I have been employed at Whole Foods Market for a couple of years now. In that timeframe, I have been in two different departments, held a supervisor position, met my (now) fiancé and gave birth to our beautiful daughter. I started off as a cashier, worked my way over to the bakery (where I voluntarily taste-tested EVERYTHING) and made my way back to customer service during my pregnancy to ensure that I took it easy.
Needless to say, I interact with a ton of people on a daily basis and I have heard it all. I have been told to “shhh” during cell phone conversations. I have been interrogated, yelled at, stalked, and someone even poked my pregnant belly once and simply said “WHEN?” in which I clarified “do you mean to say ‘when are you due’?” Rude.
But out of everything I hear, the words I hear the most are
“How much is my bill!?”,
“That’s why they call it ‘WHOLE PAYCHECK’”,
“I only came in here for a few things…”,
“This is why I should never go shopping when I’m hungry.”
Derek and I shop exclusively at Whole Foods. I made a lifestyle change when I started working there and Derek had already been living that lifestyle for quite a while. So it is safe to say that our biggest investment is our food, and rightfully so! What we put into our bodies is very important to us, but we are also about saving our pennies ever since our daughter was born. We are financially comfortable but it is solely because we are responsible with our spending, but I wasn’t always that way. It was Whole Foods that taught me to be wiser before I go food shopping.
During my time in the bakery department, I held a supervisor position in which I was responsible for buying all the department’s products. A HUGE part of that position was to take an inventory before any orders were placed. If we had five bags of flour, I knew that we didn’t need to order anymore. But I didn’t know all of this off the top of my head. There are hundreds of products that I was responsible for keeping track of, so if I were to guess on the inventory, we would either spend too much money, or we would be in desperate need of something. I have been in both situations more times than I would like to admit.
Luckily, overbuying for my own kitchen doesn’t get me into quite as much trouble but I still kick myself when I do overbuy. I have provided below a list of tips for you to follow so you can avoid overspending at the store. If I can do this at Whole Foods, anyone can do it anywhere!
- Take an inventory
I can’t tell you how many times I have come home with $200 worth of groceries only to realize I could have saved $30 by not buying things we already had! Taking an inventory also helps you to get an idea of what you’re not eating and maybe you’ll even find things that have gone bad. At that point, you can either make an effort to eat all the spinach before it goes bad, or maybe you’ll just decide that spinach isn’t your thing and you’ll stop buying it.
- Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry
Like I mentioned before, this is something I hear a lot from our customers. I will be ringing out their order and they’ll remark that they “only came in for a couple of things” meanwhile I am staring at a belt full of groceries consisting of packaged junk and prepared foods. I get that sometimes we’re busy and our bellies aren’t full before we go shopping. I have done it. But in this event, try to stick to the produce sections and maybe if you see a freshly made smoothie, grab a straw and drink it while you’re shopping (as long as you have the intention of purchasing it!)
- Go shopping more than once a week
I know that this one might seem counterintuitive at first, but this actually does work. Before my maternity leave, I worked full time. I would get a text from Derek almost every shift asking me to pick up a FEW things because that’s all we needed. At the end of those weeks, I found I would sometimes spend under $100. But once I went on maternity leave, I wasn’t there all the time, so we would wait until we NEEDED food and then I would go in there and overcompensate by filling my carriage until it was spilling over with groceries. Those were the weeks I would spend a couple hundreds bucks and on top of that, I would throw a good amount of it away.
- Stick with produce
This blends in with number 2 and 3. “Don’t go shopping while you’re hungry” and “Go shopping more than once a week”. I know that Whole Foods has been known for its’ prices but a little research on your part will prove that much of our organic produce is priced cheaper than other stores such as Shaws and Stop & Shop. It’s always good to snack on fruits and vegetables rather than processed and packaged snacks but the things about produce is it doesn’t last as long as a box of cookies. I found that when I was going shopping only once a week, I would buy produce and then I wouldn’t touch it when I got home because there were bagels to eat, and yummy chocolate cereals, and frozen lasagna. By going shopping more often and sticking with the produce, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll change the way you eat without trying very hard! If you’re a fan of Pinterest, there are lots of ways to make delicious snacks with fruits and veggies.
- Stock up on basic cooking and baking supplies
I personally love cooking and baking and the words “I can make that myself” come to mind A LOT. My fiancé built a corner shelf for me for easier access to all my cooking and baking supplies. Things I always have on hand include flour (as well as almond flour because my mother-in-law in gluten free) a few types of sweeteners, LOTS of spices, baking powder, baking soda, a few types of oils and some sauces. This helps tremendously! If I’m in a bit of a rush to make dinner, instead of pulling out a couple of unfulfilling and pricey frozen meals, I just toss some frozen chicken into a pan with some sauce of my choice along with some rice and broccoli. It’s something that doesn’t take a ton of time and I have everything that I need. And speaking of rice, skip the instant rice for a HUGE bag of rice for the same price! It’s simple: 1 part rice, 2 parts water. Boil, simmer, cover and steam!
There you have it. I hope these helpful tips are useful to you and your family’s budget.
Here are some of my favorite cooking and baking recipes I found on Pinterest!
Sometimes we don’t realize that we have all the tools we need to make something delicious to eat. It just takes a little creativity.