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How to Save Money Shopping at Whole Foods

2013 April 5

save money at whole foodsMy wife and I are on a bit of a health kick. Ever since she became unemployed due to various health reasons, we have been on a search to get ourselves as healthy as possible.

One area that my wife has really been researching and focusing on is food. It’s amazing how just eating healthy will affect you in a positive way. She has really seen improvements in her health from starting to eat gluten-free and eating organic foods that are void of genetically-modified ingredients (which are fairly prevalent in much of our foods today). 



Most of our grocery shopping is now being done at co-op stores and other organic grocers like Whole Foods – sometimes referred to as “Whole Paycheck“. Sadly, eating healthy can be expensive. Add to that, food prices are going up everywhere – and we are all looking at ways to cut that grocery bill.

Even though shopping healthy is more expensive – there are ways to save money. Here are a few tips that have helped us to save while shopping at Whole Foods.

Grab the in-store coupons

First things first – get a hold of the coupons. Right when you walk into any Whole Foods – there is a stand that has the latest “Whole Deal” booklet full of in-store coupons. You can also take a look at them before going shopping too by going to their coupon page.

Don’t forget product coupons

On top of the in-store coupons Whole Foods offers – don’t forget to take advantage of product coupons. We have become fans of different brands – and we often check them out online and subscribe to their mailing list. Sometimes, they will even provide you with a coupon for signing up or keep you posted on different deals they are running. If you are a loyal user of a particular brand – be sure to stay in the loop via their website and social media channels.

Buy what you need

One of the unique offerings of Whole Foods is their “buy-what-you-need” philosophy. Say you only need a half of that melon. No worries. Tell a nearby produce grocer what you need and they’ll cut it up for you (they typically use the leftovers in their sliced-up packages). This is a great way to save and avoid waste.

Discounts for bringing your own bag

When you come to the store with a grocery bag(s) of your own – they will reimburse you by knocking off (typically) .10 cents off your bill (per bag). According to Lindsay (who works at Whole Foods Corporate) – not every store participates in this reimbursement.

Take advantage of case discounts

Sometimes it pays to buy a lot of something – especially if you are always in need of it. According to Crystal at TheThriftyMama, Whole Foods will give you a per case discounts of 10% off. You can also use coupons on top of that!

Buy in bulk

BabySavers, Marybeth buys in bulk when she is looking to save. “I was very surprised to find dried organic black beans in the bulk food section for just $0.99 a pound. That’s an excellent price, so I bought three pounds. I prepared them all at once, used some right away and froze the rest in 1-cup portions.” This might take a little bit of planning – but worth the savings in the long haul.

Participate in Value Tours

Lindsay relayed to me that some stores offer “Value Tours” that you can take advantage of. Pre-arranged or on-going – your local store will provide you with ways you can save money and give you insider tips on how to shop the store. Or, save some time and check out their corporate value tour video:

End cap shopping

Like most other stores – Whole Foods also offers deals at the end of the aisles. Check these out and save a little more.

Shop in-season items

Most Whole Foods stores will place their in-season produce up towards the front of the store. And most of us know that shopping anything in-season, is going to cost less. They also note any discounted items with bright yellow and red tags.

Generous return policy

My wife recently returned some items to our local store – and to her surprise – they accepted an item that was partially used and gave her money back. I’ve since heard this was not abnormal – and something they regularly practice with returns.

Do you shop Whole Foods? I’d love to hear different ways you are saving money there too.

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Aaron

Helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. A designer by day, Aaron was once $40k in debt. After 5 years – he dug himself out and lives to tell about it. Aaron also blogs at the StarTribune

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4 Responses
  1. April 5, 2013

    This is a GREAT article! Great tips!

    I will say that once I stopped purchasing the processed and boxed foods and just purchased FRESH and WHOLE foods, our shopping bill (I think) is pretty much about the same. Spend $130 on chips, mac & cheese, cookies, crackers, frozen pizzas, soda, canned ravioli or $130 on chicken, kale, romaine, carrots, beets, broccoli, turnips, cucumber, peppers, lemons, ginger, tumeric etc. I know that once I’ve started eating better, I’ve improved my chronic pain symptoms significantly. Yes, I still have the pain, but it is a lot more manageable.

    Another great idea is to join CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and get a CSA box from a local organic farmer. Support them and support yourself in your health efforts. It is all fresh and rotates along with the crops that are being harvested at that time. Most will add little recipes or cute things for the kids too. Also, don’t forget about the farmer’s markets! Keep an eye out for who is selling organic and not. I’ve noticed that even if the farmer doesn’t have the organic label and certification (which is a timely and costly process to get this), they may still practice organic farming. When in question, ask for a tour and examine their processes for yourself. Ask about their seeds etc (non-gmo) and if they satisfy your requirements then you can go with them!

    • Aaron permalink*
      April 5, 2013

      @Jen – thanks for the tips! ;)
      @John – haha, know how that goes

  2. April 5, 2013

    These are some great tips! A lot of them work at other stores, but you need all you can to be able to save at WF. We shop there some, but usually stay away as we always find so much we like there that we end up walking out with more than we budgeted for.

  3. April 9, 2013

    If you shop there often these are very important tips. I think I am like John above, this store can be kind of dangerous because a lot of things look good that you do not need. That is also the same for Trader Joe’s.

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