Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods

Despite its reputation for high prices, the organic supermarket stocks many items that cost the same (or less) as at other stores.

Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
By Cameron Huddleston

Whole Foods Market (WFM) is often jokingly referred to as "Whole Paycheck" because this natural-foods chain sells higher-priced organic fare and specialty items. Check out with a cart of grass-fed, hormone-free ground beef, organic heirloom tomatoes and artisan-crafted cheese, and you could easily pay twice as much as you would spend for similar conventional items at a grocery store. But is the ritzy reputation always warranted?

Surprisingly, there are deals to be had at Whole Foods. You heard right: Even bargain-conscious shoppers can find well-priced goods at this high-end grocer. That's great news for those of us who are in the habit of making one trip to Whole Foods for splurge items and a second trip to the grocery store for staples such as milk and pasta.

We visited Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Kroger (KR), Trader Joe's and even Walmart (WMT) to compare prices on a number of popular products. We also consulted a recent comparison of Whole Foods and Safeway (SWY) conducted by Prices may vary across the nation, but the list below shows that some items are cheaper or the same price at Whole Foods than similar items sold in the grocery stores we surveyed. All are original full prices -- not sale prices. Of course, you may be able to find better deals when items go on sale or when discounts are offered. Download a coupon app to your smartphone, or try one of these strategies to save on groceries without coupons.

Organic Items

Frozen organic yellow corn. A 16-ounce package of store-brand yellow corn was the same price at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Kroger -- $1.99 -- and a buck less than at Safeway.

Organic brown sugar. The price of a 24-ounce bag is the same at Whole Foods as at Trader Joe's and Walmart and about $1 less than at Safeway.

Organic chicken broth. A 32-ounce carton of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value organic chicken broth was at least 40 cents less than at the supermarkets we checked.

Organic coconut oil. This oil, which can be used for cooking and for skin and hair care, is about $2 less for a 14-ounce jar of the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods than same-size jars at Kroger and Safeway.

Organic maple syrup. On first glance, the prices of organic maple syrup appeared to be cheaper at some of the supermarkets we checked -- but their bottles were smaller. Per ounce, the Whole Foods brand was the cheapest we found (along with the Trader Joe's brand).

Organic milk. Whole Foods had the lowest price on a gallon of organic milk by far. Its 365 Everyday Value brand was at least $1 less than a gallon of organic milk at several of the other stores we checked. It was priced at an incredibly low $3.69 at the Whole Foods in Nashville, Tenn., that we checked and $4.99 in a Seattle Whole Foods that checked. (Walmart, at $6.48, actually had the highest price.)

Organic peanut butter. At $4.99 for an 18-ounce jar, Whole Foods had the best price for its 365 Everyday Value organic peanut butter. Trader Joe's had the same price for a 16-ounce jar.

Organic peeled carrots. A 1-pound bag of small, peeled carrots sold for 20 cents to 30 cents less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked. The exception was Trader Joe's, which had the same price of $1.69 for a 1-pound bag.

Organic popcorn. A 6-ounce bag of organic popcorn was $1 less at Whole Foods than at Kroger and about 70 cents less than a 5-ounce bag at Safeway.

Non-Organic Items

Baguettes. At $1.29 per baguette, Whole Foods beat the price of baguettes at the other stores we checked -- even Trader Joe's -- by 70 cents.

Cereal bars. We found the same price -- $1.99 -- for a box of six cereal bars at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. The Whole Foods' price beat Walmart's by a penny. And a box of eight cereal bars at Safeway was $2.99, according to the Cheapism study.

Extra virgin olive oil, cold processed. At $6.49, a 33.8-ounce bottle of Whole Foods 365 brand olive oil was several dollars less than the same-size bottles of olive oil at all of the other stores we checked except Trader Joe's, which had the same price.

Grains. The prices on some grains -- not all -- sold at Whole Foods were cheaper. For example, the per-pound price of jasmine rice sold in the bulk ("scoop your own") section of Whole Foods was nearly half as much of the price of bagged jasmine rice at Walmart. Whole Foods also had the lowest per-pound price that we found of quinoa and buckwheat.

Greek yogurt. A 32-ounce container of Greek Gods brand yogurt was almost 70 cents less at Whole Foods than the same brand of yogurt sold at Walmart and the Trader Joe's brand.

Pasta. At 99 cents per 16-ounce package, the price for Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand pasta matches the price of pasta at Trader Joe's, and undercuts the prices at Kroger and Walmart by a penny.

Salsa. Some varieties of the 365 Everyday Value 16-ounce jars of salsa were priced at $1.99 -- 50 cents less than Trader Joe's 12-ounce jars of salsa and 40 cents less than Kroger's Private Selection salsa.

Shredded mozzarella. Prices on imported and specialty cheeses at Whole Foods can be high. But for $3.99, you can't beat the price on a 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value shredded mozzarella -- even at Trader Joe's and Walmart. An 8-ounce package of cream cheese also costs slightly less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked.

Whole almonds. At $5.99 per pound, whole almonds were at least $2 less than at all of the supermarkets we checked except Trader Joe's, which had the same price.

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When Temperatures are really cold, close off windows with your blinds, shades and curtains. Then make wise use of the sun during the day by reversing these covers. Also, turn your thermostat down 2 or 3 degrees when your know you'll be away from the house for a couple of hours, or turn it up a few degrees for summer days. Don't forget to turn down the water heater to "vacation" when you're away. And, why have your water heater at a hight temp when you get into the shower only to turn the cold water on to cool it down? This works in some cases. Lastly, clothes get clean when using cold water.

May 27 2014 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Someone bought sushi in the meal section and was sick for two weeks with vomiting and the runs.

May 25 2014 at 6:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to eeverettm's comment
David B. Smith

You, totally anonymous, make a negative remark about someone, somewhere, once upon a time and we're supposed to take you seriously? You represent one of the worst things about the internet: anyone can say anything and get away with it, Shame on you.

June 15 2014 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i went to whole foods once a few years back, i was craving some salmon from the deli section..imagine my surprise well over $20 a pound and it was farm raised. No thanks. I will shop at Trader Joes

May 24 2014 at 2:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Whole Foods is way, way overpriced for the average or above average income. It is fun to shop at Whole Foods on occasion to purchase healthy foods but many cannot afford to eat healthy when prices are this high. Even products and brands that one finds in Albertsons, Safeway or other stores are sometimes up to 30% more at Whole Foods.

May 24 2014 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to larry's comment
David B. Smith

That's not true, Larry. Did you even read the article? I shop there 2 or 3 times a month, and I bring my brain, and I get some good values. You stick with generic, off-brand items from Albertsons, and I will get real value and organic at whole foods.

June 15 2014 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whole Paycheck prices Tropicana orange juice about $1 more than where I normally do my grocery shopping, Shoprite. Nope, not my paycheck.

May 24 2014 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's good to know that some items are priced right. At our house, we refer to this store as
"Whole Paycheck." But I agree with Notre123. It is fun to go there just to browse and maybe buy a couple of things.

May 22 2014 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always get my grains from wholefoods, i've known the bulk bin is valued priced for awhile now. Other than that I usually shop TraderJoe's, nice to know the prices match most of the time.

May 21 2014 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know where they got their prices from but they are mostly incorrect. Walmart organic milk is around $3.69.

May 21 2014 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vito's comment

I think that whole organic milk part is screwed up ..they're talking about a gallon and quoting prices for a half gallon at whole foods and a gallon at Wally

May 21 2014 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I buy all my meat at Whole Foods. I like that I can buy meat that came from animals who were humanely treated before they were killed for food. Just because we eat animals doesn't mean we have to torture them first.

May 21 2014 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its FUN to go to Whole Foods~!

May 21 2014 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply