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!

Leave a reply

To provide feedback or ask a question about our company, a store or a product, please visit our Customer Service page.

For more information about posting comments to our blog, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.

337 comments

Comments

Susan says …

I get my best value by purchasing many of my fruits and veggies frozen...Since they are frozen right away at their peak, they often taste better and I don't have the waste I have when I buy fresh.

amanda says …

As a really poor college student who loves to eat healthy the things I have learned is to buy in bulk!! I will come shopping and spend a whole lot all at once and it will last all month most of the time. Also buy produce in season. If you buy berries while they are in season you can freeze them and use them at another time.Just making small changes you can save alot of money and still eat organic, healthy food.

DAVID FRANKLIN says …

First of all start with a list. Don't impulse shop. Buy produce that is on sale. Just make sure you know how to prepare the item, and that you and your family like the item. This way you get variety as well a better value. Don't buy processed foods. Stay away from convenient items. Take advantage of the recipes online and get better at cooking. Cooking for yourself is the only way to reduce cost.

Cheryl Fritsch-Middleton says …

I have a 4 pronged approach: 1 - I research specials and take advantage of them by buying plenty. I pour over the Whole Deal and check my stores weekly specials each week. 2 - Buy in bulk, even if things are not on special, generally buying in bulk is cheaper 3- For my favorite products and the items I buy regularly, I go to their websites and subscribe to any newsletter they may have. I also send requests for coupons and to be a product tester. This brings me a good supply of coupons for things I use all the time. 4 - When I buy more of something than I can use right away, I leave out what I will use and freeze the rest. You can freeze fruits, cheeses, meats and some vegetables right away, other things you need to blanch or prepare first. And a bonus, we shop on Saturdays and I always bring any family member at home with me. There are so many great samples that I do not have to feed them lunch after the trip (although a stop at the coffee bar seems to always get worked in)

Idogcow says …

Shop seasonal and don't buy more than you can use before it spoils.

Meg says …

It's All About the List!! #1 Bring it and stick too it. It takes about 20 minutes ahead of time, but the list gets you organized for the week and keeps you from buying extra items you don't need #4 Have two veggie/pasta nights on the list...veggie based meals with beans or pasta are just as nutritious as but cheaper than meat/seafood based dishes. 3-Have a quick meal on the list...you can often buy the large prepared meals (mac-n-cheese for example) and split them into one main dinner and side dishes for other nights. Having this prepared meal will also keep you from getting unhealthy, expensive take-out 4-For expensive items on your list that you will use time and again buy big...Olive Oil, Spices, nuts, rice...can all be bought in bulk at Whole Foods! Shop smart with your list and you can still enjoy high quality foods without busting your budget!

Joanna says …

I "get the good stuff for less" by planning ahead of time, and shopping with a list. That list will have ingredients for meals for the coming week, etc. so that I don't just let my stomach do the shopping in the store! I can stick to the list and know that I'm getting what I need, it's good quality, and I can spend what I planned to when I walked in.

Jeanette Westhoff says …

I buy at the local farmers market. It is fresh and the prices are great.

Patricia says …

I am committed to buying and using natural/organic products and I'm able to do so by maintaining a fully stocked pantry with the sale items. Whatever is on sale goes into the pantry and can be drawn upon for weeks, sometimes months. I supplement with fresh items as needed and find that it is a myth that "the good stuff" has to cost more. With a little organization, preplanning and flexibility, I find that I have a variety of delicious, healthful meals and on a budget no less!

Juanita says …

For fresh produce, I buy what's in season. When frozen fruits & vegetables are on sale, I stock up. I also buy beans, rice, & whole grains from the bins instead of pre-packaged ones. I also use plenty of coupons. Whenever I try a new item that I really like, I will either write or e-mail the company for coupons. The other thing that I now do is eat correct portions. I used to eat as much as I wanted, but since I have started controlling portions, I have begun to lose weight. The other thing that I do is eat mostly vegan and vegetarian meals--that way I save money as well.

Margarita says …

I buy what's in season. It tastes better, travelled less to get to me and is way cheaper.

Catherine G. says …

Sign-up for the e-newsletters of natural and organic brands you love. They will frequently include coupons in newsletters or send them to you via US mail if you are registered on their site.

Melissa says …

The bulk section has some of the best prices for dry goods- cereal, beans, dried fruits, baking goods.....Making from scratch costs a whole lot less than buying prepared foods. The crockpot can be your friend if you feel you don't have time to fix from scratch. during farmers market season that is a great way to buy fresh veggies for a fraction of the cost of a grocer.

Susan @ Organic Deals & Coupons says …

I use coupons and sales to stock up on organic food. Even if I don't need the item right away or I already have some in the pantry, I will stock up when it's on sale and I have a coupon. That way, when I never run out of the item and have to pay full price for it in a pinch. I also grow a lot of fruits and vegetables in my own back yard. Can't get any more local than that. To get the seeds I need for planting, I simply take them out of organic fruits and vegetables I buy at the store. You can reuse plastic salad containers to start your seedlings inside.

Nadine says …

I look for sale items and then double/triple/quadruple up. Every now and then you can find mac & cheese, almond butter, blue tortilla chips, juice, even cheese, etc. at a savings of about 50%. That's when I'll buy a months' worth at a time.

Kimberly Serpas says …

Definitely grow as much as you can at home and use money saving coupons to get the "additions" that you need to make your meal complete!

Brian says …

I wait for the meats I really like to go on sale, then I buy as much of it as I can afford and then freeze the rest

Pascal King- Elmer says …

Stock up on the advertised 'Whole Deals'........use coupons, both Manufacturers and WF's......shop for 365 products!!

ami says …

there are a few things that i do.. i look on forums to find coupons. like slickdeals.net has awesome ideas of things that you can get for free. there are also several magaazines that you can get for free and survey places that are legit where you can try new groceries or make extra cash. sometimes you send away for the coupons and get them in the mail through email form and sometimes you print them. some times the coupons are for free products that are full size. also another tip.. if you like a company's products.. send them an email telling them that you like the products but don't ask for anything sometimes they will send you coupons for cents off or full sized products for free. it doesn't always work but if you are bored its worth a try. also another thing i like to do is make a big pot of soup on the weekends and save them in reusable mircowavable containers and i save so much money that way on lunches for work or even dinners if i don't feel like cooking. it's a great idea to make a large meal and section off portions.

Ellen Cohen says …

How do I save money? I shop at all the discount racks at all the stores I go to. I shop at Goodwill. I use coupons.

Christina Richardson says …

I LOVE WHOLE FOODS! I have 3 children so it is costly to eat right but SO worth it. I love everything about whole foods including the atmosphere. I know that sounds crazy but the people there are so nice and I feel relaxed in that store. I get the good stuff for less by hunting out the deals. I try really hard to buy only things that are onsale in conjuction with a coupon. It is time consuming but well worth it. I also buy in bulk and freeze a ton! I also plan meals out in advance so that I am not buying what I don't need. Again, time consuming but I have to work hard to stretch my dollar with a family of 5! If you are smart about it you can get some of the greatest stuff at WFs cheaper than the bigger chain stores. Gotta LOVE THAT!!!

Jennifer says …

I just scanned the list of comments quickly, but I did not see anyone mention the 10% case discounts. This saves us a lot of money. Practically anything available at WFs can be purchased by the case. It does require more money up front, but savings over the long term. We try to stagger our case purchases to feel the impact less. Also, several have mentioned this, but cheaper protein sources like beans and eggs help. Also, we have staple produce that we buy every week that tends to be inexpensive, and we splurge on whatever seasonal fruit is on sale that week.

Jesika says …

Buying from the bulk aisle saves me tons in the long run. I only buy the bits I know I'll need for the week, and if I'm running a little low on funds I buy within my budget. It's so easy to customize! I've also taken to cooking a lot of veggie based dishes. Salads are fantastic, and it only takes a little bit of chicken or egg to turn it into a hearty meal. We make our own pita chips from cheap, day old pitas (toast 'em in the oven, yum!) and I make my own hummus, guacamole and aioli, which keeps us healthy and within our budget. We've also taken to cutting back on our portions. Our large italian families used to feed us large italian meals. We wanted to get in shape and do it right, so we started in the kitchen. It was a bit tricky at first, but in the long run we're healthier, happier, and our wallets are getting fatter ^_~

Sarah says …

I keep track of the stock of food that I have at home. Then, each week, when the store circulars or online sale pages come out, I go through them and make sure to buy any sale items that I use regularly, in large quantities. I also look for store brands, which, most of the time, are less expensive, and even cheaper when on sale.

Jessica says …

Settle for sales! If there is one thing I have learned when shopping around, it is to look for the sales and price compare among stores. Sometimes a true health market is the cheapest option for healthier purchases, and sometimes a generic store is the cheapest for generic items. But sales will always rule supreme, so make sure you check local listings and online to find sales and coupons and you can save tons of money!

Meghan says …

Careful weekly meal planning using seasonal ingredients has been a real money saver for us. We also tend towards simpler recipes that don't require a million ingredients and that make lots of food that can be frozen for use in later weeks, like homemade pizza crust and black bean burgers. We also buy quality ingredients in bulk for a real savings. A vegetarian diet with lots of beans and whole grains helps, too!

Kelly Benson says …

I get the good stuff for less by using "The Grocery Game" website to help me find the best deals and coupons. I also check Whole Deal for coupons and meal tips. Also since there's just two of us, I rely on the bulk foods section to get just enough of what we're going to eat instead of spending more and wasting a larger package.

David Fitzgerald says …

The best tips are to buy quality foods in bulk and freeze what you don't use immediately. I find that buying organic often gets you fresher food that lasts longer as well, compared to fruits and vegetables that are bought in a regular grocery store and flown in from all over the world. Don't shop when you are hungry. You will end up impulse buying much more than you need.

Tracy says …

Plan all of your meals. Base your meal plan on what's in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are tastier, more nutritious and almost always less expensive than those that have been shipped in from far away (and better for the environment too). Use your meal plan to make your shopping list and stick to the list when shopping. Stick to the outside aisles of the store (produce, deli, dairy and dairy substitutes) for the bulk of your purchases. Select items from the center aisles sparingly. These aisles tend to have mostly convenience and processed foods that are more expensive and less nutritious. Wash, chop, and prepare your own food rather than buying foods that are pre-packaged this way. When preparing meals, make enough to freeze some leftovers in individual serving containers so that you will have your own frozen meals that can be used for easy work lunches or dinners when you don’t feel like cooking. Buy a reusable water bottle and use it. Buy gourmet coffee beans and grind and prepare your own to keep from buying coffee out. If you travel a lot (like I do) buy healthy, easy to transport food like trail mix, yogurt, protein bars, and fresh fruit to eat at the airport and on the plane. This will save a LOT of money over airport prices. When you want quick, convenient food select items from the food bars rather than going to a restaurant. This is much healthier and less expensive than a restaurant.

LDY says …

I find I don't have to compromise on the quality if I shop what's on sale (also gives me a chance to try new things); buy the 365 brand products (which are sometimes even better than the others); buying in bulk (only on items I use frequently); and finally, by having a shopping list. The last item may seem silly but I find I buy a lot less snacks and miscellaneous items when I go with a plan. I try to have my list seperated out into sections of the store so I am not going back and forth for items I overlooked on my list. This keeps me from walking by all those display shelves of stuff I don't have on my list. Of course, there is always exceptions to sticking to the list, but it really does help save!

Kara Clark says …

I buy the 365 brand and always look at the weekly sale flier. If meat is on sale, I buy more and freeze it for later use.

Michelle says …

I buy only in-season vegetables, and those I can, like butternut squash, I cut up and freeze so I can use them any time. I buy staples, and treats, when they are on sale in quantities that will last for a while. Then I meal plan with what I have on hand. This saves a lot of money and ensures my family always eats high quality, healthy meals.

Charissa says …

I love everything about Whole Foods - I buy in bulk where I can, I buy sale and store brand items as much as possible but perhaps for me most importantly is I go to the store a few times per week so I buy my fresh ingredients in small inexpensive amounts and have less waste that way!

Kim says …

Like everyone else, I shop sales, buy bulk and use coupons. I also buy potted herbs to add flavor to my cooking year round. One family favorite is my homemade pizza. I make the dough (which is also used for foccacia & bread sticks) using bulk flour, prepare a simple sauce with canned tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and top it off with onions, mushrooms, cheese and some fresh basil. The dough takes a few minutes to prepare and you can get a few interesting toppings from the salad bar.

Lisa Hejny says …

I match sales with coupons to get the lowest possible price, and it helps me feed my family of two on only $50 a week.

Jackie says …

I definitely do a combination of a lot of the things other people have said: Make a list and stick to it, Use coupons from the newsletter, Check the store for specials, and Buy the 365 brand. I also keep in mind the things I still have at home, so I don't accidentally buy too much of something. Because I'm only cooking for one, I tend to make 2-3 portions at once and refrigerate or freeze the extra portions to eat later. Lastly I take advantage of interesting deals- a Whole Foods in Austin had a promotion that if you bought a pound of organic sliced turkey, you'd get a half pound of cheese, a loaf of bread and 5 small apples for free. I had lunch for a whole week that way- at $2 per lunch!

Mia says …

1. Homemade snacks - granola bars, cookies, crackers, etc. are all super-expensive compared to buying the individual ingredients and whipping up a batch at home. Find a recipe, make a huge batch, and stick baked/homemade goods in the freezer for prolonged storage. 2. Shop seasonally and rely on high-quality canned/jarred items - heirloom tomatoes are great in summer, but during the rest of the year, I buy organic canned tomatoes. Same goes with other foods: fresh berries in summer, frozen in winter; fresh artichokes in spring; marinated artichoke hearts during the rest of the year. Canned/frozen fish is also a great money-saver. High-quality canned tuna and sardines are healthy, delicious, and incredibly inexpensive.

kate townsend says …

i LOVEthe 365 frozen stuff. for a quick an easy dinner, i buy a 365 cheese pizza and top it with the 365 "stoplight peppers" (red, green and yellow bell peppers already diced), easy and pretty healthy. in addition, we make breakfast smoothies using frozen mangos, blueberries and raspberries...the bags last usually a week and i add only fresh earth bananas, 365 orange juice and some greek yogurt. my daughter and i love them!

Elizabeth Quigley says …

Hello, I cook from scratch and buy in bulk.The best way i have cut our food bill and still feed my family real food is I have pared down the list of products we use. I have a standard list of basics I buy every month. These are things I use for baking and my scratch cooking. I buy them once a month. Then weekly I buy fresh foods. Blessings, Elizabeth

Holly says …

I get the good stuff for less by simply looking at the very top and bottom shelves at the grocery store. You will be able to find the exact same organic item like pasta or sun-dried tomatoes for a lot less. Often times the store brand or a smaller company's items are placed there. You can save as much as $2-3 by simply looking up... or down! I always leave Whole Foods with a full cart and never spend over $50- including meat.

Kristen says …

I spend under $100/week at whole foods for a family of 4! (3 year old and 8 month old) Since I make all my younger son's baby food, I buy a about half of the organic veggies frozen. You save a lot this way, and I don't have to make it all at once. I always stick to the perimeter of the store. Produce, fish/meats/poultry, bakery. I ALWAYS buy what's on sale in the weekly flyers. Whatever is on sale is what's for dinner that week!

Tessa says …

Taking the time to look at what's on sale and then plan your weekly meals accordingly. Stocking up on panty items or things that can be frozen when on sale also helps.

Tessa says …

Taking the time to look at what’s on sale and then plan your weekly meals accordingly. Stocking up on pantry items or things that can be frozen when on sale also helps.

Jill says …

I like to buy Organic 365 products, as they are typically cheaper than some other brands. I also base my produce shopping on the sales, you can easily come up with receipes for the week based on what you are buying on sale. Don't look at the unit prices; look at the price per ounces. This will tell you which comparable product is cheaper per ounce!

Caroline says …

I have to drive and hour to get to the nearest Whole Foods. I try to make sure that I'm doing other things in Nashville in order to save money on gas. Having a son with celiac brings challenges, especially since the rest of us do not have it. So with the gluten-free list in hand (and a notebook), I went to Whole Foods to price shop and use my coupons. Two of which I printed offline and then I used the coupons in the store newsletter. I spent 3 hours, writing down prices and comparing using the coupons, verses not using them. I also pointed out to the employee in the gluten-free section that one of their specials is gluten-free and it isn't marked with a gluten-free sticker! Plus I had a coupon for that too! The Think Thin bars are 10 for $10, and my son loves those! Also, the gluten-free pretzels, $1.00 off coupon for those, too. Then as I was still standing in the gluten-free section trying to match up my 10 page list with the items on the shelf, one of the employees and I started talking and I she gave me a box of 365 bread mix flour so I could compare it to one of the others. We were discussing which one tastes better and I said, I don't know, I've never made them at the same time. Guess I will now! Used the coupon for the Van's products for gluten-free french toast sticks. Used the coupon for he Glutino barbeque chicken pizza. Used the coupon for the Gluten-Free Pantry all purpose flour. Used the coupon for vitamin water. I think that's about it. Oh, I forgot to mention that I drove to Nashville for a focus group, so I was able to use that money ($40) to buy the food!

Amy Murphy says …

I go where the best coupon policies are! If you stack store coupons with manufacturer's coupons AND a sale, you can get great stuff for pennies or free! I haven't paid over $1 for a Kashi Product in months, and a week ago I was able to get 4 Kid's Cliff Bars for $.29 each because I hit a sale with just the right coupons. It's totally doable to eat well for less. You just have to be savvy about it.

Rachel Roberts says …

The best way to save money on organic food, is to buy it from a farmers market or grow your own!

Jennifer Trently says …

One of the ways I eat healthy and save money at the same time to make my own baking mix that I can use for pancakes and coffee cake etc. I buy all of the dry ingredients in bulk and then make up my own baking mix and then whenever I want to whip something up all I have to do is add eggs and milk plus I use whole wheat flour combined with regular flour and soy flour in my dry ingredients to make all of my baking healthier.

Jackie says …

Even in a down economy, I don't compromise on eating good, healthy food; I just eat smarter and eat less. My boyfriend and I started to make weekly menu's on the weekends for the upcoming week and take into account nights we might come home late from work, nights we have plans, and think of meals that fit accordingly (i.e. - A large pot of chili could be made early in the week and heated for dinner on nights you're out late or just don't feel like cooking). That way, we only shop once a week for all items needed throughout the week, instead of take multiple trips to the store during the week. This streamlines dinner time and opens up your evenings too so you don't spend it stressing over what to prepare the moment you get home. I'm also a big fan of buying from bulk bins and rely on pantry staples like pasta and crushed tomatoes on nights I am out of culinary inspiration.

may says …

Waste not, want not. Store properly the food stuff purchased so your money doesn't go down the drain as it were. Wrap and store properly cooked food for use in wonderful left-over unique recipes. I have a relative from PEI who is such a fabulous cook that her left-over meals make any celebrity chef's creations pale in comparison with her meals. She always takes special care when storing cooked or uncooked food. Make use of sales. Consider buying a freezer.

Pages