The Truth About Shopping At Whole Foods
Most of us have probably heard of Whole Foods,
but maybe you haven’t been there.
Whether you’re a frequent shopper or a first-timer,
there are some tips you can use to make your
shopping experience better.
Here’s what you need to know before you head
to Whole Foods.
If you’re looking for both unique dry goods
and pantry staples at a bargain price, the
bulk bin aisle should be your first stop at
Whole Foods, especially when trying out a
new recipe or a new ingredient.
If you head here instead of the more traditional
shelves, you can buy exactly the amount you
That’s great for you, because if it turns
out you actually hate eating massive amounts
of quinoa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
you won’t be left with a ton of it to throw
away, let go to waste, or a lot to try to
guilt yourself into eating.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s a good
way to stock up on pantry items you know you’ll
Ingredients as diverse as pink Himalayan salt,
nutritional yeast, black lentils, and dried
mulberry can all be found in the Whole Foods
bulk bins along with all kinds of grains and
And while they’re usually much less expensive
compared to the items sold on the shelf, availability
can vary by location.
Another advantage of buying bulk is doing
away with all the extra packaging that pre-packaged
goods come in.
Not only does it save you money on the product
itself, but it’s also better for the environment.
You can even bring reusable containers in
from home, and all you’ll need to do is have
the cashier zero out the weight before you
fill your containers up.
The one ingredient you might want to skip
getting from the Whole Foods bulk bins?
Nuts, which you can find for almost 50 percent
If there’s a product you already know you
love, that you use often, and doesn’t show
up in the bulk area, consider buying it by
Whole Foods offers case discounts of 10 percent
on most items, and you can see how many units
are included in a case on the shelf tag for
This is a great way to save on things like
pet food, canned goods, and paper products
that you know you’ll end up using and which
won’t go bad if they linger for awhile in
You can get the 10 percent discount for buying
large quantities of other items, too.
Take “Wine Down Wednesdays.”
That’s when you can get 10 percent off your
first 1-5 bottles, and another 10 percent
off when you buy six or more.
There’s a 10 percent discount to be had at
the bulk bins too, for shoppers who load up
on 25 pounds or more.
As long as it’s not going to go to waste,
it’s worth it, and that’s where you may have
to do some serious meal planning before taking
advantage of these offers.
This depends on location, but inside many
of the chain’s stores you can find a coffee
shop, a juice bar, and even a wine and beer
But things there are changing.
In the past, when you ordered an iced beverage
at the coffee bar or a cold juice or smoothie
at the juice bar, you would also receive a
That will no longer be the case as of July
2019, as Whole Foods became the first major
grocery store in the U.S. to ban plastic straws.
Whole Foods estimates that banning the straws
and making other changes in their packaging
will eliminate more than 800,000 pounds of
plastic waste each and every year.
In lieu of plastic straws, the company says
it will offer Forest Stewardship Council-certified,
recyclable, and compostable paper straws,
but they will have plastic straws available
on request for customers with disabilities.
Want to go one step further?
Bring your own reusable straw with you if
you’re going to grab a cold drink while you
shop, and help reduce waste even more.
Nothing at Whole Foods is more tantalizing
than their salad bar, hot bar, and prepared
But there’s a huge downside to giving in to
your cravings at the food bar — it gets
“I love shopping at Whole Foods.
Because I love organic produce and I can’t
stand having money.”
Though price varies by location, you’ll usually
find the salad and hot bar items priced at
about $8.99 a pound.
This is much more expensive per pound than
most of the ingredients you’d find in a salad,
so you need to be careful about what you add
to your bowl if you want to make the most
of your money.
Don’t take the biggest container, or you might
find yourself mindlessly loading it until
it weighs four pounds more than you were intending.
If you’re making a salad, base your bowl around
a lighter item, like spring mix or fluffy
couscous, and use heavier ingredients sparingly.
Weigh your bowl as you go using the scales
in the produce section, and it’ll help you
avoid sticker shock.
Use salad dressing you already have at home,
or pour your dressing into one of the small
containers they have on offer, as they don’t
cost extra, and it won’t be counted as part
of the salad’s overall weight.
At the hot bar, choose boneless meats over
bone-in, and consider skipping the side dishes
in favor of a salad-from-a-bag, steamable
frozen veggies, or another simple side that
costs less per weight than what Whole Foods
has on offer in the prepared food section.
Whole Foods sells thousands of exclusive brands,
which means that if there’s a specific brand
or product you’re used to buying at a different
grocery store chain, you might not be able
to find the same exact products at Whole Foods.
Once you do start throwing things in your
cart, you might also notice that prices at
Whole Foods can be a little high — about
15 percent more expensive than other grocery
chains, including Kroger, Wegmans, and Safeway.
That’s why you should keep your eyes out for
the affordable 365 Everyday Value store brand.
Like most store brands, these products tend
to be less expensive than their more traditional
and widely available name brand counterparts
by about 23 percent, and you’ll save more
on some products than others.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, consider
the 365 brand for staples like sandwich bread,
eggs, ground beef, pasta sauce, yogurt, and
For the steepest discounts, look ahead for
the Whole Foods 365 brand products that are
Build your grocery list for the week around
these items and you could end up spending
less than you expected the next time you shop.
Whole Foods may have started as a relatively
small grocery store with less than 20 employees,
but these days the natural grocer is owned
by Amazon, meaning it’s run by one of the
most powerful companies in the country.
This is a very good thing for bargain seekers,
because shoppers who have an Amazon Prime
account can actually get special discounts
and deals at Whole Foods locations and on
Whole Food items online.
Prime members will get special deals throughout
the store, just look for the blue signs that
denote those deals.
They’ll also get an additional 10 percent
off many items that are already on sale, which
are marked with yellow signs.
Other deals available for Prime members only
will also be marked throughout the store.
To redeem your deals before you pay, you can
simply give the phone number associated with
your Amazon account at the register, or download
the Whole Foods app, which will be scanned
at the register so you can get your discount.
“Here you go.
Thank you, please come again, we have a whole
lot of groceries.”
In April 2019, the chain started giving out
even more exclusive weekly deals for Prime
members, and slashed prices on hundreds of
other items throughout the store.
Sometimes you’ll come across a great deal
at the store, only to realize that the package
size is just too big.
Other times, you just need a little bit of
an extra-special cheese to make a dish sing,
but you don’t want to fork over big bucks
for more than you’ll use.
Remember, food waste is a huge problem.
That’s where Whole Foods’ customer service
comes in handy.
Head to the cheese counter, produce section,
the butcher, or the deli section, and ask
the associate from the corresponding department
if they can cut the item you need down to
For instance, if you only need a half of a
standing rib roast or a few slices of bacon,
the butcher can re-cut and repackage them
for you; you can get large wedges of cheese
cut into much smaller pieces; you can ask
for loaves of bread to be sliced; you can
even ask someone to cut a particularly large
cabbage, squash, or jackfruit into a smaller
piece for you.
They’ll often use the remainder in salad and
hot bar item prep, or pre-cut and put back
on the shelf.
It’s also a great way to sample new products
in a more affordable quantity before deciding
to go all in, but remember, this is all done
at employee discretion.
When Whole Foods opened its doors in 1978,
it was a lot like a typical grocery store,
just with healthier, specialty ingredients.
Since then, a lot has changed, including the
opening of their very first in-store bar in
As of 2017, there were more than 200 bars
operating in Whole Foods stores across the
country, and a couple of Whole Foods stores,
one in Houston and one in San Jose, actually
brew beer at the store itself.
Whole Foods pours wines and beers that are
actually for sale in the store, from a selection
that varies by location.
That means you can try one of the bottles
they’re pouring from at the bar, then decide
whether or not you like it before springing
for an entire bottle or six-pack, or picking
it up for your next dinner party.
Sitting at the bar at Whole Foods is also
a good opportunity to chat with the bartender
about the best values in the beer and wine
department, too, and they could very well
have a few budget favorites that didn’t make
it into any promotional literature.
Many of the bars within Whole Foods have specials
that run throughout the week.
Look for events like local beer specials,
different promotions, and special events.
Every weekday is a busy day, but it just might
be worth it to carve some extra time out of
your schedule for a mid-week shopping trip
because a lot of grocery stores, Whole Foods
included, turn over their weekly sale items
A new batch of discounted items goes up for
sale, and last week’s items usually go back
to standard pricing.
Wednesday is the day of the week when the
store will have the highest stock of their
weekly sale items, and, even better, Wednesday
morning is actually the best time to shop,
too, with great deals and less crowded aisles.
We all know how uncomfortable a busy grocery
store can get.
Also keep an eye out for your store’s Friday
One-Day Sale, which features, quote, “a different
item from a different department at an exceptionally
You can usually find them listed in your store’s
weekly flyer and by the signage in the store,
or you can call your local store for more
details and to find out if they participate.
The thought of downloading yet another store-specific
app might make you want to take some drastic
action against technology as a whole, but
the Whole Foods app can help you save money
the next time you go shopping.
There are a couple of different ways that
the Whole Foods app can help you make the
most out of your trip.
First, you can use the app to get exclusive
coupons, or to see what items are on sale
for the current week, then build your shopping
list based on those items to help save money.
The app will also show you which products
are on sale exclusively for Prime members
By building your meals around the discounted
items, you could lower your grocery bill more
than you might expect.
On top of the weekly sales, you can also see
special events and offers at your local store.
Second, it’s one of the ways that you can
redeem your Prime benefits at the store.
Just download the Whole Foods app, connect
it to your Amazon Prime account, and have
the cashier scan the QR code in your app so
you can get your deals.
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