Can you afford to shop at Whole Foods?

A woman bulk shops for dry goods at a grocery store.

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It really depends on your budget, shopping list, and priorities.

the main points

  • Whole Foods is known for its high prices.
  • Some whole foods are more affordable than others, and they are a good place to shop when you have nutritional needs.

There’s a reason Whole Foods has the nickname “The Whole Paycheck.” Shopping there can lead to huge Credit card Tab – even if you don’t buy a whole lot of items.

In fact, not long ago, my husband and I had dropped off our kids at a birthday party and had 90 minutes to spare. We decided to wander the aisles of a nearby Whole Foods, and some of the prices we discovered were shocking (at least to us).

First, there was a package of four gluten-free rolls for $11.99. Each roll seemed to be worth about three bites, so it would be best to classify them as mini rolls. Thus, according to our estimates, this particular product would cost around $1 a bite.

Next, we stumbled across the production aisle. While some of the items were reasonably priced, we couldn’t help but laugh at the package of about 16 organic berries for $6.99.

Finally, that trip to Whole Foods convinced us that we would never shop there on any kind of regular basis. But is Whole Foods really that expensive? And do you really need to write it off as a file Super Market the target place?

It is a matter of need and variety

These gluten-free rolls (that is, mini rolls) for $11.99 seemed ridiculously pricey to me and my husband. But to be fair, we don’t have a gluten allergy in our home, so we’re not entirely aware of the cost of gluten-free products.

I decided to look at the gluten-free menus at my local ShopRite to see if the prices were comparable. And it was much less, but it was very expensive nonetheless.

Therefore, it may be possible to save a fair bit of money by shopping at non-Whole Foods stores for specialty items. But if you have specific dietary needs, Whole Foods may offer you a wide range of choices. Also, some of their products could taste better. I don’t know, because I don’t eat them.

While Whole Foods is pricey, it may be worth the money to some people. If you’re someone who cares a lot about eating organic foods, or if you have a special diet to follow, it might be worth racking up a $200 grocery bill instead of $120 to get the items you want. But if you don’t particularly care about eating organic and don’t adhere to any kind of dietary restrictions, you might want to steer clear of Whole Foods—especially if money is ever tight.

Where do your priorities lie?

If eating a certain way is important to you, it might be worth trying to make room in your budget to shop at Whole Foods. And to be clear, no All The item costs more at Whole Foods than you would pay at a regular supermarket. However, most items are priced higher.

Case in point: A pint of organic berries at my local supermarket was $5.99 the last time I checked. Obviously, this is not a bargain clause. But it was a lower price than Whole Foods offered.

My husband and I spend a lot of money on food because eating well is important to us and also because we enjoy good food. But to us, Whole Foods still pretty much isn’t worth the higher price point. We’d rather spend our money at stores like Costco and Trader Joe’s. However, if shopping at Whole Foods adds value to your life and you can afford to do so, go for it.

For some people — those on low incomes — whole foods won’t be an obvious choice. But if you have more financial wiggle room, you can make the decision to spend more on groceries by shopping at Whole Foods constantly, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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