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“Whole Foods is expensive.” “I can’t afford to shop at Whole Foods.” These are sentiments I hear over and over. I beg to differ. I believe you can shop Whole Foods on a budget and come out alive. I am a former couponer, former deal blogger, and all around cheap/frugal/thrifty shopper. With a weekly grocery budget that is finally up to $100 a week for 5 people I don’t have too much choice. I do believe, however, that you CAN shop Whole Foods on a Budget by shopping smart.

I have had a few friends who were able to maintain their food budgets and shop at Whole Foods. I could not do so and still maintain our level of raw milk, grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables on $100 per week. I can, however, supplement our groceries with products that are best priced for the quality at Whole Foods. Here are a few tips I have for shopping Whole Foods on a budget.

whole foods on a budget

DO’s and DON’Ts

  •  Super Friday one day sale. Get the emails. They will tell you what the Friday special will be. It is usually a great one. While they are occasionally having one day deals, Whole Foods has moved to having special offers for several days out of the week, making it easier to shop and get a deal when you are able to.
  •  I buy my fish almost exclusively at Whole Foods. Their quality is excellent and they have the best prices on  wild caught fish. Buy it pre-frozen or buy whatever is on sale for the week.
  • Buy Whole Food’s store brand 365. They are very comparable in price to other stores’ prices and have great quality products.
  • Spices are a really good deal at Whole Foods and you can buy what you need rather than being stuck with large or small quantities. The spices are always fresh, which is huge for me. I love buying peppercorn, and organic spices there. Small amounts mean I always have fresh spices on hand. They also have good quality kosher salt for a great price.
  • This may vary by store but the Glen Mills Whole Food store has a small bin in their cheese department. It has small odd and end pieces of cheese. Rather than paying  for a big wedge of fancy cheese you can get small ones for special meals – risotto, pasta, and meat can always use most varieties of cheese. Have fun with it.
  • They have bulk coffee that is excellent quality. If you prefer your coffee “fancy” then Whole Foods has a perfect coffee bean for you.
  • Grab one of the fliers at the door. They have valuable coupons in them.
  • Need a drink? Stop at their water cooler. They price their water very fairly and it is indeed cheaper to buy water than other worse for you drinks. However, if you like G.T.’s Kombucha, they have a great price there.
  • Buy by the case. Eat a lot of yogurt? Stock up on pasta. Buy your favorite juice. You save 10% when you buy a case.
  • Make sure the meats are better quality than wherever else you buy it. Pay attention to signage and how the animal was raised to buy what matters to you. I learned that the beef that isn’t labeled grass fed is grass fed then grain finished.  I love the quality of their meat and am willing to pay a little more than at another grocery store for that quality.
  • Make a list of the different “fancy” things you want to try and buy them here and there. Don’t try it all at once. You just might pass out at the check out.
  • Don’t pass up a sale item because you don’t know what it’s like. Haven’t heard of a fish in their seafood department? As someone. They have knowledgeable staff that will happily help you. Tip: They get fish 6 times a week so you know you are getting fresh fish!
  • Shop their “Great Value” items. You know you are getting the best price they have to offer for them.

Use these tips to shop smart at Whole Foods


Another way to be Fabulously Frugal? Have some summer fun with the kids without breaking the budget with these frugal outings.

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  1. Great tips! We don’t have a Whole Foods here, but I bet a lot of these tips will come in handy with similar stores here 🙂

  2. I haven’t been there? There must not be one in my area. I like the idea of smaller portions of specialty cheese though. We do that here too.

  3. We have a Whole Foods in our neighborhood and it’s amazing. However, it’s hard to stick to a tight budget there! These are awesome tips!

  4. Yumm, I like the idea of fresh spices. Do you know I’ve never noticed their flyers! I must check them out for coupons during my next visit.

  5. We are a family of 7 – our grocery bill is our biggest expense. I have tried shopping at Whole Foods but I could not afford to buy all my groceries at Whole Foods. I do on occasion stop in for certain things.

    1. I love that I can shop 365 brand and pay the same for many organic products as I would for mainstream products, and they still taste good. In the next few weeks I am doing 2 meal plans that use Whole Foods products almost exclusively to see how much I can do it for.

  6. I have always avoided Whole Food Stores due to being pricey but now that i’ve gone vegan I may have to take your advice and try shopping there.

    1. It’s so bright and shiny. The trick is to stay on focus and watch your prices as you put it in the cart. So so hard for me not to buy extras there but I have gotten much better.

  7. I’ve been shopping mostly at trader joe’s and the local supermarket. I may have to try this as neither have an impressive bulk section and the meat is really pricey in some cases. Thanks! I found you on pinterest btw.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I think the meat at Whole Foods can be pricy too. I try to shop their meat sales. I buy my organic chicken drumsticks at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 per pound but you are right. Meat can be so expensive when it is organic/grass fed. Your best bet is to see if there are any farmers in your area who sell grass fed and ask about their practices.

  8. When we did our price book in the winter, we were surprised that things like organic pasta were cheaper at Whole Foods than anywhere else. I also feel like the produce is worth spending a little extra if you can because the quality is much better than other stores in our area.

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