How to Keep it Cheap at Whole Foods (Plus Bonus Receipt Content!)

It’s important for me to preface this with the fact that I am a 24 year old woman responsible for no one but myself. I don’t have kids or a spouse or even a goldfish relying on me for sustenance.

That being said, I shop at Whole Foods 9 times out of 10. I also love Trader Joe’s and Wegmans. However, the only Trader Joe’s in Philadelphia is on the edge of Center City and has a teeny tiny parking lot, and the nearest Wegmans is a bit farther away in Cherry Hill, NJ. Thus, making the 15-minute drive to the Whole Foods with a spacious parking garage is my most practical option.


There are other reasons I prefer Whole Foods, too. The first seems petty af but nonetheless important to me: Whole Foods has good ambiance. They’re clean and well-organized, and the lighting isn’t too harsh. I can even bypass the meat section so that I never have to see or smell rotting flesh. It’s fantastic. They also prohibit ingredients like red 40 and high fructose corn syrup in the products they sell, so it’s easier to read ingredient labels and thus my shopping trip is made more efficient.

I know this sounds like an advertisement. And I wish it were, because that would mean I’d be getting paid to write this. But Whole Foods often gets a bad rep as being “too expensive,” and I loathe the spread of misinformation.

I feel like most individuals who refer to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck” have never made a conscious effort to shop there and/or straight up don’t know how to go grocery shopping. This is coming from someone who spent her childhood eating generic Wal*Mart food. I carry those same frugal sensibilities to this day, and it’s made me into a decently savvy Whole Foods shopper.

There are a few things that aid me in my quest to save money and eat well, the most prominent of which is my reliance on Whole Foods’ generic 365 brand. The prices of 365 items are comparable to, and oftentimes less than, the prices of similar items at stores like Target and Wegmans. My Amazon Prime Visa credit card has recently become another way to save money at Whole Foods since I get 5% cash back on all my purchases there. I know, I still sound like an ad. I hate that I’m excited over a credit card, too.

To be fair, you can definitely blow your entire paycheck at Whole Foods if you buy the more expensive items. I once bought a $6 bottle of barbecue sauce on a whim. There is a vegan nacho cheez that costs $9.99 a jar that I’m constantly eyeing. And you can buy a variety of bougie walnut and truffle oils. However, because I usually forgo these luxury items, I feel like I don’t spend very much on food. But I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s my receipt:

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste - $3.99
(2) Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla - $5
(2) 365 Garbanzo Beans @ 79¢ each - $1.58
(2) 365 Black Beans @ 79¢ each - $1.58
365 Organic Ranchero Beans - $1.29
365 Hearts of Palm - $2.99
365 Frozen Berry Medley - $3.79
(4) 365 Frozen Riced Cauliflower @ $1.99 each - $7.96
(2) 365 Frozen Blueberries @ $2.99 each - $5.98
365 Frozen Petite Brussels Sprouts - $1.29
365 Frozen Broccoli Florets - $1.69
365 Frozen Chopped Spinach - $1.69
365 Frozen Shelled Edamame @ $1.79 each - $3.58
Pacific Foods Seitan - $3.99
(3) Euro Cucumbers - $3.98
365 Organic Spring Mix - $4.99
365 Organic Extra Firm Tofu - $1.99
1.52 lb Red Seedless Grapes - $3.02
(1) Organic Sweet Onion - $1.13
(4) Fuji Apples - $3.63
(3) Organic Japanese Sweet Potatoes - $3.32
365 Olive Oil Cooking Spray - $4.99

TOTAL $73.45

Some of these items will last me a week, some longer. The greens last about 5 days. A can of beans will last me one or two. There are other things I eat, of course. I get my plant-based protein powder from Amazon (2lb for $20) which lasts me 3 weeks to a month. I also use apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and hemp seeds regularly. I get them in bulk and use them sparingly, so I don’t have to buy them too often.  

What my shopping strategy really comes down to is buying simple generic foods, with preferably one item on the ingredient list. It still might not be as cheap as buying a bunch of highly-processed foods from Wal*Mart, but I’m betting it’ll save money on medical bills in the long run :~)