Shopping at Whole Foods is quite the experience. You walk in expecting to grab a few essentials for dinner, and you walk out with a mountain of unexpected goodies. The Austin-based chain is known for its wide array of healthy options, from fresh produce to all-natural, organic snacks. With so many choices—especially with the exclusive 365 by Whole Foods Market line!—things can get pricey if you’re not careful.
But what if you had a guide to scoring the best deals? Well, now you do! These tips and tricks will leave you a Whole Foods pro. From how to score the best sales to what days and times are best to visit (aka less crowded!), here’s everything you need to know about your favorite supermarket.
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Hit the store as early as possible.
Employees typically restock shelves either overnight, starting around 10 pm, or as early as 4 am, according to blog Grocery Store Guy. Either way, you’ll find the most popular items right after the store opens its doors, especially on weekdays.
Shop on Wednesdays for the best sales.
Whole Foods refreshes most of its sales on Wednesdays, so if you want to maximize your budget, that’s the day to do it.
Didn’t find something? Try again in a few days.
Most Whole Foods locations restock shelves 3-4 times per week to keep up with demand. Tuesdays and Fridays are the most common days, since it allows employees to replace items sold out over the weekend, as well as prepare for the upcoming one.
You can return Amazon items at Whole Foods.
When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, he made changes that integrated the two companies. The biggest? You can return anything from Amazon at your local Whole Foods, if it’s a participating drop-off location.
Amazon Prime members get special perks.
Look out for those Prime Member Deals! In addition to members-only sales, you’ll be treated to an extra 10 percent off sales storewide, excluding alcohol. In certain zip codes, you’ll even get delivery or free pickup from your store.
Feel free to ask for a half portion.
No need to spring for a whole watermelon or an entire wheel of brie. You can save some serious cash by asking a team member to cut you a portion of a particular item in certain departments.
Look out for yellow tags.
Yellow tags are meant to mark an item that’s highly discounted. These are the products the store wants to sell the quickest—either because of rebranding, the line being discontinued, or the item being close to its expiration date.
There are great sales on the app, too.
No wallet, no problem. You can keep an eye on weekly sales, create your shopping list, and even pay in select stores with the Whole Foods app.
Or, grab a copy of the Whole Foods deal book.
Don’t want another app on your phone? The weekly circular is the way to go. Physical copies are usually available at the front of the store or at customer service.
Get familiar with the 365 line.
If you’re not obsessed with the store’s exclusive 365 by Whole Foods Market line already, get ready for a pantry game-changer. With over 3,500 products you can’t find anywhere else (including thousands of organic options!), it’s the best way to buy healthier staples.
Shop the organic section wisely.
Certain produce is more vulnerable to chemicals than others, so opting for some types of “regular” fruit can be perfectly safe and cost way less. For example, while you may want to consider organic strawberries, thicker-skinned produce like avocados block out pesticides more.
Ask the butcher to break down your poultry.
If you see a great deal on a whole chicken, but have no clue what “spatchcock” even means, the butcher can handle that, free of charge. Same goes for cutting steaks and tying up roasts.
Consider them your meat consultants, too.
Butchers can also answer all your beef-related questions, like which cut is best for a certain dish, and the tastiest ways to prepare it. They’ll even marinate your meat for you.
Buying less-popular cuts of meat can be cheaper.
Whole Foods buys the entire animal, so butchers usually have a lot of meat to sell. A store rep told Eat This, Not That that lesser-known cuts, like boneless sirloin, flat iron steak, or skirt steak are often priced lower so that they don’t go to waste.
Leave the fish seasoning to the pros.
Try seeking the fishmongers’ help with jazzing up that filet. “We’re not just talking salt and pepper,” the store told Eat This, Not That. “There’s a huge selection of spice blends inspired by Thai, Latin, and other global flavors.”
Score big makeup and skincare discounts during Beauty Week.
Been eyeing something in the beauty aisle, but can’t quite justify the price? Once a year, the store sells their cosmetics, skincare, hair care, nail polish, perfume, and beauty accessories at 25 percent off, with an additional 10 percent off for Prime Members. Check out the massively marked-down Beauty Bag bundles they offered during Beauty Week 2022!
If you live in a big city, skip the lunchtime rush.
The hot bar is popular with people who work in surrounding businesses—which can result in longer checkout times come lunch. If you’re looking to get some quick grocery shopping done during the week, it’s better to go outside of that 12-2 pm window.
But if you live in the suburbs, avoid dinnertime.
The opposite is true for the suburbian locations, where stores tend to fill up around 5 pm with people buying dinner ingredients after work.
The wines are organized in a certain way.
This tip is important if you want to get in and out with a bottle quickly. The wine section is divided by new- and old-world wines. After that, they’re grouped by similar colors and styles. Here’s a hint: Old-world wines are named by region (and are mostly European), while new-world wines are labeled with the type of grape used to make them.
Buy full cases of wine whenever possible.
The store revealed to Eat This, Not That that it offers a “whole case” discount of 10 percent. But the case has to be one type of wine (no mixing and matching), so find your favorite and stock up!
Unlike a lot of other grocery stores, Whole Foods lets you sample pretty much anything you want. Yes, you can ask an employee to crack open a bottle of tea or pop open a bag of chips. Sometimes, brands pay a visit to the store and set up a table to hand out samples too, so don’t be shy!
Yes, Whole Foods does catering. They can bring entire meals or à la carte dishes like entrées, sides, platters, and desserts to your party.
Keep your salads light.
The salad bars are pay-by-weight, so keep that in mind before piling on heavy items, like eggs or their (admittedly scrumptious) mac and cheese.
Or use the salad bar as a meal-prep hack.
When the recipe calls for a few strawberries or a handful of chickpeas, why buy an entire container if you don’t have to? Just grab that cup of cooked beans at the Whole Foods salad bar.
You can order a custom cake.
Whole Foods accepts custom cake orders, so you can choose exactly what you want your celebratory dessert to look and taste like. You’ll feel good about its ingredients too: The store’s cakes are made without hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and 230+ other banned preservatives and artificial colors.
Don’t forget those reusable bags.
Being environmentally friendly pays off, as you’ll receive a $0.10 credit for every bag you remember to bring with you.
The newsletter’s got deals, recipes, and more.
The Whole Foods newsletter is an easy way to stay up to date on everything going on in the store. At sign-up, you can customize the sales, shopping tips, and recipes you’d like to receive by topic and location.
Glass milk jugs cost extra.
Every time you buy one, a small bottle deposit (typically less than a dollar) is added to your purchase. But don’t worry, return it and you’ll get the deposit money back.
Don’t overlook the DIY spices and nuts section.
This tip is both fun and cost-effective. “A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually grind your own peanut butter, so it’s fresh, and then you only take home as much as you need,” an employee told Well+Good.
Pay attention to national celabratory days.
Whether it’s National Ice Cream Day or National Donut Day, the store occasionally has special promotions in celebration of the events.
Get help crafting the perfect cheese plate.
The store’s certified cheese pros are ready to help with anything from teaching you about cow vs. sheep’s milk to curating the perfect charcuterie nibbles for your party.
Visit the beer aisle for local and rare finds.
Avoid disappointment by checking stock online.
In order to guarantee that you’ll leave the store with everything you need, double check what’s in stock on the store’s website. You can search by zip code to make sure you’re looking at the products at your specific location.
Follow Whole Foods on social media.
The company often gives its followers a heads-up on upcoming deals and promotions that are local to your specific area. In addition to Instagram, be sure to follow the store’s Facebook and twitter!
Skip the pre-sliced produce to save money.
Buying an entire fruit or veggie—like a whole watermelon, for example—is often cheaper than the sliced, packaged version.
Track-down manufacturer coupons.
Whole Foods accepts manufacturer coupons—and yes, you can use more than one per visit. Find them on couponing sites and sometimes even on the back of a brand’s package.
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