Today, I was inspired to go to Whole Foods to grocery shop — for the first time ever. Once my food pantry is depleted, I usually walk over to Giant, my regionally-prolific supermarket chain. Or, if I’m particularly busy (read: lazy), I’ll order online from Peapod. But I was off work today, had an abundance of free time, and wanted to go on a bit of an adventure.
Was Whole Foods really as expensive as I’d heard? Was their latest advertising campaign (“More of the good stuff for less”) a joke? As it turns out… no.
This was my first time actually grocery shopping at Whole Foods. I avoid Whole Foods like the plague, namely because I love saving money everywhere that I can. Based on all I’ve ever heard from my friends, and from experience buying the occasional gourmet item there, I was convinced that Whole Foods was more expensive. (I do love natural foods, and firmly believe Whole Foods’ quality is superior – especially their produce. However, I make great dishes with food purchased at Giant and don’t feel uncomfortable with their quality.)
I shop for food at Giant every week and a half or so, spending around $125 each visit and averaging a little over $300 per month on grocery shopping. I shop for five dinners (which provide leftovers for lunch the next day), breakfast foods, and some staples such as pasta. Each shopping run easily carries me a good ten days, especially as I don’t make a meal every night.
My shopping bill at Whole Foods was $136.05. I expected to blow Giant’s average price of $125 out of the water. This was right in line with what I spend at Giant. Intrigued, I signed into Giant’s online store, Peapod, and entered the exact grocery list I had just bought at Whole Foods. If I couldn’t find the item (such as Bonito flakes), I assumed, for argument’s sake, Giant would carry the item at the same price that Whole Foods did.
My final price from Giant? $138.67.
My bill for shopping at Whole Foods was actually $2.62 cheaper than it would have been if I had shopped at Giant. Of course, I bought four items at Whole Foods that I couldn’t have bought at Giant, totaling $23.36.
That is where the misconception is. There’s a larger selection at Whole Foods than other stores, and there are gourmet items — which of course are more expensive. If you are smart about those, and just shop for Whole Foods versions of what you normally shop for, it doesn’t seem to be that much more expensive at all. (Plus, you have the option of that larger selection.)
Given the quality increase, superior customer service (one employee spent five minutes educating me about cheeses), and monetary savings versus shopping at Giant, I am going to seriously consider regularly shopping at Whole Foods.