Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck?

I want to share with you a triumph. Hadrian and I are finishing our grocery shopping under budget. And we are doing it at Whole Foods! I am beyond excited because this means I can go in there every week! I can sample the cheeses and play make-believe yuppie and almost buy flowers and leave feeling a little bit like I'm still in charge. 

Here's how I shop at Whole Foods without emptying my savings and/or straining my marriage (thanks mostly to my dad and all the beans and rice he made me eat growing up).

1. Make a list: The list is essential. It keeps me focused and limits the number of choices I have to make in the heat of the moment. Saves me about $40 every time.

2. Stick to the perimeter: The most essential and nutritious food is located around the store's perimeter. Produce, bulk grains and nuts, meat and dairy...I also want start bringing my own bags to consume less packaging.

3. Look for the cheapest organic produce: This is how I make sure that I am not compromising on quality. Also, fruits and veggies often go on sale when they are in season. Win win win!

4. Coupons are for treats: My mother in law is the coupon queen. She can work magic when it comes to finding, saving and (most remarkably) remembering to use them. I am not as skilled and I use the Whole Foods coupon book as a kind of treat catalog. There is a difference between saving money on an indulgence and saving money on necessities. When it's time for a treat I check out the coupons. Otherwise the store brand usually saves me more money in the end.

5. Compromise: Almonds are the only thing on our shopping list that we cannot find at a price comparable to other grocery stores. They are significantly more expensive at Whole Foods. Sometimes we buy them anyway. Sometimes we go without. And sometimes we grab the almonds at another store, save two bucks, and spend it at a cafe on the way home.

Happy sampling shopping!