New Hampshire. Ohhhhh sweet, sweet New Hampshire. Between the epic Market Basket battle ensuing and the Shaw’s/Stop and Shop eviction that was 2012/2013, grocery shopping can become the hunger games scenario. Thankfully, I can closet my inner Katniss, put Peeta back in the bakery, and tell Snow to take a nice vaca to a tropical island because, drum roll please, WHOLE FOODS has ARRIVED! I was completely blindsided by its arrival. My co-worker, who lives in Nashua, told me about seeing the sign a while back and I was floored. Once I got over the shock, I was overjoyed to finally NOT have to drive to Andover to stock up on real food.
Naturally I began stalking this inaugural New Hampshire location on every social media site available. One standard cube life day, I saw a tweet asking for Southern NH Bloggers. Well that would be me I said, and responded to the tweet. Fast forward through a few life changing Beyonce twitter convos with numerous Whole Foods stores, I got invited to a little sneak peak tour before the grand opening.
BTW Whole Foods Nashua opens TODAY at 10am. As usual I’m super late in posting because my life is a straight post-grad catastrophe of epic proportions. So please enjoy a little peak into the store and MONEY SAVING TIPS TO SHOPPING AT WHOLE FOODS.
I DESPISE hearing people say “I can’t shop there, it’s too expensive,” or my favorite “There’s no affordable way to eat healthy!” WRONG. SO WRONG. I am quite possibly the poorest employed person I know (like driving my car to zero gas poor) and I can shop at Whole Foods AND eat healthy. So please, whether you are ballin’ on a budget or just frugal – TAKE NOTES. You can AFFORDABLY shop healthy. Seriously guys let the “eating healthy costs so much money” thing GO.
So let us begin.
ALL of Whole Foods animal protein sources meet their set of guidelines for sustainable and ethical standards. What does this mean? You will not find chicken that has come from sad little chickens who were fed antibiotics, super processed fake food, and shoved in a shoebox sized cage with 15 other birds before being ruthlessly terminated for your meal. That was graphic but needed to be said. Chicken is not supposed to have a yellowish hue to it. That means the bird was fed a ton of corn (which is typically a genetically modified corn that has been so processed it’s basically just some weird corn like powder) and a bunch of weird chemicals and antibiotics to make it extra meaty. Chicken should be a light, light pink and almost a beige color. End side rant on chicken.
Anyways, Whole Foods has partnered with the Global Animal Partnership to utilize a 5 step leveling system for all their meats and fish. Every single animal protein meets at least Level 1. So you are guaranteed that the animal protein is a step above what you find at the grocery store without having to search endlessly for the organic / sustainable options. See the leveling below.
They also post when exactly their ground meat has been ground. That way you know you are not getting any “pink slime” in your food. See the mini clocks in the above photo. They also age beef RIGHT ON SITE. Which is heaven for my steak loving self.
I also LOVE that the fish is easily leveled. I’m not a big seafood person. Mainly because I don’t think it tastes super great and I’ve heard horror stories about fish quality. Whole Foods partnered with the Marine Stewardship Council to utilize their coding system. There is no “red” coded seafood sold in store. This means that all seafood is at least not flagged as completely destroying the ocean. They also said that all seafood for this location comes from a facility in Medford, MA that has local boats coming in 6 days a week, which is comforting. They will also marinade your seafood for you for $1 extra. AKA no touching stinky gross fish or figuring out what the heck to put on it to make it not taste like seafood. Which means this girl may finally cook seafood on her own.
Now you’re all thinking, “Okay sweet so all their animal protein is cray cray bananas expensive because it’s just a bunch of happy animals that cost ten times more to raise.” FALSE. Please reference the Frozen GIF again. Whole Foods gives you the option to be as committed to the save the animals cause as you would like. Level 1 is going to be less expensive than Level 5. But level 1 is still far superior than most meat. You can also save on the per pound price if you buy 3lbs or more at once.
So what does that mean? You do have to pay attention the sales which are religiously posted on Facebook or in store. Once your favorite meat is on sale STOCK UP. Honestly if you don’t stock up on meat when it’s on sale already, you really should start doing so. We have freezers for a reason. This meat will also hold up much better frozen than you standard meat because it’s a higher quality. I do believe the last time I stocked up on Whole Foods chicken I was able to lock in roughly $6 a pound for all natural, antibiotic free, happy chicken breast.
Produce is sourced as locally as possible. This also reduces cost to you. Instead of shipping strawberries in from Mexico when they are in season twenty miles down the road, Whole Foods goes to that local Farm. You’ll find produce from a place you most likely have driven by at some point during your commute. Not to mention Whole Foods has a larger selection of organic produce. I’ve talked about the Dirty Dozen and the ANDI scale before. Both of these tools can help maximize your produce budget. If you are pinching pennies, only buy organic produce from the Dirty Dozen list and try to purchase the most nutrient dense produce.
3) Local, Local, Local
Every where you look in Whole Foods you’re going to see a product that was made close to where you live. There’s something to be said for that. It’s far easier to utilize a nationally distributed product then to go out and source from local providers. But Whole Foods is still committed to supporting the local communities in any way possible. As long as the local provider meets their quality standards (to be discussed below), they have a chance at being on Whole Foods shelves.
This sign below was just from the cheese shop. Which I thought was pretty neat.
4) Quality Standards
Whole Foods is not only committed to their employees, they are committed to their products. No product in the store is allowed to have high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or flavors, sucralose, and many more. See the full list here. Which just means there’s one less thing you have to constantly scan the ingredients list for. I know for me when I shop at Whole Foods, I can have my guard down a bit more. I don’t feel like I have to compulsively check every single label before I throw something in my cart.
5) THERE’S A PUB IN MY WHOLE FOODS
Yes, I saved the best for last. Whole Foods Nashua has a PUB. Thanks to the good old “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire motto our legislation allows for such things. And let’s be honest, we all know that a glass of wine or beer can really take the edge off grocery shopping. Not that it’s needed at this Whole Foods because aesthetically it’s GORGEOUS. Seriously, whoever designed this Whole Foods basically took all the stuff I pin on Pinterest and executed it perfectly. I don’t even know how they do it. Look at this pub! I’ve been trying to master the upscale, partial hipster, rustic, modern vibe for years and all I have is a hand me down comforter, some clothes pin photo art, and picture collages.
I don’t want this chair, I NEED this chair.
So many beers on tap. So many LOCAL beers on tap too.
I guess I’m slightly biased because I have loved Whole Foods since I started grocery shopping on my own. But really all it takes is putting a bit of thought into your shopping and you really can shop on a budget here. Plus this place just OOZES cool. Ugh seriously I may have to stalk their design team and see if they are into some charity work on my apartment. In addition to what I talked about here, they also have a hot bar, salad bar, huge booze section, cheese, boxed goods, and a nice beauty / supplement aisle. There is also a 10% discount on any case purchase. I don’t think I’m quite at the case level of life yet – but one day I’ll need it!
Whole Foods also accepts all manufacturer’s coupons, releases their own coupons (available in store and online), and runs their promotional flyers Wednesday to Tuesday. So you can always look for a deal there as well.
If you’re still scared of grocery shopping healthily – let me know! I’d be glad to give you some tips!