Whole Foods Shopping Experiment


I have often thought of how cool it would be to do ALL my shopping at Whole Foods. How much time would be saved going to just one store where I can get all my food, body care and specialty items. We have all heard the phrase “Whole Paycheck” and like many others Whole Foods just seems so pricey to me.  It seems like it would be impossible to do my normal grocery shopping there. Before this experiment I would only go to Whole Foods for the body care section or if I needed some unusual ingredient for a gluten free vegan dessert or dish I wanted to make. Tyler and I cook 95% percent of the time breakfast, lunch and dinner so we do a LOT of shopping. I feel like I think Whole Foods is so expensive because when I go there I’m buying a few items that are higher priced, things that get use over a month(s) like lotion or raw cacao powder, not everyday things like rice, beans and broccoli.


The opportunity came my way to test and see if the “Whole Paycheck” phrase was true for me. Tyler and I headed to Whole Foods on a normal Tuesday evening with our typical shopping list, debit and credit cards, just in case, with the intention of doing a weeks worth of normal shopping. The experience was fun because it was something new and we only had to go to one place to get everything we needed. I think this last piece is a BIG reason why I really wanted to do this.


You see, we do a hodge podge of shopping, going to Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Vons, Whole Foods and the farmers markets depending on what we are making that week. There is never less than 2 stops on any given shopping trip. I’ve read many articles about other plant based diet eaters enjoying going to the store to pick up fresh ingredients multiple times a week and maybe this would be the case for me if I lived in Europe or a city with much better public transportation (this is a whole other topic). If I could walk to the train each day to get to work and on my way home stop at the market I might enjoy it as well. Sadly that is not the case, I would rather come home from work and spend the evening cooking, hanging out with loved ones, blogging, working in the yard and relaxing, not running yet another grocery errand. Sadly grocery shopping often just turns into a task, something else to do like laundry. I’m all about having enjoyment in my life and finding simple ways to infuse more joy into it.  As we filled the cart I found myself getting very nervous that our bill would break the bank but we did not hold back, we bought all our normal items.

Once we were done we headed to the check out line and held our breaths. The total was $174.  Although it was more than we typically spend it did not make me want to faint. We typically spend $90 to $120 at Trader Joe’s then another $20 to $50 at the other store(s) that we go to that week.  I’m not waving a flag boasting about the great deals at Whole Foods I’m just sharing that maybe though it’s pricey it stops me from impulse buying at more than one store (but those berries just look so good!), saves time and my sanity. Even after this experiment Tyler and I are still racing around San Diego to multiple places for our food each week.  I feel better actually knowing what it costs to shop there rather than just assuming it will be my Whole Paycheck.


As I work towards finding my way while living a fun filled eco-lifestyle I know eating local and organic food is a part of it. In sharing my experience I would love to know what your shopping routines look like? Do you go all the time? Once a week? Visit multiple places? Seriously I want to know! Also if you love grocery shopping share your tips with me…I need them.



8 thoughts on “Whole Foods Shopping Experiment

  1. Interesting experiment! Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wondered how much it would cost if I did all my shopping there too. Typically I plan out our meals for the week and go shopping on Sunday. We have Sprouts, so I can usually find everything I need there. Although to save money, sometimes I’ll shop Big Lots beforehand for household supplies and dry goods. P.S. I’d love to live in a walkable city too, and stop by the market daily!

    1. I know right!?! It would be awesome to live in a city set up to support easy commutes and daily markets. Glad you found it interesting. Food is such a big part of life I figured it’s worth talking about. I’ll go to Sprouts but typically just for there bulk bins but maybe one week I should try to do all our shopping there just to see. They have great prices on produces! Thanks for the tip :)

  2. I get all my vegetables and eggs from my CSA box and then I buy meats at Costco or wherever they are on sale and freeze them. Doing it this way, I usually only have to go to one store a week, which alternates between Trader Joe’s and Sprouts (with an occasional trip to Vons for Rice Chex).
    I love only going once a week because I was like you in that I was out of my mind with all the shopping. I used to make to make it a bit more fun though by seeing if I could hit both stores and be home in one hour (which also forced me to make lists and stick to them).
    Love you blog and thanks for debunking the “whole paycheck” myth.

    1. With the craziness of buying our first home I forgot to sign up for a CSA this year. We have in the past and it for sure made shopping easier because you really are only buying dry goods. Thanks for the reminder! I also love the idea about making a game out of seeing if we can get it done in a certain amount of time.

  3. My shopping habits highly depend on where I am driving that week. I for the most part shop a couple times a week. For example I went to the beach yesterday and my favorite co-op market is located near there so I picked up a few veggies and essentials. If I work on Tuesdays I know that the farmers market is happening right outside my work and I plan on buying some items there as well.

    1. Cha that is such a good point to just work shopping into other outings you are already doing. And I love that you get to shop at the Farmers Market after work, totally jealous!

  4. Great article Alyson!
    I try to bunch multiple stops into my car trips. When I head down to the center of town I can hit Sprouts and then Vons. Possibly a stop at BevMo and there’s a Goodwill between Vons and Sprouts too! :) Costco is also across the street from Vons and Home Depot is in the neighborhood too. Sometimes I have a list that will include butter and duct tape.
    Since I work at home I actually have another motive for going to the store: sometimes it’s the only face-to-face contact I’ll have with humans that day. I avoid the new automatic checkers like the plague. I also find I have more time than money. I can’t possible justify spending $1.59 on lettuce and $.99 on a green pepper when at Sprouts it’s $.99 for the lettuce and 3/$1 peppers so Sprouts is the place I stop at for veggies. On the other hand, Vons is much bigger and usually has better deals on dairy and dry goods. I also belong to a cost saving program at Vons and will often buy meat that is discounted 30-50% to get it out of the store.
    I really wish we had a Trader Joe’s here but we don’t so when I have to go there I make sure to stop at the bike store in La Mesa and maybe the Costco or Vine Ripe market which has great mid-eastern fare. Luckily for me there is no Whole Foods even close to me so I’m not tempted. ;)

    1. Thanks Gardner! I wish I had a bit more of your time ;) but running all the errands at once is super smart; plus then I can have an entertaining list with both veggies and duct tape on it…hahaha!

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