As I mention in my book, Whole Foods can be a difficult place to shop if you’re on a really tight budget… BUT if you know what you’re looking for, and if you go armed with adequate resources, you can score some great real foods deals there.
First of all, let me say that not everything you can buy at Whole Foods is healthy! They carry a lot of processed stuff that might be organic and GMO-free, but it’s still processed and it’s still not that great for you. Furthermore, Whole Foods is definitely in it for the money, so profit will trump principle on occasion. Bear that in mind, and shop wisely.
Frankly, for all those reasons, I don’t really buy a whole lot at Whole Foods, but I do make a regular stop there during my monthly grocery shopping trip and pick up a few items. Which items, you ask?
1. The Friday Deal
Each Friday, Whole Foods holds a one-day sales event with one item at a great rock-bottom price. I don’t religiously stop there every Friday for their one-day deal, but I do try to pay attention so I know what exactly is on sale and if it’s worth stopping by or not. During blueberry season, they had organic blueberries for $1.99/lb, which around here is a fantastic price for conventional, let alone organic! I stocked up on the blueberries, and also on strawberries when they had a similar sale. The Friday deal in my area this week happens to be grass-fed ground beef for $4.99/lb, which is the lowest I ever see it, so again, I’m stocking up.
I have to say I’ve always been impressed by how well stocked they are with their one-day deals! I’ve gone late in the afternoon before, and they’ve still had plenty of the sale items left, which I really appreciate.
2. Pole-Caught Tuna
I recently read that the best tuna in terms of sustainability and healthfulness is “pole-caught tuna” (more info in my post here), and was kind of bummed that 1.) I had no clue what that was and 2.) I had no clue where in the world to find it. After a bit of research, I discovered that Whole Foods carries pole-caught tuna… for only $1.49! Considering you pay at least that much for regular old junky tuna, that price is pretty awesome. Read more about Whole Foods’ seafood sustainability policies here.
While not all their meat is the ultimate in healthfulness (grass-fed, etc.), Whole Foods uses a “5-Step Animal Welfare” rating system on all their meat packaging that indicates how the animal was raised and treated throughout their life. Since that in turn can affect the healthfulness of the meat, it’s important information to know. And while their “Step 1″ rating is probably only a step above the meat you can find in any other grocery store, it is at least an improvement… and sometimes it’s all I can afford! It’s just as affordable as meat sold anywhere else, and Whole Foods states that farms have to meet close to 100 standards to achieve even the Step 1 rating, so that is at least a small comfort to me. And when I can manage it or when it’s on sale, I like to buy their higher-rated meats as well.
4. Kerrygold Cheese
Whole Foods charges less than $3 for a 7oz package of Kerrygold grass-fed cheese, which is a really good price. Costco might have a better price, but you have to buy it in a significantly larger package, and if that package goes bad before you can use it… then it’s not such a great deal.
5. A Sweet Treat
OK, so I haven’t actually bought this yet, but my sister has, and I’ve enjoyed her generosity as she has shared it with me. She loves the bakery grab bags – a paper bag with several day old pastries for only $1.50! I’m not dumb enough to think that Whole Foods baked goods are significantly better than any other baked goods… but boy are they yummy!
What do you like to buy at Whole Foods?