Your Guide to Whole Foods on a College Budget

It was almost a year ago that I was with some friends driving down College Avenue when I let out a high-pitched screech at something I saw out of the car window.

A sign that read “Whole Foods – Coming Soon” had caught my eye and it was all I could do not to run up and hug it.

It’s no secret that I like to eat healthy and that I love natural products, so a Whole Foods coming to my college town gave my heart the same flutter feeling it gets when I walk into Target or see a dog. You know, because that’s normal.

Cam and I went the day it opened and filled up on samples at 10:45 in the morning. (What a perfect morning.) We spent about an hour walking around, snacking, and checking the price tags. We primarily do our grocery shopping at Walmart, and being as cheap as it is, it was a good comparison to see just what could fit our budget.

(Oh, disclaimer…none of this is sponsored. I just really love shopping for healthy foods. Ok, continue.)

We found that a lot of items were similarly priced, so now I go to Whole Foods for a few staples. Just for reference, I tend to grocery shop once a week, and I get enough for the entire week, taking into account that I’ll probably eat out 2 -3 times. I spend about $20-25 at Walmart each time I go, and the price only goes up if I’m out of mascara or moisturizer or something like that.

So how can you shop at Whole Foods (or any other organic food store) on a college budget?

Swap out your basics

I found that things like almond milk, sparkling waters, and healthy snacks were priced similar to those at Walmart, if not a few cents cheaper. These are things that I always have in my fridge and pantry, so it’s totally fine to grab these at Whole Foods to be able to put something in that cute little reusable tote!

Fresh produce

I needed some tomatoes for a recipe and contrary to popular belief, Whole Food’s tomatoes (or produce for that matter) aren’t some some crazy ridiculous price! It’s the specialty things that will cost you more than what you might normally budget, so don’t be afraid to grab some fresh fruit or veggies. I recommend getting the ones that aren’t already pre-cut or pre-packaged to make sure you stay on budget.

Shop the sales

The last time I went, I found bunches of asparagus for only a dollar! Be selective when you shop and try to gravitate towards the sale signs. You may find a better deal than what’s currently up for grabs at Walmart or your normal grocery shop stop!

Download the app

Downloading the Whole Foods app gives you convenient access to coupons. I know that I’m always going to have my phone on me while I’m there, so I just shuffle through the deals as I wait in the checkout line or while Cam drives us to the store. You just scan the barcode on the app to apply all eligible coupons! (Oh, and the app is totally free.)

Get the Whole Foods brand

The 365 everyday value prices can’t be beat when it comes to the other alternatives on the shelves. I get a huge bag of blue corn tortilla chips to eat with my Whole Foods brand roasted garlic and chive hummus, and since they are both the store brand, they each cost me less than the kind I get at Walmart and the servings are bigger. (This is my guilty pleasure snack, by the way….healthier than potato chips and dip, so I consider it a win.)

Get inspiration

Just being at Whole Foods gives me ideas for how I can incorporate healthier habits into my day. Some of these healthy hacks don’t need to be purchased! Seeing all those fancy juices just makes me crave something healthier than a Diet Coke, so maybe I’ll grab some lemons to make detox water. Smelling the sweet aroma of the fresh flowers makes me want to take a long walk outside, so maybe I’ll text a girlfriend later and ask if she wants to go with me. It’s important to remember that healthy living is not dependent on your wallet, but on your willpower to make healthier decisions and to stay active!

I hope this little guide can help you on your next trip to the grocery store, whether that be a Whole Foods, another health food store, or even Walmart! Just be on the lookout for those cleaner foods that I’ve talked about before, and you’ll be golden.

Have a great week, friends! Follow me on snapchat to see some Whole Foods hauls in the future: cristina.snaps