There have been some media stories lately about how people are trading down to save money on food in these uncertain economic times. To me, that seems like such a poor trade off. I shop at Whole Foods Market because I know I can trust that every product is free of the junk I don’t want: artificial additives, sweeteners, colors, preservatives and trans fats. Yes, I work here but this stuff was important to me before and it’s even more important to me as I learn more about the toxins in our environment. And yes, food without all of that garbage in it isn’t as cheap, but I think my health and that of my family is worth better food. And as we’ve all learned on these The Whole Deal™ posts, there are many ways to eat frugally at Whole Foods Market. So, that’s the point I see missing in the media: Finding the cheapest food available isn’t the whole story. What about quality, taste, unadulterated with chemicals and additives, locally grown, fair traded, natural and organic. So, why do you shop at Whole Foods Market? You’ve shared lots of great tips for value shopping on The Whole Deal™ page, and we want to hear what keeps you from trading down. This week’s The Whole Deal™ tip winner is Trish who answers that question this way:
As a single empty-nester, I’ve been chronically over budget on food, while feeling somehow under-fed. I was shopping at S***y and assumed I could not afford to shop at Whole Foods. It had not occurred to me that I should focus instead on nutrition per dollar I spent, or (even better) on nutritional value per dollar that I actually consumed! For instance, I would buy “cheaper” produce from Safeway, and then not eat it because it had no flavor! I’d buy a bag of apples or peaches and eventually throw most of it away. Then I’d go out and spend more money on junk food and candy in an effort to satisfy some taste threshold I needed. Then one day, while out with a friend, I bought a single peach at Whole Foods. Just to see if there was a difference. It was so delicious that I went back and bought a peach for each day of the week, then ate one every day, and savored each mouthful. I got full pleasure and nutritional value for the cost of those peaches, so it was far cheaper than throwing away a bag of the tasteless stuff. And I didn’t buy the junk food! I had spent less. I’d also been buying more convenience foods in recent years (a common single person’s mistake, but a big budget breaker). After “The Peach,” I realized my tastes had been changing, but my shopping habits hadn’t. I don’t care for as much meat anymore, but do crave a certain intensity of flavor. But I was buying the old standards out of habit. So now I’m on a new learning curve. I’m experimenting with ethnic cuisines as a way to find some of the most delicious and interesting seasonal recipes invented. Most of the time, this way of cooking is some of the most thrifty! I love to buy staples in the bulk foods aisle (grains and beans look so earthy and inviting in clear canisters on the counters) and build from that with the most flavorful, in-season produce available. You really only need a couple of dozen recipes that you absolutely adore to feel like you are treating yourself remarkably well. It’s all different for me now - bulk staples, taking advantage of ethnic expertise, freshness and flavor intensity. And I shop at Whole Foods! Who would have thought!