You all know that I love to find a deal, but I also want to find quality products for my family. That’s why I try hard to focus on healthy foods, including organic or all natural products. Of course, it can be a challenge make sure you are finding a deal on these things, but one thing I have noticed in the past several years is there is a perception that healthy products are more expensive, when in actuality, many times they are the same price (or even cheaper!).
The key to finding healthy products when you are on a budget, is to be a savvy shopper!
Know your prices, understand sale cycles, shop with coupons (check the organic coupons and gluten-free coupons round up each week), check store specials, meal plan, and only buy what you know you will use. These really are basic principles that apply to anything you are buying, not just health food, but they are good reminders for all of us.
When I was asked to check out a Value Tour at Whole Foods to learn about more ways to save and then shop for my family for a week’s worth of meals, I was excited and up for the challenge!
Ways to Save at Whole Foods
1. A big tip for saving at whole foods is to check out The Whole Deal, which is a value guide with coupons, deals, budget-friendly recipes (love that!), a daily meal planner, and other money saving tips. This booklet was at the front of my store, but the good news is that is also available online, so you can check it out before heading to the store.
2. Shop the bulk bins. If you haven’t checked out the bulk area at your Whole Foods yet, make sure you head there first next time you shop. You’ll find a variety of products that you can buy in bulk: rice, grains, flours, pasta, soup mixes, beans, cereals, trail mixes, nut butters, sweeteners, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, as well as snacks and treats. My store also had bulk herbs and spices, too.
How does this help you save? For one thing you purchase only what you need, not a box that will just sit in your cupboard. Only need 1 serving? Then you buy only 1 serving. Buying bulk also helps you save on the cost of packaging. If you are buying a lot, or just a little, buying in bulk is perfect because you pay for exactly the amount you want.
3. Buy in season and local (if possible). Buying in season is not only better for freshness and taste, but it will save you money because the produce doesn’t have to travel as much (thus, cutting down on shipping costs). I really love that Whole Foods tries to offer as much organic variety as possible, but it is also great to see that they are supporting local farms. The origin of the produce is displayed, so you know exactly what you are getting and from where. And if you are curious where other products are from, check out the Local Growers Map they have available.
4. Use coupons! Whole Foods has coupons in the Whole Deal and online, so grab the ones you want before heading to the store. You can always check the Coupon Database, too, to look for coupons on specific products.
5. Shop sales. Check the weekly ad, the coupon match-ups, and any sale items while in the store. Just like other stores, you want to follow the sale cycles of products to buy at the lowest price. Check for any manager mark-downs and don’t be scared to ask about any specials on meats, baked goods or pre-made items.
6. Shop 365 Everyday Value products to save on grocery items. These products have everyday low prices, but what I also like is that they meet the store’s strict quality standards. You’ll also find that they come in both natural and organic varieties, and are cheaper than some of the other name brand products. Plus, the great part is that they offer coupons for these lower priced products!
My challenge was to buy a week’s worth of meals for my family of 5 at Whole Foods for $100. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t quite sure if I could stick to that price while buying organic, but I was up for the test! Here’s my meal plan:
Cereal & Milk
Bagels & Jam
Fruit: Pears, Apples & Bananas
Eggs & Toast
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches (for kids in school all week)
Banana Chips (bulk bin)
Salads – spinach, dried cranberries (bulk bin), dressing, bell peppers, cucumber
Hummus & Carrots
Rice bowl with leftover chicken
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Baked Chicken & Quinoa Vegetable side
Yams with black beans
Frozen Pizza & Salad (Friday Family night)
Spaghetti with shredded chicken
So, how did I do? I actually came in with spending just $92.85! That is for a week’s worth of food for a family of 5. What really helped was buying from the bulk bins and using coupons. I also planned Sunday night as our “leftovers” night to finish eating up whatever was left from other meals. My highest priced item was a value pack of chicken, but as you can see, I was able to use it all week in various meals. If you don’t plan to use up all the value meat you buy, don’t forget you can also freeze it.
How do you think you would do shopping at Whole Foods with $100? Could you find even better deals?