Whole Foods Lifestyle - How do you deal with the expense?

View Full Version : How do you deal with the expense?

10-29-2007, 12:26 PM

10-29-2007, 12:42 PM
Well for me, whole foods really means veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes and other minimally processed/non processed food items. It doesn't necessarily mean organic or buying stuff at "Whole Foods". I think overall it is cheaper not to buy crap but in general, I buy very little at "Whole Foods". I do love my Trader Joe's and I usually buy tons of stuff at Costco. I shop the regular super market as well.

As for expense, I don't feel I spend too much besides I save on all the crap that I read the first few items on the label and see it isn't for me. Also, I rather spend money on groceries now than spend it on poor health later :)

Oh and if your goal is organic stuff, you might want to see what other markets are in your area and also it is starting to get too late but farmer's markets are great for buying produce.

10-29-2007, 12:42 PM
All stores carry foods that are not processed. Think fresh or organic. Also try farmer's markets.. You can save money by looking for special sales on the food you prefer at any store.

Suzanne 3FC
10-29-2007, 12:56 PM
I buy tons of vegetables at farmers markets for a fraction of what they charge at the supermarket. I buy all of my grains, spices, and other products available in bulk bins at the natural food store, again for just a fraction of what they charge at the supermarket. Cooking from scratch helps keep costs down, as well as making sure I'm in complete control of what's in my food.

10-29-2007, 01:12 PM
Next to rent, food is my family's biggest expense. We cut corners everywhere else because quality, organic, local, vegan, whole foods are worth it to us for our health, for the environment and for the animals. We don't have an "entertainment" budget, for instance. I do trades and barters and look for coupons and discounts for everything. We participate in the local CSA (which was hit by the Witch fire in San Diego, sadly :( ).

All the things mentioned before are great suggestions. :)

10-29-2007, 01:17 PM
While I love the Whole Foods concept I finally had to stop shopping there due to the expense. In the long run it's possible to find good stuff at the farmer's market & in the produce department of the local stores at a significantly lower price. Just avoid processed foods, keep it as clean as possible & you're doing the whole food thing. Good luck & enjoy!

10-29-2007, 01:38 PM
I belong to a recipe club that suggests you buy for only 3-4 days at a time and actually PLAN your meals as well as snacks. That way there is not a bag of carrots or apples rotting in your fridge. Wasted food is a big money zapper.

10-29-2007, 02:14 PM
Soulbliss... sorry to hear about the fire and the effect on your community :(.

10-29-2007, 02:30 PM
Whole foods stores around here are ridiculously expensive. Some people call the store Whole Paycheck instead of Whole foods! I am a devotee of TJs and count myself very lucky to have one close by. What I do generally is get the store ads on Monday or Tuesday, see what produce is on sale and try to plan my meals around what is on sale. Not always possible 100% or even 50% but gettign some things on sale can only help your budget.

I cannot afford to go the entire way and buy organic yet, so i cannot advise you on that. In the summer and spring time, if you have dirt or pots you might think about planting some stuff youself.

10-29-2007, 03:00 PM
I agree with what others have said - "Whole Foods" isn't necessarily the best place to buy whole foods.

I have great luck visiting the greenmarkets in my area. Produce is much better quality, and prices are fantastic - always less than any chain supermarket. They also tend to stock as much local produce as possible, which is a plus IMO.

While there are certain items that I now pay more for (organic milk and meat/poultry, for example), I'm finding that - overall - I'm actually saving money over buying processed foods. Partly because I don't eat as much when I'm eating better (due to getting more fiber and lean protein), but also because some items are just cheap, cheap, cheap. Brown rice, all kinds of dried beans, and seasonal produce can allow you to eat quite cheaply, so that even if you incorporate more expensive organic meat, your overall meal cost is still low.

I do find that planning helps. I shop every 3-4 days, and go with a list that covers a complete meal plan for the next 3-4 days. This allows me to buy my produce regularly, so it's nice and fresh. It also means I'm not overbuying - if plans change, I don't have two weeks' worth of groceries sitting in the fridge going bad. I keep a well-stocked pantry, so when I shop I'm mainly buying some meat, loads of fruit and veggies, small milk and some eggs. Every 6 weeks or so, I'll hit Costco to stock up on staples like flour, rice, canned tomatoes, etc.

10-29-2007, 03:15 PM
Have you investigated joining a CSA for your produce? Here is a list of CSA's in Rhode Island:


I found that this was so much cheaper than the grocery store or even the farmer's market (and the food was fresh and local!). My CSA also had eggs from their own free-range chickens, and they were some of the most amazing eggs I have ever tasted.

10-31-2007, 04:14 PM
Lori - You can freeze that processed meat, leave out only as much as he'll eat in a few days. It thaws really quickly. But keep working on your DH. Mine was a huge processed meat eater, but I've slowly gotten him where he won't touch it. I started by buying higher quality stuff (i.e. REAL turkey and beef from the deli) already sliced, and moved from that to sandwiches made from stuff we'd cooked at home. I've also moved from tuna to left over salmon made into a salad for sandwiches.

We don't have either Whole Foods or TJs here. There is a "natural" grocery and an oriental grocery that has high quality produce (also a Costco) in Anchorage - a 50 mile drive. I try to hit those when I go to Anchorage. Otherwise, I'm dependent on my local grocery, but I do pretty well with the regular produce. They do have some organic but it's a pretty slim selection. In the summer we have a farmer's market, plus the only organic farm in the area is about 1/2 mile from me. They do CSAs, and also farmer's market in Anchorage (but not our local one :shrug: ) and on Fridays from 5-7. We also grow some of our own veggies and fruit (rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries) and my DH fishes for salmon. We sometimes trade for game meat (moose, caribou) and halibut.

11-01-2007, 09:50 AM
I have to shop on a budget and I found this "daily dozen" (http://www.ewg.org/sites/foodnews/pdf/EWG_pesticide.pdf) list to be very helpful.

I also do what many here have already suggested: I cook from scratch, grow some of my own veggies, and buy from farmer's markets. I have been buying organic spinach and spring greens from Costco lately. I am dismayed at the amount of packaging, but it is a large amount for a great price.

I have noticed that by eating more produce and less meat and grains, that that brings costs down as well. It may seem like organic produce is expensive, but put it into perspective along with the rest of your food budget. Compare it to breakfast cereals or say a dining out budget, then it comes out pretty reasonable, imo.

11-03-2007, 08:38 PM
Rosie Kate, YOU are "pretty reasonable" in my opinion! ;)

I just wanted to reiterate to anyone who comes into the thread at this point that a "Whole Foods" lifestyle isn't about shopping at a particular store, it's about eating more whole, natural, fresh foods. :carrot:

11-04-2007, 08:53 AM
Good point, Soul Bliss

I've yet to set foot inside a Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods!


11-07-2007, 02:03 PM
Rosie - you should take a look at a WF sometime - maybe leave your $$ at home :) - they really are very very nice stores! We lived in Seattle for 8 months a few years ago and I really enjoyed having a TJs and WF to shop at. I miss them, but not enough to move back. :lol:

I've just discovered a sort of CSA available in my area - boxes of fresh veggies air-freighted in. Not cheap, but it sounds like you get a fair amount. A friend of mine just started last week, so I'm waiting to get her input....

11-09-2007, 09:47 AM
Are you near a Costco? Do you have a chest freezer. We bought a 2nd freezer (I mean in addition to our regular fridge/freezer unit in the kitchen) and have a Costco strategy:
Buy the huge bags of organic frozen veg. and fruit there--divide into reasonably large but manageable sizes--put in ziploc freezer bags--keep one bag at a time in the upstairs freezer. Frozen fruit is just fine to use, especially now that fresh fruit is less available.

At the grocery store:
organic plain yogurt
whatever organic veg. are in
whole wheat pizza crusts (i.e. Boboli)
the bags of stir-fry mixed veg (Bird's Eye, etc. that do not come with sauces--make them with tofu or low fat beef)

I also think not everything has to be certified organic (to me, it is particularly important w/dairy and certain fruits). If you buy along the perimeter of the store, you tend to avoid the aisles w/the more processed food. Also, it's not an all-or-nothing thing. One can only make so many changes at one time w/o becoming resentful.:smug:

suddenly susan
12-31-2007, 04:14 PM
Farmer's Markets really are the way to go when they are open...or if you have one near. When the markets are closed, I try and rotate my shopping between Whole Foods and discount supermarkets. That way, I can still get in my organics most of the time, and save money too. Nutrient wise, the most important thing is finding produce that was grown as close to you as possible (you'd be surprised at how many locally grown things you can find at discount stores). Other ways of cutting out the cost are ride your bike or walk/bus to the store a couple of times a week...especially if you are going to Whole Foods. Then you have the satisfaction of knowing you saved money (and are being eco-friendly) on gas and now have a few extra cents to spend on those organics!
I can totally relate on the extra expense of the "significant other" :P My boyfriend wont eat as many greens as I do, but I just buy him cheaper processed food to make up the difference! I know it sounds mean, but really, he eats it, and when there is no other choice will eat (and LIKE!) my healthier choices. I find it is easier to get him to share the food when I prepare it for him.
Getting healthy with your food quickly becomes a huge lifestyle makeover in so many ways, and I promise you will find yourself cutting expenses in other areas of your life(in good ways) and making the grocery budget an easier one to deal with. It just takes time :)

01-07-2008, 06:07 AM
Here in Tampa some of the bigger chains that do organic foods often have sales and while I am rarely in the mood for 25 breakfast burritos at a time, the comparison of 4.99 each to 2.25 is so worth it. In the end if we add up all the crap we have put into our bodies over the years don't you think cleaning your body of all the crap and putting in the better fuel is about time. "Suddenly Susan" seems to have it all on track here. The farmers markets rock, though if you shop around some of the chains you can find little bits or organic here and there and hey at least while you are out and about you are burning calories.

02-02-2008, 12:57 PM
We call them whole paychecks here in seattle too :)! In our household it is just me and the hubby and we recently started getting deliveries from this company called SPUD or small potatoes urban delivery. They tell you as you are ordering how far the item had to travel to get to their warehouse. Most of the stuff is within 200 miles. I know that seems like a lot, but here in washington, most of our produce is grown on the eastern side of the state. The company has gone carbon neutral and the stuff is packed into reusable totes and no unnecessary packaging for produce and everything else. I love it. We spend about $90-$120/ week on groceries which is about the same as before in the grocery store, but now it is mostly all whole foods and organic.
We live in the suburbs of seattle so all the green markets and big grocery stores are atleast 5 miles away so this helps a lot with travel time, gas expenses and helping the environment.

02-02-2008, 01:17 PM
Hey Tigerente, It's great that you do that. I live in eastern Washington and I remember visiting Seattle last summer and going to a Whole Paycheck for some supplies. They had piles of beautiful and expensive produce all imported from California! It was the height of summer and eastern Washington was producing all that same produce in abundance and instead of buying from in-state, Whole Foods was importing from CA! I became quite enraged, actually, particularly when we went over to the wine section and they had about 4 bottles of WA wine and about a million bottles of CA wine. Way to support local agriculture...

But at least you're doing the right thing. :)

ETA: We have the opposite problem out here. Produce is relatively inexpensive (especially in summer when we can buy from the farmer's market or directly from farms: like 75c/lb for asparagus and 10lb onions for $3) but dry goods that have to be trucked in are terribly expensive. We pay (literally) twice as much for things like canned tomatoes and boxes of pasta than we did when we lived in a city. I try to limit my purchase of those kinds of things, but some trucked in items are necessary each week. It gets expensive.

02-02-2008, 01:33 PM
I just joined a CSA for the first time this year and I'm looking forward to all the fresh organic produce :)

02-02-2008, 02:00 PM
Baffled111~ I live in central WA and find that everything is more expensive then it was in California (we moved in August.) I think that's mainly due to the fact pretty much everything has to be trucked in. I can't wait until the farmer's market opens in April! Even though the prices are higher then in your area (75c/lb for asparagus!!! I'm jealous!) the prices are still better then the stores.

I just watch adds and I shop at all the stores in town. There are certain things you can only get for a good price at certain stores. Good thing we live in a small town so I don't waste too much gas. I also love to buy grains, spices, honey, molasses, etc. at the local health food store in bulk.

02-11-2008, 12:12 PM
I am a newbie to the whole foods thread but I had a few thoughts to contribute here. I don't worry about buying things that are labeled "organic" because I am not sure that label carries a lot of value, but I do think it adds a lot to the cost. I do try to get a lot of things locally, and I know that they are grown "organically" because I know the farmers and farms, but they have not gone to the trouble and expense of becoming certified organic. Even if it is labeled organic, if it came across the country, I prefer not to buy it. It pays to get to know what is available in your area and build relationships with the vendors/farmers. I know a lady who gives me farm eggs when she has too many - so I know that her chickens are "free range" and naturally fed. I buy from a local dairy, and lots of times when I go in there, since I am a regular, they throw in extras. I shop at the Amish Market nearby. I am a big bargain shopper and I think I pay more now for my food, but not significantly more.

But I have a question for those of you experienced with CSAs - similar to modkttn's comment. A couple of the vendors I'm familiar with at the Farmer's Market have CSAs and I'm considering signing up. So I would be getting the same stuff I see at the market, except it would be a surprise each week. Which could be fun, but could also be a pain trying to figure out how to use it. What is the main advantage of CSA over Farmer's Market? Is the cost significantly lower? I haven't kept good enough records of my veggie expenditures to do a good comparison.

02-11-2008, 05:58 PM
Don't know if my suggestions will help or not.
I'm a small farmer & I raise most of my own food - about 75%.
I agree with Schmoodle - organic isn't what its cracked up to be. The USDA has changed the standards to accommodate big agr biz. Certified Naturally Grown is good but the USDA is trying to interfere with that too.

What I always tell people who want to keep the cost of their food down is to try & grow some of it yourself and freeze or home can it.
There are so many homesteading & self reliant blogs out there with tons of information.

Even people with small postage stamps yards in town can grow some of their own food.
It is not hard.
Ever thought about raising a few backyard chickens?
They are no more trouble than a couple of cats & give an egg almost everyday.

CSA is good for some people but please understand that certain veggies & fruits are only in season for short while depending upon your location. A freezer is almost a necessity.
Cooking from scratch will save a fortune.

02-11-2008, 09:04 PM
In the summer here (June-early Sept) we grow what we can, i.e. that has a short enough growing season. Usually we do lettuce, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, spinach, zucchini, green beans and a few cabbages. We also have a greenhouse where we grow tomatos and cucumbers. For fruits we grow rhubarb, raspberries, currents and strawberries. We also buy local when we can. The season for farmer's markets is also short (they don't get any special weather yet). The rest of the year I get fresh veggies from a CSA in Washington state. It's about as "local" as I can find fresh stuff. At least it doesn't come from South America!

Schmoodle - I get a list on Thursday for what will be in my CSA box on Tues. It's enough time that I can arrange my other shopping to accommodate what I'm getting and I can substitute a certain number of things if I don't like them. I have fun looking for recipes for things we don't usually eat.

I've kept chickens in the past, and they are entertaining as well as giving you fresh eggs. :) Again the winter is what makes it difficult. I kept them through the winter several times, but they stop laying and require a lot more care - which means higher electric bills and no eggs to offset that cost.

02-17-2008, 11:30 PM
Please excuse the newbie question, but what is a CSA? What all do they involve? How do you find one?

02-18-2008, 02:38 AM
Dark, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

It's a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. (from this website (http://www.localharvest.org/csa/) )

They work various ways, but basically you get fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, similar to those you'd buy at a farmers' market, that is local and perhaps organic. But, you get them regularly, and for the most part you don't get to choose what you get. The one I belong to tells me a few days ahead what they're sending, and I can substitute up to 5 items either by doubling up on something else or choosing a substitute from a list. It's a great way to try new things, and the price - at least for me - is no more than buying mediocre produce at the grocery. :)

02-18-2008, 11:18 AM
I belong to a recipe club that suggests you buy for only 3-4 days at a time and actually PLAN your meals as well as snacks. That way there is not a bag of carrots or apples rotting in your fridge. Wasted food is a big money zapper.

I think wasted food is a huge issue. I know I'm guilty of buying all my fruits/veggies at the beginning of the week - then close to the end I find it all not so great - and that is when I head to the junk/processed foods.
I believe the key is buy fresh, ripe foods 3 times a week.