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!
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?
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.
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!
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!
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
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)!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!