Author Topic: Whole Foods to save money?  (Read 2252 times)

sirspendstoomuch

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Whole Foods to save money?
« on: November 14, 2017, 12:06:44 PM »
My first post here.  Long time lurker.

I was at the local whole foods yesterday (not my normal grocery store) and noticed that they have a meatless Monday deal.  The outrageously overpriced food bar that normally charges like $8.50/lb charges $8 on Monday for as much meatless food as you can fit into the container. 

On the face, the deal doesn't seem that great as $8 for a meal is nothing too special.  But got me thinking if I filled a plate or 2 with Fruit/Veggies/Pastas and various side dishes/meatless options, I could in theory use that as breakfast, lunch and dinner/dinner sides for the week.  So $8-$24 on plates there plus some coffee/meat from the regular grocery store would be less than I normally spend.  For example, hard boiled eggs breakfast, pasta or salad for lunch, and combine the sides they have with chicken for dinner.

Obvious downside is you would be eating leftovers all week.

What do you think? Does this make sense?

Crease

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 12:11:05 PM »
Welcome!

Are you sure that will be enough calories for you for the week? In general, I am skeptical that the Whole Foods prepared food section is more cost-effective than just buying the raw produce/rice/pasta and preparing it yourself. Out of curiosity, what other grocers are in your area?

ketchup

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 12:13:09 PM »
Obvious downside is you would be eating leftovers all week.
I'd call that an upside, but that's just me.   Cooking every single meal individually would be exhausting.  I love leftovers.

If it pencils out, that seems fine, but you'd have to stretch $8 across quite a few meals as side dishes for it to make any sense (I have no idea how big the container is).  I only spend about $15/week on lunch as it is.

PoutineLover

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 12:13:39 PM »
I guess it depends how big the containers are and how many meals you end up with for the $8. I know my meals don't cost me $8 each, I would have to get about 3-4 meals out of it to make that worthwhile, and if you are supplementing with other foods then it would have to be even more. The leftovers part is fine, I like making a big batch of food and eating it all week, but I'm sure you can feed yourself for cheaper by cooking from scratch. If the alternative is buying other more expensive prepackaged food, then maybe you'd end up saving money.

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 12:16:38 PM »
The container is one of those paper plates divided into 3 sections with a lid that is about 2 inches tall.  So flip it over and use the lid as the dish and cap with the plate.  As long as the lid closes, you are good.

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 12:19:29 PM »
Welcome!

Are you sure that will be enough calories for you for the week? In general, I am skeptical that the Whole Foods prepared food section is more cost-effective than just buying the raw produce/rice/pasta and preparing it yourself. Out of curiosity, what other grocers are in your area?

Others are Weis, Acme, Giant.  Aldi is further away.  I am back and forth on the economics.  If that covers produce and side dishes, then I can add the meat for the bulk of food.

ketchup

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 12:20:51 PM »
You could always just go with this tactic:


Laura33

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 01:22:31 PM »
Yeah, might be worth trying once or twice just to see if it works out as well as you hope.  But personally, I tend more toward Ketchup's cartoon -- why waste space with pasta when even my expensive store sells entire boxes for $0.99?  I'd be more likely to focus on the expensive stuff (measured on a $/volume basis, of course, like nuts and blueberries), or the denser veggies that provide a lot of veg for the volume (e.g., no salad). 

But don't get caught up in how it's so much a better "deal" than the normally-priced food bar, or that, wow, it is really letting you stock up on nuts for a screaming cheap price -- the key is whether it would cost more than what you would otherwise make at home.  If your goal is cheap side dishes, you can easily make some pasta, or rice and beans, or fried rice, or a head of broccoli, or big salads, or whatever for a lot less than $8 per 2-3 meals (there's a reason they offer the deal on "meatless" days).  So if you'd otherwise make a pasta salad for $0.99 of pasta and $0.15 of mayo and maybe a quarter's worth of veg, paying $8 for a tray full of nuts won't save you money, even if it's a great deal on nuts.  OTOH, if you normally pay $15/wk on fresh veg and then never cook it and it goes bad, paying $8 for a tray might be a reasonable way to cut your real-life costs (even though the optimal approach would be to buy less veg and then cook what you buy).  So if you think it's a deal, try the food bar for a week, then try cooking at home for a week, and compare the two. 

The other way I'd consider using it would be to improve my diet for a reasonable price -- for ex., I struggle to find vegetables I like, so if they have some version that I like, I might fill 'er up to entice myself to eat more veggies.  But note that this would be upgrading my diet for a similarly upgraded price; it is not saving money. 
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sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 01:40:45 PM »
Yeah, might be worth trying once or twice just to see if it works out as well as you hope.  But personally, I tend more toward Ketchup's cartoon -- why waste space with pasta when even my expensive store sells entire boxes for $0.99?  I'd be more likely to focus on the expensive stuff (measured on a $/volume basis, of course, like nuts and blueberries), or the denser veggies that provide a lot of veg for the volume (e.g., no salad). 

But don't get caught up in how it's so much a better "deal" than the normally-priced food bar, or that, wow, it is really letting you stock up on nuts for a screaming cheap price -- the key is whether it would cost more than what you would otherwise make at home.  If your goal is cheap side dishes, you can easily make some pasta, or rice and beans, or fried rice, or a head of broccoli, or big salads, or whatever for a lot less than $8 per 2-3 meals (there's a reason they offer the deal on "meatless" days).  So if you'd otherwise make a pasta salad for $0.99 of pasta and $0.15 of mayo and maybe a quarter's worth of veg, paying $8 for a tray full of nuts won't save you money, even if it's a great deal on nuts.  OTOH, if you normally pay $15/wk on fresh veg and then never cook it and it goes bad, paying $8 for a tray might be a reasonable way to cut your real-life costs (even though the optimal approach would be to buy less veg and then cook what you buy).  So if you think it's a deal, try the food bar for a week, then try cooking at home for a week, and compare the two. 

The other way I'd consider using it would be to improve my diet for a reasonable price -- for ex., I struggle to find vegetables I like, so if they have some version that I like, I might fill 'er up to entice myself to eat more veggies.  But note that this would be upgrading my diet for a similarly upgraded price; it is not saving money.

Some good points here.  The buy, no cook, throw out definitely happens and the health angle is one I was considering.  I may have to experiment for a week and see how it goes.  Thanks.

reformingSucka

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 02:35:34 PM »
Also, even if you tried it and it only works out "decent" - it can be an option for your busy work weeks. $8 per pound is still a lot to pay for food, even prepared food - but it is a whole lot cheaper than eating out.

frompa

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 02:42:44 PM »
I have friends who refer to "Whole Foods" as "Whole Paycheck," and after having visited enough of them to see what they offer, I have to agree.  Prepared food generally is more expensive than stuff you can make at home.  And heavily marketed and packaged stuff is generally more expensive than basics -- they gotta pay for that advertising somehow! If you really want to save on food, buy the basics, even the best quality basics you can afford, like a variety of grains and veggies, and go at it -- you'll eat better and save tons of money.  If you utterly abhor cooking, though, then perhaps you can save a few bucks buying pre-fab food... try it out and see how it suits you.  I'll be curious to hear how you make out. 

ketchup

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 02:44:26 PM »
Also, even if you tried it and it only works out "decent" - it can be an option for your busy work weeks. $8 per pound is still a lot to pay for food, even prepared food - but it is a whole lot cheaper than eating out.
I'd say a rotisserie chicken and microwave-steam-in-the-bag vegetables are even cheaper "prepared" foods for busy times.

Laura33

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 06:29:33 PM »
Also, even if you tried it and it only works out "decent" - it can be an option for your busy work weeks. $8 per pound is still a lot to pay for food, even prepared food - but it is a whole lot cheaper than eating out.
I'd say a rotisserie chicken and microwave-steam-in-the-bag vegetables are even cheaper "prepared" foods for busy times.

But remember, itís not $8 per pound, itís $8 per container.  So it all depends on how efficiently you can stuff that container.  ;-)
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Spartans

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2017, 07:57:55 AM »
I have friends who refer to "Whole Foods" as "Whole Paycheck," and after having visited enough of them to see what they offer, I have to agree.  Prepared food generally is more expensive than stuff you can make at home.  And heavily marketed and packaged stuff is generally more expensive than basics -- they gotta pay for that advertising somehow! If you really want to save on food, buy the basics, even the best quality basics you can afford, like a variety of grains and veggies, and go at it -- you'll eat better and save tons of money.  If you utterly abhor cooking, though, then perhaps you can save a few bucks buying pre-fab food... try it out and see how it suits you.  I'll be curious to hear how you make out.

Meh, I don't see it.  Sure you can spend a ton there if you want to but if you buy the right things it's no more expensive than other stores and things like produce are higher quality.  I also like their selection.   But I will say quality food is one thing I don't pinch extremely tight on, I value it higher than most things.
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ketchup

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2017, 08:03:23 AM »
I have friends who refer to "Whole Foods" as "Whole Paycheck," and after having visited enough of them to see what they offer, I have to agree.  Prepared food generally is more expensive than stuff you can make at home.  And heavily marketed and packaged stuff is generally more expensive than basics -- they gotta pay for that advertising somehow! If you really want to save on food, buy the basics, even the best quality basics you can afford, like a variety of grains and veggies, and go at it -- you'll eat better and save tons of money.  If you utterly abhor cooking, though, then perhaps you can save a few bucks buying pre-fab food... try it out and see how it suits you.  I'll be curious to hear how you make out.

Meh, I don't see it.  Sure you can spend a ton there if you want to but if you buy the right things it's no more expensive than other stores and things like produce are higher quality.  I also like their selection.   But I will say quality food is one thing I don't pinch extremely tight on, I value it higher than most things.
Their "higher quality" produce is at least somewhat a result of how much less-than-perfect-looking produce they just toss when it gets to that point.  I don't know how it objectively compares to other grocery chains, but I know they throw away a LOT to maintain the image of "high quality produce."  You won't find slightly-wrinkled lettuce like you will at Walmart, and it's not because they have some magical better variety of lettuce.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2017, 01:11:53 PM »
Stuff the plate/container with as much high priced stuff that you like, then weigh it and divide by 8. 

I can't imagine it's a grand bargain versus bringing something from home, but better than eating at a restaurant.

Spartans

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2017, 02:02:25 PM »
I have friends who refer to "Whole Foods" as "Whole Paycheck," and after having visited enough of them to see what they offer, I have to agree.  Prepared food generally is more expensive than stuff you can make at home.  And heavily marketed and packaged stuff is generally more expensive than basics -- they gotta pay for that advertising somehow! If you really want to save on food, buy the basics, even the best quality basics you can afford, like a variety of grains and veggies, and go at it -- you'll eat better and save tons of money.  If you utterly abhor cooking, though, then perhaps you can save a few bucks buying pre-fab food... try it out and see how it suits you.  I'll be curious to hear how you make out.

Meh, I don't see it.  Sure you can spend a ton there if you want to but if you buy the right things it's no more expensive than other stores and things like produce are higher quality.  I also like their selection.   But I will say quality food is one thing I don't pinch extremely tight on, I value it higher than most things.
Their "higher quality" produce is at least somewhat a result of how much less-than-perfect-looking produce they just toss when it gets to that point.  I don't know how it objectively compares to other grocery chains, but I know they throw away a LOT to maintain the image of "high quality produce."  You won't find slightly-wrinkled lettuce like you will at Walmart, and it's not because they have some magical better variety of lettuce.

When I go to other stores the majority of it is all old shriveled looking, at the normal price too.  When I shop at WF I rarely see anything like that, so yeah I believe they throw away the old stuff, better than having a shelf full of it trying to sell it at the regular price. 
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tag

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2017, 01:24:24 PM »
Not having to prepare or clean up after preparing is worth something. Even if you could stretch it to 3 meals, I think it would be worth it. For me, I'd just call that my restaurant eating for the week.

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2017, 11:08:48 AM »
Update.  Tried it this week for myself.  For the $8 I got 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches (although could have been 4-5 if I had stuck to one thing but wasn't sure what I would like).

Breakfast was just simple hard boiled eggs.  Was more of an add-on to the lunch since I was buying anyway.  These are obviously easy to make at home.

Lunch was pasta salad, ricotta cheesed stuffed pasta with chick peas, and a greek type dish primarily made of wheat berries with cucumber, tomato, feta, and dressing.

So backing out say a dollar for eggs, I got 3 lunches for $7.  If I had just done the greek wheat berry dish I could have easily gotten 5 lunches. 

I'm guessing I could just make that Greek dish on Sunday for the week and maybe spend less than $7, but it was convenient.

Laura33

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2017, 03:47:12 PM »
Update.  Tried it this week for myself.  For the $8 I got 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches (although could have been 4-5 if I had stuck to one thing but wasn't sure what I would like).

Breakfast was just simple hard boiled eggs.  Was more of an add-on to the lunch since I was buying anyway.  These are obviously easy to make at home.

Lunch was pasta salad, ricotta cheesed stuffed pasta with chick peas, and a greek type dish primarily made of wheat berries with cucumber, tomato, feta, and dressing.

So backing out say a dollar for eggs, I got 3 lunches for $7.  If I had just done the greek wheat berry dish I could have easily gotten 5 lunches. 

I'm guessing I could just make that Greek dish on Sunday for the week and maybe spend less than $7, but it was convenient.

Eh, that's honestly better than I expected.  If you're gonna splurge on premade, $1-2/meal isn't bad -- especially if it gives you healthier choices and recipes you wouldn't/couldn't make yourself.
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Dezrah

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2017, 10:24:52 AM »
I knew someone who pulled a similar scheme at a frozen yogurt store.  It was the kind where you pay by weight.  She noticed the toffee toppings were actually sourced from a local gourmet candy shop.  If you filled up your bowl with nothing but toffee, you could get it cheaper than otherwise available at the store.

Personally I thought this crossed the frugal to cheap line since you're probably getting stale, touched-by-dirty-kids toffee.

ohsnap

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2017, 04:08:16 PM »
Update.  Tried it this week for myself.  For the $8 I got 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches (although could have been 4-5 if I had stuck to one thing but wasn't sure what I would like).

Breakfast was just simple hard boiled eggs.  Was more of an add-on to the lunch since I was buying anyway.  These are obviously easy to make at home.

Lunch was pasta salad, ricotta cheesed stuffed pasta with chick peas, and a greek type dish primarily made of wheat berries with cucumber, tomato, feta, and dressing...

Those lunch options sound pretty good!  Did you maximize filling the container by filling the lid and topping with the plate?

A Whole Foods opened almost 2 years ago that's literally 10 minutes from my house and I've never set foot in it. ($4/pound for apples?  No thanks.)  But maybe I will stop in on Monday to check it out. :)

Chesleygirl

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2017, 10:34:38 PM »
I don't like the Whole Foods food bar. The salads all taste sweet, they seem to use apple cider vinegar in most of them. They seem to skimp on ingredients too.

As for their pizza it's smothered in anchovy oil and you can smell it and sometimes taste it. If you don't like anchovies, don't buy ready-made pizza at Whole Foods. My guess is, they use the same knife they use to cut the anchovy pizza, on all the pizzas. So the oil really gets into everything and ruins it.

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2017, 11:40:55 AM »
Update.  Tried it this week for myself.  For the $8 I got 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches (although could have been 4-5 if I had stuck to one thing but wasn't sure what I would like).

Breakfast was just simple hard boiled eggs.  Was more of an add-on to the lunch since I was buying anyway.  These are obviously easy to make at home.

Lunch was pasta salad, ricotta cheesed stuffed pasta with chick peas, and a greek type dish primarily made of wheat berries with cucumber, tomato, feta, and dressing...

Those lunch options sound pretty good!  Did you maximize filling the container by filling the lid and topping with the plate?

A Whole Foods opened almost 2 years ago that's literally 10 minutes from my house and I've never set foot in it. ($4/pound for apples?  No thanks.)  But maybe I will stop in on Monday to check it out. :)

I didn't this time because I wanted to try more of a variety and didn't want to mix everthing together.  If I do it again, I will choose 1 and fill it up that way.

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2017, 11:46:51 AM »
So I made a similar salad this week to what I bought at Whole Foods.  Slightly bigger volume, but not that much.

1lb Quinoa - $2.44
12 oz Feta - $3.50
Cucumber $0.76
Red Onion -
Tomato -
Dressing -

I already had the last 3 so not sure what the cost was.  But you can see, even at Costco prices, I am up to $6.70 without counting those other 2 ingredients.  Maybe the Whole Foods deal isn't so bad?

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2017, 02:33:05 PM »
...

A Whole Foods opened almost 2 years ago that's literally 10 minutes from my house and I've never set foot in it. ($4/pound for apples?  No thanks.)  But maybe I will stop in on Monday to check it out. :)

So, I finally set foot in the "new" Whole Foods!  Sadly, this store doesn't have the Monday special, but an employee helpfully suggested I come back for the Wednesday special of $7.49 per pound.  (I won't be taking advantage of that).  I wandered around a bit and remembered why I never shop at Whole Foods.  $30/pound cheeses and $4/pound apples.  I thought Amazon had promised to lower prices, and I literally laughed out loud when I walked in and the first display I saw was the $4/pound apples. :)

sirspendstoomuch

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2017, 10:53:14 AM »
...

A Whole Foods opened almost 2 years ago that's literally 10 minutes from my house and I've never set foot in it. ($4/pound for apples?  No thanks.)  But maybe I will stop in on Monday to check it out. :)

So, I finally set foot in the "new" Whole Foods!  Sadly, this store doesn't have the Monday special, but an employee helpfully suggested I come back for the Wednesday special of $7.49 per pound.  (I won't be taking advantage of that).  I wandered around a bit and remembered why I never shop at Whole Foods.  $30/pound cheeses and $4/pound apples.  I thought Amazon had promised to lower prices, and I literally laughed out loud when I walked in and the first display I saw was the $4/pound apples. :)

That sucks.  Without the special it is definitely not worth it.  I have heard their bulk grains are a good deal?  I haven't confirmed myself.

iris lily

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2017, 02:35:23 PM »
When I first saw this thread I thought it might really about whole foods entire fruits and vegetables uncut.

That is how you save money, buying these items and preparing them yourself. I cannot imagine that anything by the grocery chain Whole Foods is inexpensive.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 07:05:03 AM by iris lily »

4alpacas

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2017, 05:12:09 PM »
When I first saw this thread I thought it might really about whole foods entire fruits and vegetables uncut.

That is how you save my kids buying these items and preparing them yourself. I cannot imagine that anything by the grocery chain Whole Foods is it expensive
I don't shop at Whole Foods often.  However, the bulk spice section is a big money saver for us.  When we try out a new recipe with a bizarre ingredient, we buy just enough for the recipe.  Sometimes the recipe is a flop, so we saved quite a bit of money and food waste. 

iris lily

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Re: Whole Foods to save money?
« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2017, 07:05:29 AM »
When I first saw this thread I thought it might really about whole foods entire fruits and vegetables uncut.

That is how you save my kids buying these items and preparing them yourself. I cannot imagine that anything by the grocery chain Whole Foods is it expensive
I don't shop at Whole Foods often.  However, the bulk spice section is a big money saver for us.  When we try out a new recipe with a bizarre ingredient, we buy just enough for the recipe.  Sometimes the recipe is a flop, so we saved quite a bit of money and food waste.

That is a good use of Whole Foods.