- Stick to the perimeter
- Buy in season and on sale
- Look for in-store coupons
- Avoid processed foods
- Buy in bulk
When I go into my local Whole Foods store, I do a big circle, starting in produce and working my way around the perimeter of the store. In the produce section, I look for what is on sale, what is seasonal and what is local. We don’t eat blueberries in the middle of January anymore, because they come from South America, don’t taste as good, and are super expensive. This week, Organic Gala Apples from Washington and Organic Avocados from California, are on sale, I will probably buy both.
In the meats department this week, I see that my son’s favorite Wellshire Turkey Ham is on sale, so I will stock up – he eats that almost every day for lunch. In addition, my husband’s favorite Lamb Shoulder chops are on sale, we will have those sometime this week too. Turns out chicken is also on special, so I will roast that one night and make chicken stock to use another night.
How do I know all this sale information? Well, Whole Foods has a great website and they have their sale fliers available online, so you can check out the specials before you shop. Also, for my third recommendation, pick up the in-store circular, usually available at the information desk in the front of the store. I have found great coupons in there for cereals, dairy products and other middle-of-the-store items.
This brings me to my 4th recommendation – when you go into the middle of the store, you will find that items are more expensive. And processed. So, my 4th recommendation is to stay away from as much of the processed foods as you can, unless you can buy them with coupons. Those boxes of crackers and cookies can really add up.
And finally, check out the bulk aisle. I can buy organic oatmeal for $1.39 a pound, loads of specialty flours in small amounts for whatever recipe I am making, and more whole grains than I can shake a stick at. My kids love the big Israeli couscous, but in the box, it costs about $3.50. If I buy it in bulk, it is $3.99 a pound. Savings of about $.50. Hey, every penny counts!
And before I start sounding holier-than-thou, let me explain that some weeks my shopping receipt gets up there. I have to restock pantry items, like King Arthur flour and baking sugar. Or we are completely out of cereal or snacks for the kids and no coupons are available for the products we like. Or I stupidly go grocery shopping when I am hungry, tired or depressed about something. That can really kill the bill! But most of the time, if I stick to my 5 rules of shopping at Whole Foods, I can buy healthy, organic, local foods for my family and maintain a decent bank balance.
What are your tricks to shopping at Whole Foods? And suggestions, things I should be looking out for?