I know you think I am crazy right now. A few months ago I would have thought the same thing. I would have clicked on this article, read the title and moved on with my day. Thinking impossible, no way, not my budget. But let me tell you. There is a way. High quality, healthy foods without breaking the bank.
Now, just to clear the air, Whole Foods Market used to be my favorite place to shop. When I was working in Midtown Manhattan, without kids or many bills, and newly vegan. They had the foods I loved and I wouldn't really care if my whole paycheck was spent there. I would get a few groceries, the hot food bar, vegan desserts available no where else and other impulse items. One small bag and 90 dollars later, I wondered how anyone could really shop there full-time, especially with a family to provide for.
I then got pregnant and this grocery store became a luxury for times when I wanted to treat myself to a gluten-free non-GMO vegan muffin with spirulina and an organic cup of coffee.
Seven years and two kids later, my husband and I sat down to make a real budget we could stick to. We have goals for the next two years and needed to be very careful about what we spent our earnings on. We want to pay off our debts and save for a downpayment on a house. Real goals. We made a commitment to eat optimally as well as stay within a budget each week. We decided to pick a few places to see where our money was being spent best and guess what? Whole Foods won.
Now. We do have some ways we shop there which I will share next.
First, reasons why it works for us as a family?
1.) Their produce is good. Fresh. Local when possible. It doesn't go bad within a day like many other places we've shopped. We throw it in the cart without plastic which always makes my green heart happy.
2.) Their meat, poultry and fish is actually less expensive, despite it hitting all the health markers I require for it to enter our home.
3.) The coffee is ground fresh, organic, and way less than overpriced coffee shops.
4.) I can get what I need for my specific diet, Craig can get quality food he enjoys and the kids can get what they need for lunches all within budget.
Shop the perimeter. Have you heard this before? The foods that are healthiest and in this case least expensive are around the 3 sides of the store. We go from produce to the fish market, butcher, dairy case, coffee and home. No middle aisles. Their packaged foods do have better ingredients than other supermarkets, but that comes at a price. Also, let's be real. Organic cookies are still cookies.
Buy on sale. Sometimes packaged food in unavoidable, especially as school snacks for my two hungry boys. So we wait for Annie's brand to go on sale and that's when we buy. Or we buy bulk at Costco, which will be in a later post since I am a big box store newbie.
Skip the hot food and bakery. This is where I used to fail big time. Go to the store on a full stomach so you are not tempted to grab a "healthy" bagel (it's not) or a $19 salad.
Make a list. And stick to it! We plan out each and every meal we are going to make on what day and buy only the ingredients we need for those meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Talk about not being as stressed during the week thinking about what to make to feed the fam!
Fill in with Thrive Market. A lot of the personal care items, specialty foods and condiments can be found on this newish website for less money than at the store. There is an annual fee, but I have found it's well worth it. Email me for a discount code.
I really, really wish I was getting paid from Whole Foods to write this. I don't get any affiliate money from this blog, so this is just an honest solution for my followers to get better quality, better tasting and healthier foods all without blowing your budget. Try the steps above and let me know how you do! I would love any feedback.
PS - not to be a hater of any other store, but the ones we have compared in the last few months for our little family experiment is Publix Greenwise, Trader Joe's, Fresh Market and various farmers markets. Now, they each have their benefits as well. But overall, for weekly shopping, for this season of life, we found this is our best fit. Happy shopping!