9 Things You Need to Know Before Shopping at Whole Foods

These Whole Foods hacks will change the way you grocery shop.

BY JARRED HEATH OWENS | BEST

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Whole Foods has come a long way since the great price-gouging scandal of 2015. The once chef-y, cult-favorite retailer known for organic everything, a bountiful produce section, and killer hot food bar has been completely overhauled since the days of its “Whole Paycheck” nickname.

Most of the changes came with Amazon’s acquisition of the grocery chain (for $13.7 billion, no less) in summer of 2017. Prices were immediately slashed, and new Prime-member exclusive perks were introduced. Still, shopping at Whole Foods is, in so many ways, different from shopping at any other grocery store. Make the most of your next trip to Whole Foods with these secret tips and money-saving hacks.

1

Try the 365 Everyday Value house brand.

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First things first — don’t sleep on the house brand. No grocery item at Whole Foods can contain hydrogenated fats or artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. Their 365 Everyday Value house brand is no exception. This list of banned ingredients ensures that the quality of the house brand is as good as or better than most big-label brands, but you save money.

Plus, the house brand is not limited to boring staples. 365 Everyday Value products run the gamut from meatless burgers to cauliflower rice, and even buzzy food trends à la gochujang mustard.

2

Use your Amazon Prime membership.

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Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods was perhaps the best thing that’s ever happened to the grocery giant. There is a slew of perks that have come along since. To start, they slashed prices on Whole Foods’ notoriously overpriced fresh produce and per-pound items. Customers can also order groceries and other items on Amazon to be shipped to their home (plus, in select cities, Prime members get free 2-hour delivery).

What’s more, many stores have introduced Amazon Lockers. You can have your online Amazon order shipped to a Whole Foods Amazon Locker and pick up at your convenience. You can also use the lockers to make Amazon returns.

3

Cash in on exclusive Prime deals.

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We can’t talk about Whole Foods’ Amazon perks without diving into the sales.

Every week, usually on Wednesday, your local Whole Foods store will announce its general sale items (yellow signs) and Prime-exclusive sale items (blue signs). There are always at least 30 Prime-exclusive deals, usually as a percentage off, up to 50%.

Next time you’re in the store, look out for the blue signs for those exclusive savings.

4

Connect your Prime membership to the Whole Foods App for an additional 10% off.

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Another Amazon Prime perk at Whole Foods is an additional 10% off the general sales (reminder, yellow signs!) with the Whole Foods app.

To get the discount, shoppers must download the Whole Foods Market app, log in with their Prime account, and have the code scanned on their phones at checkout. The Whole Foods app will also alert you to those exclusive weekly deals, virtual coupons, events at your local store, and specials.

5

Buy in bulk (and don’t be afraid to ask!).

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You can also save money at Whole Foods by buying in bulk. You’ll get yet another 10% discount for buying certain products – such as sodas, snacks and wine (!!) — by the case rather than in individual bottles or packages. You’ll need to ask what constitutes a “case,” as it can vary by store. A a case of wine, for example, might be as few as six bottles.

At the meat counter, look out or ask for value packs (large quantities of meat that are bundled together and sold at a discount) and freeze whatever you can’t use by the expiration date.

6

Taste test everything!

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When it comes to grocery chains, Whole Foods’ customer service is superior. They have a generous “try before you buy” policy that lets customers taste items like bread, cheese, or chips before committing to a purchase. And yes, this includes packaged items from the shelves — not just fresh food from the counters and produce section.

7

Take advantage of free services.

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Speaking of the counters, most Whole Foods stores have a plethora of them — a butcher, a fish counter, a cheese counter, sushi bar, bakery, you name it.

The employees at these counters are friendly, skilled, and there to help at no extra charge. Fish mongers will peel, devein, and debone fillets for you. Experts behind the cheese counter will cut a custom-sized block or select pairings for a cheese plate. The bakery will slice loaves of bread. Taking advantage of these free services at the store will save both time and energy once you get home.

8

Only buy what you need.

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Another customer service policy at Whole Foods allows you to purchase exact amounts of an item. If you’re making a soup that only calls for a quarter-head of cabbage, or you only need half a loaf of bread, ask an employee to hand-cut the portion you want.

There might be some limitations, depending on the product, but almost all items can be purchased this way. This will help you cut down on waste — of both food and money.

9

Eat before you shop.

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Grocery store 101: Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. While many stores now offer eat-in options, Whole Foods was the pioneer. Their stores are outfitted with expansive hot and cold food bars, plus other prepared foods like sandwiches and sushi rolls, to quell your appetite before you dive into the aisles. This should help keep hangry impulse-buying at bay.

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