It really depends on your budget, shopping list, and priorities.
- Whole Foods is known for its higher prices.
- Some Whole Foods items are more affordable than others, and it’s a good place to shop when you have dietary needs.
There’s a reason Whole Foods has gotten the nickname of “Whole Paycheck.” Shopping there could lead to a massive credit card tab — even if you’re not buying a whole lot of items.
In fact, not so long ago, my husband and I had dropped our kids off 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 downright shocking (at least to us).
First, there was a package of four gluten-free rolls for $11.99. Each roll looked to be the equivalent of about three bites, so it would be more accurate to label them as mini rolls. And so by our estimates, that particular product would cost about $1 a bite to consume.
Next, we stumbled across the produce aisle. While some of the items were reasonably priced, we couldn’t help but laugh at the package of approximately 16 organic raspberries for $6.99.
All told, that trip to Whole Foods had us convinced we’d never shop there on any sort of regular basis. But is Whole Foods really that expensive? And do you really need to write it off as a supermarket destination?
It’s a matter of need and variety
Those gluten-free rolls (er, mini rolls) for $11.99 seemed ridiculously priced to me and my husband. But to be fair, we don’t have gluten allergies in our household, so we’re not fully versed in what gluten-free products cost.
I decided to look at gluten-free rolls at my local ShopRite to see if the prices would be comparable. And they were considerably lower, but expensive nonetheless.
So all told, it may be possible to save a decent chunk of money by shopping at stores that aren’t Whole Foods for specialty items. But if you have specific dietary needs, Whole Foods might offer you a wider selection. And also, some of its products might just plain taste better. I wouldn’t know, because I don’t eat them.
While Whole Foods is expensive, to some people, it may be worth the money. If you’re someone who cares a lot about eating organic foods, or if you have a special diet to follow, then it may 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 foods and aren’t bound to any sort of food restrictions, then you may want to steer clear of Whole Foods — especially if money is at all tight.
Where do your priorities lie?
If eating a certain way is important to you, then it may be worth it to try to carve out room in your budget to shop at Whole Foods. And to be clear, not every item at Whole Foods costs more than what you’d pay at a regular supermarket. Most items, however, are priced higher.
Case in point: A half-pint of organic raspberries at my local supermarket was $5.99 the last time I checked. So clearly, this is not a bargain item. But it was a lower price than what 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 get enjoyment from good food. But to us, Whole Foods is still largely not 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 it, go for it.
For some people — namely, lower earners — Whole Foods will just plain not be an option. But if you have more financial wiggle room, you can make the decision to spend more on groceries by shopping at Whole Foods consistently, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
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