throw in the cart, I know I have to omit something from my list if I want to add something spontaneous and be close to my estamited total. It's like a game and always works. Please pick me, so I can have $50 extra for all the great spontaneous shopping I'd love to do. You have so much I want to experiment with =) Just kidding....I know it is random. Have a happy day...

Kelsey Peterson says …

Buy in bulk and buy the store brand. You usually pay more money for a brand name when you can buy the same organic can of peas buying the 365 brand. I wish I could afford to buy organic all the time and I wish I lived closer to a Whole Foods! My favorite grocery store! They need to open a store in KCMO. I went to the Whole Foods in Saint Louis and it was amazing, had a great wine selection!

Cynthia Leathers says …

We shop at Whole Foods Chelsea here in NYC. We plan our menus around the organic & fresh food items in the weekly sales circular. It's always a fun and interesting challenge to create recipes & menus based on what's on sale for the week! We supplement the sales items with the 365 Everyday items (like olive oils, butter, milk, bread, cheeses, etc.) We also only eat local produce in-season (always cheaper). This means that during our local NY/NJ blueberry season, we stock up on them & freeze them in a large container for use in muffins, pies, cereal, etc. all through the year. I only wish Whole Foods Chelsea would start having the Bulk Bins I see in other Whole Foods stores - then my organic shopping would be SO much easier!

Catherine says …

Try stocking up on your non-perishables when you can catch them on sale. Also, check for managers specials on items that are soon to expire. You can also subscribe to company websites where you can get great coupons on natural and organic items.

Deana Braganca says …

Whole Foods is a place I truly enjoy to shop, and although I'm not made of money, I can afford it based on some of these tips, and get better quality, too: Buy bulk grains and beans and incorporated into meals. These are very inexpensive and very healthy. Purchase seasonal produce, and whenever possible, local produce, because it cuts down on pollution. Stock up on items on sale that you are able to use before they go bad, especially items that freeze well. Make a list and stick to it. Plan weekly dinners in advance. I love Whole Foods, and it's worth it to shop there, because the quality is incredible, and there are always great deals there.

Karin says …

The number one thing I do to save money is cook from scratch. Even when I make my favorite simple breakfast, yogurt and fruit, I never buy the small containers of yogurt with fruit already in them. I buy the large size container of plain yogurt (big savings right there), cut up some fruit, and add a little agave nectar for sweetness. The same principle applies to my other meals. I also love the 365 Everyday brand and I've been trying more and more of that brand's items.

Brooke Szczepanski says …

Buy in season! That saves you money to start. In-season, local vegetables and fruits are fresher, healthier, and cheaper than veggies or fruits shipped from across the country, or from other countries, out-of-season. I love that Whole Foods works with local producers to provide buyers a great selection of local products that are cheaper, better-tasting, and keep more of the money we spend circulating within our community--and more of it in our own pockets!

Jessica says …

I buy in bulk and make my own stuff instead of buying prepackaged items. I watch ads for produce and meat sales. I leave meats out of meal that don't need them to still be good to use them for a different meal that might call for a meat main.

Christy Taylor says …

I like buying things that have been discontinued, for some reason or another, & trying to find things on sale, I buy in bulk when I can, & break it down when I get home. I also buy things that are organic, although it is hard to find things 'cheap', one of our sons can't have wheat, yeast, dairy, artificial colors or flavors, so it is hard to find things that I can use, that are already prepared, so I have to buy fruits & veggies, & make them from scratch, & also, rice, & millet, & whatever else I can find along those lines.... We just discovered Whole Foods, like a month ago, so I am just in love with the store!!!!

Michelle Smith says …

Backyard chickens are a great way to save money and eat healthier, sustainable food. The eggs are SOO yummy and the kids love having chicken pets to take care of. Also, I find I eat less when I eat food that is richer in nutrients, organic veggies, grass fed meats. Junk food is surprisingly expensive and addictive.

Robin OSullivan says …

I've become more creative with recipes that incorporate inexpensive ingredients, like dried beans and lentils. By adding interesting spices and sauces, I can feed our family for less without making meals seem boring!

Sheridan Phillips says …

I really appreciate the specials in the circular and the coupons in the zine! That's where I begin my shopping list...and my list has shifted noticeably. On it goes only what is absolutely essential, must buys to get through the week and replacement of organic bulk items. I might have a few notes on possibles - friends may come for drinks...what is fresh/interesting/shelf stable that could make an instant party? 365 goat cheese is a staple as are 365 Entertainment crackers. Often, there is a wine special to consider. Then, with the basics taken care of, WholeFoods has more than enough temptation to make for a week of great eating - a splurge on crab cakes or lamb chops; 365 organic quinoa with black beans or the brown rice with sardines Portuguese-style make great budget meals; organic spinach added to organic soup or eggs is quick. I enjoy a return to the produce dept. to select a fruit or two - the organic figs are a favorite - and to decide on a bouquet or a few stems for the table. Buying closely for a week rather than shopping for a month means a lower bill and more enjoyable meals. And it all fits into my two bags.

William says …

In budget shopping without sacrificing food quality, I consider the following about each product. - Cost per serving and serving size - Anticipated consumption time vs. expiration date - Versatility - Specific quality components sacrificed with price reduction - Alternatives With this system, I tend to remain satisfied with each grocery shopping experience in all respects.

Charles C. says …

Certified organic just means that the company has paid to certify that they meet a minimum standard. We love going to the Farmers Market and finding local produce. Its fresh, it supports local economy, it has a small environmental footprint AND you can establish a relationship with the farmers, which allows you to get a better feel for what you are buying.

Aaron Hines says …

I get the good stuff for less by purchasing discounted fresh bagged veggies like carrots and snap peas. In particular, when the vegetables are close to their "use by" date the store often marks the products down in price. Nothing is wrong with those vegetables. I can eat them that day or the next while helping the store deplete their inventory. It prevents waste and saves money!

Gal Witmer says …

We make the most of our budget by purchasing mostly whole foods, very little in a can, jar or box. Bulk as well does make a big difference. We also buy what is in season and most available at that time. It is usually what is on sale. I have been surprised how well you can feed your family and stick to my eco-principles and be very budget minded.

Ruby says …

1. Look for the best that you can buy for the least amount of money. For us that could be a less that top cut of meat but it is organic and can be worked onto one of my meals that we love. 2. Items that you use allot, buy by the case if you can. You can get a better price for it and in the long run save you lots of time and money.

Jenny Schmidt says …

I like to stock up when I find a good sale. Pairing a sale with in-store or online coupons can net a GREAT deal!

Jessica says …

I shop the farmers market as long as I can in the season. I buy tomatoes, squash, apples, pumpkin, peppers and can or freeze them. This way I don't have to buy it in the store and I have it on hand all the time. When I do buy at the store, I go for bulk food bins and when things are on sale. When it comes to perishables like fruit, I buy what I know I'll eat in a week so I only have to go to the store once a week, which saves gas too.

Ashley says …

The best saving advice for parents: I began making our 6-month olds' food. He loves sweet potatoes and squash - and I saw the value of making my own the first time I went shopping. One sweet potato that cost us less than $1.50 made 7-servings, which would buy only 3-jars of the organic! I can make large batches of food and freeze them in ice cube trays buying veggies and fruits when they are in season and on sale. I feel good giving him the best possible first foods knowing exactly what he's eating as well as saving money for our new family.

Heather says …

I try to multipurpose meals. I'll roast a chicken one night and then use the leftovers to make enchiladas the next. Or I'll reduce the amount of ground beef I put in a pasta dish so that I can still have protein, but not spend as much.

Ester says …

I try very hard to get the best deal for my dollar. This includes couponing (and signing up for coupons like Mambo Sprouts to be sent straight to my house) and checking in-store for coupons. I eat only kosher food, and like to cook from scratch when possible. I buy the fresh produce that's in season, and when I can get "the best price of the year" I buy lots and cook ahead and freeze for later. This way, I always have soups on hand and kugels, quiches, even lasagna! If I'm not using a coupon, I buy the store brand, which is really excellent quality, and quite affordable. I also rely on frozen veggies when I need something that is out of season. the 365 organic frozen veggies are really affordable. Just what happened to the frozen organic mushrooms I used to buy? They were perfect for soups and quiches and now I can't find them!

Alicia Webster says …

There are lots of things that you can do to save $$ and still eat high-quality food, but here are a couple...If you know that there are specific brands that you always buy (such as Amy's, Annie's, Maranatha, etc) then go to their websites, and make sure sure that you are signed up to receive their E-mails. There are many companies that are willing to send you coupons and/or free samples, but they need to know that you exist. Fan them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter as well. Also, make sure that you go through your coupons once a week (I look through mine the night before I go grocery shopping, while I am making my list)and try to match the coupons that you have with the sales flyers from the stores at which you shop. Combining coupons with store sales = double the savings.

Helen Blumenthal says …

Buy bulk. Find the Whole Foods market that carries items in bulk. The two closest to me are the new Westside store and the Edgewater store.

Kristen says …

I save $$ and have a wonderful, healthy breakfast by making my own meusli. I combine organic rolled oats bought in bulk, chopped organic almonds bought in bulk, ground flax seed, organic raisins bought in bulk, grated fresh organic Braeburn apples and yogurt homemade in my machine. To obtain the wonderful thick consistency of whole milk Greek yogurt without the fat, I make my yogurt with 2% milk, a cup of low-fat yogurt and 6 tablespoons of dried no-fat milk. What a great start to the day!

Cynthia says …

I get the good stuff for less by shopping the Farmers Market later in the day when the organic vendors are eager to unload. I also get free organic fruit and vegetables from my in-laws' garden, otherwise, all those tomatoes and peppers get composted.

Becky says …

I buy store brands, bulk items, NO meat products (which works 'cause we're vegans) and TONS of in season fruit & veggies. I also look for deals on frozen items that I might have coupons for!

Tarah says …

I live nearly three hours from the nearest Whole foods so saving money is important. I buy frozen fruits and vegetables, watch for sells, plan ahead, and concentrate on keeping staples and not just easy items. I figure how much I need for a month and buy what I need. When I find a sale on items we use I stock up, I keep an extra freezer to keep the extra items. My son has aspergers syndrome a form of autism and requires a gluten free/cassein free diet free of artificial colors and flavors. So it is important that I make sure I have enough good stuff for him in order to avoid any chance of him getting items that are negative. We plan ahead for our monthly trips to Whole foods.

teri mitchell says …

love everything and everyone @ whole foods.

Andy and Cheryl Anderson says …

We buy in bulk. We also buy food in the discount area where food is on clearance... There you can get good food still usable, but the can has a dent or lost a label... Bananas in the discount bin because of being old, we dry for banana chips..

Gina says …

Take a Chicken to Dinner, Thrice Take one whole beautiful organic chicken. Clean it and sprinkle with salt. Set aside. In a saucepan or the microwave melt 2 oz of natural sweet butter, fresh minced garlic (2 cloves) or a T of garlic powder, a T of sweet paprika, and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. Place on a rack in a roasting pan with 1/2 of white wine and 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Roast at 450 for 20 minutes, then lower to 350 and cook until the thigh meat is 180. Serve with the unbelievable gravy you just made. Enjoy. The next day, use the leftover meat for chicken salad. Keep the carcass. The next day, throw the carcass and any leftover meat in a pot with water to cover. Add two carrots, one parsnip, two stalks of celery and any of that leftover gravy. Cook for a few hours until you have the most amazing soup. Add noodles, rice, or matzo balls. Congratulate yourself on getting multiple meals from one little chicken.

Catherine Si says …

For organic produce, I try to buy what's in season and on sale. That way, I'm usually guaranteed a relatively low price. Otherwise for other organic items like milk and cereal, I try to buy the larger sized items as they are usually cheaper per ounce (more bang for your buck!).

Katy says …

There are so many ways to eat healthy and save. When shopping at my local Whole Foods Market I always take advantage of what's on sale during the week, stock up on sale products I'm already familiar with and let myself try out new items at less risk if I don't end up liking it (but that hardly ever happens!) And as busy as we all are, I try to buy produce whole and prep it myself. Sure the prepackaged and already chopped stuff will save you a few minutes, but it'll cost you way more in the long run. Practice your knife skills you won't mind doing the extra prep work! It's also helpful to notice the price per pound/gallon/etc. number usually located to the right of the number for whatever individual item you are purchasing. This is the fool proof way to know whether or not you are getting more for your money or not without messy calculations and comparing box/carton sizes. I also think the best way to not waste money by not using things you buy is create a meal plan. If you are buying something and you don't know why, you might not end up using it before it does bad and that will be money in the garbage!

sunny says …

I buy non processed vegan food that are healthy yet tasty. I hardly get sick, not even a cold for over 5 years. Eventually I save over hundreds of dollars on medical bill not just grocery bills. I love to shop at Whole Foods cause I know they carefully look at the ingrediants for me. It's so hard to shop at the "normal" grocery store. Wish all stores stock healthy items like Whole Foods. If Whole Foods is at every city, they can have better buying power which means lower price. The produce section is a like a paradise place to go. I hope some day the prices will be the same as conventional produce. I think it can if everyone makes organic foods "normal" food which what it was over 70 years ago. Ok everyone let your dollars do the talking, but the good foods so the junk foods will go away.... for everyone's sake.

Claire says …

I always shop based on what's on sale and plan out my menu for the week (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). We try to eat vegetarian dinners 3-4 times a week for both health reasons and to save on money. Non-meat proteins are so much cheaper than meat! I also try and make things a couple times a month that can be made into multiple dinners--like a big pot of tomato sauce can be enough for three different meals. A whole chicken will give us two dinners, and I can make stock with the carcass.

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