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

Niki says …

Well, we are newlyweds on a tight budget - but we have learned better than to sacrifice the quality of our health by eating conventional meat and other cheap food. Because the people who work at Whole Foods actually know what they're doing, we are able to get organic, grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs - and make it stretch! We buy organic when it makes the most difference - the animal products, thin-skinned produce, and grains - and work to stretch those items with less expensive whole foods. I love cooking and my husband says that I'm the best! We would be so blessed to have a $50 gift card. It would feed us so well! Thanks for this great opportunity. With a recession, you have to decide where your priorities lie - seeing the local Whole Foods just as crowded as always inspires me that we're not giving up the quality of our health for the sake of money or convenience.

Sue says …

Question: How to get the most value (output) out of organic food by spending less money (input)? Answer: Select the least expensive food with the most nutritional value. Example: Select varieties of dark leafy greens with the most iron content. Select varieties of lentils high in protein. Conclusion: You'll know the real value of your food if you read the nutritional value labels. The answer to the question was already there on the food itself :)

Lindsay says …

I get good stuff for less by eating vegetarian-I have several meals a week with beans or tofu, lentils, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, and fresh produce that's on sale. I make sure to have whole grains, protein and lots of vegetables at every meal, and still spend only $50 a week for meals for both my husband and I. Vegetarian is SO much cheaper than eating meat, and better for the environment. The money I save from not buying meat products I can use to get more organic food.

Joni says …

I get good stuff for less by using the sales flier and reading Whole Foods email. Shopping for two, I can focus on quality foods, fresh seasonal produce and healthy flavors. We found some tasty and affordable wines at the Wine & Cheese event. I buy small quantities of special menu ingredients on the bulk aisle - no waste. The Best Stuff for Less is a cup of mango gelatto to top off the shopping experience!

Katie says …

Cook as much as possible from scratch. Make soups in large quantities, and freeze them for later use rather than buying canned soups or prepacked meals/foods. Make your own whole grain breads (tortillas, rolls, pizza crusts), fruit bars, granola bars, etc. Make and freeze these foods in bulk ahead of time. Also purchase berries and such at times when they are in season, then freeze for use later during the months when they are more expensive. Making as much as possible from scratch can save you a ton over buying packaged convenience foods.

Amy says …

I but veggies on sale and usually turn them into soup over the weekend - all kinds! Then, I use individual serving containers and freeze portions so they are ready to go during the week for work! Healthy lunch, and VERY inexpensive! My favorites involve roasted veggies - roasting really helps develop the flavors and adds a lot of depth!

Zanetha says …

I absolutely live in the bulk section. This is where I find higher quality grains, legumes, nuts, herbs and spices than their packaged counterparts for a fraction of the price. Knowing where my food comes from and cooking it myself is good for my family and good for my pocketbook. I keep an eye on sale and seasonal items, too. Seasonal produce is more delicious, sustainable and often cheaper than non-seasonal goods. I never go to the grocery store hungry and I also generally plan my family's meals. I do allow for occasional 'splurgy' items, especially if it's a healthy item. Organic hemp oil, supergreens, and Weleda face products may seem expensive, but the health and vitality they add to my well being is priceless...and I'm worth it!

Carolyn says …

We save money by taking time to shop for sales.. and this means shopping without our 4 kids in tow! I comparative shop at several stores, and pick up what is on sale at Whole Foods and store it for future use (dry goods). My boys are GFCF so I make the expensive convenience items from scratch (nuggets, etc) and purchase a few unique items at WF. There are always a few items that are a really good deal, and I try to check for the coupons in KIWI magazine.

Megan says …

I try to buy in bulk things I'm sure to use, I also look for store brands and for fruits and vegetables I buy mostly in season things from a local farmer's market or co-op. I also try to decide what to buy ahead of time. I can't afford to buy all organic so I'll try to get things I'm sure to use all of or what's on sale.

Abbie says …

I buy my beans in crate amounts, then I get a 10 percent discount!

Rebecca says …

We have bought the 365 brands for years. As our children have grown up on the food, they are much healthier and stronger as young adults. The extra cost, if there really is one after all the additives and preservatives are missing, is well worth it to see the glow of health in your children's faces. Just think how much fast food restaurants would have cost with 5 children. We appreciate Whole Foods and are thankful for years of shopping!

Glenda says …

I find the best way to shop organic is to only buy 2-3 cuts of meat/fish a week. Buy larger quanities from items on sale that week. I divide and freeze or just referate depending on the item. Next I buy similar fruits/vegies/sauces that are good for all cuts. The real key is to make a menu of all meals. This way you can combine what you have bought and ONLY buy what you need. I do shop a couple organic stores depending on what I need and keep a price list of everyday items like canned/frozen/bottled items. I am able to buy 90% organic.

Latasha Sandoval says …

First of all, educate myself on what the "good stuff" is and purpose in my heart to purchase the good stuff to the best of my families financial ability. From there, I look for low-cost seasonal foods that will couple as both delicious nutrition and good for you body medicine. This many times will mean time and energy with food companies my family enjoys, requesting coupons, joining email list,saving sales ads, joining coupon clubs and finally stocking up when prices are really low.

Lisette Ramos says …

Hi! I do not shop without coupons and a canvas bag. The coupons for savings and the canvas bag to get some cents off but more importantly not to waste. The coupons I get mostly online from searching mom blogs and the manufacteur or store.

Tiffany Ryan says …

I review the weekly and monthly specials and make a monthly meal plan accordingly and put it on my calender. Creating a meal plan really cuts back on purchasing more than I need. Plus it makes dinnertime hassle-free since I don't have to think about what to make, I just look at my meal plan. That helps a lot, especially with little ones in the house. I also make a lot of breads and baked goods from scratch. (It is a great activity with the kids, too). That also helps out in saving.

Emilie says …

I am so blessed to live in an abundant food shed! Buying seasonal, local products is saving me lots of money in the long run. Buying sustainably uses less energy and eating yummy food keeps our hearts healthy and happy.

Lauren says …

I try to get the good stuff by basing my weekly meal plan on what is on sale in the circular. This is not only a great way to feel like you're splurging at a good price, but also a great way to try new varieties of things (ex. a new kind of apple or lettuce or even a grain or rice). Like Madeline, I try to buy in bulk or stock up on things when they're on sale (soups and frozen or freezable things).

Ben says …

Buy seasonal produce, buy in bulk, and buy the store brand. Your health is worth the investment.

Liana says …

I shop sales, buy store brands (Helllllloooo 365 Everyday Value products!), buy in bulk when possible, buy dried instead of canned (ex: dry beans are usually less expensive than canned beans), and in general shop at Whole Foods! Oh, and make a meal plan for the week & stick to it -- that really helps, too!

Ashley says …

I get the good stuff for less by pre-planning my weekly meals and shopping with a list. This way I can avoid the "impulse buys" that tend to rack up the total bill and I can make sure that less food will go to waste! Sounds simple but it works!

Pamela says …

I agree. I buy a lot of bulk - rice, flour, nuts, and beans. At this time of the year, beans become a staple at my house as I cook up a big pot for use in veggie chili, beans and greens, and other soups and stews. I can cook a big pot of beans, freeze some and use some immediately. Good stuff!

Jill says …

Shop the edges of the store and compare prices and the ingredients (store brand vs. name brand). Plus, bring your own bags to Whole Foods and get credit for every bag used.

Rachel Patneaude says …

I am very budget conscious because I make very little money. I go to the store with a few meals in mind and I buy a small amount of organic produce along with some organic rice and sometimes a package of chicken and then I figure out 3 meals with the items I bought. It could be a spinach, red pepper, onion chicken salad one day...Chicken onion and spinach sauted over rice the next and the last day taking last nights leftovers and adding red pepper cracking an egg in it, adding some soy and making it into fried rice. I think that if you plan your meals before you buy the food for them then you can stretch your dollar and spend less overall on better food.

Leigh Ann says …

I have found that buying frozen (instead of fresh) organic chicken ($4 or less per pound) saves a lot of money. Also, getting my organic veggies frozen (especially asparagus) doesn't take away from the quality, but saves a bundle and it doesn't rot! Eggs (in the shell) are much cheaper than already separated egg whites, so I do the work myself so I can afford organic. Lastly, I puree and refrigerate frozen organic fruits to add to yogurt and oatmeal- the latter two items I buy in giant containers to lower the price point. Happy shopping!

Paisley Hillegeist says …

I stretch my grocery money by not buying processed foods. I make my own sauces, soups, breads, yogurt, cheeses, etc. By doing more of the cooking, I save lots of money and can spend that savings on high quality meats, raw milk, and organic locally grown fruits and vegetables. Sally Fallon's cookbook/manifesto "Nourishing Traditions" is a huge resource for being able to make your own. . . anything! I get my kids in the act, too. We home school, and as part of school we learn about nutrition, math and science by shopping, cooking and eating together.

Latoya Ayala says …

One thing that I like to do is contact the manufacturer's directly to see if they offer coupons. Or, if there is a way I can sign up for a newsletter to receive notice about sales or coupons. I also try to scan the aisles for store coupons and make meals with those items on sale. It's all about being creative and eating healthy at the same time.

Leah says …

Lindsey, could you provide a sample shopping list? as for how I save money, ditto with the others. And we are eating meat hardly at all, so that helps. Making soups at this time of year good stuff=less needed in soup)and adding potatoes (good stuff=a bag of potatoes goes a long way) to the menu helps tremendously.

maggie dillard says …

instead of buying prepackaged food, which is usually more expensive, (soup, pasta, sauce, waffles, etc.) we pre make everything ourselves. So I will make a big batch of soup and then freeze it into serving portions. this really saves time and money. buying a whole organic chicken, baking it, then eating it and using the left overs to make stock for soup is incredibly cheap and healthy! Same goes for lasagnas, making your own pasta. Then dry the noodles or preassemble pasta dishes and freeze them. Have a waffle party and make enough waffles for a month. Then freeze them and you have a fast healthy breakfast for cheaper and healthier than premade waffles or pancakes.

Alicia says …

> Meal-planning after the current sales are published > Making a list and sticking to it > Doing my shopping for longer periods of time (1-2 weeks) (if I shopped every day, with an average of $25-35 per visit, I'd spend about $50 more per week than I do lump-sum on a single shopping trip - and I purchase more impulse items when I shop more frequently) > Because I eat gluten-free and soy-free, it's really tempting to get pre-prepared convenience foods that cater to my diet rather than cooking from scratch. But it is so much cheaper to make a big pot of soup and freeze some for later than it is to buy frozen dinners. > I buy produce from the local farmer's market rather than grocery stores or Whole Foods.

John Steen says …

I eat lunch at Whole Foods most everyday and do most of my shopping there because I "choose" to be healthy and eat quality, healthy foods. I haven't had a cold in almost 2 years because I eat power foods that "feed" my body NOT my hunger pains. I eat at the salad bar most everyday. What I do is fill the entire carton, it usually costs me about $12-$13. I always eat spinach with lots of other veggies and quinoa or brown rice. I only eat half of it and will save it for either dinner or lunch the next day. So it only costs me between $6-7 a day for lunch/dinner, which is really inexpensive, when you think about what you might pay in a restaurant. I live alone and have tried to buy all the salad stuff, but it's too much for one person and it usually goes bad, so eating out is a better choice for me, financially and health-wise. Again, by getting 2 meals out of the salad only costs me about $6-7 a meal and all the health benefits. Now that IS the best healthcare money can buy! Thanks~

Monica says …

I get the good stuff for less by using the coupons that are available. I don't shop in bulk anymore, it may be shortsighted but I tend to spend less monthly when I shop for the week instead of figuring I'm shopping for the month... Also, at the end of summer when the fresh fruits are on sale, I buy a bunch, bring them home and puree them to freeze for later.

Hadda says …

I love Whole Foods but some of the brands are a bit pricey. So what I do is buy the same items I love from Whole Foods in their 365 Everyday brand which is cheaper. There's usually not muc a difference in products and sometimes the 365 Everyday has a better quality.

Robin says …

I 3rd buying in bulk. It saves so much money! I also have found that planning meals ahead and only purchasing enough of the fresh fruit/veges for two or three days saves a lot of money as you don't throw it out if it goes bad . Whole Foods has plenty of items to choose from that are low priced and healthy. Just keep me away from the hot foods section and I can get out of there without spending my "Whole Paycheck" ;).

Dana Marie says …

I try to plan my shopping around the Whole Deals flyer, weekly deals and weekend steals. Forecasting meals before going to the store helps prevent impulse shopping, and gives a sense of accomplishment. Utilizing the sampling opts that WHole FOods generously offers helps me sample different brands before committing to an expensive purchase. It also gives me the opportunity to look into the company more for ethical history, and potential direct manufacture saving offerings. AS with any endeavor, knowledge is power and grocery shopping is no exception. Whole foods can help!

Sabrina says …

My partner and I love the bulk peanut butter but we have found we save a lot of we plan our meals ahead of time and then shop for what we might need for those meals. We try and use a lot of ingredients we already have in our kitchen and mix those with fresh produce, meats other items from our local Whole Foods. I also have to say that I'm a huge fan of the 365 line of products, if you compare them to products in other stores, they are usually better in value and in price.

Jessica says …

I get the good stuff for less by doing several things. I look for coupons on through the flyers at Whole Foods and on the internet on things I know I need and am going to get. I also like to buy in bulk when I can...it might be more dollars initially but in the long run you have a lot of product at a great price when you break it down. And I buy the 365 brand as much as a can - great products and value! These are the ways I get the good stuff for less!

Tammi says …

I try to plan all of my meals a couple weeks in advance. I check the ads for all the stores to see what is on sale and plan around that. Plus I look for coupons online and in the newspaper.

Claudia says …

I get the good prices and same quality buying organic whole food brand products, like soy milk, brown rice, olive oil, crackers,etc.

Asmar Eyvazova says …

i save on cooking a lot and not buying already cooked, ready food. I buy organic milk and make my own yogurt, the amount of yogurt would have cost a lot more if I kept buying organic yogurt in a container. Also I use the brochure that comes every month for the best deals that Whole Foods offers.

Kirsten says …

I too buy things in bulk. Even though it may be expensive, I always look at the price per ounce and compare it to the smaller sizes. And in the long run I do save a lot of money. I store things like flour, pasta, grains/rice and dried beans in airtight containers in my pantry. Which makes them last longer.

Sara Brooks says …

I LOVE the prepared foods. I know it might not seem like a good deal at first, but if you really purchased all the ingredients that it took to make the crab cakes, chicken salad, etc. etc. and then spent the time to actually make it; there's no questions that you're getting the good stuff for less. My husband and I work full time and with two kids it's tough to eat healthy on the run when you don't have time to prepare meals every night. This way we all get healthy meals and our time is preserved for spending quality time with our kids.

Jenna M. Guasco says …

Budgets are tough! Especially when you're feeding an entire family. The best things I've tried and stuck with on a regular basis have helped me achieve a perfect balance in my checkbook as well as my loved one's stomachs! -Make a List- if you know exactly what you're going to the store to buy, you spend less time roaming. Stick to what's on your list and you'll be out the door with little to no "fluff" in your cart. -Plan your meals- If you plan out your meals it's easier to see what you're overspending on. -Clipping coupons- This one is tricky if you buy single items. Check the coupons to make sure you don't have to buy 4 of something to get $0.05 off! -Leave your children at home- That product placing story where they say they put the most colorful foods at a child's eye level...IT'S TRUE! You'll end up spending more than what's on that list! -Buy in bulk if needed- Buy things in bulk that you or your family go through on an everyday basis. It's likely to be cheaper upfront and in the long run. Hope this little tidbit helps everyone trim the fat off of your grocery bill!

christie @ honoring health says …

To save less money, we eat more beans and eggs and always make use of leftovers. We also buy certain items that we use often in bulk to save even more. But the number one tip that I have is to shop with a list and stick to it!

Stephanie says …

Early in the year, I sign up for a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I like Delvin Farms. You will find alot of their veggies on the Whole Foods shelves too. Yes, you put up a pretty hefty chunk of money up front but it is TOTALLY worth it. Last year, my husband and I opted for a half share delivered every other week. We loved it so much this year we committed to a full share (full bushel) every week and split it with another couple. Not only is is local, organic and really tasty but it forces us to try new things that I wouldn't have gone to the store to purchase. My family now as a few new favorites because of the CSA. And I freeze items that we can't use immediately. So when we shop at Whole Foods we spend considerably less on our produce all summer long.

Terry says …

I try to take advantage of produce that's in season because it's cheaper. WF often has local varieties and I frequent the farmer's market for others. I also make bulk recipes using these ingredients and freeze for later.

Colette says …

We use the 365 brand as uch as possible and we have 1 a from scratch soup once a week and one batch is two full meals for my husband myself and our 2 toddlers with a salad and a loaf of homemade bread. So I only have to buy the ingredients for soup 2 weeks out of the month. We also do one meatless meal aside from the soup(witch is mostly meat free.

Marcie says …

Well, I wrote about this very subject recently. Mostly involves choosing the 365 brand at Whole Foods :-) http://feedingblackmail.blogspot.com/2009/08/think-organic-eco-friendly-are-always.html

Dana says …

To save money, my mom always taught me to cook large amounts & freeze stuff for later...that way I don't get sick of eating the same stuff every night, but I still save money in the long run. Also, I buy from farmer's markets when I can...I get really good deals on fresh produce, dairy, and sometimes meat that way. I have a garden, too. It isn't really large, but it provides me with herbs for seasoning & some vegetables. I also have fig & pear trees, which are wonderful. I just pick what I want to eat, and I can also store fruit for later.

Erin F says …

Although buying in bulk saves a lot of money, sometimes it still takes a hit on your budget if you only have money to shop week to week. My family members and I will tag team sales, coupons, buy-one-get-ones, etc. We will shop together and split items! It works great, and also helps us waste less food!

Bill M. says …

Here's a little "jingle" type saying I've always said in my head: "Living 'healthy, wealthy, and wise' all comes down to PORTION SIZE!" :) Trying to remember that not only when preparing food but when BUYING food is a great way to eat better and it really makes the shopper stop and actually read the labels of what they are buying.........or in this case, ME! :) We all know to look for "calorie counts", "carb counts", "cholest. counts" etc........but SERVING SIZE is the key to being healthy, and getting a bigger bang for your buck! :) Bill M. (dfwbill71) Dallas, TX P.S....WHOLE FOODS ROCKS! :)

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