By Erica McCarthy

Published on November 6, 2016

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Photography by SPOON UNIVERSITY

From gluten free goddesses to vegan aficionados, we’ve learned a lot about what it means to care for our bodies and how to do so in a sensible manner. With this eye-opening knowledge comes a shift in our buying habits and in turn, some pressure on our wallets. We’ll show you eight modern-day hacks for how to shop at Whole Foods without breaking the bank. 

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Photography by THOUGHT PURSUITS

Take Mental Notes on Prices Around Town

People will forever tell you Whole Foods is “too expensive” and “how do you afford it?”, but all it takes is a little homework to navigate said ‘pricey’ grocery story like a pro. In our neighborhood, 365 brand hummus is only $0.20 more expensive than Trader Joes’ and $1 less than the local grocery store down the street. A large bag of kale is $2.99, yet comes in around $5 at other grocers. By shopping around town a bit and seeing differing price ranges, you’ll be able to better navigate when and where to shop for your go-to items. 

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Be Wary of the Salad Bar

We love a good “make-your-own” situation, and as fun as unleashing all of our creativity at the salad bar is, a little restraint can save some major cash. Classic salad ingredients such as cucumbers or tomatoes can cost significantly less when purchased from the produce section. And when it comes to dressing the salad, buy your own bottle in lieu of the pay-by-pound mini containers.

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Buy in Bulk

Your mom probably told you this in your 1st apartment out of college, but she said it for a reason. Shopping in bulk gives you the flexibility to get the items you need without having to overcommit to a large amount of something you might only use once. Sometimes, spices are even sold in bulk, which is great for that one-off chili recipe that calls for white pepper. 

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Go for 365

Whole Foods household brand, 365, is a great way to eat healthy while still maintaining your budget. Since it’s their branded line of foods, prices are comparable to competitors. Instead of buying the local milk coming in at $6/gallon, you can rest assured knowing the 365 brand meets Whole Foods strict regulations, without having to spend an unnecessary dollars on products that will more than likely taste the same. 

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Portion Control a la Deli

So you love Parmigiano Reggiano, but the hefty price tag leaves you forgoing a triangle block of cheese at every grocery store outing. We feel you. One of the most simple and savvy ways to eat like queen on a college-student budget is to ask the butcher to slice meats and cheeses to your liking. Fun fact: no size is too small for a Whole Foods butcher, and they’ll be happy to accommodate your (tiny) cheese obsession.

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Find the Hidden Gems

One of the things we love most about Whole Foods are the curated products and countless number of new discoveries. Case in point? The alcohol-free Witch Hazel Toner in a rose petal scent that has become a must in our nightly beauty ritual. These organic and naturally-sourced beauty buys make for quite the case against their pricey department store counterparts.

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Buy Fresh Bread

For obvious reasons, fresh bread tastes much better than packaged bread, so many Whole Foods locations will run a sale on their bread of the day, making the purchase easy on your wallet. Make it even more budget friendly by a) asking for ½ a loaf instead of a full loaf, or b) storing the unused portion in the freezer—prolonging the life of the bread, ensuring it won’t go bad quickly. 

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Cash in on the Whole Deal

Keep your eyes peeled for the Whole Deal coupon book near the entrance. Every month Whole Foods comes out with the “Whole Deal” coupon book that’s loaded with coupons to use throughout the store. Whether 4 for $5 protein bars, or buy one get one tea boxes, you can save some serious cash by flipping through the book and taking note of what you typically buy to see if it lines up with what’s on sale for the month. 

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Watch the Produce

During the weekend, most produce is on sale at local grocers. Whole Foods however is known to slash the price of produce on the weekends to make room for unique produce they might feature in the coming weeks. 

Shopping at Whole Foods doesn’t have to be an (expensive) chore. By being strategic about portions and brands you’re choosing, you can save money AND eat healthy. It’s possible. 

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Buy What You Need

It’s easy to get lost within the abundantly stocked aisles filled with an assortment of exotic finds and cleverly-packaged goodies. And while you may feel tempted to sample every flavor of that new popcorn brand or upstate NY gelato franchise, resist the urge and stick to your preset grocery list!