Irony: Whole Paycheck Goes Budget

I saw this little gem of an article earlier this week about how Whole Foods trying to fight the perception that it’s an “expensive” store.

Well, let’s be truthful—I didn’t “see” the article so much as “started to laugh hysterically when I glanced at the headline.”

Whole Foods’ attempt to rebrand itself as a budget store is such a rich example of the irony of marketing—the store where you can buy whole chickens that cost upwards of $20 and blow a whole day’s pay just on olive oil is now trying to do an about-face as say that it’s the store for the budget conscious. Maybe next week I’ll see something about how the Pope is trying to expand his image beyond the whole “Catholic” thing.

However, while I had a good laugh at the whole concept, it did make me think about the handful of items I buy at Whole Foods because they’re well priced (and not because I’m there because I work across the street, which is how most of my Whole Foods Shopping occurs).

Notice that I didn’t say cheap. Most of the Whole Foods items that I consider well-priced are about as much as the stuff at get at our regular grocery store, but they’re better quality (or I just can’t get them anywhere else). Of course, then I just buy more crap than I don’t need and end up spending way more money than I should have (which, now that I think about it, is probably the reason why they have one or two well-priced items in the store), but at least I feel sort of virtuous that I got a deal on a couple of things.

So below are a couple of my Whole Foods Value picks:

  • Couscous (and, really, all their other bulk grains): For some reason, our regular grocery store seems to think that couscous is a really exotic grain on par with French imported wild rice mixes. If they even have it in stock, you can get this teeny-tiny box for $3 that will maybe last you for one meal. Whole Foods, on the other hand, stocks couscous in the bulk section for $1.79 a pound, and you get enough to last you for a month for around $6. In fact, the bulk section of the store is a great place to check out for values on grains, dried fruit, and snack-type things,
  • Store-Brand Chicken: No, the Whole Foods store-brand meat is not organic, and it’s not pasture raised and finished, and so to even think of buying it is to already admit defeat on the sustainability/environmental front. But it’s also not as processed as the Kroger chicken that you can get at Giant that was probably raised on the blood of other chickens. I think of the Whole Foods chicken as a good midway between the high-end all organic sustainable meat, and the really processed stuff. I get the Whole Foods Market air-chilled chicken legs, and at 1.99 lb I can get enough chicken to have leftovers all week for about $8. It has no antibiotics, not hormones, no added solutions or injections, and, um, the chickens are allowed “barn roaming,” whatever that means.
  • 365 Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I love this stuff. The flavor and aroma is just wonderful, and I can buy a liter of it for $7.49 at Whole Foods. At the Giant, I’ll pay around $10 a liter bottle for the Filipo Berio olive oil, which is of similar quality to the Whole Foods brand.
  • Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Breads: If you’re like me and try to steer clear of white bread (or, at the very least, go through sporadic periods where you try to stay away from white bread), then you’ve probably picked up a loaf of one the Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain breads. They’re sold in the freezer aisles of a lot organic/health food-type stores, and, true to its name, the bread is made with sprouted grain, which contains much more nutrients than refined grains. At Whole Foods, it’s 3.95$/loaf, whereas at the natural food store down the street, it’s around $4.50/loaf (and no—it’s not even stocked at the Giant).
  • The Wine: Okay, so this is kind of a cop-out, because everyone knows that Whole Foods has a great wine selection. But their selection of wines in the $10 range is really excellent—our store has an excellent selection of affordable wines, from all different domestic and international areas. Considering the liquor store down the street sells Woodbridge wines for $10/bottle, I think the ability to get a dry French rosé for $9 at WholeFoods is definitely a steal.


  1. Trekkie said

    Thanks for the tips especially on the bulk foods. As an added bonus they save on those packaging that fills up landfills. I am in full agreement on the Ezekiel bread. It is great because it makes a complete protein (necessary for those vegetarians) and it also contains no wheat gluten which is important to those with gluten allergies.

  2. alice said

    I need to find a store with a good bulk section, but there isn’t one in my neighborhood. I’m not sure how I feel about paying today’s gas prices to drive and buy bulk couscous. Maybe I should make one really big run for the season?

  3. Kayanna said

    they’re certainly cheap compared to here:

    another well-priced item: the family pack of chicken legs: 12-13 for less than $6!


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