A few months ago, we had our first Whole Foods experience. I steeled myself for the prices. After all, it’s nick name is “Whole paycheck,” isn’t it?
We walked up and down the aisles. Everything was organic from chocolate and fresh fish to dried fruit and grains in the bulk bins. I weighed and compared my bulk bin priced goods to the ones I buy at the commissary or on the outside.
–Organic prunes from the bulk bin at Whole Foods: .51 lb @ $5.99/lb = $3.05
–Prunes in a package at the commissary: 18 oz. = $3.07
2. Bran flakes cereal:
–Whole bran flakes cereal from the bulk bins at Whole Foods:
.61 lb @ $4.49/lb = $2.74
–Whole bran flakes cereal in a box at the commissary:
15.6 oz = $3.88
–(Generic brand) 17.3 oz. = $2.10
So, I still save more when I shop at the commissary, which irks me that bulk is more expensive than packaged products. Therefore, I’m only buying grains, beans, nuts, and dried fruit out of Whole Foods bulk bins. I buy large amounts of them for cooking, so they’ll last a while. And the only horrendously expensive products in the bulk bins? Dried cranberries and hazelnuts. Those are expensive, anyway.
We also bought
1. 67 lb hulled organic barley @ $1.99/lb = $3.32
1.23 lb of organic bulgur @ $2.69/lb = $3.31.
We walked out with a good amount of barley, cereal, bulgur and prunes for $12.42 to cook with. I felt it wasn’t a horrible deal.
The organic meat and fish weren’t packaged and could be placed in containers you bring in, but the meat and fish cost an arm and a leg. The hubby stood highly disappointed, gawking at the cheese–all of it packaged to the high heavens. Unless you shop in the bulk bins, Whole Foods doesn’t have a leg up on anyone when it comes to environmentally friendly packaging.
The only way this works with reducing waste is to follow Bea Johnson’s example and take my own mesh bags/containers to fill. Using their offered plastic bags defeats the purpose, which I learned with the sticky dried fruit. Bea takes her own glass jars in to fill with meat, fish and no doubt–dried fruit. Either way, the people behind the counter and at the customer service desk are always more than happy to help and weigh your brought-in container before you fill it.
Bea was right. It works! I win.
Surprisingly, the prices came out even to what I spend on the outside, and slightly higher than the commissary. And I’m willing to pay some extra change to remain plastic free. It helps me sleep at night. If you catch their sales, you could truly come out on top. Still, I’m torn. I’m one person. Do I want to spend extra money to save the environment when the masses aren’t? How much difference am I making besides less money in my wallet? There must be a better way.
AttractingWellness.net spoke of forming bulk buying groups with friends and family to purchase from the actual food companies, which sounded fantastic. But we’ve been here six months. I have maybe two friends. Who would I join with? And what about co-ops? Would that be a better option? Any ideas that trump Whole Foods bulk bins to cut down on plastic that don’t spend your “whole paycheck”?
- Military Commissaries See Food Stamp Usage Almost Triple (offthebase.wordpress.com)
- Time to Stock Up? How to pack your pantry and fridge the smart way (deals.com)
- Macro Bins Now Manufactured in Midwest With Cincinnati Shipping Point (prweb.com)