20 Items That Are Cheaper at Whole Foods
Whole Foods has a reputation for both high quality and high prices. Known for its organic produce, sustainable seafood, and carefully curated shelves of gourmet goods, the health-food chain out of Austin, Texas, has earned a reputation as a foodie wonderland. It's equally famed for budget-busting prices, having earned the derisive nickname "Whole Paycheck." But there are bargains hiding in those overpriced aisles, especially on the store's 365 Everyday Value brand. Cheapism.com compared prices on specialty and staple items at a Seattle-area Whole Foods with similar items from a nearby Safeway. Although most were cheaper at the traditional grocer, we found a surprising number of steals.
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Most cheeses at Whole Foods are more expensive than their counterparts at Safeway, but one glaring exception is feta. We found a 16-ounce container of this tangy dairy goodness for $7.99 at Whole Foods under the 365 Everyday Value brand, which comes to just under 50 cents an ounce. A 6-ounce tub of crumbled feta was only $2.99. At Safeway, the cheapest block of feta was the Président brand, which cost $6.99 for 8 ounces, or 87 cents an ounce. The least expensive container of feta crumbles, from the Athenos brand, was $5.49 for 4 ounces, or $1.37 an ounce.
Consumers exploring alternate types of milk because of allergy or preference will find more and cheaper options on Whole Foods shelves. We saw shelf-stable cartons of 365 Everyday Value organic almond milk priced at $2 at Whole Foods, while the same size carton of O Organics almond milk was $2.59 at Safeway. Whole Foods offered shelf-stable 365 Everyday Value organic soy milk at $1.79 for a 32-ounce carton, while Safeway's generic organic was $2.49.
When it came to store brand organic butter, the cost was a wash. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value and Safeway's O Organics brands both commanded $5.49 for a 1-pound box. For shoppers who crave the Irish stuff for their morning toast, however, Whole Foods came out ahead. Kerrygold butter was selling for $1 less at the specialty market -- $3.99 compared with $4.99 at Safeway for the same size package.
Movie lovers will appreciate the cost savings we located in the snack aisle. Whole Foods had 6-ounce bags of 365 Everyday Value organic pre-popped popcorn for $2.29. Safeway's O Organics brand offered 1 ounce less for $1.20 more: A 5-ounce bag cost $3.49. It may not seem like much, but that extra change goes a fair way toward the purchase of some Red Vines.
If you practically live in your car, spend your lunch hour at the gym, or have to squeeze in sustenance between meetings, you may turn to energy bars as a quick snack. If Kind bars are your bar of choice, head to Whole Foods when it's time to stock up. The same bars that ring up at $1.79 apiece at Safeway were 10 cents cheaper there.
Before packing the freezer with frozen fruit for a daily smoothie regimen or in anticipation of a baking binge, swing by Whole Foods. Conventional frozen berries are far less expensive than at Safeway: A 12-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value brand strawberries was $1.99, or about 17 cents an ounce. The best value at Safeway was a 48-ounce bag of Safeway Kitchens strawberries, at $11.99 -- nearly 25 cents an ounce. A 16-ounce bag of blueberries from Whole Foods was only $2.99, or nearly 19 cents an ounce, while 12 ounces of blueberries at Safeway cost $3.99, or 33 cents an ounce. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value raspberries were $2.99 for 12 ounces; the same amount cost $1 more at Safeway.
Whole Foods can't compete on price when it comes to most conventional frozen vegetables (although a 16-ounce portion of petite Brussels sprouts was 50 cents more expensive at Safeway). Organics are a different story. A 16-ounce bag of 365 Everyday Value organic kale or yellow corn was $1.99, and 16 ounces of frozen spinach was $2.29. Over at Safeway, the same size bags of O Organics frozen corn, kale, and spinach were $2.49.
Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic chicken broth was selling for $2.19, a respectable savings over Safeway's O Organics chicken broth, which was $2.49. Both cartons measured the same 32 fluid ounces. Consumers partial to the Pacific brand may want to skip Whole Foods, however. A 32-ounce carton of Pacific organic free-range chicken broth cost $3.29 at Safeway, 70 cents cheaper than the Whole Foods price of $3.99.
Beans are packed with protein -- perfect for making a pot of chili or whipping up some dip. Shoppers trying to incorporate organics into their diet whenever possible can save 40 cents a can by shopping at Whole Foods. A 15-ounce can of 365 Everyday Value organic beans was only 99 cents, whereas an O Organics can of the same size at Safeway was $1.39.
Consumers can top their pancakes with organic syrup for less by grabbing a bottle of Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value organic maple syrup, at $19.99 for 32 ounces, instead of Safeway's O Organics syrup, at $8.99 for 8.5 ounces. Shoppers pay only 62 cents an ounce versus $1.05 by shopping the specialty grocer. Granted, 32 ounces is a lot of syrup, but it should keep for a year after opening. Just make sure there's enough space in the fridge and invite some friends over for brunch.
Both Whole Foods and Safeway provide house-brand versions of most popular vitamin supplements. It can be hard to compare some formulations, due to differences in dosage or multivitamin combinations. For supplementary vitamin C, however, the best price was at Whole Foods. Each store was selling a 250-count bottle of 500-milligram Vitamin C pills, and Safeway's was $1 more, at $13.99.
This is another pricey product that many consider a pantry must-have. Conventional extra virgin olive oil offered staggering savings at our local Whole Foods Market. A jar of non-organic 365 Everyday Value was $7.98 for 33.8 ounces, while the same size jar of Safeway Signature Select was $11.99 -- a difference of about $4. We didn't see the same savings when it came to organic olive oil, however. A 33.8-ounce jar of organic 365 Everyday Value extra virgin olive oil cost $12.99 at Whole Foods -- the same price as the O Organics version at Safeway.
Olive oil's darker-hued counterpart was likewise cheaper at Whole Foods. Shoppers pay $2.99 for a 16.9-ounce bottle of 365 Everyday Value balsamic vinegar but more than double that at Safeway for a bottle nearly half the size, shelling out $7.99 for 8.5 ounces of Signature Select balsamic.
Consumers who turn to organic agave sweetener for baking or coffee doctoring can buy a 23.5-ounce bottle of 365 Everyday Value organic raw agave nectar for $5.49 at Whole Foods. In contrast, they would pay $8.19 for the same size bottle of Wholesome organic agave sweetener at Safeway.
Coconut oil has gained popularity as consumers use it for everything from baking to moisturizing. For shoppers who buy the organic variety of this trendy product, Whole Foods was offering a 365 Everyday Value-brand jar at $6.99 for 14 ounces. Safeway charged $7.99 for a 14-ounce version under the O Organics label.
During our shopping trip at the height of barbecue season, Whole Foods was the place to stock up on organic toppings for backyard burgers and brats. An 8-ounce bottle of 365 Everyday Value organic yellow mustard cost $1.49, or about 19 cents an ounce, versus $1.99 for an 8-ounce bottle of Safeway's O Organics, or nearly 25 cents an ounce.
Do your kids (or you) like to start the day with a bowl of Gorilla Munch or Panda Puffs? These popular varieties of EnviroKidz cereal were $3.29 a box at the specialty market but rang up at $3.99 a box on Safeway registers.
For cooks refreshing a spice cabinet, we found organic Whole Foods brand spices for far less than similar O Organics spices at Safeway. The price was $1.69 for a 1.5-ounce bag of cinnamon, for example, compared with $6.49 for the same size jar at Safeway. We saw 2 ounces of cumin for $2.49, compared with $7.79 for 1.8 ounces at Safeway; an ounce of bay leaves for $1.69 versus $6.29; and 0.5 ounces of oregano for $1.69 versus $4.49. True, the Whole Foods versions come in small resealable bags rather than glass bottles, but with savings that big, many shoppers won't mind refilling jars they already have, or measuring straight from the bag.
Whole Foods customers save just over half a cent an ounce by buying a 16-ounce jar of 365 Everyday Value organics peanut butter instead of a 28-ounce jar of O Organics peanut butter at Safeway. But completing a PB&J with 365 Everyday Value organics jam leaves a few more cents in shoppers' pockets. The 17-ounce jellies and compotes at Whole Foods range from $3.99 to $4.49. With Safeway's O Organics jam selling at $3.29 for an 11-ounce jar, that's a savings of more than 3 cents to 6 cents an ounce.
Those who love to top crackers, doctor up eggs, or embellish salads with the creamy goodness of goat cheese can buy an 11-ounce log of 365 Everyday Value brand goat cheese for 50 cents less at Whole Foods. We saw prices of $8.49 for Safeway's exclusive Primo Taglio brand and $7.99 for the Whole Foods version.