I am an unconventional grocery shopper.
I prefer shop earlier in the morning or later in the evening on a random week day, avoiding the Sunday crowds or Monday mom rush.
Living here in Austin though, we are pretty spoiled.
With a total of 1088 grocery stores listed on Yelp alone, Austin is not short on options—particularly with a local feel.
Whole Foods…my “Cheers”—the place where everyone knows your name.
Best customer service hands down. Just this past week, I asked my cashier Marlin to run a price check on the organic bacon I’d picked up from the back. If it was going to be $8 bucks, I decided I’d be fine to ‘settle’ for the non-organic version.
“What if I just give it to you?” Marlin asked.
“Sure why not? On me,” he said.
Then later that week, I popped in for some fresh cod for a fish taco recipe I was concocting. As the “fisherman” packed my fish, we made small talk and I pointed out my surprise at the special $35/per pound King Salmon in the case next to the cod.
“Do people really buy that?!
“Yes. They love it! It’s amazing. We sell out all the time.” he said.
“Wow. Maybe one day…”
“Why don’t you try it out? On the house?” he said, cutting me a little piece to take home and cook up.
Whole Foods rocks!
While many people hear the word “Whole Foods” and think: “Whole Paycheck”—not even venturing in there out of ‘fear’ of the dollar sign…I decided to make it a mission to ‘save some dollars’ and uncover some of the best steals and deals you can find in house.
Here’s a Practical Guide to Shopping at Whole Foods:
- Chard and Lacinto Kale. Lately, I’ve been all about rainbow chard and Lacinto Kale. Loaded with Vitamin A, K, C and antioxidants, I love to throw these bunches in a pan with a bit of coconut oil, sea salt, pepper and splash of water, let sautee for 5-7 minutes, an voila, instant power—A great side dish to any meat. Whole Foods=$1.98/bunchà $1 less than any of the other stores in town.
- Organic Strawberries. This week: $2.98…constituting as perhaps the best berry deal in town, as these typically run about $4.99/lbs. Fresh produce in general is typically on sale at Whole Foods. Shop in season. The week before, I stumbled upon zucchini and yellow summer squash for 98-cents/lbs. Unheard of!
- Avocados…Make everything taste delicious! Many weeks they go for 5/$1, and on average they are about $1.49-$1.99. Pretty standard otherwise. I like to store my avocados in my fridge so they last longer.
- Organic Japanese Sweet Potatoes. Or, ‘nature’s candy’ as I call them. Most organic potatoes are anywhere from $2-$3/lbs. These babies are $1.99. Score!
- Wild Caught Cod (& Other fish). $3-4 less than the $17.99/lbs. cod at Central Market and way fresher than what you could find at H-E-B (the mega grocery store chain in Texas). Make friends with the fishermen behind the counter and they may even throw in some extra fish on the house to try!
- Pasture-Raised Eggs. $5.69 (vs. $6.99-$12 for pasture-raised eggs at farmer’s markets and other stores). Vital Farms eggs brings the ‘farmer’s market’ vibe to the grocery store. The local egg producer got it’s big break on the shelves of Whole Foods and has taken much of the country by storm. There is a HUGE difference in the taste, flavor and nutrition in pasture-raised eggs vs. conventional. Look at the color of the egg yolks alone: Rich, yellow-orange (pasture raised), versus milky, palish yellow (conventional). In addition, A recent study from Mother Earth News revealed that eggs from pasture raised chickens are actually quite different than eggs from your standard factory farm chickens. The pasture raised eggs contain:
- 4-6 times as much vitamin D as standard supermarket eggs.
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 3 times for vitamin E
- Nitrate-Free Turkey Bacon. $5.99 for no antibiotics, hormones, nitrates and a crispy side alongside your eggs and banana pancakes (my fave to make!) in the mornings.
- Coconut Butter. One word: deliciousness. Creamy excellence atop veggies and sweet potatoes, or simply alone by the spoon. $11.97à again, a $1-4 less than many other places I have seen.
- Coconut Aminos. On sale for $5.99—again, another $1 off then most places. I use these to cook up my bison and turkey burgers for extra flavoring without the added chemicals, sugars or salts in marinades like Worstesire sauce.
- Bottled Water. Best deal in town on bottled water. 99-cents for a 32-ounce bottle of Electrolyte water, and 69-cents for the 24-ounce bottle…most places sell water for $1.50-$2/pop.
- Unsweetened Almond Milk. Califa Farms unsweetened vanilla almond milk is the bomb.com! A great substitute for conventional, gut-irritating dairy, and a great addition to a morning smoothie (8 oz. almond milk, ¾ c. crushed ice, ½ banana or handful of berries, 1 tbsp. raw almond butter or coconut butter, 1 serving Natural Stacks or Wild Foods whey protein or hemp protein). Less than $3.49 for 48-fluid ounces.
- Wellshire Farms Chicken Apple Sausage Patties. $4.99 for 5 patties ($1 pattie) that saves time on making your own (cook up in about 4-5 minutes).
- Fryer roasting whole chickens for $2.49 lb. today. Paid about $5 for a 2 lbs.+ bird. Perfect for bone broth or roasted to pick on throughout the week (toss on salads, make a chicken salad, wrap up in a crunchy lettuce wrap, throw in butternut squash or sweet potato soup). Also stocked up on a couple pounds of chicken thighs–$5.99 for organic thighs (vs. $7.99 at Central Market down the road).
- Garden of Life Probiotic-Ultra. $38 as opposed to the $42 at the other stores. Promote healthy gut flora and digestion with a probiotic, taken once in the mornings and at night before bed.
- Sea Salt. $1 for a huge baker’s version of the mineral. This container will last you a very, very long time.
I can go on…
Bottom line? You CAN shop smart at Whole Foods and actually find some deals.
And…word on the street, Whole Foods is actually launching a sister store that is ‘cheaper’ (or more economical) across the boards…
In a recent press release, the company released the preliminary details:
“Today, we are excited to announce the launch of a new, uniquely-branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace,” said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market. “Offering our industry- leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.”