Saturday, August 23, 2008

Whole Foods Budget Shopping

Whole Foods is trying to wipe away their "whole paycheck" reputation by giving special tours of the store, highlighting cost cutting solutions to those who are on a budget, but want to live healthy. Click here for the original article.

Whole Foods tries to shake 'whole paycheck' image with free value tours
Friday, August 8th 2008, 4:00 AM

Allison Smith leads budget-minded shoppers on 'value tours' of the Union Square Whole Foods to point out smart shopping techniques.

Bold yellow signs indicate sale items, like these raspberries.
Think Whole Foods means whole paycheck? The national supermarket chain wants to change your mind.
Faced with rising food prices and a national recession, Whole Foods has launched free value tours, leading groups of bargain hunters through the aisles of natural, sustainable and organically made goods.
"It's the economy," says Whole Foods' Allison Smith, who leads the tours for the Union Square store, "everybody's looking for a deal now."
Just a few weeks old, they take place mainly at suburban stores, says Smith, but the three she's led at Union Square have been well-attended. (To sign up, call any store or look for notices on their bulletin boards at the entrance.)
While Smith's ultimate goal is to change our perception that the store has high prices — some Whole Fooders float the theory that "whole paycheck" is from someone wishing they could spend their earnings at the store — there are real take-away tips from the exercise.
The tours move their way through Whole Foods like any shopper would, highlighting great buys along the way. There's the bulk bins at the newest Tribeca store, where their fanciest granola mix is $2.99 a pound. Or the fact that Earthbound Farm organic bagged lettuces are always same price or cheaper than any other supermarket, says Smith, because "we just buy so much of it."
Other Whole Foods' deals include their house line of 365 shampoos and conditioners (16 ounces for $1.99; 32 ounces for $3.79). There's their Whole Catch line of frozen prepared foods ($3.99 for a 10 ounce box of fish sticks) or their fresh, 6-ounce individually portioned filets of fish for roughly the same size per pound as bigger cuts, nice for one or two people.
For all proteins — like chicken, beef, pork or fish — there's a case of family-sized "value packs" that are at least a $1 per pound less. And for literally any dry good item in the store — meaning everything from diapers to spaghetti sauce to bottled water to energy bars — you can get a 5% discount if you buy it by the case.
Beyond these specific deals, however, the tours are also designed to highlight overall strategies for cutting costs on your bill.
That's reading and shopping from the weekly sales flyers, shopping seasonally for produce, buying in bulk to cut waste and save per pound and using store brands, which are just as great quality.
These are the ideas, says Smith, to keep in mind where ever it is you're shopping. And with any luck, there'll be plenty of your paycheck left over.
Allison Smith's Whole Foods Bargain Hunting Techniques:
USE WEEKLY SALES FLYERS: Like most other markets, says Whole Foods' value tour guide Allison Smith, the store puts out its new yellow weekly sales sheet on Wednesdays, marking each sales item in the store with a large yellow sale sign. So once you learn what tags are used for sales at markets, you can easily scan the store for deals.
SHOP SEASONALLY: "In produce," says Smith, "the really big thing to look for is seasonally and locally." When you buy local food some of the transportation costs have been cut out, she says, and when you buy what's in season, there's more of it, meaning the price goes down.
BUY STORE BRANDS: Many house brand items are just as good as brand names, and some stores even contract with the same people who make brand name products to create their versions. They're often much cheaper than sales items or even post-coupon prices.
BUY IN BULK: If you can buy just the amount you need from bulk bins, says Smith, food won't go to waste and you'll save on packaging costs. Or if you can buy in larger quantities, you'll save on cost per pound or unit, too.
CONSIDER COUPONS: Many times store brands are cheaper than items bought with a coupon, but you should still check out weekly newspaper circulars and mailings for brands you buy regularly.

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