How to at Shop Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank

I’m going to share with you my secrets of shopping Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank!

I LOVE shopping at Whole Foods. In my opinion they’ve really got it right. The layout of the stores make sense, they are not too large or overwhelming. The displays are intriguing and tell a story (elaborate retail visual display alum over here). And, most importantly, the variety of healthy food options, organics, allergy/diet-sensitive needs (among other tasty things like pretty baked goods, wine and beer bar, and locally sourced goods). I’m going to show you how I shop at Whole Foods without breaking the bank!

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Things I don’t like about Whole Foods:

(Get ready, this is a short list…)

  1. Distance to my closest Whole Foods (about 40 minutes)
  2. They are always busy (see: crowded; long check out lines; people who leave their shopping cart on one side of the aisle and shop on the other side…)
  3. Finally, the price tag

I know it must be possible to shop at Whole Foods and stock my kitchen full of healthier options without breaking the bank.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank
How To Shop Whole Foods on the Cheap!

Whole Foods App

Here is a good way to shop Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank: download the app and sign it. The app will show you all available coupons on one screen, and sales on the other screen. What I like about the app is that the coupons are all automatically available for you, you don’t need to scroll through and decide whether you will need the coupon or not, nor is there a limit on how many coupons you can select. Win/win.


I use the Ibotta shopping app every single time I go shopping. It is mostly for grocery shopping, there’s Whole Foods, Target, Meijer, WalMart, and even places like JoAnn’s. Click HERE to download the app using my special code.  Use my code MTYXSMI to get a $10 Welcome Bonus!

Pre-Plan Your Shop

For the love of all wonderful things in the world, please do not go to Whole Foods on a whim and think you will A) get everything you need, B) stay within budget (how do you know your budget if you didn’t plan this out?!) or C) plan on leaving the store without any unplanned splurges.

While you’re at it, don’t dare go there hungry either. A brioche, some gelato, and one-of-each macaron later, it’s just a bad decision. (I like to treat myself to a green juice/smoothie as a healthy treat to start, or maybe a latte.)

Here’s a picture of how I make my shopping list.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank

The first photo is my original list that I make before I start shopping, in this case with a green smoothie at the cafeteria at Whole Foods. The second photo is post-shop. As I cross items off my list, I write the price next to the item. This way, I can add up my total before checking out, and if I’ve gone over budget, I know exactly which items I can put back to put me back in the comfort zone.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank – Bulk Up

One of my favorite sections of Whole Foods is their bulk section… it’s glorious. Shop here as much as you can. You can get as little or as much as you would like, and the prices are SO MUCH BETTER. You can even get spices, baking ingredients, make your own peanut butter, and beyond! Don’t pay for packaging in the other aisles!!! Go for bulk!

Take advantage of the Whole Foods private brand, 365. Everything you read/any employees you talk to will tell you that the in-store brand is a gem. Choose the 365 brand wherever possible.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank – Things to Avoid

Prepared Foods

I love the ease of prepared foods, sometimes it really is a cheaper alternative than buying the ingredients. Maybe it is $5 for a small container of pico de gallo, how much is it to buy half a dozen tomatoes, a red onion, a bunch of cilantro, and couple of limes? Likely more than $5. Not to mention the increased likeliness of food waste… have you ever used a WHOLE bunch of cilantro?! And on top of all that, you’re buying some time back into your busy schedule.

Gift Shopping

Anyone else a compulsive gift giver? I am. It’s my love language, and I love picking up special treats for my friends and family for no real reason. (Here’s my Mom Gift List.) Especially from a store that makes me feel so special! I need to remind myself that I’m going in to Whole Foods to grocery shop, not Christmas shop for every one in my life. If you ARE going to purchase a gift for someone, just be sure that it was something already on your list and accounted for in the budget.

“just Because”

Don’t buy things just because they look pretty, are displayed beautifully, etc. Just because a pile of radishes look so bright pink with luscious green leaves and it gives you an idea for a healthy salad your husband would just love… leave it alone! (I can say this because I have done this before.) Stick to your list.

Watch out for the beverage section. It is so easy to drop another $20+ by letting a couple cold-pressed juices wind up in your cart. If this is something you’re into, consider investing in a juicer. A drink for the ride home is one thing, a weekly supply of carrot juice is an entirely different animal. Don’t let this blow your budget.

Product Placement

Another important tip is to avoid the front of produce displays. Just because Honey Crisps are in season (that meant $3.99/lb) doesn’t mean there isn’t an equally delicious (organic) apple variety on the back of the display (Organic Jonagolds, $1.99/lb).

Remember, they’re in business to make money, so it will require a little extra work to save some $$$. I am happy to say I got out of Whole Foods with a week’s worth of groceries for a family of three for $133!