If you’re anything like me, Whole Foods is like a delicious wonderland full of tempting treats just begging, “Buy meeee.” It happens far too often that I get to the checkout line and start to panic — the store earned its nickname, Whole Paycheck, for a reason!
But if you’re shopping smart, there’s no reason to fear. You can actually find some great deals at Whole Foods, making it worth the extra stop on grocery day. For other things, though, it’s best to stick to your usual store or risk overpaying.
Take a look at our list of what to buy and what to skip the next time you head to Whole Foods — your wallet will thank you.
What to buy
Bulk bin spices, beans and grains: You can save a lot of money by purchasing rice, beans, grains and spices from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Just make sure to check the price per ounce against the prepackaged version of the product you want to stock up on to make sure you’re getting a deal.
Seafood: This might be controversial, but it’s worth spending extra to buy seafood at Whole Foods. They stock more sustainable seafood than most other grocery stores and know exactly where it comes from, allowing you to make the safest and most environmentally responsible purchase.
Organics: If you want to buy organic, you can find some of the best deals at Whole Foods. It’ll still be more expensive than buying conventional, but they often have lower prices on organic products than other stores.
Vegan food: For sheer variety at a not-specifically-vegan grocery store, Whole Foods can’t be beat. Their Kite Hill brand of almond-based yogurts and cheeses is delicious, and they have a broad selection of faux meats and other vegan-friendly items.
Frozen fruit: Whole Foods often has great deals on frozen fruit, and their store brand is honestly better tasting than the store-brand fruit at other major chain grocers, which can make a big difference in your smoothies and baked goods.
Whole Foods 365-brand items: You can find surprisingly great deals on basics under the Whole Foods 365 label, from organic pasta and tomato sauce to canned beans and rice.
What to skip
Nonorganic milk: While the prices on organic milk are great at Whole Foods, nonorganic dairy is way more expensive at the store.
Toiletries: Save your money and buy toiletries elsewhere. If you’re looking for natural/organic products, Trader Joe’s has a surprisingly good selection, and you can always search online for better deals.
Paper goods: Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins and other paper goods are surprisingly expensive at Whole Foods — you’re better off getting them somewhere else.
Meat: Whole Foods has high-quality meat and often stocks things you can’t find at your typical grocery store, like game meat. But their prices on common ingredients like ground beef, chicken and pork chops are through the roof. Even if you’re buying organic or grass-fed, you will likely find a better deal at your usual grocery store.
Nuts and dried fruit: Don’t be fooled by the incredible selection — Whole Foods’ packaged nuts and dried fruits tend to be pricier than those sold at other stores.
Cheese: If you’re looking for a great price on high-quality cheese, you’re better off heading to Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods has a good selection, but bargains are few and far between.
The hot bar: Listen, the hot bar has some totally delicious eats. But it’s also super-expensive, usually clocking in at more than $10 per pound. It’s OK to splurge once in awhile, but don’t let yourself get tempted when you’re shopping or you could easily add another $10 to $20 to your bill without even realizing it (that’s why you should always eat something before you head to the store!).
With these tips in hand, you can navigate Whole Foods like a total pro.