Whole Foods Market’s nickname of “Whole Paycheck” may become a thing of the past now that Amazon owns the upscale grocer. The online retail giant already has cut prices on some products sold at Whole Foods by as much as 43 percent, Bloomberg News reported.
If Whole Foods Market’s high prices have kept you away in the past, you might be considering doing more of your shopping there now to take advantage of its large offering of organic and natural foods. Here’s even more incentive — you can spend even less if you take advantage of the discounts and deals available to savvy Whole Foods shoppers.
That’s right; there are plenty of ways to keep down the cost of a trip to this grocery store. Use these strategies at Whole Foods to save hundreds on groceries.
1. Shop Whole Foods Sales
Like other supermarkets, Whole Foods has regular sales on items throughout its stores. Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch recommends checking WholeFoodsMarket.com before you shop to see what’s on sale. “Whole Foods features an entire section on its website dedicated to daily deals,” said Woroch. The store announced that bacon, for example, will be offered as “buy one, get one free” on Sept. 2, in honor of International Bacon Day.
You can enter your location to find the Whole Foods sale items at your local store, which can help you plan your weekly menus based on what’s on special. You also can save big on groceries by stocking up on nonperishable items or products you can freeze when they go on sale.
2. Use Whole Foods Coupons
In addition to listing what’s on sale, the Whole Foods site features printable store coupons. It’s easier, however, to access coupons with the free Whole Foods Market app.
If you use the app, you don’t have to scroll through to find the coupons you want. Instead, when you sign in on the app, a digital coupon barcode will appear on the main screen. Just show the barcode to the cashier, and all eligible coupons will automatically be applied, according to a Whole Foods Market spokesperson.
Check Out: Best and Worst Deals at Whole Foods
3. Use Manufacturer Coupons
Don’t limit your coupon search to the Whole Foods Market site or app. “More and more organic companies are regularly putting out coupons for their products,” said Josh Elledge, founder of SavingsAngel, a couponing site. To find them, he advises to first visit manufacturers’ websites. “For example, Annie’s has printable coupons on its site for its products all the time,” he said.
Also be sure to check websites — like Coupons.com — for online coupons. “Once you have your manufacturers’ coupons, you can combine those with store sales, store coupons and even buy-one-get-one offers,” Elledge said.
For example, Annie’s recently had a coupon on its site for 50 cents off any Annie’s macaroni and cheese product. By pairing that with a recent sale Whole Foods had, you could get a box of mac and cheese for just 50 cents. “That’s 77 percent off — at Whole Foods,” Elledge said. “So deals are out there. You just have to know where to look.”
4. Sign Up for the Whole Foods Newsletter
You can get store coupons and notices about sales delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the Whole Foods newsletter, and subscribers get special offers. You can sign up on the Whole Foods website.
You also can learn about special sales and surprise deals by following Whole Foods Market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, according to a Whole Foods spokesperson.
5. Opt for Store-Brand Products
You can save money by buying generic rather than name-brand products at all Whole Foods locations. “Whole Foods offers a more affordable store brand called 365 Everyday Value that can help save on lots of basics, from cereal to pretzels to pizza,” Woroch said. All of these products are free of artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives and hydrogenated fats, according to a Whole Foods spokesperson.
Although some of the best deals at Whole Foods are its 365 Everyday Value Products, Woroch recommends comparing prices with any brand-name items that are on sale to make sure you’re getting the best price.
6. Score Savings on In-Season Produce
You can keep down the cost of buying organic fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods by buying only what’s in season. “During peak harvest time, fruits and vegetables are at their most abundant, which means you can often score the best prices and tastes of the year,” according to a Whole Foods spokesperson. For example, organic grapes that were in season recently were marked down to $1.69 per pound from $3.99 per pound — a savings of $2.30 per pound.
7. Take Advantage of the Bulk Bins
You can keep down the cost of buying grains, dried beans and similar items by taking advantage of the bulk bin section in Whole Foods. Bulk prices are lower because you don’t have to pay extra for packaging, according to a Whole Foods Market spokesperson. Plus, you can scoop the amount you want from the bins and avoid waste.
8. Get a Discount for Buying a Case
Another way to save money by buying in bulk is to purchase an entire case of the items you want. Whole Foods typically offers a 10 percent discount if you buy a case of most products, including wine, a spokesperson said.
Be aware that case size will vary depending on the product. You might want to ask a team member for assistance when buying cases to get the Whole Foods discount.
9. Try Before You Buy
If you want to branch out beyond tried-and-true staples, Whole Foods makes it easy to avoid wasting money on things you might not like. It has a “try before you buy” policy that applies to almost all products in the store, a spokesperson said.
If you want try something new, you can ask a team member to let you sample it — even if it means opening a box or container. Don’t shell out money to buy something only to discover you don’t like it when you get home.
10. Buy Only the Amount You Need
A common way to lose money at the grocery store is to buy more food than you can eat and let it go to waste. There’s a way to avoid this, though, at Whole Foods.
“In many departments, if you need only a certain portion of a particular item, just ask a team member to help you get the amount you need,” a spokesperson said. For example, you can ask a team member to cut a head of cabbage in half.
You also can use the Whole Foods Market salad bar to buy a small amount of an ingredient you need that isn’t available in a smaller portion. If you need, say, just a few slices of bell pepper for a recipe, you can pick them up already chopped at the salad bar.
11. Ask About Affordable Alternatives
All Whole Foods Market stores have trained butchers and meatcutters, according to a spokesperson. Not only can they cut the meat to fit your budget, they can suggest more affordable alternatives to pricey cuts of meat if you ask. The store’s cheese professionals also can help you find more affordable alternatives, the spokesperson said.
12. Don’t Shop Hungry — Seriously
You’ve likely heard time and again not to shop for groceries while you’re hungry. This advice especially holds true at Whole Foods, which has tempting displays and plenty of prepared food that’s easy to grab and go.
“I’ve walked into a Whole Foods to grab a quick salad and walked out with a container that cost nearly $20,” Woroch said. “I definitely only planned to spend $10 to $12. But my hunger hit me, and I went overbearing when filling up my container with fresh food and salad.”
Eat a snack before shopping. Or, if you have to, buy an apple or similar item first and eat it to lessen your hunger.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with nearly 14 years of experience writing about personal finance. Before joining GOBankingRates, she was a contributing editor for Kiplinger.com and wrote the popular Kip Tips column, which was syndicated in Tribune newspapers nationwide. Her work has appeared on Yahoo!, MSN, AOL Daily Finance and other online and print publications.