How to Hack Whole Foods

You don't have to spend a whole lot of money to get a ton of great food.
03/09/2015 01:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

If you're one of those people who complains that Whole Foods is too expensive... you are probably a lot of fun at group dinners. But also, you're doing it wrong! You don't have to spend a whole lot of money to get a ton of great food, as there are plenty of ways to maximize your experience and become one of the many people you see in Whole Foods every single day. We're sharing our knowledge from years of shopping there, and giving you the inside scoop from Associate Store Team Leader Perri Kramer.

Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Buy the bread

Regular supermarkets have an enormous selection of bread from the same brands you've been eating since you were younger. Whole Foods bakes their own, and the difference in quality is staggering. You can't find freshness like this in the supermarket. In my area (Colorado), Whole Foods even beats my local supermarket's prices.

Check your receipt -- you might get free stuff

You know how they always ask if you want your receipt? You always want it. And not to put it in the bottom of your bag and never look at it again. Push your cart to the side after they hand you your receipt and stand by the customer service desk. Look at it closely. If you see they didn't give you the sale price on anything, or the price was just straight-up wrong, ask the person at the customer service desk to check on the price. They will almost always give you that item for free.

Sample basically ANYTHING for free

Other supermarkets that have sampling stations set up around the store have nothing on Whole Foods. Want to try literally anything on the shelf? Ask for a sample. Often when I ask for one, a team member will try it with me and then give me the whole box for free. And the sampling is company policy. Says Perri, "Globally, we have a policy that people can sample anything they want to -- so when you shop, you should never buy something you don't like."

Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Get creative at the salad bar

We know that the lighter the item at the salad bar, the less it costs. Be smart about what you're getting. There are hidden gems that are worth way more than their weight -- bacon, for one. If you go during breakfast, bacon is airy as hell. You're basically getting it for nothing. Put the dressing on the side. Skip the tomatoes, they're mad heavy. Water weight, friends.

Buy 365 all day, every day

Many 365 products are competitively priced compared to the organic brands of other supermarket chains, but that's not what separates them from the pack. There are certain 365 products that, for the price, are the best in class, like the salsa, tomato sauce, pita chips, and even non-foodstuffs. The soap is excellent, and fairly priced. I go for the big ol' soap refill bottles, and they give me weeks of pleasant-smelling stuff that's good for the environment and my dainty, feminine hands.

Bulk up (also for free)

The bulk section might be the most boring-looking part of the store, but it's also the best place to find deals. Since companies don't have to pay to package that food, you can find sweet deals on everything from dried fruit (try the mangoes!) to grains and beans. Plus, you only have to buy what you'll use, which saves you even more cash. I take that to the nth degree by only buying as much spices as I need for a recipe. The other day I was baking something that required a tablespoon of cinnamon. I scooped a tiny bit from the bulk section. When the cashier tried to weigh the tablespoon, it didn't even register on the scale. Free cinnamon!

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