How to shop at Whole Foods on a budget

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How to shop at Whole Foods on a budget
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Whole Foods has an array of natural, organic foods that suit a variety of dietary needs and preferences, but the prices aren’t always as accommodating. However, you can have your vegan-chocolate cake and eat it, too, if you follow a few simple strategies.

Read more: America’s grocery stores ranked from best to worst

Here’s how you can find fresh deals at Whole Foods

Try out these money-saving tips on your next Whole Foods visit.

Budget before you buy

Plan your shopping trip before you leave home to reduce impulse purchases. Set a reasonable monthly budget for groceries and shop strategically. Take stock of the items you already have, create a list of the ones you need and stick to items priced within your budget.

Find out what’s on sale — and when

Time shopping trips around your store’s sale schedule to maximize savings. New weekly sales typically begin on Wednesdays. Each month, some stores also celebrate one-day food holidays like Pi Day and National Cookie Day with special discounts.

Check the newsroom page on the Whole Foods website for event announcements, and the flyer section for current coupons and sale information by specific location. Call your local store and ask if there are any promotions or markdowns not featured in the ads.

Stay in the loop

Some sales will pop up unexpectedly. Subscribe to the Whole Foods email newsletter and follow the company’s social media accounts to receive timely updates. Scroll to the bottom of the page to access the social media links.

Compare competitor prices

Before heading to Whole Foods, make sure the items on your shopping list don’t cost less elsewhere. Check out Trader Joe’s, Target, or your local supermarket chain for better deals. Use a third-party app or browser extension to make quick price comparisons. Flipp gathers nearby retailers’ weekly ads and lets you search deals by item or store to help you track down the best offers.

Download the app

We recommend downloading the Whole Foods app to improve your shopping experience. It’s free to download on Apple and Android devices. With it, you’ll have coupons and sale details at your fingertips. Use it to create a shopping list and browse exclusive digital coupons. Scan the barcode on your phone at checkout and you’ll be given any applicable discounts.

Bring your own bags

Reusable grocery bags don’t just cut down on waste — they can cut down your grocery bill, too. Some Whole Foods locations offer between a 5- and 10-cent discount on your transaction for each bag you bring. This might not seem significant upfront, but the savings add up over time. Ask if your local store participates and what its discount rate is.

Buy in bulk

If you go through products quickly or want to stock up for a future dinner party, purchase items like beverages or nuts in large quantities to keep costs down. Bulk shoppers get a 10% discount when they buy wine and other eligible items by the case. Get goods like beans and pasta from the store’s bulk containers to choose the exact amount you want without having to pay for packaging or name-brand labels.

Buy part of an item

If you’re shopping for one person or a single meal, the size of certain groceries as they come may be too large. With certain goods, you can pay for the portion you want instead of buying the whole thing. For example, if you’re making a vegetable soup and the recipe calls for half a head of cabbage, ask an employee to split a head. You don’t have to waste money buying more than you need.

Do a taste test

You risk throwing money away by purchasing a new product out of curiosity, because you might not like it. Whole Foods has a generous “try before you buy” policy that lets you taste items like cheese or cookies even if you grabbed them off the shelf rather than a sample table. Ask for assistance if something in the aisle piques your interest.

Look for store-brand items

Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand items are comparable in quality and often lower in price than competitor brands. Keep your eyes peeled for packages with the 365 Everyday Value label and compare price tags to surrounding items on the shelf.

Read more: 21 ways to spend less money at the grocery store

Join the rewards program

Whole Foods is testing out a pilot rewards program that gives customers digital coupons to redeem in store. At the time of this writing, it’s available in just two metro areas: Dallas and Philadelphia. If your neighborhood store is on the list, take advantage. New members automatically get 10% off their next purchase after signing up with an email address or social media account. Don’t live in either of these areas? Give it time. If the program is a success, it could expand to more stores.

How to compare unit prices at the supermarket

Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.

The article How to Shop at Whole Foods on a Budget originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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