By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!
It’s not exactly news that I’m a big fan of Whole Foods Market. Last year I wrote a few posts on them, including my shopping lists for the store (part 1 and part 2) and another post including 8 ways to save at WFM.
As a matter of fact, though we have a store just 20 minutes away, they are building another one (get this) just 4 minutes away from my house. Ahhhhhh!! I may or may not be counting down the days until they open.
I love the environment at WFM, but I also love that shopping there doesn’t have to break the bank – especially if you know some cost-saving tips. To further illustrate this, I’ve put together a 5-day Whole Foods Meal Plan for a family of four showing just how easy and affordable it can be in today’s sponsored post (don’t miss the printable version at the end!).
Plus WFM is giving away a $100 gift card to one lucky reader. But before I get to the meal plan and the giveaway, let me tell you a few ways that I like to save at the store – simple and doable efforts that you can use, too.
6 Ways to Save at Whole Foods Market
- Digital Coupons.
Download the App to get digital coupons, view store-specific sales, and (bonus) also find recipes to make with the foods that you buy. Score! If you like a recipe, you can even have all or specific ingredients added to your shopping list via the app.
- Look for the 365 brand.
Whole Foods Market’s 365 brand is their store brand …and you can definitely find some good savings here! Think pasta, marinara, canned beans, butter and much more. Of course you’ll need to read the label (i.e. in case you are looking for organic, etc.) – but it’s an easy way to save some dough.
- Buy in bulk.
If you’ve read this post, you’ll know why I’m a fan. Bulk is a great way to get just the quantity that you want, at a fraction of the cost. For those who have allergies, I’ve heard that the staff at some stores will open a new bag to ensure you avoid cross-contamination. It’s worth the ask!
- Consider the case.
Get 10% (or as otherwise noted) for buying foods by the case. And while wine applies, it’s not the only thing you can save on. Also think yogurt, oatmeal, milk, and more.
- Pick up the paper.
Grab The Whole Deal printed coupons/savings that you can find upon entering the store or at check out.
Sure it’s not a ton – but for each reusable bag that you bring, you’ll save 10 cents. It adds up! And every penny counts, in my mind.
Video: Shopping (and Saving) at Whole Foods Market
5-Day Whole Foods Meal Plan for Family of Four
And now for the good stuff! Below is a 5-day Whole Foods meal plan, utilizing recipes that are doable for busy families. You’ll see that I reuse some foods from Wednesday’s meal in Friday’s meal because I’m all about cooking once and eating twice. Repurposing food is a great way to do this.
Also know that the savings mentioned are just what was on sale the week that I happened to create this – there will obviously be different sale items when you shop. Most of the savings though are due to me shopping the 365 brand and also buying bulk. Oh, and one other note – I didn’t include all of the spices or other items that I consider pantry staples in the cost. These include honey, olive oil, etc.
Lunch: Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice
Going with the “Meatless Monday” theme, I also love this recipe for the simplicity (helloo 15 minute meals) that is filling and full of good things – like greens – to get your week off to a strong start. 365 Frozen Brown Rice is a pantry, or in this case, frozen staple. Throw it in a bowl, add a splash of water, and microwave it while your veggies are cooking.
Dinner: The Easiest Spinach Lasagna with Sliced Pears
I know I had you at “easiest”, but did you know that I actually saved in a few other areas, to boot? I snagged marinara sauce, whole wheat lasagna noodles and chopped spinach in the 365 brand, and I found a digital coupon for Organic Valley mozzarella cheese on the app for $1 off. I chose to serve pears on the side since they were on sale in the Weekly Sales Flyer ($0.80 off/lb.) Since this will likely not be the food on sale if/when you utilize this meal plan, feel free to substitute with another fruit/vegetable on the side that is on sale that week.
Lunch: Potato and Cauliflower Chowder
I’m a big soup gal. Even in the summer, there’s something just easy about a bowl of soup, in my mind. This is an easy recipe that is made even more economically with the use of Whole Foods’ 365 Brand of broth and just the right amount of bacon (instead of a whole package) from WFM’s meat department.
Dinner: Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad served with corn tortillas topped with cheese, black beans and salsa
As mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of buying from the bulk bins, which is exactly where I got the quinoa for this meal. I also picked up the 365 brand for tortillas and black beans and found another digital coupon (via the app) for $1 off of the Organic Valley cheddar cheese.
(Top tortillas with black beans, cheese and salsa and heat in an oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for 5-7 minutes.)
Lunch: Quick Hummus and Vegetable Stuffed Pitas
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my lunch is a complete grab-and-eat. Because I work from home, I can throw things together that are in my fridge – and most of these items generally are. For those who work out of the house, this is a simple one to prep the night before. WFM 365 brand chickpeas and pita bread make this one easy on the wallet.
Dinner: Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Simple Skillet Cornbread. Remember when I said I’m a fan of cooking once, eating twice? You’re going to repurpose this chicken and cornbread on Friday, so be sure to double if need be.
I saved on this meal by buying just the right quantity of cornmeal in bulk. Also, don’t want the whole piece of fish or meat? WFM’s meat department will cut it down to the right size for you. And in my case, I haven’t eaten red meat in 23 years, but I still serve it to my family. I love that I can ask them questions on meat (like what cut of meat to purchase, quality standards or even where it is sourced from) since I am obviously not knowledgable about that!
Lunch: Leftover Lasagna and a Smoothie with Nuts on the sideIn addition to being fond of soups, I also am always up for a smoothie! I love the versatility of smoothies and the fact that they pack a powerful punch. Throw in some chia or hemp seeds and use the yogurts that you already bought for dinner – see below!
Dinner: Cobb Salad with Pears and Stonyfield 100% Grassfed Yogurt.Once again, you’ll see that I’m serving up pears since I scored a good sale on them. I also was able to get locally sourced fresh bacon from the meat department. And the reason for the yogurt on the side? There was a Weekly Sales Flyer coupon for $1.50 off of 3 yogurts, BUT I bought a case and saved an additional 10%. Yay!
Lunch: Yogurt Parfait with chia seeds, hemp seeds and frozen fruit
Remember those yogurts we got on a great sale that we had last night? Well there are more in the fridge that we can dress up easily with some chia and hemp seeds (get just the right quantity from the bulk bins) and some frozen fruit, which you already got for yesterday’s lunch (the smoothie). The 365 brand makes it affordable and easy to incorporate.
Dinner: Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad with leftover cornbread and veggies
I’m all about Friday’s being an easy cooking day. I mean – who isn’t tired after a long week?! So for this meal, you’re going to reuse the chicken from Wednesday to make chicken salad. Serve this up with the cornbread (also from Wednesday) along with tomato slices and cucumber (repurposed from Wednesday’s lunch) to round out your meal.
Family Meal Plan TOTAL Shopping List Cost: Approximately $175 – not too bad, right?!
I know this may be a lot for some and less for others (depending on your budget and where you live) so feel free to use this plan as a starting point and adapt to your own needs.
Printable Meal Plan
You can download a printable PDF copy of the meal plan (complete with menu, recipes, and shopping list) to make this yourself.
$100 Whole Foods Market Gift Card Giveaway
Whole Foods Market Giveaway
43 thoughts on “A Whole Foods Meal Plan (+ budget tips!)”
On Mondays at Whole Food they offer a meatless monday plate, all the veg food you can fit into that plate for $8, you can usually fit 2-3 pounds into a plate (enough to last a couple of days), so you can make out like a bandit.
I load up on the Gen Tso’s vegan chicken (with Brocolli and Bell pepper) and some Tofu and garlic green beans and some other stuff and walk away with days worth of foods
That sounds like a great deal! Unfortunately I think that not all Whole Foods Markets are consistent with their deals. But I’ll certainly check at mine when I’m there (which will be later today:).Thanks for the heads up!
I appreciate you taking the time to create a meal plan for one of my favorite grocery stores, but noticed some things.
1.) when buying in bulk use re-usable container, not plastic.
2.) you mentioned your #6 as using re-usable grocery bags yet clearly walked out with paper.
3.) $175 for lunch/dinner for just 5 days isn’t really that great of a deal. Try a family of 4, 7 days, on $150 and include breakfast and 2 snacks per day -per person, that is more realistic.
4.) Not everyone has a smartphone or technology that offers those apps.
This whole piece felt like it was made for the elite,
What is your best advise for feeding a family of 6? I used to use The Fresh 20 and loved it! But then my babies grew into kids and my kids grew into teens and my husband wants to have some left overs for lunch. I need meal plans that can go farther without doubling the cost!
Hi there. You might find this perspectivehelpful: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/eating-near-poverty-line%E2%80%A6-whole-foods-market.
You may want to check out The Scramble (http://www.thescramble.com/track.php?_t=31) or even Once a Month Meals: http://bit.ly/1kpQDIN
Great post. I’m going to give this one a try! Still thinking I won’t check out for under $200 since, yeah, snacks but we’ll see if I can get close. Thanks.
I appreciate your honesty about the cost being a lot for some and less for others. $700 a month for just a family’s lunch and supper is a lot for a lot of people (my family included) but I think if people are routinely eating out, it would be a good deal. I’m guessing your target audience benefited greatly from this information.
Every time 100 Days of Real Food does an article on affordability, I get excited that I’ll have a good resource for my patients. And then I’m disappointed. I’m a family physician and many of my patients are feeding their families on under $400-500 a month for everything, including honey and snacks and breakfast. Many of them are working long hours at crappy jobs to afford that. In many parts of the country, housing prices are obscene, which gets in the way of food budgets. Nationwide, over a quarter of Americans are spending more than half their income on housing… And that’s not to live in some big ritzy place! Most of my patients have one bathroom and one or two bedrooms for a family of four.
I would love a post that addresses the reality so many of my patients face. They are running on limited time, limited money, but still want to make good choices for their families. If you could write a post I could pass on to my patients, that would be great!
I appreciate your comment and insight. Please know that we take these thoughts very seriously, and aim to provide the type of information that people of all budgets need. I am talking with Lisa to see if we can come up with a post that will touch on these ideas. Please stay tuned.
One great way to help these families is to help them container garden, even if they only have windows and no balcony with their apartments. Also, Lisa did do 100 days on a budget where it’s $150/week and that was based on food stamps. I know there are families that make more than would allow for food stamps, so their budget is even tighter. Aldi and Trader Joe’s are great alternatives to WFM, they have affordable organic and natural alternatives. You could also work with local farms to see if many of your patients pooled their money if the could buy whole cows, pigs, and chickens for less and divvy it among themselves. Hopefully some of these tips are helpful, I truly feel for the kids in those situations, it breaks my heart.
Perhaps your patients would benefit from what I have started doing. I changed how I shop and it’s greatly cut back on what we spend. I now do a big bulk shopping trip at Costco (but I think some of this could be done at Walmart/Target/Aldi if a warehouse membership is not feasible). I then hit the regular grocery store only twice a month. It does take some upfront planning and committing to only buying what is on the list is very important. I get our general needs on the bulk trip (meats, dairy, snacks). From there I fill in for our meals with the two grocery store runs. (It overwhelmed me to create a monthly meal plan, so doing it twice is better for me.) I have found that the less I go to the store the less I spend (I do not know the exact amount but we spend a good percentage higher on grab and go items once inside a store). I am learning that being prepared with a meal idea and the ingredients on hand helps keep us eating at home and not grabbing food out. I also buy a few freezer items to use on the realistic nights when getting a fully home-cooked meal on the table is not going to happen. I hope this helps!
You definitely hit a very real untouched topic by most deathly eating bloggers. They I feel at times are living in a much more financially secure lifestyle and simply cannot fathom what others are having to deal with. I really like the Walmart piece Lisa did and felt that post was most relatable to the average American. Whole Foods is simply not in most everyday, working class Americans budgets yet alone neighborhood. If you notice where these stories are strategically placed. Another downside to Whole Foods is that they do not accept WIC which is HORRENDOUS in my humble opinion. Its no secret they are targeting a certain demographic and so to patronize them I find very difficult at times. I’d rather shop at Costco, Kroger and Walmart for the simple fact that they are not discriminating against lower income families in their policies. We were blessed as military family to have been able to afford better quality foods at a lower cost but I watched many of the young soldiers and their families struggle through this. Thank you for putting a perspective on what most people do not want to reasonably address.
oops should have said “healthy eating” lol.
So true! I clicked on this thinking I could afford it but no…not so much.
Just found this today and it explains the ever increasing correlation between health and income status. Thank you for caring about your patients this much…
I would recommend you check out the blog budget bytes.
Great, I’m 68, divorced, don’t like cooking, what am I to do?
Thanks for this article Kiran. I love your posts!! Have you made a ny further progress switching to natural peanut butter?
Oh; thank you, Sandi!! I really appreciate it.
So my kids have asked me for alternative peanut butters that are organic/natural and definitely developed tastes for these. The toughest one to get to change is my husband. What to do … it’s always a work in progress, right?:)
I am having the same issue it won’t allow my birthdate to be used either.
I am reaching out to my contact- I will post an update as soon as I hear back. Thanks!
Can you try to enter again? It seems to be working just fine for us. Check your browser settings to make sure that is not the issue, and you can email me your info directly if you’d like us to enter for you – kiran(at)100daysofrealfood.com.
How do you do this for just one person? I grew up in a family of 7,8, or 9 depending which of my grandparents was living with us at the time. Then had a family of 4 to cook for. But find myself at 65 living alone and eating most of my meals out because it is too lonely to eat a home all the time. But eating out isn’t healthy for me.
Do you have any neighbors or friends who you could get together with for a meal or two each week? What about cooking a meal for a friend for you to enjoy together, or having someone over for the two of you to cook together? Please keep us posted if you try this or have other successes. You can do it! :)
No not yet. I’m new to the area, in fact I haven’t even moved into my house yet since it is being renovated. Right now I’m living with my son and his partner and I do cook for them. But they are busy and often just want to chill in front of the tv in their pjs while eating dinner. So I don’t see us having dinner together more than once a week and that’s not enough to keep me off the streets. I’m not a natural homebody. I’m slowly getting to know some of the other ladies in town but it seems they all have husbands or families.
Hang in there. I am certain that soon enough, you will meet others with whom you can connect over meals with. Could be a good opportunity to get to know someone better? Please do keep us posted!
Try meet up groups. I don’t know if they have it in your area but in Austin there’s a “meet up” group for almost anything.
Hi Karen & Kira
Karen – I saw your comment about a future post for shopping / cooking for one – so hope this is appropriate – but I wanted to say hello and connect in case I can offer suggestions or be of any help. I’m in the midst of starting a blog (well I’ve been thinking about it for years!) dedicated to cooking for one (It’s live, but I haven’t shown anyone yet as I’m still working on it. In my bid to get good looking photos I think I may have made the meals and recipes look too complicated. It’s meant to be about the meals I cook for myself each night after I come home from work.
I cook for one most nights, and have done for years, using mainly whole foods and cooking from scratch. I also try to use just one pan and keep the meals very healthy and also maximise the serves of vegetables, so would love to connect if I can offer any suggestions or help out in any way. Kelly
Kira – please do delete if commenting this way is inappropriate – I’m really not sure of the etiquette.
But I saw the comment, and that of another reader, about finding it hard cooking for one. It’s something I both identify with and find really troublesome. (Hence wanting to blog about it)
There is a whole realm of different challenges shopping economically for one person let alone maintaining the motivation to cook, adapting recipes etc. I’ve given a lot of thought to this, so your reader’s note really struck a chord – which is why I jumped in on your conversation….
Plus I’ve just come back from shopping myself – where I think I stood for about 15 minutes in front of the cauliflowers (I’m in Australia, so they are in season) – debating the economics / frustration of paying $2 for a whole cauliflower vs $1.50 for a half a cauliflower – e.g. the whole cauliflower is so much better value, but if it’s just for one person, will I end up throwing half of it out, thereby negating the savings ….
Anyway, love your post and really glad to have found the site. Kelly
My nearest Whole Foods is an hour away and includes going through two toll booths. I make the trek now and then because I make a nice getaway out of it by getting a nice salad at the organic bar. I’m mainly after the meat. There are more organic choices there than locally but it is pricey. ……. The Organic Valley cheese shreds are $3.99 at Super Target as their regular price.
I noticed there are no snacks listed, when you have kids snacks are so important so that should be added into the menu/budget. Good ideas but honestly, even using the app and flyer and coupons, I still break bank shopping there. How can I stay under budget when it’s $2 for an avacodo, sour cream is just under $4, etc.
Whole Foods: worst ripoff store ever.
Try Sprouts to experience a real food store
I noticed that you have packages of Organic Valley Shredded Cheese. Don’t most shredded cheeses have Cellulose in them? How does that fit with the “real food rules”? Organic Valley sells whole cheese, why not shred it yourself and avoid the cellulose?
You are right. We almost always shred our own cheese for this very reason, but when life gets in the way, Organic Valley shredded is my fallback.
Not sure why, but it won’t let me enter in the drawing. I put my birthdate it but it doesn’t think its correct.
Great post! Would love love love to see one of these done for a store that is in the NEPA area (aka Wegmans)- the closest Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc is Philly or NJ and a 2+ hr drive isn’t in the cards for a grocery store trip. Wegmans is our grocery store with the most fresh foods and largest organic section, etc. (vs Price Chopper, Weis, ShurSave Markets, Wal Mart).
I love the new Whole foods app and the 365 brand too! Their house brands are cheaper than other super market house brands and typically better selection and ingredients at whole foods. I spend a ridiculous amount of money there every week – using the coupons, app, house brands, buying in bulk, etc helps tremendously.
Buying what’s on sale has always worked for me. It goes along with “cooking what you have in the house” When you plan your meals around what’s on special and what you already have you can save a lot.
If I have having one of those weeks when I don’t have a lot of money to spare I like to see how “little” I can get away with spending. Almost like a game.
When I take all the “wants” out of my basket & just buy the “needs” I can really get the bill down.
I so agree, Candi. I love to see what I can work with in the house before heading to the store, but then buying what’s on sale. I find it to be like a game, too!
I truly find these money-saving tips to be really helpful; if you shop the sales, use the coupons and the 365 brand, it helps cut down on my final bill at WFM.
Love this post! People always think you have to break the bank when shopping at Whole Foods, but if you shop smart it can work with your budget! I love the bulk aisle for stocking up on dry goods and trail mix!
I love your menu ideas. I’m also a big fan of repurposing food from one meal to the next. It makes life easier, and saves lots of money. I’m jealous that there’s no whole foods store near me. I will, however, give your rosemary chicken recipe a try in spite of that. It looks delicious.
What are your serving sizes? Family of four? The hummus and veggies stuffed pitas only list one pita, so…. lunch for one? Dinner for four?? Thanks!!
The meal plan is for a family of four. The shopping list does include a package of pitas, along with veggies and a container of hummus that should take care of four servings. Hope that helps and hope you try it and enjoy! :)
Thank you! I love seeing what other people are eating…and it makes my planning so much easier :-)