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

Manuela says …

Getting the good stuff for less is not too much of a challenge, although it does take planning. I always check out the sale flyer and plan my purchases ahead of time. I also try to use coupons whenever possible, although coupons for natural/organic foods are certainly limited. Stocking up on sale items (especially produce, meats, & fish that freeze well) can be both a money and time saver.

Shawn says …

Step 1: Use what you have in your freezer! It won't keep indefinitely and you'll need the space for... Step 2: Buy items that you use often when they're on sale. If you find a good sale on meat, buy enough for 2-3 meals and freeze what you won't use right away. Soups, stews, sauces and chilis can also be made more economically in large batches - so make a vat and freeze the excess for future meals. It may help to keep a "freezer inventory" on the door or a spreadsheet to reference at meal planning time. This will keep those bargains from going to waste.

Megan says …

I try and kill two birds with one quality stone - buy in bulk AND do a little conserving at the same time. Items like the 365 peanut butter and Alba body lotion go pretty quickly in my house, which could end up costing much more to stock-up on weekly, and creating more trash. But with the larger sizes of both of these, and so many more items, I end up buying them less frequently and reducing my waste at the same time. Using the grocery list and recipe app on wholefoods.com also enables me to plan my meals for the week and buy exactly what I need!

Kate says …

Buying the store brand, shopping the circular and planning meal ideas ahead of time!

Alice says …

We plan our meals, always try to combine sales with coupons, and stock up on fresh produce when it's on sale and freeze it ourselves. In the summer we have our CSA, and we go to u-pick farms for bulk produce, which we freeze for the winter.

karen says …

I use coupons for almost everything that I buy. During these hard economic times everyone wants to save. I usually food process, juice and use the microwave to cook and save time. The food comes out tasting delicious and saves on electricity. Cost cutting is my specialty and making good food is my passion. So, I've just figured a way to do both.

Karen says …

I have a recipe for my own Biscuit baking mix and my own coffee creamer. I can like putting in my own whole wheat flour and using fresh products for my flavored creamer. It takes very little time to make these products on my own, and with my husband newly diagnosed with diabetes and and pre-existing heart problems, I know that this is just a start to give us both great tasting, good-for-us kind of foods!

mary says …

Buying in bulk is great - saves money and packaging materials. We also prepare double batches of food on weekends, to freeze and use on busy evenings. We have started buying more local, in season produce - yum! Also, instead of having a "meat with two sides" kind of dinner, we are doing more multi-ingredent main courses, where meat, if an ingredient at all, is a much smaller fraction of the whole. We watch sales, markdowns, etc, and "stock up" on those things. Paying more attention to ingredients, sources, and prices, has added a bit of time to my weekly shopping ritual, but it has added a new element of adventure as well "how much can I get; what new things can I try; I'm still withing budget - yippee!!!!

Jennifer Lockridge says …

Bring your own bags - good for the environment, good for your wallet. I never waste WF delicious baked bread. We don't usually finish a baguette with dinner, but slice the rest on the diagonal and make french toast, crostini for bruschetta or homemade breadcrumbs or croutons.

Dakota says …

I follow much of what's already been said...buy from the bulk section, buy produce when it's cheap and in season and freeze the extra, buy the 365 brand, and use coupons. I contact manufacturers to see if they have coupons, watch out for booklets (like Mambo Sprouts and Whole Deal), and sign up for newsletters (including Whole Foods email!). I also stick to buying organic off the dirty dozen list. I can't afford to buy organic of everything, so the "cleaner" produce in my cart is grown conventionally.

georgette says …

first off I surround myself and household with roommates who appreciate quality food. as artists we are quite engaged in creative activities non stop. we need energy and good food. by creating meals for more than just one or two, it makes our food go a long way and there is less or nothing to throw out. makes the money more useful, and hence less waste. it's getting the good stuff for less for us! and on top of that filling our meals with mainly fruits, vegetables, and grains stretches the dollars a lot further as well, versus purchasing a lot of meats. meat is not an essential requirement, even though most of us love meat. :) we shop for one day or two days only at a time. keeps the food fresh, and keeps our appetites in love.

Ace says …

I usually buy store brands -- and at Whole Foods, that usually means ORGANIC. I buy enough to keep on hand in my cabinets. I also buy ALOT of rice and lentils -- I cook them with my (canned, usually) veggies, and some Olive Oil and herbs in a big pot -- this makes enough scrumptious meals that can be frozen ahead of time and re-heated when I need it. I buy the chicken thighs with skin, instead of skinless-- that's a savings in itself. I look for bargains in cheese - nothing that some expensive cheeses smell and taste alot ilke the much-less-expensive cheeses. I avoid expensive Salad bars, knowing I can make the same items for much much less. Cake mixes are also alot cheaper than already-made, and I can halve the ingredients to make less, and have more on hand the next time I want to bake. With the large selection of quality items at Whole Foods, it is easy to walk around, get an idea of what is there, and compare the prices -- comparison shopping means quality at affordable prices.

deidre says …

I think we all have the same idea's and are all wonderful ideas. I also Figure out what we are having for the next week with the adds that are out and make lists .. stick to the list and dont shop on a empty stomach my love is of farmers markets also .. I've been making jelly and jams at home and putting it up . I have a friend who has been doing the same and we swap .. I make my pepper jelly and she might make a raspberry one so now I have both instead of one and so does she .. I think freezing and canning are some of the lost arts we are returning to in the tough times and I love it!

Lori says …

I buy local and in season, cook and freeze quantities. Since I am single the cook ahead and freeze method is a huge budget saver! I also look for recipes with less ingredients that are more flavorful and nutritious, rather than complex recipes that require lots of ingredients.

Karen says …

To make my budget and time spread out a little more, I try to make a little extra twice a week and store them in the freezer. When I know I will have a busy day, I simply take out a casserole, place it in the refrigerator, so when I get home I can pop it in the oven. I know my casseroles aren't rich in fat, excess salt and preservatives. Also, another great time saver is the crock pot. I try to use this more often to save time and energy, and not heat up my home in the summer months. To me, it's the simple things that are forgotten that can really ease my budget.

Alice says …

I pick up any fruit that's on sale (like organic fuji apples), shop mainly 365 packaged products and also grab these cheap staples from my weekly list: Chickpeas Brown rice found in the bins Frozen edamame Frozen berries for my green smoothies kale boston lettuce (2 heads last me a week of salads) Eggs- so I can easily whip up an omelette with the week's leftovers. If you can steer clear from pre-packaged goods, you'll be good to go!

beyond says …

i buy many 365 products to get excellent value for money. i try to plan ahead. there's only two of us, so i choose large sizes for savings (and the environment), but then cook larger potions and spice up leftovers.

Meredith Kimbrough says …

A friend of mine and I going to start bulk shopping together so we can split the price. I also wait for sales on meats and them stock up so I can spend a little more on good produce.

Shu-Huei Henrickson says …

I follow 2 simple principles: 1. Make everything from scratch. Nothing processed. Not even cereal. 2. Keeping (1) in mind, then plan menu around items on sale.

Barbara says …

like most have said already, I buy in bulk, buy fresh produce in season and on sale. Plan meals around what's on sale this week, buy extra if something is a really good deal. If org. bananas are on sale, I buy a lot of them and freeze them (peel first). I also freeze other fruits to have on hand for smoothies which we have often for breakfast or snacks. I also cook up large pots of soups, beans, rice, or casseroles and freeze smaller portions that can be taken out and heated up for a quick, but wholesome meal. No need to sacrifice health when you don't have time to cook that way.

AnnMarie Chapman says …

I'm so glad you asked! With just my husband and I we had been averaging about a $70 grocery bill each week. He had come to Whole Foods with me a couple of times and said it was too expensive and that even though the items were undoubtedly better than what we had been getting at other grocery stores he said we would definitely blow our budget if we started shopping there on a regular basis. Well I've proved him WRONG! I've begun doing almost all of our shopping at Whole Foods now simply by changing the way we eat and shopping the sales. We now only eat meat once or twice a week instead of every night and I've begun cooking more vegetables, lentils, quinoa and grains. We are eating healthier and we are throwing away less, and best of all, we are getting the good stuff!

Alli says …

I love coupons. I always pick up the Whole Foods flyer, but I also subscribed to Mambo Sprouts, joined the Kashi social network, and surf the internet for other coupons and free samples. The best is when you can use a coupon on something that is already on sale. It takes a bit of effort, but it's worth it on staples like milk, eggs, and cereal.

Jennifer says …

Great shoppers think alike! Love the ideas, and here is one more: My husband is a chef who is big on not wasting food. You'd be amazed at how much of a vegetable or fruit you lose by the way in which you cut it. Don't slice the top off of those strawberries! Just pull off the stem or cut in a circular motion around it. Same for tomatoes! Or, invest in a corer. Also, I don't take the skin off my carrots, and when I cut a bell pepper I cut very close to the stem and try to trim the pith closely. It also helps if you have a good set of sharp knives!

Peggy says …

I also buy in bulk, but my favorite thing is to stock up during sales and watch for coupons on the items I buy most in the Mamba Sprouts circular. I was able to purchase some things today that are normally $1.99 each for .75 each by using this method.

Shannen Cowan says …

I like to go to manufacture's websites and print off their coupons.

Josh says …

Although it requires some up front investment, you can easily stretch your bulk dollar by picking up a used FoodSaver off of Craigslist or ebay and also investing in the jar sealer attachment. I purchase huge amounts of bulk from Whole Foods then pop them in quart and/or gallon canning jars and seal them with the FoodSaver jar attachement. They stay as fresh as they were in the store for years with this miracle device!

Lee says …

I buy chicken tenderloins instead of chicken breasts. The price per package is usally about the same, but since the tenderloins are smaller, you get more of them. I've been doing it for so long now that a "whole" chicken breast seems too big for me now!

Carol says …

I get the good stuff for less by buying the produce that is in season and/or on sale; buying bulk nuts & granola; and buying the 365 brand coffee -- $11.99 for 1.5 pounds is the BEST deal around! I know I can trust the 365 brand for other items as well -- olive oil, tuna, broth, and can often find these in low-sodium versions, too, which is a realy help when you must buy prepared foods. Thank you Whole Foods for providing healthy alternative groceries!

Abby says …

I make things from scratch, minimize the processed foods. Make my own pizza dough, pasta sauce, yogurt, steamed rice etc. I also go for 365 Everyday value product. :)

Jennifer says …

I shop for what I need every week, milk, eggs, etc. but my saving money trick is to make a list ahead of time of ingredients for recipes I want to cook for say...a month, or a specific holiday. It isn't as hard as it sounds because I live in the Northeast so the four seasons dictate a lot of food choices. So I take the list with me and buy anything on it that's on sale in any given week. By the end of a few weeks I have all the ingredients I need for the recipes. What I don't find that way I will buy when I need it, hence the weekly trips, but I end up saving a lot of money AND I eliminate buying a lot of those 'impulse' foods...lol

Sara says …

*shopping the sales and combining sales with coupons whenever possible *planning meals around the sales *cooking and baking from scratch instead of buying convenience foods *less meat, more beans and cheaper veggies

James Bishop says …

I email the companies of natural and organic products that I like and use frequently, and I let them know how much I love their products. I use that opportunity to ask if they have any coupons available. I usually get a decent stack of coupons in the mail and then become a part of their mailing list. Also, I comb through online printable coupons and take the fliers from the Whole Foods markets that have instore coupons. Also, a natural market in my area has booklets of natural foods coupons that I pick up every month or so. There are ways to get better deals on these natural foods, it's just a little harder and requires more tenacity.

Alison says …

Coupons, coupons, coupons!In addition to shopping for what's on sale (and therefore usually in season) I clip coupons for only those products I know I will buy - or try - to get saving on top of savings!

Katie says …

I am really not willing to compromise shopping at Whole Foods, so to get the most for my money, I, first, go through the weekly deals online and I see what meats/poultry/fish are on sale, then I plan meals around them. When I arrive at the store, I go to the meat/fish section first and, then, to the produce section. This way, I am able to plan the meals accordingly and only buy what we need. The night before shopping, I print organic coupons and I try to match them up with sale items to save extra. If I know I use a certain product weekly, I purchase it in a case to get the extra 10% off. I always bring my reusable bags, at .05 a bag, it is a little extra savings! And, I buy a lot of the 365 brand items. They taste great and are much cheaper!

Ellen says …

I'm just getting into buying more organic and with a family of six, that can be challenging. Like others have said, I look for coupons, ask organic food companies to send coupons, use the Whole Foods coupon booklet stacked with a mfg coupon & wait for sales (unless it's something we really really like). Then I buy lots!

Erin says …

In addition to the obvious, like buying on sale and in bulk, I like to go back to basics and make my own stuff. Instead of buying a couple loaves of bread, buy the ingredients and make a lot more for the same price. Instead of buying canned beans, spend the same amount on dried and get a lot more. Instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken buy less expensive cuts or whole birds and do the work yourself. It may be a little more effort, but it is worth it and you feel so awesome when you make your first mayo or eat your first homemade hummus!

Gabrielle says …

I buy 365 brand products - they're a lot cheaper, and yet they still have the quality I'm looking for. I also only buy what I KNOW I can eat when it comes to produce. Not wasting anything is a good way to save money.

Tanya A. says …

Use multiple discounts! Sales plus coupons! Stock up. Freeze what you cant eat to continue to save later, also less trips to the store. Sign up on whole foods e-newsletter. They send weekend deals and other savings. Mambo sprouts also has coupon book in the store. The whole deal has specials with coupons also. The 365 brands taste great and are very reasonably priced. Frozen vegetables are great,reasonable & no waste, just cook the amount you need. Buy yogurt in the large container, not single serve. Sign up at other web sites like Horizon, mambo sprouts, cliff bars, etc. Cook dried beans for pennys, great nutritional value.

Dave K. says …

Getting the good stuff for less is what its all about in todays economy. I was told that Whole foods was Much more expensive then any store in the area. However on researching and finding out for one self, I discovered that Whole foods has many Values for less, Recently while shopping for spices, I discovered at one of there compeditors was selling 1 1/2 oz of Cardemon for the low asking price of $13.59, another competitor sells it for &10.59, Low and behold Whole foods had it for 4.99 That one Item saved me 9 dollars...Giving me the Best for a whole lot less.

Michelle says …

It really requires a number of things: *Don't go to the store hungry or you'll buy more than you intended. *Buy on sale and when it's on sale, buy extra *Buy dry food in bulk instead of prepackaged whenever possible *Use coupons - especially if that item is also on sale *The 365 store brand is just as quality as name brand, but costs less *If it's something you'll use in small amounts, consider buying from the prepared foods section. For instance, I like red peppers and red onions, but my roommate doesn't. So to make sure it doesn't go to waste, I buy them pre-sliced from the store salad bar and bag them when I get home. I do the same with pre-cooked brisket. It doesn't make sense for me to spend half a day to cook a brisket when it's just me eating it once a week. I just buy a half-pound already cooked from the BBQ buffet. *Buy bagged snacks in larger sizes and use sandwich bags to separate into snack portions. *Only buy what you'll honestly use. A bigger package may seem to save you, but if it spoils before you eat it all, then it's really not a good deal. *Try to repurpose leftovers. For instance, I make a big pot of no-salt chili once a week. From that, I can also make nachos, tacos, omelettes, mix it with mac&cheese and some corn for a casserole, etc.

Sarah says …

Cook dried beans! They are delicious and inexpensive. I cook a big pot and freeze some so I always have some ready for a quick dinner. See Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything for some great recipes.

Dan Bock says …

Honestly, I always use coupons from the Whole Deal whenever possible. Sometimes, I'll even buy extras if the deal is good and I can store the item without it perishing. When beef, chicken or fish are on sale I buy in bulk and have them wrap everything separately. Then I freeze the extras and take them out one at a time to thaw when I'm ready to prepare a meal for myself of my guests. I also check the price of some common items at other stores, and when necessary buy the item wherever the best price is. Whole Foods rocks, but sometimes you have to budget in order to fully enjoy an organic life!

Jessica says …

Some of the best tips I have for saving money at the store are buying in bulk and coupons (they're underrated)

Diane says …

I will often go to various food manufacturers websites for their coupons. For example Organic Valley always has coupons for all their products (cheese, butter, milk) on their website. I just print them out and take them to Whole Foods where I know I can find Organic Valley products.

harriett solomon says …

When bananas go on sale, I buy several dozen and then I FREEZE them. Just defrost for 20 minutes, peel, and they're ready to eat. Or leave slightly frozen and slice them into cereal -- Tastes like a sweet frozen treat.....!

Amy says …

We eat a vegan diet of whole foods-not processed. Lots of home cooking and very little prepared food. This saves us money and we are much healthier too!

jude says …

when you buy whole food,not package or can or process,,,you will have your three meals and in your three meals it will be all wholesome a moro,,would be omega 3 eggs,with a fruit,then a handful of nuts for a snack,when lunch comes you have a protein 3-4oz,2cups of veggie,,,,fruit as a snack and the same for lunch just different types,,,,,and when you eat all wholesome food you will not feel need to eat alot of anything esle,,because your body is made to eat this way and it does not crave bad food,,,when you eat junk food ,,your body whats more and more and more because it is not giving your body what it needs and it is nutriment,,,all whole food is nutrition,,,,the whole thing is that it does not cost more to buy in whole food,,then you go to a regular store and go home and eat a whole bag of 4$ chips and your still hungry and go for the ice cream next and next the candy,,,thats $12-$14,,right there,,,,the whole way for 12$ is all three meals and snack and getting all the right stuff and then some,,,,,,no extra weight either....

Sarah says …

We have reduced the amount of meat and cheese we cook with, and have increased the number of whole grains, nuts and beans we cook with. Not only is this healthier for us, but it reduces our dependence on animal products. Also, when we do get chicken, I buy the whole roaster bird, and make broth out of the bones and vegetables. Then I freeze the broth in 1-cup servings for later. I feel that none of it goes to waste.

susank says …

Last week I bought a whole chicken, that was on sale. I boiled it and made two meals. I made chicken soup by adding veggies and seasonig after shredding the chicken. The remaining shredded chicken I used for soft tacos. This was a great value and was multiple meals for my family. These were also healthy, flavorful and lowfat meals with veggies in both.

Mendi says …

I plan my meals for the week and make a list before I go shopping and TRY to stick to my list. I buy what's in season and on sale and then cook double portions and freeze half. I also buy store brand whenever possible (we love 365 Everyday Value Products). But the one thing that saves the most for me is taking my lunch to work instead of eating out!

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