Whole Foods Market is often jokingly referred to as “Whole Paycheck” because this natural-foods chain sells higher-priced organic fare and specialty items. Check out with a cart of grass-fed, hormone-free ground beef, organic heirloom tomatoes and artisan-crafted cheese, and you could easily pay twice as much as you would spend for similar conventional items at a grocery store. But is the ritzy reputation always warranted?
Surprisingly, there are deals to be had at Whole Foods. You heard right: Even bargain-conscious shoppers can find well-priced goods at this high-end grocer. That's great news for those of us who are in the habit of making one trip to Whole Foods for splurge items and a second trip to the grocery store for staples such as milk and pasta.
We visited Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Trader Joe’s and even Walmart to compare prices on a number of popular products. We also consulted a recent comparison of Whole Foods and Safeway conducted by Cheapism.com. Prices may vary across the nation, but the list below shows that some items are cheaper or the same price at Whole Foods than similar items sold in the grocery stores we surveyed. All are original full prices -- not sale prices. Of course, you may be able to find better deals when items go on sale or when discounts are offered. Download a coupon app to your smart phone, or try one of these strategies to save on groceries without coupons.
Frozen organic yellow corn. A 16-ounce package of store-brand yellow corn was the same price at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger -- $1.99 -- and a buck less than at Safeway.
Organic brown sugar. The price of a 24-ounce bag is the same at Whole Foods as at Trader Joe’s and Walmart and about $1 less than at Safeway.
Organic chicken broth. A 32-ounce carton of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value organic chicken broth was at least 40 cents less than at the supermarkets we checked.
Organic coconut oil. This oil, which can be used for cooking and for skin and hair care, is about $2 less for a 14-ounce jar of the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods than same-size jars at Kroger and Safeway.
Organic maple syrup. On first glance, the prices of organic maple syrup appeared to be cheaper at some of the supermarkets we checked -- but their bottles were smaller. Per ounce, the Whole Foods brand was the cheapest we found (along with the Trader Joe’s brand).
Organic milk. Whole Foods had the lowest price on a gallon of organic milk by far. Its 365 Everyday Value brand was at least $1 less than a gallon of organic milk at several of the other stores we checked. It was priced at an incredibly low $3.69 at the Whole Foods in Nashville, Tenn., that we checked and $4.99 in a Seattle Whole Foods that Cheapism.com checked. (Walmart actually had the highest price, at $6.48.)
Organic peanut butter. At $4.99 for an 18-ounce jar, Whole Foods had the best price for its 365 Everyday Value organic peanut butter. Trader Joe’s had the same price for a 16-ounce jar.
Organic peeled carrots. A 1-pound bag of small, peeled carrots sold for 20 cents to 30 cents less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked. The exception was Trader Joe’s, which had the same price of $1.69 for a 1-pound bag.
Organic popcorn. A 6-ounce bag of organic popcorn was $1 less at Whole Foods than at Kroger and about 70 cents less than a 5-ounce bag at Safeway.
Baguettes. At $1.29 per baguette, Whole Foods beat the price of baguettes at the other stores we checked -- even Trader Joe’s -- by 70 cents.
Cereal bars. We found the same price -- $1.99 -- for a box of six cereal bars at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The Whole Foods’ price beat Walmart’s by a penny. And a box of eight cereal bars at Safeway was $2.99, according to the Cheapism study.
Extra virgin olive oil, cold processed. At $6.49, a 33.8-ounce bottle of Whole Foods 365 brand olive oil was several dollars less than the same-size bottles of olive oil at all of the other stores we checked except Trader Joe’s, which had the same price.
Grains. The prices on some grains -- not all -- sold at Whole Foods were cheaper. For example, the per-pound price of jasmine rice sold in the bulk ("scoop your own") section of Whole Foods was nearly half as much of the price of bagged jasmine rice at Walmart. Whole Foods also had the lowest per-pound price that we found of quinoa and buckwheat.
Greek yogurt. A 32-ounce container of Greek Gods brand yogurt was almost 70 cents less at Whole Foods than the same brand of yogurt sold at Walmart and the Trader Joe’s brand.
Pasta. At 99 cents per 16-ounce package, the price for Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand pasta matches the price of pasta at Trader Joe’s, and undercuts the prices at Kroger and Walmart by a penny.
Salsa. Some varieties of the 365 Everyday Value 16-ounce jars of salsa were priced at $1.99 -- 50 cents less than Trader Joe’s 12-ounce jars of salsa and 40 cents less than Kroger’s Private Selection salsa.
Shredded mozzarella. Prices on imported and specialty cheeses at Whole Foods can be high. But for $3.99, you can’t beat the price on a 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value shredded mozzarella -- even at Trader Joe’s and Walmart. An 8-ounce package of cream cheese also costs slightly less at Whole Foods than at the other stores we checked.
Whole almonds. At $5.99 per pound, whole almonds were at least $2 less than at all of the supermarkets we checked except Trader Joe’s, which had the same price.
Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.
Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.
Will Your Tax Refund Be Less This Year?
Tax Refunds Data show federal tax refunds are about $600 lower this year than last. Will you get less back from the IRS?
By Katelyn Washington Last updated
Best Conservative Retirement Investments
The best conservative retirement investments include a mix of mutual funds that invest in stocks, bonds and money markets.
By Mark R. Hake, CFA Published
Five Reasons You Shouldn't Shop on Amazon Prime Day
Smart Buying Think twice before getting lured into buying a bunch of stuff you don't need just because it's on sale.
By Andrea Browne Taylor Published
5 Ways to Save Money on Vacation Rental Properties
Travel Use these strategies to pay less for an apartment, condo or house when you travel.
By Cameron Huddleston Published
Need a Flu Shot? Get a Shopping Perk Too
CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and many other retailers are offering incentives for getting flu shots at their pharmacies.
By Joey Solitro Published
10 Annoying Hotel Fees and How to Avoid Them
Travel Here's how to avoid extra charges and make sure you don't get stuck paying for amenities that you don't use.
By Cameron Huddleston Last updated
Family Holiday Meal Deals from Walmart, Target, Kroger
Walmart, Target, and Kroger offering families holiday meal deals to help shoppers battered by crippling grocery costs. But the deals won't last long.
By Bob Niedt Published
A New Amazon Returns Location: Staples
A pilot program makes Staples another place for customers to drop off Amazon returns for packaging and shipment.
By Bob Niedt Published
Best Cash Back Credit Cards February 2024
Smart Buying Looking for the credit card that pays the most cash back? These lenders may pay hundreds of dollars, with minimum hassle.
By Lisa Gerstner Last updated
Earn Crypto While Shopping with Lolli, Others
If you’re crypto-curious rather than crypto-committed, a loyalty program or credit-card linked program can let you buy Bitcoin, other currencies a little at a time.
By Rodrigo Sermeño Published