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Sunday School: How to Shop for REAL & Wholesome Foods – Part 1

sunday school

I’ve had a lot of questions about how I shop for my groceries, where I go to find the best prices, and where I buy which foods.  I’m going to answer those questions today!

The truth is, finding REAL food can be an adventure…especially if you want to find the best real food at the best prices.  I buy raw milk right at the farm, grass fed beef directly from a local farmer, I buy wheat, organic corn {for grinding},and local honey at  a local shop called Bread Beckers, and I love to scope out the farmer’s markets for local produce.

But, I still buy quite a bit of stuff at the grocery store. Some times I shop at Whole Foods or Earth Fare, but it is about an hour drive.  So, most of the times I shop at Walmart or Ingles {a conventional grocery store chain} which is only about 20 minute drive and the closest thing to my home.

Since like every mom, I’m short on time, I don’t have time to pick up raw milk, drive to another farm to buy beef, go to the whole foods store, go to a conventional grocery store and hit the farmer’s market all in the same week, so I have to decide where I REALLY need to go.

Our raw milk pick up is every other week. We purchase beef in a large quantity at once so we don’t have to pick it up but a couple times a year at the most.  But even with those things aside, I don’t like to go to the grocery store every day or waste a lot of gas going somewhere when it is unnecessary!

So, I keep a running list on the fridge of things I need from the store.  This includes things I have run out of {I write it down immediately so I won’t forget…because I WILL forget}.  Then, I make a meal plan.  I try to utilize as many ingredients as I already have and then I add the items that are necessary to complete the meals.  If most of the items I need are things I can get at the conventional grocery store, I go there, if most of the items are things I can only get at Whole Foods, I go there.  You get the idea.  I sometimes have to compromise a bit on what I buy {buy I know a few tricks to get the best of what is available to me, and I’ll teach you too}.  And, sometimes, if I’m not willing to compromise I have to come up with a different meal solution using different ingredients, and wait to pick up the items I need the following week.

Since I shop at different stores for different things, I thought I would start by telling you what I buy at each store (because of availability and price).  So, this week, I’ll startwith Whole Foods and/or Earth Fare.


“I Don’t Even Know What to Buy at Whole Foods!”

Some of the people I talk to are intimidated by Whole Foods or Earth Fare.  It’s a new store, they don’t know the lay out, but even more than that, they don’t recognize the brands and sometimes they just feel out of place.  I get that.  I TOTALLY get that.  The first time I walked into a Whole Foods I wanted to make a full circle as fast as I could and then get right back into my car.  I had no idea what anything was, I felt like everyone knew I didn’t belong there, and I was afraid everyone could tell I didn’t know what anything was!

So, after my first trip I told myself, “You know what, you deserve to be here just as much as anyone and you just need to CHILL OUT!  Take your time, read the labels, and by golly, you’ll figure this out!”  So, I did just that.

And, after shopping there for several years now, I am VERY comfortable.  I actually ENJOY shopping there.  AND, when someone tells me,”I don’t know what to even buy at Whole Foods.”  I say this: “You shop Whole Foods just like you do ANY other grocery store.  Shop the perimeter.”  You’ve heard that right?  Shopping the perimeter means, for the most part, you’ll avoid most processed foods and buy healthy ones.  Just like your local conventional store, EVEN Whole Foods has processed foods…and they are in the aisles.  The only difference?  Whole Foods processed foods are MORE EXPENSIVE than those at your conventional store!

So What Do I Buy at Whole Foods or Earth Fare?

  • fresh fruits and veggies – only the dirty dozen and sometimes others if there is a good sale
  • bulk bin items: dried raisins, cherries, nuts, organic rolled oats, organic popcorn, shredded coconut, occasional other grains and seeds I want to try out {because you can buy a little or a lot}
  • arrowroot {in place of GMO corn starch}
  • good Parmesan cheese
  • grass fed cheddar cheese and mozzarella and sometimes other specialty cheeses if there is a sell or as my budget allows}
  • grass fed butter {I buy organic valley in the green box or wrapper}
  • organic yogurt {This is only place I’m able to find large containers of WHOLE milk french vanilla yogurt}
  • organic sour cream
  • gallons of organic apple juice
  • organic grape juice for a treat
  • organic frozen veggies: only corn, spinach, and mixed veggies
  • grass fed beef {ONLY if I run out of beef and I’m in a pinch…it is WAY more expensive}

There are a FEW things I go down the aisles for…but be careful and don’t spend too much time here or you’ll be prone to impulse buys!

  • canned sustainable tuna and salmon
  • maple syrup
  • organic apple sauce
  • soy sauce {San j organic}
  • organic better than bullion chicken and beef base
  • the occasional loaf of bread from a local bakery {Neidlov’s}
  • GMO free tortilla chips and corn chips

Here’s a tip not everyone knows about Whole Foods and Earth Fare, if you order in “bulk” you get a 10% off discount.  Its called the “case discount.”  If you buy a whole case of something you get 10% off. I have used this discount before on things I know I will use and can’t get any cheaper and I never have a coupon.  So, I’ve bought a WHOLE 50 lb bag of organic oats and stored them in buckets with gamma lids.  This might not be an option for you due to storage space, but you might think of splitting things with someone else that is trying to eat right.  Or consider smaller items.  One item I am going to order the whole case of is grass fed butter.  It is an expensive item and I can store the extra blocks in my freezer so I can get the case discount.  It isn’t as much butter as you think to buy a case.

Now, chances are, if you don’t see it on this list:

#1: I don’t buy it at Whole Foods – I buy it at my conventional grocery store
#2 I don’t buy it ANY WHERE

If you have any specific questions about products at Whole Foods, or why I buy what I do, or a product you DON’T see on my list, PLEASE leave a comment.  I’ll be happy to answer your questions and you never know when YOUR question might also help someone else on their search for Wholesome Foods.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on how I shop for REAL wholesome foods at the conventional grocery store.

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  1. Thank you so much for this info. I love shopping at Whole Foods, but like to see what others shop for on a budget.

  2. EarthFare had a great deal on grassfed beef last week and I stocked up on 3 pounds; since we only use 1/2 a pound at a time, the beef stretches a lot farther and isn’t so hard on my budget.

  3. Oops, also meant to say: If you sign up for their text/email alerts, you can cash in on some great deals (ours is also an hour away, so I have to make every trip count).

  4. I only shop at whole foods, earth fare, trader joes, and now costco. I’m trying to find another local farm for beef, milk, etc. I love Whole Foods and feel I can better shop for my family there. I love to see what everyone else can buy on a budget. I always walk the aisles as sometimes they’ll run an odd .99 sale. I’ve gotten cereal, flour, cake mixes when that’s happened. Also their coupons can come in handy. Earth Fare has the tomato bank which is awesome. I can quickly get to 100 points for a 1.00 off and if I save my points then in a few points I can get more off. The points don’t expire. 5 points to enter your phone number and 5 more if you bring your bags. Also watch their sales. $7 off of $30, free items, etc. Since we’re close to one when I see a free item that I know we use if I buy $5 worth of something I normally utilize it. One week I went a few times and picked up a half pound of coffee for free along with 1/4 lb of granola. Also Fresh Market occasionally has some good deals I’ve just started using.

  5. Thank you for mentioning arrowroot above in place of GMO cornstarch. I have been looking for non GMO cornstarch but have not had luck. I will try the arrowroot.

  6. Yes I second the thank you in the arrowroot info. Any suggestion for corn syrup? Also, when you look at a price tag at whole foods there is a number on it all by itself, on the left I believe, anyway this number is what you would have to buy for that specific item to receive the case price. I asked for help cuz I wanted to get that 10% off whenever I could. For example the organic grass fed milk I buy in the jars requires 6 to get the case price. Love you site!!!!!



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