Grocery shopping is expensive and can take a significant amount of time if we let it. Combine that dynamic with food waste being at offensive levels in the U.S., with 30-40% of the food supply being wasted and it becomes clear that we can do better. With a little forethought and preparation, we can go a long way to saving time and money, while reducing waste, regardless of where we shop.
Whether you love grocery shopping or despise it, there is no denying that Whole Foods has one of the most extensive selections of organic, gourmet and healthy finds around. Yet, with a nick-name like “whole paycheck” many of us clearly have had issues with over-spending there. In the following list there are several things we can do to help keep the spending in check as well as more wisely allocating our time while keeping waste to a minimum.
Plan meals for the week.
There is no other single thing you can do that will save you more time and money at the grocery store and for the rest of the week, than having a definitive list of “needs” that will culminate as real meals for the week.
2. Make a list. (see #1)
A list ensures that we will end up with everything required for the pending weeks meals and will keep emergency trips for forgotten items to a minimum. Depending on what you drive and for how far, fewer emergency trips is significant for both time and money savings, let alone the frustration cost.
3. Stick to the list (see #2)
The most expensive things in the cart end up being the things that were never intended to be in the cart. They also tend to be the unhealthiest, so stick to the list.
4. Don’t go down the aisles that are not required for your list (see #3).
Wandering in Whole Foods is dangerous, especially if you’re hungry or are feeling creative and inspired.
5. Buy the 365 Brand.
Whole Foods generic line, that has a significant amount of certified organic products, has been so popular they are now opening budget-conscious 365 by Whole Foods stores.
6. Check for sales at wholefoods.com (www.wholefoods.com)
Before you menu plan, go online to see the weekly sales so you can plan your meals around them. They also have an extensive database of budget-mined recipe suggestions.
7. Get the Whole Foods Market App (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/digital-coupons-new-way-save-whole-foods-market)
Whole Foods offers significant discounts exclusive to App users, like $5 of produce when you spend $15.
8. Follow Whole Foods on social media.
Their social media outlets are where random and significant one-day specials are advertized.
9. Get a supplement punch card.
If you buy Whole Foods 365 supplements, you can earn $10 dollars for every $100 you spend.
10. Shop on Wednesday or Friday.
There are sales happening every day at Whole Foods, however new sales start on Wednesday when you can get the best selection. On Fridays you can take advantage of the sales that started Wednesday and also get the benefit of the Friday-only specials.
11. Buy in bulk.
For dry ingredients that you use more of, buy in bulk. Brown rice, beans, nuts, and quinoa are seriously healthy options and rice and quinoa can be cooked in bulk and frozen in serving size portions for future use.
12. Buy in cases.
For those items you regularly go through, buying them in case quantities will save you 10%. From soy yogurt to canned coconut milk to frozen veggie burgers to wine, what ever it is you can save 10%. Wine at Whole Food is very overpriced, you’re over paying if it is not already on sale and your buying a case of six for the additional 10% off , as that brings it down to regular retail price.
13. Buy frozen.
Fresh produce seems like it is the healthiest choice, however the produce has taken a very long, hard journey from where it was grown to your store. Once picked, produces begins slowly decomposing and as time passes, nutrients are lost. Frozen fruits and vegetables however are flash frozen, usually the day they are harvested, locking in all the nutrients for your benefit until you’re ready to use them. Organic versions are more available and more consistent than in the produce section as well and for far less.
14. Avoid the plastic containers of pre-cut produce.
These containers are priced having nothing to do with produce cost but for the value of the convenience. Buy the produce whole and slice it yourself for a fraction of the price.
15. Consider the salad bar- with caution.
For small portions of produce (1/2 cup of shredded cabbage is needed) head to the salad bar. The salad bar is a dangerous place ripe for over-spending, but if nearly a head of cabbage is going to be wasted for lack of use, then get the little bit you need at the salad bar. If you’re making a salad, assemble with weight in mind, beans, hard boiled eggs, etc. that cost next to nothing are the heaviest things at the bar.
16. Avoid frozen and prepackaged meals.
For the price of the ingredients, you could have had 4-5 meals and they would taste significantly better without all the added garbage ingredients.
17. Don’t buy more than you need.
Whole Foods has a dizzying assortment of fine cheeses, however you don’t have to buy in the sizes offered, ask them the cut one in half to better suit your needs. Same goes for the bakery, you can buy a half loaf if that is all you want.
18. Don’t have Whole Foods be your only place to shop.
Locally sourced always tastes better and your local farmers market will have beautiful produce and you’ll be supporting small farmers. For paper products and cleaning supplies, stores like target will have better prices on the same items, like natural detergents or recycled paper towels.
19. Don’t be afraid to return things.
If your last trip happened when you were starving and you bought fantasizing about a possible dinner party that’s never going to happen, then take the stuff back. If you don’t like the taste or quality of what you bought, take it back, if those gorgeous strawberries are a box of fuzz the next day, take it back, they have a great return policy with friendly staff.
20. Bring your own bags.
Ten cents a bag is not going to wildly adjust your budget but it is something and more importantly its makes a huge difference to the environment.
21. Don’t buy impulse items at the check out. We know this.. but a reminder helps.
At Life with Moxie we are all about mastering the system, but to truly master it, you have to first decide that you are worth dedicating the time for to make it happen. Have you maybe forgotten? You are worth it, do you need a nudge, send me an email. I’m here to help you get your Moxie back! Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie
Have ideas you’d like to add to the list? Need more suggestions? Let me know!
Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company www.lifewithmoxie.com and Host of Life with Moxie Radio, Saturday’s at 1pm on 98.9 WGUF in Southwest Florida. You can reach her at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com
Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie