Tips for Shopping on a Budget at Whole Foods + Giveaway

Does the thought of shopping at Whole Foods make your palms sweat because you are afraid you might walk away with an astronomically large grocery bill? Check out my tips for shopping on a budget at Whole Foods, plus read about my takeaways from a recent VIP tour of a local Whole Foods store opening in my area!  

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The minute I walk into a Whole Foods store, I instantly convince myself that I just got a little healthier. With an abundance of fresh produce, aisles of health foods that make my foodie heart swoon and the knowledgeable staff, there’s oftentimes no place I’d rather be. And the fact that I can grab a smoothie, fresh juice or cup of coffee while I shop just makes the experience that much more enjoyable!

I recently got an invitation to attend a VIP tour of a local Whole Foods store opening in Altamonte Springs, FL to which, of course, I jumped on the opportunity! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect before arriving, but I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Good food and a VIP experience – what could be better? Oh, and did I mention there were tastings all along the way?

whole foods altamonte tour

What I didn’t quite expect was how educational the experience was going to be. Sure, I had shopped at Whole Foods before, but to learn more about the values and mission behind the Whole Foods brand and the unique features of this particular location was fascinating!

The Whole Foods Experience

Throughout the VIP tasting tour, there were stops in each section of the grocery store to learn more about the products they offered and the Whole Foods brand. Throughout each stop, I noticed several common themes that I found particularly interesting that made me an even greater supporter of Whole Foods!

Here are some of my takeaways:

Whole Foods Market’s commitment to partnering with local vendors and farmers. We all hear about the importance of buying locally to reduce our carbon footprint and support our community, but when it comes to choosing between organic and local, it can get confusing! Whole Foods helps take the guesswork out of the game by partnering with local farmers when possible to offer fresh, organic produce and products at an affordable price.

whole foods products

Some of the local products I’m looking forward to stocking up on that was featured along the tasting tour: Bavaros marinara sauce, Natalie’s fresh squeezed juices, Kite Hill almond milk yogurt and Engine 2 Plant-Strong products (not local, but the first time I had heard of this brand!).

The Whole Trade Guarantee. Ever heard of Fair Trade? This is a similar program designed by Whole Foods that was created to highlight their commitment to ethical trade, the environment and quality products sourced from developing nations.

What really got me interested was that every purchase of Whole Trade products helps fund projects such as building schools and scholarships, providing childcare and ensuring fair wages. As someone who has a heart for giving back and volunteering in the community, knowing my money is going somewhere good makes me so happy!

Their role in the non-GMO movement. GMO (genetically modified organisms) products have become a huge concern among health-conscious individuals and health professionals. On the tour, I learned that Whole Foods is working towards eliminating all GMO products from their shelves by 2018 (!!). Did you know that the 365 Whole Value brand claims over 70% non-GMO ingredients in their products? Music to my ears!

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The emphasis placed on high quality ingredients. One of the things I love about Whole Foods is that you will not find any product on their shelf that contains artificial coloring or high fructose corn syrup (even their cola products!).

In the seafood department, I learned that Whole Foods does not pay market price; they work off of a contract which allows farmers to raise higher quality seafood. Whole Foods has also adopted The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating which ensure best practices from the way the animals are raised and handled for every step of the process to farm and slaughter. And of course, their meats are free of antibiotics, hormones and growth stimulants!

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You might be thinking to yourself that while this all sounds great and you totally stand behind the Whole Foods mission and values, you are still apprehensive to step foot in the door since this brand is notoriously known for being expensive. If you aren’t quite ready to part ways with your whole paycheck at the grocery store, don’t worry. You don’t have to!

6 Tips for Shopping at Whole Foods on a Budget + A Giveaway! #wholefoods #budget #giveaway

6 Tips for Shopping at Whole Foods on a Budget

Plan ahead. Make a weekly meal plan and write down the ingredients needed for the week. This will make you less likely to aimlessly wander the aisles and put impulse buys in your cart (oh, and eat a snack before you go)!

produce section

Take advantage of the sales. While it’s good to shop with a plan, allow for some flexibility, too. Did you know that each Whole Foods store advertises between 100-150 items on sale each week, but there can be as many as 2,000 items marked down?! If there’s something you use a lot of, stock up while it’s on sale. Something else I need to focus more on is taking advantage of The Whole Deal value guide online and in the store. This guide provides money saving tips and coupons to help you save even more!

Shop 365 all day any day. Sometimes, I’m a little cautious when it comes to buying store manufactured products. But because of Whole Foods’ emphasis on quality products, I don’t have to worry when it comes to their private label 365 Everyday Value products which makes it easier to stock up on products that won’t empty my bank account.

shop in bulk_whole foods

Become one with the bulk section. Most often, the best deals are found in bulk. In this section of the store, you are only paying for the product, not the packaging. You can buy as much or as little as you want and then store in your own containers at home! I love using mason jars in my pantry to hold items such as nuts and grains to keep things organized and fresh.

Buy in season. Produce is typically cheaper when bought in season and at Whole Foods, it also means there’s a good chance it is locally sourced. As I mentioned above, Whole Foods values the importance of sourcing locally when possible and works with local vendors and farmers to offer their products in store at an affordable price.

meat_seafood whole foods

Make friends with the butcher and fish monger. Have questions about which meats/seafood to choose? Ask the butcher or the fish monger! If there’s one thing I learned while on my tour, it’s that the employees behind the counters are extremely knowledgeable and proud of their specialty and ability to help customers.

Did you know that Whole Foods will cook or prepare your seafood any way you like? They will also clean and filet a whole fish (which can be cheaper) bought in store for you. The kicker – this is all free of charge!

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At the end of the day, I’ve learned that you can’t really put a price on high quality foods that will fuel your body in a healthy way. That said, there are ways to save without compromising!

Giveaway Time!

To help kick start your next visit to Whole Foods, I have a special giveaway for you! One lucky reader will receive a $50 gift card to use at a Whole Foods store near you. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win!

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What are some of your money saving tips when grocery shopping? Share with me in the comment section below!

-Carly Paige

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183 Responses

  1. Sharing this because I need this 🙂 I live near the whole foods flagship and I tend to toss my budgeting out the window each time I go there

    1. Ah, it’s so easy to do! Especially when everything looks AMAZING! I find I have to stick to a plan when I go 🙂

  2. Love the make friends with the butcher, I’m totally best friends with the butcher and wine guys at our local Whole Foods! I’d say for Whole Foods still stay on the permitter of the store just like any other grocery store!

  3. To get the most for your money, it’s super important to use everything you buy. It’s so tempting to stock up on beautiful produce, but if it goes bad before you eat it, you’re just throwing money away.

  4. That’s awesome you got to take a tour of the new store! I try to get bulk and use their coupon book whenever I can. And always looking for sales (plus their 365 brand to save money!). Although I don’t think ‘my’ Whole Foods (Sand Lake) is the best WF that existed. I think because it’s the “tourist” WF that they get away with having a lot more conventional items in it – because people just go in there assuming it’s all natural and organic! Buuuuut, I do have to make a trip there tonight after hot yoga!! haha

    1. And PS – I LOVE Kite Hill yogurt. It’s SO good!! I wish it wasn’t so expensive because we could seriously eat it everyday over here!

    2. Ahhhh… you need to visit the Altamonte one. It’s amazing! The tour was so much fun and so educational!

  5. I do love Whole Foods but I do call it “Whole Paycheck” lol. I agree with always shopping the sales. Another money saving trick I use is to always shop in season, especially for fruit and vegetables. If I have extra I always freeze it to use in smoothies later on in the year.

  6. Awesome tips! I love Whole Foods so much and I think it’s important to go in with a plan. I’m a sucker for an impulse buy, especially there since everything looks so good. BUT I want to keep these tips in mind. I have yet to visit the bulk bins, but definitely a great idea for things like pine nuts that appear every now and then in a recipe.

  7. Great tips! Love whole foods 🙂 My healthy shopping tip is to look at the per ounce price for things. Sometimes a large bottle is a much better deal even though it costs more per bottle. Also, at some stores (not wf) they offer discount produce that is a little bruised or older.

  8. Love Whole Foods! I too have to say the bulk bins are great, especially when trying something new or getting an ingredient you don’t have on hand you need for a recipe that you may not use again like a nut, seed, or dried fruit.
    Shop in season and on sale. I shop with a lose list of what we need but usually let the sales inspire me as well as what looks good. If there is a fruit on sale that looks amazing that is what I will stock up on for the week, same goes for other produce. As for yogurt, kombucha, other things you may by multiples of Whole Foods gives a 10% discount so I also use that for things we use a lot of.

  9. These are really good money-saving tips! Making a list ahead of time with a budget in mind and checking sales (on website or through paper) before you go! Checking the clearance is a good idea too because you might just find something for next week, future gifts, or supplements! And eat before you go. lol That’s always a good one. :p