Known for its expensive brand selection — it earned the nickname “Whole Paycheck” for its outrageous prices — Whole Foods hoped to shed that reputation following its acquisition by Amazon in 2017.
After buying out Whole Foods, the digital retailer immediately slashed prices on nearly 500 popular items. But if you thought your days of overpaying for organic avocados were over, you might want to hold on to your wallets. According to The Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods has raised its prices as of February 2019. Some items have only gone up by 10 cents, whereas others have increased by as much as a few dollars.
But there is a cheaper alternative: Trader Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s business model of selling hard-to-find items without charging suppliers a shelf fee is a part of what makes its selections so affordable. The company buys directly from suppliers, and in volume, which also helps lower costs.
So if you’re pining for some granola or organic pasta, but the new Whole Foods prices are beyond your budget, you might want to consider stopping by your local Trader Joe’s to see if you can find a better deal and save on your groceries.
Pricing is accurate as of Feb, 25, 2019, and is subject to change.
You won’t find as many organic fruits and vegetables at Trader Joe’s as you would at Whole Foods, but you will find better savings.
For example, at Trader Joe’s, it would cost about $10 to buy all of the following:
- 1 pound of organic baby carrots
- 10 ounces of organic cherry tomatoes
- 1 pound of bananas
- 3 pounds of apples
- 5 ounces of spring mix
To buy the same items in the same quantities at Whole Foods, the cost would be at least $15.
Generally, non-organic produce at Trader Joe’s is significantly cheaper than at Whole Foods. For example, you can get 11 ounces of blueberries for $2.99 at Trader Joe’s, but at Whole Foods, you’ll spend a bit more for a pint of blueberries at $4.99.
Beef isn’t considered bargain meat, especially the organic variety. You’ll pay $6.99 at Whole Foods for a pound of organic, grass-fed ground beef. Whereas Trader Joe’s store brand organic, grass-fed ground beef is just $5.99 per pound.
If your next recipe calls for some organic chicken breast you’ll want to head to Trader Joe’s once again. A pound of chicken breast there costs $5.99 per pound. It will cost you an extra dollar per pound at Whole Foods at $6.99.
Organic Milk and Non-Dairy Milk
Organic milk is one of the best deals you can get at both Whole Foods and at Trader Joe’s. Both grocery stores have their half gallons of low-fat milk for $3.49. You can also snag a half gallon of soy milk at both retailers for $2.99.
Organic Grains and Pasta (and Sauce)
Once a little-known grain-like seed, quinoa now is touted as a superfood and has become almost commonplace. If you’re a fan of it, stock up at Trader Joe’s, where it sells for $2 less than at Whole Foods.
However, pasta costs a bit more at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods — $2.99 will get you 16 ounces of brown rice and quinoa spaghetti versus $1.09 for a bag of spaghetti at Whole Foods. But, if you prefer your pasta with sauce, you’ll still pay 30 cents less for a 25-ounce jar of organic marinara at Trader Joe’s versus Whole Foods. Trader Giotto’s — the Trader Joe’s store brand for their Italian foods — marinara sauce sells for $2.49 whereas the Whole Foods 365 brand equivalent sells for $2.79.
Cheese aficionados might know that Whole Foods takes the wheel when it comes to cheese prices. A block of sharp cheddar cheese is $2.99 at Whole Foods, while it’s a whopping $3.34 at Trader Joe’s. But when it comes to shredded parmesan, Trader Joe’s has more bang for your buck as a 12-ounce pack is $5.49 compared to $3.99 for a much smaller 5-ounce bag at Whole Foods.
Organic Cereal and Oats
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Savings are just as important, and you’ll know you’ve started your day by saving money if you eat Trader Joe’s organic breakfast items. An 18-ounce package of store brand old fashioned organic oats costs $2.69 at Trader Joe’s versus $2.99 for the 365 brand at Whole Foods.
If you prefer cereal, you can get a 10-ounce bag of organic fruit and seed granola at Trader Joe’s for $3.99. At Whole Foods, you’ll pay $4.39 for a 17-ounce box of fruit and nut granola, which makes it the better deal proportion-wise.
Organic Fair Trade Coffee
If you prefer organic, fair trade coffee, you’ll pay $7.99 for a 13-ounce canister of it at Trader Joe’s. At Whole Foods, you can buy 24 ounces of their brand, Pacific Rim roast, for $11.99, which might make that the better deal if you go through several cups of coffee every day. Both are cheaper deals, at any rate, than what you could buy at Starbucks.
Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Fresh fruits and veggies tend to spoil quickly and could potentially hurt your pockets in the long run, so opting for frozen produce can be the best option if you’re trying to save money and eat healthily. For a bag of frozen organic spinach, you’ll spend $2.29 at Whole Foods but at Trader Joe’s organic spinach is only $1.99 per 16 ounces.
Organic strawberries cost a bit less at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods — $4.49 will get you a 16-ounce pack versus $5.99 at Whole Foods for the same amount.
Frozen Pre-Made Meals
You’ve succumbed again to the insurmountable shift in gravity that happens when you get home from work that makes cooking dinner for the night impossible. So, the next logical step? You grab something quick and easy, like a frozen pizza.
At Trader Joe’s, a crusty cheese pizza is $4.49 but the same type of pizza at Whole Foods costs $3.99. If you’re a pepperoni lover, both stores list their pepperoni pizzas at $4.99.
If pizza isn’t your thing, both stores carry already-made frozen tamales. Trader Joe’s cheese and green chile tamales are $2.79 while Whole Foods has sweet corn tamales for $4.99.
Cooking oils are a pantry staple — and you’ll save by buying them at Trader Joe’s. A 16.9-ounce bottle of Trader Giotto’s organic, extra virgin olive oil is $5.99. The same-size bottle of 365 organic, extra virgin olive oil sells for $7.99.
Coconut oil, which can be used for skin and hair care in addition to cooking, also sells for less at Trader Joe’s than at Whole Foods while giving you a bit more — $4.99 for a 16-ounce jar versus $5.99 for a 14-ounce jar of the organic variety.
Trader Joe’s also undercuts Whole Foods on the price of sugar. For 32 ounces of organic cane sugar, the price is $3.49 at Trader Joe’s versus $3.79 at Whole Foods for the same amount.
However, Whole Foods has bulk options on other sweeteners. You can get 23.5 ounces of raw agave nectar for $5.99, whereas you’ll be paying $3.29 at Trader Joe’s for 11.75 ounces. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s carries 16 ounces of honey for $5.99, but Whole Foods sells its 365 brand for $5.49 for 12 ounces.
Paper towels and toilet paper are everyday essentials that can add up over time. If you’re looking for recycled bath tissue, Whole Foods has a 12-count package for $5.99. Trader Joe’s brand of bath tissues is a little bit pricier for what you get — a six-roll package will cost you $3.99.
As for paper towels, a three-count package of recycled paper towel rolls goes for $4.49 at Whole Foods. And although Trader Joe’s paper towels are not recycled, the cost is a bit cheaper — $3.99 for three rolls.
For those of you with furry family members, Trader Joe’s is the most cost-effective when it comes to pet food. A 20-pound bag of premium chicken and rice dog food is $19.99 at Trader Joe’s, whereas a 6-pound bag of chicken and brown rice dog food is $8.49 at Whole Foods.
Don’t forget your feline friends. Trader Joe’s seems to have more of a purr-fect price as their 5.5-ounce can of wet cat food is 79 cents. That same can of wet cat food sells for 99 cents at Whole Foods.
A 16-ounce package of gluten-free brown rice pasta fusilli is $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, while the smaller-sized 12-ounce package of gluten-free spaghetti at Whole Foods costs the same.
Both stores also carry gluten-free pancake mix. An 18-ounce package of gluten-free buttermilk pancake and waffle mix is $3.99 there. Whole Foods does not have a gluten-free equivalent, but if gluten is not an issue for you, a 32-ounce package of 365 organic pancake mix can be had for the same price.
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All prices are accurate as of Feb. 20, 2019, and are subject to change.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.
U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.
She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.