10 Things You Can Buy at Whole Foods That Are Surprisingly Affordable
We’ve often wondered whether the “Whole Foods/Whole Paycheck” trope is entirely fair. Is Whole Foods genuinely a more expensive place to buy groceries, or does their abundant selection encourage people to ignore their careful shopping lists and load up with more than what they intended? While we did previously bring you a list of what not to buy at Whole Foods — based on higher than average sticker prices for those specific items — there are just as many bargains to be found at America’s favorite organic grocer. While you won’t find too many truly cheap groceries at Whole Foods, there are a few hiding for you among the super-expensive sliced mango.
Because Whole Foods has its own, proprietary brand — 365 by Whole Foods Market — many healthy, organic kitchen staples are even less expensive than organic products sold in conventional markets, and in a few cases, even less expensive than conventional, non-organic items. (The 365 brand carries both organic and non-organic items, but examples below typically highlight organic options, and always delineate which we’re talking about.) The Whole Foods partnership with Amazon Prime members also means that additional savings are available for those customers, with special weekly members-only deals, and an additional 10% off of sale items. With that, here are 10 things you can buy at Whole Foods that are surprisingly affordable.
Note: prices were sourced via Whole Foods Market through Amazon.com and do not automatically reflect additional savings for Amazon Prime Members. Comparative prices for conventional markets were sourced through a number of different stores including ShopRite, Key Foods, and Wegmans via Instacart.
1. Seasonal and Organic Whole Fruits and Vegetables
Knowing what’s currently in season is a good strategy for saving money at the register, and this applies as much to shopping at Whole Foods as anywhere else. (Hint: look for information about where your fresh fruits and vegetables are sourced from. The closer to home, the more in-season.) Pre-sliced produce at Whole Foods is a potential budget-buster, but if you’re willing to do the labor, shopping for seasonal, organic, whole produce at Whole Foods is an affordable approach.
Do the math: As of right now, a pound of organic strawberries at Whole Foods retails for $5.99, whereas you’d pay about that much for non-organic strawberries at a conventional supermarket, and a whopping $8.99 for the same amount of organic ones.
2. Organic Milk
The outer aisles are where a lot of refrigerated staples live in any grocery store layout, and at Whole Foods, this is where many affordable options can be found. Low-fat milk and other dairy products are an excellent source of protein, as well as calcium, potassium and vitamin D, and organic options especially align with the dairy industry’s “does a body good” message.
Do the math: Organic milk from 365 by Whole Foods Market retails for $3.69 for a half gallon. The same amount of organic milk at a conventional store, typically Stonyfield, Organic Valley, or Horizon brands, clocks in around $6.69 on average. Even grocery darling Wegman’s proprietary brand of organic milk starts at $4.39 for a half gallon.
3. Organic Eggs
Eggs are often described as “nature’s most perfect food,” and we are inclined to agree. (Check out Here’s Why You Should Be Eating More Eggs.) Healthy, versatile, delicious, and appropriate for a meal at any time of day, eggs may be the staple of all staples in a well-stocked, healthy kitchen.
Do the math: Organic and cage free, Whole Foods 365 brand offers a dozen brown eggs for $4.49. The same at a conventional market may get you organic, but not cage-free, or vice versa, but for both attributes you’re looking at $6.79 and up.
4. Bulk Organic Nuts
Another affordable perk of shopping at Whole Foods is the abundant selection of bulk items. Not only does this aid in your grocery budget by generally lowering the price-per-pound you pay for these items, but it also allows you to buy only a small amount, if that’s what your shopping list calls for. The bulk bins at Whole Foods include nutrient-dense whole nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans.
Do the math: It can be difficult to even find organic nuts in a conventional grocery store, but as a point of comparison, Whole Foods offers bulk organic walnuts at $13.99 per pound (about $7 for 8 ounces) whereas one conventional retailer sells a 7-ounce package of organic walnuts for $10.99. Plus, with the bulk option, you need only to commit to a quarter-pound if nuts are only an occasional item for you.
5. Organic Brown Rice
Brown rice is typically a little pricier than white rice to begin with, but it retains more nutrients and fiber than its paler counterpart. Brown rice has a more toothsome quality and nuttier flavor than white rice — and fortunately, these qualities lend themselves extremely well to veggie-packed, summer grain salads.
Do the math: 32 ounces of organic brown rice retails at Whole Foods for $3.99, compared to $4.39 and up for the same amount at a conventional market. In some cases, this deal even beats out the price for conventional brown rice, as compared to organic.
6. Organic Marinara
A classic marinara sauce is simple enough to make yourself using fresh or canned tomatoes, but for a healthy cook in a hurry, many great meals begin with a jar of pasta sauce. (In fact, here are 5 Ways to Turn a Jar of Marinara into Dinner.) We even rounded up for you the Healthiest, Best-Tasting Tomato Sauces to Stock Up on at the Grocery Store, and look! 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Pasta Sauce makes the list. We’d previously warned against stocking up on Rao’s at Whole Foods, given the markup, but there’s no need to when Whole Foods’ own brand is a worthy adversary.
Do the math: Great-tasting and clean with no sugar added, you can’t afford not to buy Whole Foods 365 Marinara sauce for only $2.49 for a 25-ounce jar. Similar organic sauces available at conventional markets start at $3.84.
7. Organic, Freshly Ground Peanut Butter
Back in the bulk aisle, Whole Foods offers both freshly ground peanut and almond butters in either organic or conventional versions whose ingredient lists are a single item long. (Either “almonds” or “peanuts” as the case may be.) Both salt- and sugar-free, these are about the best nut butters money can buy.
Do the math: At $5.19 per pound, Whole Foods is just about the only retailer who sells their own freshly ground peanut butter without added salt. In terms of price, the next organic peanut butter does contain salt and isn’t freshly ground — and retails for $5.79.
8. Frozen Organic Vegetables
Frozen vegetables can offer all of the same nutrients as fresh vegetables if they are processed correctly, with the added bonus of having to worry less about using them up before they go limp. Recipes such as soups, stews, stir fries, and casseroles are made quicker with the inclusion of a bag of frozen veggies. (In fact, here are 5 Dinner Ideas That Start with a Bag of Frozen Broccoli.)
Do the math: A variety of 16-oz packages of frozen, organic veggies such as mixed vegetables, California blend, butternut squash, broccoli, and stir-fry blend are marked between $2.49 and $2.99 at Whole Foods. Similar, organic offerings in conventional markets start at $3.29.
9. Organic Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has become a darling in more than just the food space in the last several years, as it also has myriad uses in the skin care sphere. (See what we had to say about it in our What You Need to Know feature concerning pantry oils.) Coconut oil comes in both refined and unrefined versions, though unlike olive oil where virgin expressions are prized, refined coconut oil has a similar nutrient profile to its virgin counterpart, and is preferred for cooking for its higher smoke point and neutral flavor.
Do the math: Whole Foods sells 365 brand Organic, Refined Coconut Oil for $5.79 for 14 ounces, compared to $6.39 and up at conventional retailers.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil has long been lauded for its heart- and brain-health benefits, as well as its anti-inflammatory nature. Speaking of inflammation, however, it does have a relatively low smoke point, so it is mainly preferred for low-heat cooking, salad dressings, or as a finishing oil.
Do the math: With nearly a perfect 5-star rating out of 12,000 submissions on Amazon, Whole Foods Extra Virgin Mediterranean Blend Olive Oil is a steal at $8.69 for 33.8 ounces. Similar approaches at conventional grocery stores register nearly $2 more at about $10.39 on average.
Good food brings people together. So do good emails.