Friday, March 07, 2008

Health food stores vs. grocery stores

Tracy Michele does the math with health food: same brand, 2x as expensive at Whole Foods.

But: I just learned that our local Whole Foods sells fresh baked cookies for 10-cents each on Tuesdays. That's cheaper than I can buy the chocolate and nuts.


Anonymous said...

On Saturdays my husband sometimes has to work. I will go into the office with him just so I can walk around down town Austin. Whole Foods was founded in Austin Texas. I love to walk that store and get the free samples. They have wonderful demonstrations.
I can not afford to buy their food. I do not know many who can afford their prices. However I guess many many people do because the store is always full. There are many many young people there.
I am lucky to live here in the south. Down town Austin has a farmer's market every single Saturday. You can get some wonderful items there. Goat cheese, fresh eggs, organic chicken. That is where I spend my money. I choose to support the local farmers. To try to cut out that 'middle man' and give my 'trade' dollars to a person who actually grows what he sells.
Thanks for the blog. It is always make me think about things in a way that I might not have before. You are an inspiration. Roxie

Anonymous said...

We don't have a WF here, but the health food stores we do have are outrageous! There is a new organic foods store coming in and I'm going to check them out, but suspect I will not be buying much, if anything, from them either. Can't wait until the farmer markets open!

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

This is where you really have to know your stores and prices. I've not been to Whole Foods, as there aren't any in close proximity to me. (I can't see driving into Dallas for groceries.) However, we do have a Sprouts here, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that their produce prices always beat the regular grocery stores, and it always looks nicer. They sell a lot of high-priced health foods that I won't usually pay for, but their produce is a steal! Their sale prices on other items can be really good, though.

Again, it's just a matter of knowing and paying attention to prices wherever you shop!

Anonymous said...

I'll be the voice of dissent. My Whole Foods has been undercutting trader joes on my yogurt, milk,soy milk, cereal, dried fruits, coffee, and their bulk foods are way cheaper than trader joes. I just recently recently realized it when I took my pricebook to whole foods. It does help that the trader joes is about six blocks from the whole foods store.


Amy said...

We still don't have a Whole Foods here. We also don't have a Trader Joe's. I think they would have an excellent market here especially with the booming business through our Notre Dame University campus, but still not here.

Enjoy those cookies- what a steal!

Sweetpeas said...

Whole foods sometimes runs good sales on produce, especially some of the more exotic things like mangos & avacados. Still not as cheap as apples or something, but if you want a good mango & can hit Whole Foods when it's on sale it's sometimes cheaper than grocery stores. And the samples . . . yum!, if we're in the area it's generally worth a quick stop just to check out the samples LOL.

TracyMichele said...

Meredith (!!) thanks so much for the traffic!! What a privilege to be mentioned on LikeMerchantShips! :)

Anonymous said...

We have a Whole Foods, but it is so far out of my way that I only hit it a few times a year to stock up on bulk items that aren't available elsewhere.
It's probably a blessing so far away, so I will not be tempted.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I agree with Caroline. Whole Foods gets a really bad rap because the items that are also sold at conventional grocery stores tend to be a low volume item for them--and thus more expensive. I will definitely say that, while their meat is the freshest and tastiest in town, it is, hands down, the most expensive meat as well. That goes for all meat, poultry and seafood. On the same token, I can't find organic dairy, soymilk or peanut butter cheaper anywhere. It's about $1 more at Trader Joe's and $1.50-2.00 more at Safeway, and I am supporting a local farmer by buying the milk at WF. Their bulk items and canned items (esp. the beans) are often the cheapest on the market as well.

I wholeheartedly agree about shopping as frugally as possible, but this may or may not mean going to a natural grocery store is for you. For me, all my shopping is done at Trader Joe's (with their incredible foods and prices!) and Whole Foods.

deltasleep said...

The environment at the Nashville one is, thus far, the most obnoxious grocery store I have ever visited. Don't get me wrong- Wild Oats drove me nuts at times.
Last time I was in Whole Foods there was more than one person walking around wearing a BERET and carrying a baguette. Nashville will screw this up the same way that they screw up every grocery store:
1)Grocery store comes to town. WOW how nice and what a selection! Finally I can get x item fresh.
2)Nashvillians buy only the Totinos and PBR for triple the Kroger price. Also the nasty buffet things that sit out all day in the open air.
3)Grocery store's produce department thins out, buffets get bigger.
Same thing has happened to every Publix in the area. They give you a broad choice, and nashville's consumer voting screws the selection.
Only here could we turn grocery shopping into a status symbol.
Fact is, there's nothing(except the more euro-centric produce) at WF that you can't get at the K&S. That is, if you are not the typical Nashvillian who(from my experience as an ESL Teacher) thinks immigrants are "icky."

Meredith said...

I have to disagree.

Whole Foods does have products that you cannot find at K & S, namely bulk whole organic grains and other specialty products for people with allergies.

And anyone who reads here knows I am not afraid of shopping in unusual places. I've reviewed K & S and have shopped there many times. The immigrants and foreign packaging is no problem, but its overall smell is hard to take.

Michelle Smiles said...

I love Whole Foods but shop sparingly there. I only buy items I can't find elsewhere. When I go, I usually try 1 new thing as a treat - maybe a small block of cheese or a strange grain or a marinade or something else that intrigues me. But I must admit that I go there semi-regularly because I am hooked on their freshly ground honey roasted peanut butter. And at $2.99 a lb it seems like a bargain.

Thanks for the cookie tip - they make the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever but I can't justify spending $1 a cookie. I'll have to check them out on a Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

I just thought I'd mention something that recently came up in a community meeting. You can set up a buying clube through

I don't think you need a big group of families to get one going.

United are the ones who distribute to whole foods chain. We're talking about getting some families together to do it.

One of my neighbors has been involved with them before and says they provide a lot of support. You get the products at wholesale cost. He had really good experience with it. We're thinking of giving it a try.

Seis said...

All baked goods at Whole foods arrive frozen. The bread is just proofed and baked.

mama k said...

It's hit or miss. Generally I think Whole Foods is an overpriced "gourmet" store. Everything they carry is not organic or non-GMO. Their produce is very confusing to me as their convential is side by side w/ the organics and you have to carefully read the sign to see what you are buying. Not to mention that the prices are very inflated on their conventional produce. I do like their 365 store brand and a few items I can only find there.
But generally I prefer Trader Joes, Shoprite and fill in w/ the local health food store on occasion.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally in awe of Meredith's frugality. I used to be frugal in all things. Now I'm willing to pay for fairly traded and sustainably produced food. But even I find WF overpriced. I love the artisanal cheeses and lamb shanks (thanks to Mary Coleman) and really good nut oils. And sometimes there are specials -- one week grapes were less expensive than Kroger. But honestly, I find it more of a lifestyle experience than a store. The people-watching is great, the window shopping is great, and if you're seized by the need for a $12hand soap, they got you covered.