8 Ways to Save at Whole Foods Market

By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!


While some people detest grocery shopping, I actually love it—always have. And so, I consider myself very fortunate to literally have 12 options within a five mile radius of my home. Those options include Trader Joe’s and Earth Fare, and the latter one I frequent during most weeks. But occasionally I’ll make the 20 minute trek to Whole Foods Market. Because I. Love. It.

8 Ways to Save at Whole Foods at 100 Days of #RealFood

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Okay, okay, I know that sounds a bit hokey, but it’s something about the environment of the store that I’m particularly fond of, as well as all of the organics, bulk bins, and wide variety. I could go on. I’m often asked how in the world one can shop at Whole Foods Market (WFM) without paying an arm and a leg (have you heard the term “whole paycheck?”). So I’m happy to share some of my tips for saving money while shopping the store. Oh, but first I want to tell you that Whole Foods Market played no part in this article; I’m simply just a fan.

8 Ways to Save at Whole Foods Market

1. Don’t buy everything you need. Tempting as it may be, don’t do your entire shopping at WFM. By skipping many packaged products and buying just the basics, you can make sure you don’t leave with the “whole paycheck” feeling. Sure, you can get lost in the aisles and aisles (and aisles!) of fabulously fancy packaged goods, but unless there’s a super sale, skip it.

Plus, much of the packaged products are in fact highly processed and can add up fast. Just because it’s offered at Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s a real food. You must read the ingredients no matter where you shop. Also, be sure to be selective in the produce department. Again, not everything is organic! Don’t assume that just because you are at WFM that it is.

2. Consider the 365 brand. WFM’s store brand, 365, has some really good products for some really good prices. I personally love their whole wheat pasta. I’ve purchased a 16 ounce package of organic whole wheat pasta for $1.39. Their butter is also really good. 365’s organic quinoa is priced much lower than other brands, as is their chicken broth. Another note: Don’t assume that all 365 products are organic. Be sure to read labels.

3. Shop the bulk binsNot too long ago, I did a post on buying in bulk from the bins, which ends up not only saving money, but it’s also good for the environment. If you don’t have a family member with food allergies (who might be affected by cross-contamination), this is a great way to go. Don’t forget to make your own nut butter while you’re there! And on that note, if you bring your own jars, they do a tare weight (they weigh your jars first and subtract out the weight) AND give you 10 cents off for every jar/reusable bag that you use. Not a huge savings, but I’ll take it!

4. Bring your bags. Okay, so it’s not going to be a grand savings, but you will get a small discount for doing so, and you’re doing good for the planet. So bring your own bags.

My Eco Bags on 100 Days of #RealFood

5. Health Starts Here. One day while gazing at the prepared foods, I discovered this deal: 4 for $4 Health Starts Here foods. While I’m not always 100% sold on buying just any prepared foods, I do feel good about theirs because they’re typically made with whole foods, they contain healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados – no oils added), and more.

In a nutshell, you get to choose 4 varieties for just $4. I’ve gotten everything from quinoa burgers to roasted beets, kale/quinoa salad mixture, an almond butter/kale/cabbage salad, and more. It’s a great way to try out different foods (which may give you inspiration in your own cooking!) for a low price.

6. Stack your coupons. I must say that I have not done this a lot myself, but I know they allow it. Basically you can download coupons from their website then look up the product online, and see if you can find more coupons for the same product. Couple them together and you can get some great deals. Note: Different stores have different policies for this. So be sure to inquire within your local store.

7. Tune into your local store. I was in California last year and happened to be at a WFM on a Wednesday, when they had $2 off per pound at their hot/salad bars. I just assumed that every store did this, which I later found out was not true. Stay in touch with your local store and stay abreast of particular savings by following their social media sites. By doing this, you can also take advantage of some really good local one day and weekend sales. For example, my store in Charlotte had $6.99 buckets of grilled or BBQ chicken for the weekend of July 4th—a savings of $3 each. I’ve also seen bundle sales, specific cheese sales, and a Lent sale (with various fish), etc.

8. And last but not least, don’t forget the Kids Club!  My kids love going to WFM almost as much as I do, and they also love the many samples along the way and the offerings at the Kids Club. Sign your kids up for a membership, and that way they get to pick a piece of fruit, an applesauce, box of raisins, or a fruit leather up in the front of the store. They always let me peruse much more while they are happily munching.

How do you save money at Whole Foods Market?

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96 thoughts on “8 Ways to Save at Whole Foods Market”

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  1. This may be a silly question, but if you take your own jars for bulk items, do you have to also take empty jars? How exactly does that work?

    1. Hi Mallory,
      Not a dumb question. Take your empty jars up to the customer svc. when you get there. They’ll weigh them and subtract the weight of them when you go to pay so that you don’t pay for the weight of the jar too. HTH~
      Kiran

  2. Thank you for this post!!!!!!! I love WFM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously it’s great! I actually room a WFM road trip around the US. Visited 32 states and each whole foods market in each state.

  3. You forgot the 10% case discount! Great for buying shelf stable ingredients you eat on a frequent basis. A “case” of Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal is only 4 bags.

  4. My local co-op gives kids free fruit without having to sign up for anything. The cashiers all make a point to ask if my son got his free fruit. Whole foods is okay, but aside from the 365 brand deals, I’d really rather support my local co-op and farmers markets. They have everything you’ve mentioned (grass fed meats, bulk, healthy deli options, produce, etc). Whole Foods creeps me out a bit since they’ve systematically bought out most of the natural foods chains in the country systematically over the last decade or two. They are a bit of a creepy corporation that way.

  5. I was part of the group that advocated for a national WFM policy — Which now allows every store to honor both a store + a manufacturer coupon for each item. It’s posted on the store website, check it out!! ;)

  6. me i dont care who looks at me, if you want to gawk go ahead that say more about you then me, but if you make a rude comment i just might ask you why are you in a store instead of a farmers market or out there growing your own , then just smile and walk away :)

  7. I buy all my groceries at the Whole Foods – but most of my groceries are produce, meat, fish – hardly anything packaged. I found that the prices are the same as the local chain King’s (we are in NJ) but products in WFM are organic and grass fed while at King’s hardly any selection of them.

    1. 258cinnamongirl

      Agreed! I buy almost everything at Whole Foods…lots of produce and meat. The few packaged products I buy (coconut butter, ghee, etc) and supplements are all purchased online as Whole Foods is way more expensive for these items. Buying on sale and in season saves a ton. I can get my beets and raw goat’s milk at the farmer’s market, but unfortunately, it doesn’t offer as much as I would like.

  8. We have purchased our milk at WFM and received a “case” discount. I think it is 10%. So if there is anything you can by “by the case” it is worth it. In our situation 6 half gallons made a case.

  9. Even if you have a child with food allergies, you can shop from the bulk bins at WFM. My son has a gluten intolerance and our local store had a tour. They told us that if we ask, they will open fresh bags of products for us to be able to buy from the bilk bins. They are very accommodating.

    1. I have many times ask them to seperate the almond flour from coconut flour. There are a lot of people allergic to nuts far more than coconut. Put it with the nuts. They are nice and say I will talk to manager as makes since, but nothing happens. They have never once offered to open new bag of coconut. You must go to a store that listens which is wonderful.

  10. I love whole foods market. I am not skinny nor do I consider it a “skinny person’s store”. I am 63 years old, and for the last 5 years have been learning how to eat to live. My health is the most precious thing I have going, and I want to be around to see my grand kids grow up! There are many things you can do to save at WFM. Buy a whole, organic chicken and use it for 3 meals! Roast chicken, then leftover in casserole, then chicken soup. There are ways to stretch foods that you buy there so that you are using them for more than one meal! Probably the most expensive items in WFM are meats. Costco also carries organic chicken and organic beef burger. It is beyond important to choose organic, non GMO foods these days, if you want to live a healthy, disease free life.

  11. Kristy, I have to tell you that I think WFM (generalizing but) has the rudest customers. No matter your size. I shop there usual with my kids, because they have the best selection of organic produce in our area. I have left there on many occasions holding back tears vowing I will never return because of how I was treated. I am sorry though that you have been treated this way. Good luck to you on your health pursuit.

    1. Jenn,
      That is quite a generalization. :-) I have stated going to Whole Foods weekly and love it! To me, it is the best grocery shopping experience ever. And I particularly love the customer service. Everyone seems to be so willing and happy to help. We’ve lived in different states – Texas, South Carolina, and Maryland -, and it has been constantly a treat for me. Hmm… I guess everyone is different.

  12. Kristy, I used to be 60 lbs heavier and I know what you mean about the uncomfortableness of people staring at you. I don’t know if this is good news or not, but many people who stare are not doing it with the malicious intent you may be perceiving them to have for you. Some are fearful that they themselves will become fat over time (many battle it daily) and their staring is more of a mental checklist to see what areas gain on people and how they appear and all that kind of thing. Others stare because they have a “morbid fascination” with something they honestly can’t relate to. IE: How do people get like that? Does it hurt? Can they breathe okay? Etc. Then, there are those people that are also afraid of becoming fat -which they equate to becoming ugly- or having a loved one get so large that they don’t find them attractive in the same physical way anymore. These superficial people generally have low self esteem and fear obesity because they don’t believe they have anything else of value beyond their looks. They will mock or sneer at obese people because it validates their own worth in some base and ultimately pointless way. But it is their own “self preservation” and not a hatred towards you personally that fuels their remarks or looks. If they got to actually know you, those people’s opinions are the ones that often change the most. All in all, I just want you to see that it is ultimately not about hate. It is about fear. And fear blocks out love. We must work to disarm those who live out of fear and teach them that love is the real reason for all of our existence. To give it and to receive it is the goal of all our lives. Don’t worry about those looks or remarks where you shop. Don’t “just ignore it” either. Respond with love. Go up to those who want to mock or who act disgusted and respond with an act of love, like: “I love how great you’ve been able to maintain your weight! I’m always struggling and people like you give me hope that I can do it. Thank you for caring enough to notice me!” TRUST me, if you say those words with love, I promise those “haters” will immediately try and love you back. You don’t HAVE to do this. You shouldn’t HAVE to either. But somebody has to start with love… Why not the person who knows what it feels like to be hurt instead of loved? It’s gotta start somewhere and as a gal who was a former “Macy’s day parade balloon” according to a loved one of mine, I am more than happy to be the change I want to see in the world! Good luck and no matter your weight, don’t forget to love yourself from the inside out!

  13. You should check out Lucky’s Market! It’s a newer company with 7 stores that is opening several more over the next few months. I’m not sure if there’s one open/opening near where you live – but they offer natural/organic/healthier food at great prices!

  14. So sad Kristy!
    Keep up the good work!! Try again, when you feel ready, and hold your head up proud of the improvements you have already accomplished……their are good & bad people everywhere .

  15. I don’t shop at Whole Foods because as an obese person trying to lose weight and gain healthy eating habits, I get discriminated against by being in a skinny persons store. I swallowed my pride and self worth after I was repeatedly stated and gawked at by customers in the store, but it continued to happen everytime I went there. My hubby who is heavier than me put his brave face on and tried too. It’s really sad we are treated this way from snobby healthy people. We made mistakes and are trying to fix it, they should support and encourage rather than judge and stare. I literally stated at one lady back as rudely as she was rubber necking staring at me. I was 5 foot talk and 270 lbs at the time. I’m 20 lbs less now but I won’t go to a store that makes me uncomfortable.

    1. Kristy I HATE to hear this. Seriously, what is with some people?!!! I don’t care what size anyone is – we all are doing the best that we can to be the healthiest that we can … at least my guess is that if you are on this site and/or you are shopping at WFM you are. I completely understand your frustration, but hold your head up high and be proud of your accomplishments thus far. And cheers to even more!

  16. I love shopping at the grocery store too! We don’t have a WFM in Knoxville (yet – but coming soon). We went to Austin last year on a business trip and I had to go check out WFM on one of my free days. I’m not a big shopper otherwise, but I do enjoy shopping at the grocery store. Thanks for a great article. I’ll save these tips for when our WFM comes to town.

  17. For a large family or infrequent shopper, don’t forget about the case discount they offer. I buy a large quantity of cheese and other items when I make the monthly trip so I always purchase the whole case number (visible on the shelf tag, often 12) and save 10% off each one! Yeah, it’s a big savings! Tell the cashier you got a case worth (they even mix and match on the cheese types as long as they are the same price) and they apply the discount.

  18. heres a shocker…..your whole foods may not be so expensive after all. I used to be an avid couponer until the main grocery stores renovated their premises to state of the art. their prices went up almost $2 per item overnight. The next time I was in whole foods I was very surprised to find many of their products actually cheaper so I advise to do a price comparison.

  19. The 10 cent bag credit is a joke! My local whole foods is always collecting money for some cause, as in “want to donate your bag credit”. I’m sure their cause is valid, but we already tithe the Catholic Church recommended amount per year to other charitable causes. Still I feel like a schmuck if I don’t donate it. So, I haven’t seen the bag credit in years.

  20. Thanks for a great article! Because of the way we eat, I shop at WF frequently for our “odds and ends” mid-week and I’m always surprised at the bill no matter how few items I get! I had no idea about coupons being on their site; I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the tips!

  21. It may be different per store location, by my WF’s changes the weekly sales on Wednesday. That means that on Wednesday will will get double sales. The sale items for the previous week and then the new sales for the new week!

  22. I’m mentioning the case discount again. You can also add your coupons to it for a really nice savings. Then you really feel like you are saving money!!

  23. To be completely honest, we have found that we don’t save tremendously more shopping at the conventional store, where we buy many of the same brand products we get at Whole Foods. With two toddlers, I don’t have time (or energy) to go to several grocery stores each week to get the best price on individual items. Many of their items they actually have at a better price because they are able to buy in larger quantities than the conventional store with a small “health” section. We do have Trader Joe’s, and I do tend to save a little more there, but I often find that when I count on TJ’s to have specific items, they don’t, so I end up at Whole Foods anyway. Also, TJ’s doesn’t carry baby food, and we are still occasionally in need of a few baby items. So, I find, it saves me the gas and the incredibly taxing effort of hauling two toddlers all around, to just go to the Whole Foods, and try to be selective with the items I purchase. Case discount is great if you buy enough of any one product. And their customer service is unbelievably great. So it’s worth it.

  24. You can also use an app called ibotta. It provides rebates for things you already buy and for other items. This week there are 56 rebates for Whole Foods. You just buy the products, answer an easy question, then scan the UPC code and your receipt. It puts money into your account that you can cash out when you want!

      1. Hmmm…I have it on my Iphone! Wonder if it is going away?

        Here is another one that uses ANY grocery store to give you points — it’s called receipt hog. Just go to this site:

        http://app.receipthog.com/share/x4shtskm
        . Just buy the products you want, wherever and however you want. Then, just snap a pic of your receipt to earn rewards

  25. The 365 organic flour is a bargain at $5- and can yield up to 10 twelve homemade loaves following the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method. Now, I save tons of money, buying just 1 emergency loaf for the freezer every month or so, and my family gets cheap, organic homemade bread. Win win!

  26. We are getting a Whole Foods next year, just a couple miles down the road. So excited! I’ve heard it will have a bar too. :D Not that I need to consume alcohol at Whole Foods, lol. But still! Great tips here, thanks!

  27. The Whole Foods Brand Organic Pasta Sauce is delicious and it’s about $2.50 a jar, which is the same price as many grocery store brands that have added sugar and other undesirable additives. Their brand has just the basics and is very low in sugar- just sugar that is naturally found in the tomatoes.

  28. Our WF (not sure if they all do this) is give a “case discount” if you purchase a large quantity of one item. My hubby goes thru their 365 Organic Tortilla Chips like crazy (seriously sometimes a bag a day with salsa) so I always buy at least a dozen bags and I believe we get 10% off each bag we buy. Every little bit adds up right?