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How to Save Money at Whole Foods – 6 Shopping Tips


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Does Whole Foods Market really deserve the nickname “Whole Paycheck?” 

Maybe not. 

The store does have a reputation for selling overpriced specialty foods (like a $6 bottle of “asparagus water”). But it’s also possible to get some fantastic deals if you know what to buy, what to skip, and where to look for money-saving opportunities.

How to Save Money at Whole Foods

You know the drill for saving money on groceries. Don’t go grocery shopping while hungry, make a meal plan before you go, and bring a grocery list with you. But that’s not always enough at Whole Foods.

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But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it. Just arm yourself with these Whole Foods savings strategies to get the Whole Foods goods you crave with a lower price tag.

1. Sign up for Amazon Prime

Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017. Since that purchase, a few things have changed about the Whole Foods shopping experience. 

You can still get organic veggies, fancy cheese, and prime cuts of meat. But now, you can get all those things with the discount that comes with your Prime membership

Prime members get an extra 10% off sale items. For example, if a product that’s normally $6 is marked down to $5, as a Prime member, you’d only pay $4.50. These deals are labeled with a little yellow tag that reads, “extra 10% off sale.” Whole Foods also lists sale products on its website. 

You can also find special Prime member-only deals on seasonal goods like strawberries or squash. A little blue label reading, “Prime member deal,” alerts you to those. That label means non-Prime members pay regular price while you get the deal. 

To get your discount, Prime members can shop through the Amazon website for two-hour delivery and free one-hour grocery pickup. In-store, you can select the deals you want from the Whole Foods app, which will generate a code you can use at checkout. Or you can just give the cashier your phone number.

2. Get an Amazon Visa Credit Card

If you shop at Whole Foods or Amazon frequently, it’s probably worth your time to sign up for the Prime Rewards Visa Signature card. You get 5% cash back when you shop at Whole Foods. 

But you can also use it at any merchant that accepts Visa. The card gives you 1% cash back at most places, with 2% back when you use it at drugstores, restaurants, or gas stations. The card doesn’t have an annual fee but does require a Prime membership.

If you’re not a Prime member, opt for the regular Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card and enjoy 3% cash back at Whole Foods. The Amazon Rewards card also gives you 1% cash back at most merchants or 2% back at drugstores, restaurants, and gas stations. There’s no annual fee for this card, either.

2. Shop the Weekly Sales

Despite its “Whole Paycheck” reputation, Whole Foods actually has pretty impressive sales, especially if buying organic, free-range, or sustainably raised food is important to you. 

Many sale products are already on the expensive side, such as shrimp and animal welfare-certified sirloin. But if that’s what you’re looking for, Whole Foods’ sale prices often can’t be beat (even on less sustainable food elsewhere). And you may not find such high quality at a regular grocery store, anyway. 

When meal planning or making your shopping list, check out the sales flyer on their website for inspiration. Even if you don’t typically eat such expensive food on a random weeknight, you can find deals for special meals like birthday dinners or date night.

The sales flyer is also available on the Whole Foods app, making it easy to add discounted products to your list for the week. 

You can also find Whole Foods’ sales flyers on Flipp, an app that aggregates sales flyers for multiple stores and makes planning your shopping list from them a breeze. That way, you can compare Whole Foods’ sales to other stores’ prices in a single place.

3. Use Coupons

You can use manufacturer coupons at Whole Foods, despite what the rumors say. The store happily takes coupons for branded products. 

It also occasionally offers its own coupons or deals, such as $10 off a purchase of $50. Usually, the deals are specific to local stores and aren’t available at every location.

You may be able to practice some form of extreme couponing at Whole Foods. For example, you can combine a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon for an even bigger discount.

4. Shop the Bulk Section

Buying in bulk at Whole Foods is different from buying in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco. You’re not going to walk out of the supermarket with a 10-gallon jug of mayonnaise or 5-pound barrel of pretzels.

The bulk section at Whole Foods consists of rows of bins full of dried pantry goods, such as grains, beans, and nuts. Each bin has a code and a price by weight. You can buy as much or as little as you want. 

If you need a handful of nuts to dress up a salad, you can fill a plastic or paper bag with the exact amount you need. You can even bring your own reusable bulk bags to further cut down on waste. Write the SKU or product number on the tag or bag, then take it to checkout so the cashier can weigh it when you finish shopping. 

Along with letting you buy only what you need, helping you reduce waste, bulk bin products tend to be a little cheaper than their packaged counterparts. 

But compare prices to be sure. Look at the per-ounce or per-pound price of a bag of rice, nuts, or beans, then look at how much the same food costs in the bulk section. 

5. Buy Everyday Value Products

Whole Foods has its own brand, 365 Everyday Value. The store’s label sells pretty much everything, including both staples and treats. For example, products include olive oil, grains, cereal, milk, beans, and ice cream. 

The store’s private-label products are pretty good and usually cost less, sometimes substantially so, than branded products. 

6. Bring Your Own Bags

Whole Foods has a bag refund policy that gives you $0.05 or $0.10 back (it varies by store) when you bring your own reusable bags. 

The bring-your-own-bag policy isn’t going to make you rich, but it is a nice incentive to remember to take a few reusable bags with you when you go to the store. Plus, every cent adds up.

Besides, some cities and states now have bag bans, meaning you have to pay to get a paper or plastic bag if you don’t bring your own. While each state’s or municipality’s bag fee is minuscule — for example, $0.10 or $0.25 — it adds up if you forget your bags every time you shop.

Final Word

Even before Amazon introduced Prime member savings and deals at Whole Foods, it was possible to shop at the natural foods store without going broke.

The store’s private label and bulk bin section in particular make it easy to save money on pantry basics without a Prime membership. Plus, advice for saving money at any grocery store also applies to Whole Foods.


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Amy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia, PA. Her interest in personal finance and budgeting began when she was earning an MFA in theater, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country (Brooklyn, NY) on a student's budget. You can read more of her work on her website, Amy E. Freeman.