1. Check for deals.
Check the specials and sales, including the Whole Deal, a monthly sales flyer with coupons. Also, Whole Foods posts coupons online, which you can check out here. Specials are posted in-store every Wednesday. And you can peruse the Whole Foods section of Organic Deals for additional savings.
2. Plan your meals.
Create a meal plan for the week utilizing ingredients that are on sale. Start by planning your recipes around the lean meats and fresh produce items (these are the highest dollar items) that are on sale to save the most money. Be sure to plan meals that use more perishable ingredients, like fish, fresh greens or berries, near the beginning of the week, and reserve ingredients that will last longer for the end of the week. Set yourself up for success by choosing simple recipes that will fit your schedule, and take into account days when you may not be at home to cook to avoid food waste.
Related Link: Check out our eMeals Whole Foods plan for a customized grocery plan just for Whole Foods! The Whole Foods Classic plan is priced, feeds a family of six, and features recipes that appeal to a broad range of tastes. It normally falls around $160/week for all seven recipes (that’s only $3.81/person per meal!). There’s also a For Two plan available for smaller families.
3. Make a grocery list.
After choosing your recipes for the week, make a master grocery list, and do all of your shopping for the week in one trip. Making a list will help you avoid impulse buying, which can increase your total spending.
Related Link: The eMeals app for your phone takes the work out of tedious grocery lists for you by compiling the list automatically each week. It even removes unnecessary ingredients when you skip a meal!
4. Check your fridge and pantry first.
Before heading to the store, check your refrigerator for items that need to be used, such as produce, meat and dairy that will soon spoil. Plan to use these items early in the week to prevent food waste. Check your pantry for staples like pasta, rice, oil and spices.
5. Buy only the amount you need.
Even more than other grocery stores, Whole Foods makes it easy to buy just the amount you need for many items. At the butcher counter, ask for just the amount or poundage of meat you need for each recipe. Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher to cut down a roast to the exact size you want. The same goes for the seafood counter. Check the bulk bin for dry ingredients, including grains, dried beans and lentils, and nuts, and purchase only the amount you need rather than buying a whole package (bonus: no more wasted food!). For small amounts of lightweight salad greens, head over to the salad bar and fill a container with only what you need. Lettuce is so light that in many cases, it will be cheaper than buying a whole package.
6. Stock up on frozen items.
Check out the freezer directly next to the seafood counter for frozen fish that’s often cheaper than the fresh seafood offerings. Stock up on frozen vegetables when they’re on sale for convenient, easy-to-prepare side dishes that will save you time and money.
7. Go meatless a few days per week.
Meats and seafood are often the most expensive items in any meal plan. Plan one or more meatless meal each week to save money. Try building meals around hearty, protein-packed beans or lentils, quinoa and nuts for filling and affordable vegetarian meals. The Whole Foods Vegetarian plan stays around $135/week (or $3.21/person per meal).
Related Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers
Related Article: How to Be a Healthy Vegetarian
8. Keep it simple.
Shorter ingredient lists equal a shorter grocery list, which saves you money. Grilled or baked meats and vegetables don’t need many added ingredients to be delicious and healthy. Add a budget-friendly grain like rice or pasta for a complete, balanced meal. Bonus: Simpler recipes save you time in the kitchen, allowing you more time around the table with your family.
Need help planning budget-friendly meals for shopping at Whole Foods? The eMeals Whole Foods Classic and Whole Foods Vegetarian meal plans provide you with seven simple, family-friendly recipes each week, all with a budget in mind, to simplify your meal-planning process.
-Text by Jessica Cox, RD