May 08, 2023

Best Bang for Your Buck at Whole Foods


Whole Foods ain’t nicknamed Whole Paycheck for nothing. For young adult cancer patients (or anyone else with an illness) co-pays, medicine, medical debt, student loans, and time off work all take a toll on your cash flow - not to mention this whole recession thang.

I only shop at Whole Foods occasionally and am careful to buy the best bang for my buck items.  Here are my favorites:

1. Wild caught yellow fin tuna burgers, frozen
Because they are frozen they won’t go bad before I can eat them (spoilage is the worst waste of food money ever), plus most fish you buy at the market has been frozen anyway.  They are fast to cook, a nice hit of protein.

2.  Organic sausage
Expensive, but fast to cook, again a nice hit of organic protein.  I buy them for myself – Shannon eats the non-organic from Trader Joe’s – much less expensive.

3.  Organic Sale Produce
I buy mostly just a few sale items, but be careful in the produce aisle - there’s a difference between a sale and a good deal.  Example: regular priced organic romaine is way cheaper than on sale organic radicchio.  I also avoid berries - organic are too expensive - conventional too many pesticides.  Anti-oxidants? Show me a cancer study that was not on rats and made a truly significant difference with only a pint or two of berries.

4.  Spices
I usually use fresh lemon, salt, and pepper instead of spices but if I want to buy a spice, bulk at Whole Foods is the cheapest around.

5.  365 Brand Body Products

Walk the body care section with blinders on, by pass all the green-washed, pretty labels that will eat your wallet alive, and head straight for the 365 products.  They are very well priced and free of most skanky carcinogens like parabens.

Do you ever shop at Whole Foods or is it way beyond your budget?  Have you ever used food stamps at Whole Foods?  What are your favorite bang for your buck WF items?  Help me grow my list!

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  1. Jon Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 7:28 PM

    me and my wife are starting to shop there by recomendation of my oncologist and a few other cancer survivors. that are very smart on the diet game. i get lemons fresh mint and agave sweetner. and make some lemonade. but is it a realistic idea to shop there, yes it is however you need to be on a hard budget and just make the stuff last. or there are very good whole food competitors that are a little more affordable in texas we have “Sprout” and “central market”

  2. Sara Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    I like to buy the Whole Foods bulk organic pop corn. Makes a great filling snack in my air popper. Also, the 365 brand organic eggs and milk.

  3. Em Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 8:14 PM

    My husband is fond of the bulk olive oil and soy sauce. He dutifully carries our empty bottles in his backpack on his bike to WF and fills them up. Also bulk shampoo. (I draw the line there). My favorite thing is not really a grocery item. It is the 1 main dish/2 side dish hot plate from the “food court”. It’s a good deal and since the vegetables are good, I actually eat them.

  4. lisa Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 10:04 PM

    cheese! whole foods (which we call ‘whole paycheck’) has a basket on the cheese counter of small cheese ends — too small to keep out in the cases, but enought to wrap up and sell. A great way to try new cheeses, and the pieces are usually only $2 or $3.

  5. anonymous Says:
    May 9th, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    My wife has cancer and we shop at Whole Foods occassionally. It is always a balancing act between the common sense that it is probably not a good idea to eat pesticides and the lack of information as to the impact this makes on a cancer survivor’s life and how to afford it all. Unfortunately, while Whole Foods is supposed to be this healthy place, they only have a handful of organic meat selections, and those are prepackaged. I do like their beer aisle, however.

  6. jana Says:
    May 9th, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    Grazing the samples on a Saturday afternoon is a favorite past time for my husband. A great free lunch!
    I looked at having them make our wedding cake and had our wedding location been close enough to a Whole Foods it would have been the deal of a lifetime. There were no mark-ups for it being a “wedding cake” and the samples we were offered during our private meeting with the bakery chef were some of the best I have ever had! Chantilly cream or tiramisu icing? Hmmm, hard choice.

  7. hp Says:
    May 9th, 2009 at 12:08 PM

    i agree with jana- grazing at whole foods can be fantastic, especially around the holidays (they tend to have more and better stuff out then). otherwise, BULK ITEMS are by far the best way to go. bulk spices are really inexpensive also, and you can get just a little bit if shopping specifically for a recipe. the 365 brand pomegranate sorbet is delicious and reasonably priced, as is the 365 brand soy milk.

  8. Kelly Kane Says:
    May 9th, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    I like Whole Foods but it’s definitely a pain to go there because I know I’ll need to go to the real grocery store as well to buy usual stuff that I wouldn’t buy there.

    I really like their meats. Well chicken because that’s really all I eat. It’s great since I can just get one piece of chicken and not waste anything. I’m not big into frozen meat.

    Also, my weakness there is their frozen sourdough bread. Random, I know. But it’s great! It’s typically cheaper than buying it fresh (I think it’s about $2) and I can make it whenever I want. I usually buy 2 or 3 at a time.

    Oh and I love their fresh basil pesto.

  9. Chris Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    I actually buy my basics at Whole Foods, the everyday stuff like bananas, milk, bread, butter and eggs. And then where else do you have a selection of 4 different kinds of flax oil? The ‘wild caught’ salmon is very yummy too!

  10. Kelly Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    I love the Trader’s Point Creamery yogurt. I don’t know how well it’s priced but it’s sooooo good. I also like many of the 365 products. The olive oil is pretty reasonably priced.

  11. Anonymous Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    1. special discount ‘za (but only one night a week - and call ahead!)
    2. 2 lbs coffee, about $10, which is about half the cost of many other locales

  12. Anonymous Says:
    May 10th, 2009 at 7:21 PM

    I’m a big fan of the 365 product line. I love their natural peanut butter.

  13. Erin Lane Beam Says:
    May 11th, 2009 at 11:35 AM

    Any standard white fish - Dover Sole seems to always be on sale!

  14. post-chemo and rads Says:
    May 19th, 2009 at 7:53 PM

    I try to eat all organic or nothing. After cancer treatment and all the grief it entails, why go back to questionable food, hormones in dairy, pesticides, etc. Whole Foods takes out all the guessing that I usually have to do at the other grocery stores.

    I also dumped my microwave out of my house.

    Clean food, clean cooking make sense after all we endure in getting past cancer.

    Then of course there are all the good-looking guys at Whole Foods in Santa Fe where I live! Wow! A secondary perk, but fabulous nonetheless.

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