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What to buy at Whole Foods according to a nutritionist

For some reason saving money and shopping at Whole Foods don't seem like they should fit into the same sentence, but there are ways to shop at the mega market and stay within budget.

Whole Foods like any other supermarket has must have items and items you can find cheaper at your local Giant, Safeway or Harris Teeter. We turned to Sarah Waybright, MS, RD of WhyFoodWorks, LLC, to help debunk the "everything is better at Whole Foods" myth. She shared her thoughts on what to splurge on at Whole Foods and what to leave on the shelves and get for cheaper somewhere else.

Where WholeFoods is worth it

Fish/meat; see their standards here and here:

Whole Foods has a five-step animal welfare system that adheres to the Global Animal Partnership's ratings. The ratings reflect successive levels of animal-centered practices. Step one is the first level and it places strong standards around common agriculture practices, according to the Whole Foods website. To achieve even that first step, farmers and ranchers must focus intently on the welfare of their animals and meet more than 100 animal-welfare standards. Each step above that requires more.

Whole Foods may be pricier when it comes to meats, but you pay for the quality.

Whole Foods meat prices:

  • Strip steak 10.99-16.99
  • Ground beef$5.49-9.99
  • Pork chops$6.99
  • Chicken breasts$3.99-7.99
  • Chicken thighs$2.49-4.99
  • Chicken legs$1.99-3.99

Safeway meat prices:

  • Strip steak $12.99-13.49
  • Ground beef $3.99-6.99
  • Pork Chops $2.99
  • Chicken breast $2.99-6.00
  • Chicken thighs $1.69-7.49
  • Chicken legs $1.69-2.99

Use the bulk bins:

The bulk bins are good for a lot or a little of things; check prices compared to their 365 brand bagged prices, which can be a better deal (use price per pound or per ounce, make sure comparing similar units as some bagged will be 12oz instead of 16oz)

Beautiful produce:

Whole Foods has beautiful produce that is good for serving fresh. For example, if you are making a fresh salad for a dinner party. It is less important to buy pretty produce if you are just going to cook it (save your money and buy your produce elsewhere).

Good for local produce and products (Unless you live near a Glen's Garden Market):

Whole Foods prides themselves on buying local. According to the website, they define local as within state lines. Whole Foods also makes it possible to view the profiles of local vendors they use on their website so you know where your food is coming from.

Uncommon cooking oils/essential oils:

They offer a wide variety of different cooking oils and essential oils. Instead of having one option of avocado oil, you may have three or four. And out of all the other local grocery stores, they have one of the biggest and best selections of essential oils.

Cheese tray creation:

You can put together a beautiful 5-cheese plate for $10-12!

What to buy at other chains

You can find comparable products and quality in the below categories at pretty much any grocery store.

  • Dressings and condiments
  • Canned goods
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Wine and beer
  • Frozen vegetables and fruit