Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods

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Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods
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By Cameron Huddleston

Whole Foods Market (WFM) is often jokingly referred to as "Whole Paycheck" because this natural-foods chain sells higher-priced organic fare and specialty items. Check out with a cart of grass-fed, hormone-free ground beef, organic heirloom tomatoes and artisan-crafted cheese, and you could easily pay twice as much as you would spend for similar conventional items at a grocery store. But is the ritzy reputation always warranted?

Surprisingly, there are deals to be had at Whole Foods. You heard right: Even bargain-conscious shoppers can find well-priced goods at this high-end grocer. That's great news for those of us who are in the habit of making one trip to Whole Foods for splurge items and a second trip to the grocery store for staples such as milk and pasta.

We visited Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Kroger (KR), Trader Joe's and even Walmart (WMT) to compare prices on a number of popular products. We also consulted a recent comparison of Whole Foods and Safeway (SWY) conducted by Cheapism.com. Prices may vary across the nation, but the list below shows that some items are cheaper or the same price at Whole Foods than similar items sold in the grocery stores we surveyed. All are original full prices -- not sale prices. Of course, you may be able to find better deals when items go on sale or when discounts are offered. Download a coupon app to your smartphone, or try one of these strategies to save on groceries without coupons.

Organic Items


Frozen organic yellow corn. A 16-ounce package of store-brand yellow corn was the same price at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Kroger -- $1.99 -- and a buck less than at Safeway.
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Organic brown sugar. The price of a 24-ounce bag is the same at Whole Foods as at Trader Joe's and Walmart and about $1 less than at Safeway.

Organic chicken broth. A 32-ounce carton of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value organic chicken broth was at least 40 cents less than at the supermarkets we checked.

Organic coconut oil. This oil, which can be used for cooking and for skin and hair care, is about $2 less for a 14-ounce jar of the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods than same-size jars at Kroger and Safeway.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Organic maple syrup. On first glance, the prices of organic maple syrup appeared to be cheaper at some of the supermarkets we checked -- but their bottles were smaller. Per ounce, the Whole Foods brand was the cheapest we found (along with the Trader Joe's brand).

Organic milk. Whole Foods had the lowest price on a gallon of organic milk by far. Its 365 Everyday Value brand was at least $1 less than a gallon of organic milk at several of the other stores we checked. It was priced at an incredibly low $3.69 at the Whole Foods in Nashville, Tenn., that we checked and $4.99 in a Seattle Whole Foods that Cheapism.com checked. (Walmart, at $6.48, actually had the highest price.)

Organic peanut butter. At $4.99 for an 18-ounce jar, Whole Foods had the best price for its 365 Everyday Value organic peanut butter. Trader Joe's had the same price for a 16-ounce jar.

Organic peeled carrots. A 1-pound bag of small, peeled carrots sold for 20 cents to 30 cents less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked. The exception was Trader Joe's, which had the same price of $1.69 for a 1-pound bag.

Organic popcorn. A 6-ounce bag of organic popcorn was $1 less at Whole Foods than at Kroger and about 70 cents less than a 5-ounce bag at Safeway.

Non-Organic Items


Baguettes. At $1.29 per baguette, Whole Foods beat the price of baguettes at the other stores we checked -- even Trader Joe's -- by 70 cents.

Cereal bars. We found the same price -- $1.99 -- for a box of six cereal bars at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The Whole Foods' price beat Walmart's by a penny. And a box of eight cereal bars at Safeway was $2.99, according to the Cheapism study.

Extra virgin olive oil, cold processed. At $6.49, a 33.8-ounce bottle of Whole Foods 365 brand olive oil was several dollars less than the same-size bottles of olive oil at all of the other stores we checked except Trader Joe's, which had the same price.

Grains. The prices on some grains -- not all -- sold at Whole Foods were cheaper. For example, the per-pound price of jasmine rice sold in the bulk ("scoop your own") section of Whole Foods was nearly half as much of the price of bagged jasmine rice at Walmart. Whole Foods also had the lowest per-pound price that we found of quinoa and buckwheat.

Greek yogurt. A 32-ounce container of Greek Gods brand yogurt was almost 70 cents less at Whole Foods than the same brand of yogurt sold at Walmart and the Trader Joe's brand.

Pasta. At 99 cents per 16-ounce package, the price for Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand pasta matches the price of pasta at Trader Joe's, and undercuts the prices at Kroger and Walmart by a penny.

Salsa. Some varieties of the 365 Everyday Value 16-ounce jars of salsa were priced at $1.99 -- 50 cents less than Trader Joe's 12-ounce jars of salsa and 40 cents less than Kroger's Private Selection salsa.

Shredded mozzarella. Prices on imported and specialty cheeses at Whole Foods can be high. But for $3.99, you can't beat the price on a 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value shredded mozzarella -- even at Trader Joe's and Walmart. An 8-ounce package of cream cheese also costs slightly less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked.

Whole almonds. At $5.99 per pound, whole almonds were at least $2 less than at all of the supermarkets we checked except Trader Joe's, which had the same price.

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Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods

This advice applies to adults and kids alike. Plan out your shopping list before you head to the grocery store so you’re not tempted by impulse buys, and let any children along for the ride know that you plan on sticking with that list. Small expenditures add up to big money, so try to avoid giving in to any last-minute requests.

If your children continue to insist that you purchase their requested items, then ask them to bring their own piggy bank money. Remind your children they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. It's good practice for grown-up budgeting.

You might not have 20 hours a week to scour multiple publications for the best deals, but if you focus on searching for online coupons, you'll end up saving just as much. Search online for products with the word "coupon" afterward. For instance, if you're looking for Cascade dish soap, search for "Cascade dish soap coupons."

To make sure that you don't waste money on impulse buys, schedule your shopping around paydays. The day or day after you get paid should be your shopping day. Before you go shopping, make a list and make sure it has everything you'll need until the next shopping day on it. Now make a commitment to yourself that you will make what you're going to purchase last until the next shopping day.
Stocking your freezer with frozen meals can help you save money on lunch, since they cost just about $5 each. It can even be a healthier option because they help you practice portion control. Just make sure you're purchasing meals that have no preservatives, and watch out for sodium levels.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you'll gain each night. If you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have, and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You'll save money using food that would have been thrown out.

If you know you have $400 to spend per month on your food budget, that's roughly $100 a week. Whether you shop once or twice per week or use cash or credit doesn't matter as long as you stay within your spending limits. Just be sure to only spend the amount you allotted per week.

Keep your shopping list in a set location so all members of the household can access it. Write estimated prices of the items you are going to buy next to each item on the checklist. It can serve a dual purpose as a price book you can use to guess how much you will spend.
If you've ordered from the kids menu at a restaurant recently, then you know how big the meals are – they're almost as big as meals for adults, and they can cost up to $10 each. If you have multiple children, an easy way to cut down on this expense is to have them share a meal. Not only does this lower the cost of feeding everyone, but it also cuts down on food waste.
Most stores are open late, and without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clearheaded, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the people in line behind you.

We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by Savings.com, do the work for you. The app will tell you about items on sale from different stores, and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too. (Of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ads to keep things simple.) And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your shopping routine.

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