It’s the last day of our Whole Foods on a Budget Challenge (brought to you by Whole Foods Market in Encinitas) and I must say – it was easier than I thought. We had $600 for the month – for our family of 5 – basically $30 a WEEK per person! Check out our posts about our Whole Foods Budget Journey HERE!
Here’s a little video of me talking about a variety of the ways we saved (I did misspeak – we spent $575 (I say $525) – we also bought MANY things in the bulk bin but we did not buy flour in the bulk bin – just wanted to clarify)
We came up with this number in a couple ways -
1) We took a poll amongst readers and found that this was lower than most paid for groceries per person – no matter what store they shopped at – yes, there were families that spent less – but this was lower than average.
2) This is BELOW the average for the SNAP program (if you cannot afford to buy food – the government will provide you with food via food stamps or the ‘SNAP’ program) – last year the average was $134 per person – this amount outraged many who said you simply cannot live on that amount per person. I am living proof that you can – and you do not need ramen each night! We ate grass fed beef, organic fresh veggies, fish, and some treats – all for LESS than that!
The rules were we had to buy all our food from Whole Foods Market in Encinitas in once per week shopping trips. The only things we were allowed to use from our cupboards was spices and oranges/lemons from our neighbor’s tree – we didn’t actually use any oranges – but we used a couple lemons for flavor in several dishes. The first trip was the hardest because we needed to buy a lot of the basics that we typically do not buy every month – we needed to buy flour, oil, butter, rice, pasta, ketchup, mustard, honey, coffee – etc in addition to all our regular shopping trip items. We found that each week got a little easier. We spent a little less each week and we bought a few more fun things each week!
Here are a couple ways we saved money while shopping at Whole Foods…………..
Case Discount – all Whole Foods Markets offer 10% off any item that can be sold by the case. Whole Foods Encinitas currently offers a 20% discount through July 2012!
Coupons – you can find coupons for many of the brands sold at Whole Foods. Whole Foods also has their own coupons online and in their Whole Deal circular.
Shop Sales – just like any store Whole Foods has a variety of sales items. I noticed their produce is comparably priced to organic produce at other grocery stores – in many cases it is cheaper! (you gotta compare ‘apples’ to ‘apples’ – or more specifically ‘organic apples’ to ‘organic apples’ – you might be able to find cheaper lettuce – but you likely can’t find cheaper organic lettuce at another store – you know?)
Learn to embrace store brands – the store brand at Whole Foods is called ’365′. We bought several of these items and it was great quality!
Bulk discounts on meat and produce – ask the butcher what the bulk discount is on meat and make sure to find the value section in the produce department – this was a GREAT way for us to stretch our budget!
When all was said and done – we spent just over $575 – and that was with a few mistakes! By our last shopping trip we spent about $115 – I am TOTALLY confident I could shop for our family of five for $100 – $125 a week with NO problem.
In the end I did find that there were several things that were more expensive than at other grocery stores. I am here to tell it to you straight. Some stuff is more expensive, and there is just no way around it. In most cases when comparing the same products some things were more expensive, but NOT much more expensive. A few percentage points – if that. Organic produce was often cheaper than organic produce at other stores (including ‘big box’ stores), and believe it or not – milk was cheaper than at Ralphs! Stuff that was more expensive for a reason - you can feel good about what you are buying. Everything from chocolate to coffee to produce is fair trade. It is raised and sold by a farmer that makes a livable wage. I grew up in a blue collar hard working house and this is very important to me. In addition to that – Whole Foods will not sell cheaper meat if the animal’s living conditions did not meet at least some important standards – not everything is organic – but it is all GMO free and all the animals had at least some access to the outdoors. I know it isn’t important to everyone, but I feel better eating chickens that lived a happy life before they became my dinner.
Whole Foods Market is a bit far from our house so I had only been a few times prior to our challenge - I needed to learn this store before I could shop it perfectly! I made a few silly mistakes that could have saved us even more! The first week I purchased a name brand coffee instead of 365, for some reason I missed it. I also was unaware of their value brand wine the first week I shopped – we don’t drink soda or juice in our house – but we typically drink a couple glasses of wine each week – usually value brand stuff. I could have saved a few dollars if I had purchased only $1.99 bottles – but I bought two that were about $5 each – oopsie! We also bought premade salsa, pizza sauce, bread, salad dressing, and tortillas at the beginning of the challenge – by the end we were making our own for a significant discount and it was pretty easy! I also did not know about their significant meat discount if you purchase a larger quantity until my LAST trip! *sigh* – oh the things I could have done had I known this! Oh well!
We thank the good folks at Whole Foods Market Encinitas for allowing us to take this challenge on! We thank them for showing us the value within their store and allowing us to share that with our readers! We will see you again soon!!
I hope to see you at Whole Foods Market Encinitas SOON!