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

Sarah Jelmeland says …

I love buying organic and local. Since farmer's markets started in May I have been buying local produce from them. I then take the produce and either eat it right away or I can or freeze it depending on the produce. When I am cutting up veggies I take the ends that we don't want to eat freeze them and then make my own vegetable stock out of it once I have amassed enough veggies or when I need it to make soup. In the stores for meat products I like to buy a roast and then eat that for a dinner then use the left overs for making sandwiches or another meal. Ground meat is great for this. Make a southern style meatloaf for dinner one night then crumble the remains the following night for burritos or tacos.

David says …

Make money go farther by using cheaper items and bake home made treats. A package of flour, yeast and salt will last for many meals. Then splurge on high quality, organic pairings such as pears, tomatoes, or fine cheeses. Generally I would say at Whole Foods it isn't about saving money. Enjoy the quality and don't worry about the cost. If you can bake a tasty pie with the freshest ingredients, you can just marry rich!

Jennifer says …

As a dietitian, I consider nutrition a top priority. To save money, I check out the store ads for sales each week. I try to combine the savings with coupons, drastically reducing the costs. When items that I use regularly such as coffee and salad dressing are buy one get one free, I stock up. Also, the 365 brand is awesome, much cheaper than brand name items.

Elizabeth says …

I make a list of every meal for the week and try to plan for meals that have similar ingredients so it cuts down on cost. Buying good foods is the most important but spending my whole paycheck while doing so is at the bottom. I check online specials before heading to the grocery store. Also, when something is on sale that I use alot, like peanut butter, I buy extra when its on sale.

liz erker says …

My best advice on how to get the good stuff for less is to shop for seasonal produce & whole foods. You also remember that American's eat too much, so cut down on how much you purchase. I guarantee that you will save cash & calories!

Heidi says …

I use the Whole Foods e-newsletter to see what is on sale for the week. I shop when I can on Wednesdays to take advantage of two weeks worth of sales. I also use the coupon books at whole foods and other organic manufacture coupons to plan the grocery shopping.

Lisa Miller says …

I buy in bulk, and cook large quanties. Make a big pot of veggi soup, eat it a few days and then freeze the rest in individual containers. That way I have ready made meals on hand.

SM says …

I cook lentil stews with fresh dark greens and vegetables which generates a large quantity of nutritious food for a family of four for under $20 a week. I purchase directly from an organic farmer at my farmer's market and from Whole Foods. http://www.nicholsfarm.com/. I find buying meat, package foods and in bulk is costly. I use to buy in bulk and ended up throwing away things that spoiled.

Kathy says …

Stock up when the good stuff is on sale. No, you don't need 10 boxes of whole wheat, but when is it ever only $1 a box?!?

Kathy says …

Oops, I meant whole wheat PASTA.

susan freeman says …

I get the good stuff by taking advantage of Whole Food Sale information and buying bulk items in the quantities that I need instead of buying a larger pre-packaged amount that ends up being thrown away. When I find pre-portioned products that are on sale, I call my friends to see if we can split the item. It usually works out wonderfully and we end up making a dinner party out of it!

Sans says …

I look at wholefoods.com first, then I make my shopping list according to the sale items. Some great values every week, 365, madness, truckload, weekly buys, they ALWAYS have the goods you need on sale!

Maria says …

I buy a variety of dried beans from the bulk section like black, pinto,garbanzo,lentils,split peas etc. I love bean soup and make my own from garden grown peppers, onions,garlic, parsley,etc. very inexpensive and very nourishing.

Madeline says …

I get the good stuff for less by buying the good stuff in bulk--big jars of natural peanut butter and the 32-ounce container of organic soymilk may seem expensive intially, but in the long run you save a lot of money (and help the environment) by choosing a larger size of something that you know you'll eat. In addition, I always remember the long-term savings of eating natural and organic food: I may be spending more money now, but I'll be spending less on health costs later in life, and I'm helping local communities and the planet as well!

Bree says …

Buy organic carrots bulk (the larger cello bags), peel, chop & save yourself a "bundle" over the small convience sized.

Lindsey says …

I love the bulk section! I get rice, flour, salt, pepper and snacks for my 2 year old daughter for way less than I would anywhere else! A lot of my family members think we are rich for shopping at Whole Paycheck! But I have to show them that I am able to shop for 2 adults and 1 (growing) toddler for less than $100 a week! I do not want to compromise my families health just to save a few bucks, but we are struggling, so I'm very strict about what we buy. I think that also helps too! Your 365 brand and bulk save me lots of money, as is going vegetarian a few days a week. I could go on and on, but won't!

Sarah says …

I stock up on my favorite products when they're on sale....like Ineeka tea is $3 off right now!

Alice says …

It's so easy to eat healthy on a limited budget! Skip packaged, processed foods as they are usually the most expensive AND the worst for you! Stick the stuff in the perimeter of the store and buy what's in season because there is an abundance of it so it is usually cheaper. Also, buying frozen veggies won't hurt your wallet either..and they are also a time saver. One last thing, buy the store brand. Most of the time other brands are pricier just because they are name brand stuff, but about 90% of the time is a similar, if not identical, product. Oh and one last tip! If you are want a healthy organic dessert, try to use frozen or fresh seasonal fruit as a sweet or bake everything from scracth. It is much cheaper than buying baked goods at the store!

Regi says …

Lots of ways to save! 1) I make a meal plan every Sunday, and try to work things we already have and things I know are on sale into the meal plan. 2) Buy ingredients instead of items. We've saved a lot since I started cooking breads, baked goodies and pasta sauce from scratch. 3) The case discount is a big help on staple items! 4) The bulk section is fantastic - not just for grains, but also the herbs when you just need a little bit for a special recipe.

Annmarie says …

I try not only to buy in bulk and organic but to cook in bulk. On Sunday I cook with my daughter and make a big pot/pan or bowl of a main dish. We use some for dinner that night and freeze the rest so that we can warm it up during the week in a hurry. Instead of using a prepackaged meal we have our own organic, low sodium, home cooked meal. We both appreciate the meal more because of the chopping, slicing and dicing that we did to get to our delicious end product.

Marisa M. says …

Be flexible with your meal planning and buy produce that is in season in your local community. This will encourage you to try new foods and learn new recipes, while simultaneously lowering your grocery bill. Best of all it is good for the environment!

Mary-Ann Johnson says …

In addition to buying in bulk, shopping the sales, and buying the generic brand, I keep an eye out for coupons on the net, in magazines and newspapers, and I go to the store with a plan and a budget. Ideally, I would love all the food I eat to be Organic and Natural, but I aim to have at least 70% of my foods Organic or Natural, to fit my budget. (On conventional foods, I read labels, and I am cautious to avoid harmful or mysterious ingredients like corn syrup or aluminum in my food.) I also buy more whole foods (pardon the pun) and make my own sweet snacks and frozen meals at home. I really save (both money and my health) by not purchasing giant packages of cookies, microwave entrees and other snack-type foods, and I eat less of them to boot, because I don't always have time to bake and my meals are more filling and contain no fillers or preservatives. I usually compare the per ounce price on the shelf tag to be sure it's the best deal, even if it is on sale. This is what I do for great value. :)

Danielle says …

I double-up on coupons! I scour the internet and various printed papers for coupons, and then I pair them with items already on sale. I also try to buy most produce that is in-season to reduce costs.

teresa says …

Good quality food, natural, healthy, on a budget? Do not go out to eat! Eat at home, make your own meals from scratch. Buy seasonal produce, it is fresh, healthier, and will always make your meals taste great. By the store brand. Buy the larger bags, more quantity usually means cheaper unit price. But we are not crazy about buying in bulk unless it offers a big savings. Buy items on sale, but only the ones you use frequently and you really like, otherwise it is wasted money and wasted space in your kitchen. I prefer frozen or fresh vegetables over canned ones. I don't plan our meals. I always have certain basic food items including brown and white rice and frozen or fresh vegetables. You can make a quick healthy meal on a budget if you have the basic food groups on hand. Make your own seasonings and sauces and dressings using herbs, lemon, olive oil, sea salt, nuts, balsamic, juices, fruit.

Melissa says …

Great tips! I'll try to add one I didn't see. --Don't buy prepackaged seasoning mixes such as taco and chili seasonings...there are many great recipes online and you can make these in bulk (store in airtight container) saving packaging waste and money.

Samantha says …

I only buy food that is on sale. You can always find something that is marked down or advertised for the week, and shopping this way inherently adds variety to your menu.

Stacy Reis says …

I try to buy what is on sale and seasonal. Rather than buying packaged pre made foods I make homemade with good quality ingredients. I will make, say a large casserole or Giant spicy turkey or chicken chili and freeze it in serving sizes. Then make various items such as use the chili for burritos too. I roast large beets and make them into my own picked or cold or hot. Cook all the rice then freeze it for your own rice in an instant! Fresh Veggie stews or soups. If you can buy it frozen, you can freeze your own too!

Crystal says …

In addition to planning meals around in-season produce and store specials, I try to add flavor with small amounts of high-flavor foods, such as herbs, sesame oil, or feta or parmesan, while stretching meals with inexpensive ingredients like rice, pasta or potato. And to cut our grocery bill *and* get my family to eat a little healthier, I generally halve the meat and double the veggies in our favorite one-dish recipes.

Tammy Mulhearn says …

When I'm trying out a new recipe with an ingredient that I don't normally use, I get the good stuff for less by buying only the amount that I need from the bulk spices or grains. I can always buy more if I like it.

john chowanec says …

buy bulks items and always use coupons when possible. it pays to buy an extra sunday newspaper if the coupons you need are in it. don't forget to ask your family and friends for their coupons, most people throw them out!

Tiffany says …

Honestly people - don't be scared of dry beans. They are so much cheaper than the canned equivalent and if you just invest the short amount of time to prepare them - you can make giant pots and freeze them in little containers - the same size as....you guessed it a can. For a fraction of the price you can't pass up this important way to get your protein and nutrients! Plus beans are totally flexible and can be used in all kinds of dishes!

Denise Musser says …

I make gluten free muffins, almond meal,2cups, gluten free baking mix, bobs red mill, 1 cup, 2 eggs, 1 small container of blue agave nectar, 4 large bananas, dried flaked unsweetened coconut, 1 cup, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup canola oil, 1 tbsp vanilla. Bake at 400 for 20 mins or less, check oven temp. delcious, finally a gluten free muffin that looks and tastes like a regular muffin, really yummy, I bake these and serve them to my clients at my Nail Spa in Vista, Calif.

Heather McClees says …

One tip I have found to be helpful in buying organic products for less is to buy the brands that aren't located on the eye-level shelves. Often, if you look on the lower or bottom shelves there are many organic products for a much lower price. Also, in the produce section, buy organic products that are on sales that week. Take advanatage of sales, stock up and freeze what you can, ensuring yourself a savings all year long!

Barry says …

Last week while visiting Washington DC and staying Alexandria VA my girlfriend and I discovered the prepared foods at the Whole Foods Market. Every night we picked up our selection and enjoyed them in the hotel room. It was an excellent value for very well prepared meals. We even took some on our flight home. So while everyone else was eating pretzels, we were enjoying Brie and fresh bread. After arriving home we were excited to learn on the Internet that there was a Whole Foods Market near us. We are planning a picnic tomorrow and guess where we are going for our supplies. Thank you Whole Foods Market.

lin woods says …

I use the "ad-match" method to get best price on items that I purchase at Wal-Mart. I make a list of "specials" at other stores (all kinds - pharmacies, chain drug stores, Big Lots, Fred's, etc) and take it with me to Wal-Mart along with the ads. This saves me money, gets me the best price available in my area, and I don't have to visit several stores to take advantage of their "specials".

Sharon says …

I buy the "good stuff" for less by: I buy produce that is in season- this way its fresh, mostly on sale & I reduce the time & money spent to ship this veggies/fruits to my store. I make a weekly meal plan ( brkfast, lunch, dinner): This way, when I go to the store, I know what to look for, I don't start putting everything that looks "good" in my cart & save money bc I get only what I need. I also get the bread & such from the bakery section of the whole foods instead of buying a name brand. Its cheaper & its made fresh. I also shop sales but I limit myself on 2 items each time so I dont splurge yet get to treat myself. Its tough but well worth it.

Alex McCoy says …

Our family does most of its shopping at Whole Foods much to my delight! However, breakfast is not always a priority with my family due to the time crunch. I try to always have protein bars available, but they are SO expensive. This past week our favorite brand was on sale so I brought two cases. Not only were they on sale AND I saved another 10% for buying in case lots, but there was a coupon in the Whole Foods sale booklet so I saved another $1.00. This made the price well below the superstores' and grocery stores' prices.

alison Lyon says …

I always look at the clearance area of the grocery store. there is a chain here in nc that carries alot of organic items and good for me not alot of the main stream public is into it so they always have prices slashed 50% on organic and natural products that didn't sell well or being discontinued. and also going to big lots...I know a weird place to look right? but I have found that checking out their food selection you can find great prices on organic and natural products due to close out... but when I see it I buy it all for it won't always be there the next time around. all these savings helps me go to whole foods to buy all my meats,fruits,vegs and anything thing else I can't find for I know whole foods is a place I know I can trust with the rest!

Y.H. says …

If you stock up and buy a lot of one item (for example, a dozen jars of baby food), it's worth asking if the store offers a discount on a case. The policy might vary by individual store (as I've gotten a discount at one Whole Foods market but not another, both in the same local area), but it can definitely get you the good stuff for less!

Kristie says …

My home has only two people and we live in an apartment with no room for an extra freezer, so buying in bulk and buying extra to freeze don't work for me (sadly). I stretch my dollar by meal planning in advance (and use the circular in my meal planning), by being adaptable on the brands I use (the same types of things tend to be on the circulars, so by being open-minded about brands I can save more regularly as opposed to waiting for the brand I like), and by making sure I stick to the portion size on packages (this may seem like a no-brainer, but I know a lot of people who really don't pay attention to portion sizes - by sticking with the portion sizes you eat less, lose weight, and save money by making your food last longer!).

Kathy H says …

I plan what we are eating for the week by what is on sale. I also tend to buy the things that we eat a lot of in the large size. I buy the fruit and veggies that are in season, much cheaper this way.

Sarah says …

In terms of saving money especially at Whole Foods, I always try and buy their 365 brand - the quality and taste are great and I have never been dissatisfied. I also hate wasted food. I hate throwing things out because we didn't eat them. I try to only buy what we're definitely going to eat - esp in terms of fresh produce and breads. I think a lot of people waste money because they throw a lot of stuff out that hasn't been eaten and has gone bad. I also buy a larger size of something, esp if it's on sale. I don't go out of my way to do so unless something is truly worth it (figure out the unit costs, etc). Sometimes, bigger isn't better.

Amy says …

I try to catch things on special and stock the pantry. I also try to buy what I can at the Farmer's Market if possible.

Mariah says …

I always try to buy whats in season that way you can get the "good stuff" at such a better price then if you were to buy it off season. By buying whats in season you can purchase more and freeze for a later use.

sara loud says …

I plan our week based on what's on sale and stick to it!

Stefanie Schmidt says …

I get the best value by buying my favorite organic fruits on sale and freezing them. They last a long time when frozen and I can enjoy fresh fruit all year long with savings. I also shop store ads and buy my favorite natural products in bulk when they go on sale. My biggest way to save without compromising brand names is I will buy one box of my favorite brand natural cereal, and one box of generic cereal and mix them both together. This way I save on cereal, and still get the great taste I love at a great price.

Katie says …

I make sure to plan my meals and make a list before I go to the store to try to limit my splurges on unnecessary items. I also like playing a budget game with myself each week to see if I can get more for my money than I did the week before. Although I know how important it is to try to stick to all foods that are organic/natural, I have found that some weeks I just can't afford that option. So I started researching which foods are most beneficial in the natural/organic form and that way I can try to get the most bang for my buck.

Keri says …

There are so many ways to save on natural and organic, GOOD QUALITY food! I think one of the greatest ways I have found to save is what I call, "meager-mailing." This is where you go to company websites that you know you would like a product from, and request some free samples or coupons! I have found that it never hurts to ask, and surprisingly I have been fortunate enough to receive a lot of response! Yay for coupons! Yay for saving $$!

B.A. Rosenblum says …

I save money by watching for specials on my local Whole Foods Twitter feed. Evanston South in that house, yo!

Gina says …

I get the good stuff for less by planning ahead and being conscious of what I already have in my pantry. I start by looking at the sales flyer and Whole Deal newsletter to see what is on sale and/or has coupons. Then, I plan meals for the week to incorporate ways of cross-utilizing products. Leftover grilled snapper from last night might become tomorrow's fish tacos. Likewise, I cook extra grains, so extra quinoa from dinner works great for a rice/veggie salad that I can take for lunch (one of my favs is a SW salad, with quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, spices....yummy!) I love the bulk aisle, because I can purchase small quantities (what we can use for the week) and not have a lot of extras cluttering my shelves. Having an organized refrigerator also helps me know what I have available and what needs to be used first. I freeze foods that I feel I won't use, such as beans, veggie broth, and canned tomatoes, and go to Wholefoods.com when I need a good recipe idea for an item that needs to be used fast. The extra time involved in planning ahead is worth the reward of nutritious foods (and not having to read every label!)

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