Whole Foods... talk about a place that completely intoxicates customers with hearty food at hearty prices. You may consider yourself a big spender when it comes to sustaining your body with simple, natural dishes, but is Whole Foods worth the pricec? In so many instances, yes! It may not always be your "one stop shop" – the quality and selection of certain goods could easily be rivaled in other grocery stores such as Kroger or Trader Joe's – but if you go in with standards of wanting your food to be non-GMO, grass-fed or organic, Whole Foods is your best bet in the following areas.
1. Organic milk: Daily Finance conducted a comparison of certain products between Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger, Harris Teeter and Walmart. This comparison showed that Whole Foods' own brand, 365 Everyday Value, had the lowest price on a gallon of organic milk. Maybe there are budget-friendly foods at Whole Foods, after all!
2. Grains: The bulk bins at Whole Foods are so handy, allowing customers to scoop the exact amount they want at a per-pound price. There are scoop your own bins for tons of grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, spelt and steel-cut oats. Buying foods that aren't prepackaged will also reduce your carbon footprint, and in this way, will make you consider how much of one item you will actually use.
>> Read the Skinny Mom guide to everything oatmeal!
3. Nuts: Again, located in the bulk bin aisle. You will save money in the long run by scooping your own and straying away from the nuts in the baking aisle of your regular grocery. Per pound, Daily Finance found that whole almonds cost less at Whole Foods than almost all other stores.
4. Seafood: Whole Foods is well known for having strict standards for the seafood they sell, but many consumers are quite thankful they do. Whole Foods never sells fish with antibiotics or added growth hormones, and because of that the prices can be quite high. But if you truly desire to continue enjoying fish, it's best to do it responsibly... especially because fish populations overall have severely declined due to overfishing. Buying high-quality, sustainable seafood is the only way to consume fish in a healthy way for the planet.
5. Some frozen meals: Everyone keeps a few frozen meals in their freezer for those rushed and hectic days. The 365 Everyday Value brand has frozen pizzas that are around the same price, or even dollars less, than other generic brands (Freschetta, for instance) sold at Wal-Mart and Kroger.
6. Vegan and gluten-free items: If you stick to a strict vegan diet, it makes more sense to shop at Whole Foods where the selections for vegan cheeses, mayonnaises and other speciality items will be much bigger. The prices will be similar to your normal grocery, yet Whole Foods will have a wide range of options for you to choose the best item at the best value.
7. Some produce: Whether you believe that organic produce is actually better than conventional produce is a moot point — it's best to always buy local. Whole Foods often sells locally-sourced produce (typically a red sign accompanies the local produce to catch your eye) that is priced lower because the food doesn't travel as far. Also watch for the one-day sales on organic produce that Whole Foods often does (check out the Whole Deal Value Guide for amazing coupons).
>> Read more: When does it make sense to buy organic?
8. Cheese: If you've been inside Whole Foods before you know that their selection of cheese is huge and mouthwatering; from brie to aged cheddar, it would be easy to overindulge. But Whole Foods offers small 4-ounce cuts for reasonable prices, which is perfect for those special dishes that require specialty cheeses. The 365 Everyday Value brand also has shredded cheeses at low prices that could rival Wal-Mart.
9. Coffee: When it comes to coffee, fair trade certified is the best way to go. Fair trade certified means that the growing process benefits the environment and the laborers in tandem, and that growers receive proper compensation. Whole Foods' own brand, Allegro, is committed to sourcing beans from family-run farms and coffee cooperatives in 25 different countries. Also featured are tons of other local beans at fair prices.
While prices will vary from store to store, you can shop smart at Whole Foods and feel good about your selections. There are definitely items worth splurging on, especially because Whole Foods is committed to meeting certain environmental and sustainability standards.