Hacking Whole Foods

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

20110317 Wholefoodsshowcase 0009 | Hacking Whole Foods

I LOVE grocery shopping.

The total experience!

From asking the butcher to hand-select his favorite meat for the week for me.

“Going fishing” in the seafood market for the fresh catch of the day.

Making small talk with a mom and her 4-year-old shopping assistant in the produce section.

Checking out the latest “real food” finds on the seasoning and gluten-free aisles (like Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing—you gotta try it!)

And connecting with the cashier and asking her “How was your day?”

Call me crazy, but grocery shopping is one of my favorite times of the week—especially at Whole Foods Market in Downtown Austin (the International Headquarters people).

I often take my Austin-based clients on a grocery store tour to their store of choice to show them how I shop, and also give them some pointers and tips on how to hack their own shopping experience.

(In fact, I am at Whole Foods so often for these kind of tours that Whole Foods employees sometimes ask if I work there).

If you, like many folks, hate the idea of grocery shopping, get bored with your same ol’ same ol’ routine foods, or wish you could save even more money (who doesn’t like to save money)—especially at Whole Foods or other “health food” grocers, here are 7 Nutritionist Secret Whole Foods Hacks to try next time:

  1. Coupons. Stop it right there. No snickering. Even though coupon-using sounds “so 1980’s,” you’ve got to check out the Whole Foods App—a new technology the company launched last year with exclusive (app-only) coupons
  1. Produce. Word on the street is that Whole Foods has actually dropped their prices in this department over the past year with the recent increase in competitor health food stores and options everywhere (from Trader Joes to your large retail grocers). I am not complaining though. Every week, there are tons of deals in the fruits and veggies land. The best part? Most all these “deals” are on the freshest, most in-season deals as well. Keep an eye out, and do your body good by eating foods at their peak nutrient status. This week’s finds? $3.50 Strawberries, $1 Avocados, $2.50 Asparagus, $1.50 Kale Bunches and $2.50 Brussels Sprouts. Boom.
  1. Seafood Sea. I usually opt for the “classic All American” fish—salmon, but sometimes mix it up with wild-caught cod for homemade fish tacos. Fish can be a pretty penny though! Save your dollars here with a package or two of frozen fish—cutting costs nearly in half ($7.99/lb. for my frozen Wild Cod as opposed to $16.99 in the case for a cut of ‘previously frozen and thawed’ cod). Bonus: If you eat a pound of fatty wild-caught fish each week, you may not need to spend extra money on a fish oil supplement to get your fatty acids in. Win. Win.
  1. Butcher Shop. Whole Foods is hands-down my go-to meat shop of choice if I don’t make it to the Farmer’s Market that week for my meat. Meat is the one area I do not mess with conventional (i.e. Tyson, Perdue Farms) and totally worth the investment for quality taste and nutrients (and lack of antibiotics and toxins in the meat). However just cuz you’re opting for “organic” or “grass-fed” does not mean you have to break the bank. Some tips here:
  • Buy the “fattier cuts of meat (chicken thighs, ground beef, etc.) in organic and grass-fed; Often times these are the same price as the non-organic “natural” versions of meats you used to buy, but with MORE nutrients (and taste)
  • Natural, lean “anti-biotic-free meats (not necessarily organic) can be a decent choice
    (i.e. skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, ground round beef) if the organic versions are too steep for your wallet this week
  • Buy a whole chicken ($3.99/lb), instead of chicken breasts ($6-7/lb), and roast it or cook it in your crock pot (Bonus makes broth)
  • Choose pastured eggs vs. “cage-free or conventional eggs or egg whites. Pastured eggs are by far the MOST nutrient dense. Splurge here and simply notice the difference in the egg yolk color alone (rich orange and yellow vs. milky, pale white)
  1. Inside Woman. It can be easy to rack up the dollars with packaged and bottled foods/condiments. I keep my condiment and package buying to a minimum with maybe 1-2 new sauces or seasonings (like Primal Kitchen Mayo and Coconut Aminos) and 1-2 new packaged products (like Siete Tortillas and Simple Mills Cassava Crackers).
  1. Bulk It Up. Stock up on your nuts, plantain chips, spices and baking flours (coconut, almond) in the bulk section. Save approximately $2-3 per item that you buy.
  1. Make a List. Duh, right? Making a list though helps you keep your from eating with your eyes and racking up the dollars on unnecessary items. Up the ante by paying in cash (instead of a card) for your groceries for a double whammy.

Bonus: My Favorite Finds
My top 15 favorite special Whole Foods “finds” outside my usual “meat and veggies”

  1. Siete Tortillas-Coconut Flour Tortillas
  2. Organic Ground Turkey (my digestion feels so much better with this)
  3. 4th & Heart Ghee (Creamy deliciousness) & Kerrygold Pastured Butter
  4. Artisana Coconut Butter
  5. Zoodles—Pre-spiralized veggie noodles
  6. Rainbow Carrots
  7. Simple Mills Crackers
  8. Cold-Pressed Green Juice
  9. Fermented Foods: Health-Ade Kombucha & Farmhouse Cultures Sauerkraut
  10. Japanese Sweet Potatoes
  11. Lacinto or “Dino” Kale
  12. “Chips;” Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips & Inca Plantain Chips
  13. EPIC Turkey + Cranberry Jerky
  14. Malk Almond & Cashew Milks (3 ingredients)
  15. Sauces: Primal Kitchen Mayo, Ranch, Honey Mustard & Coconut Aminos

Despite all the flack Whole Foods gets for being a “Whole Paycheck,” I find I walk away with a grocery bill within $5-$10 of what I would typically spend at any other grocery store, if not right at it for a week’s worth of fresh groceries.

What are your Whole Foods Shopping Hacks?




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