5 Foods You Should Always Buy at Whole Foods (and 3 You Shouldn’t)

Decision fatigue is real, people. Between Costco, Trader Joe’s, BJ’s, Whole Foods and the plain old grocery store, our heads are spinning. So let’s break it down. Here’s what you should definitely pick up next time you’re at Whole Foods (and a few things that aren’t worth the cost).

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whole foods olive oil

Buy: Organic Olive Oil

It’s full of healthy fats, it makes a mean salad dressing, and it’s the one pantry staple you should never skimp on. Buying a bottle of the quality stuff at Whole Foods (the California 365 is unequivocally the best) is a far better investment than buying a generic bottle at your local supermarket.

whole foods deli meat

Skip: Deli Meat

Just because you’re dropping big bucks on a package of sliced turkey at Whole Foods doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that much healthier than the stuff you’d buy at a typical grocery store. Even if the label says its organic and nitrate-free, unless the only ingredient is turkey, it’s still been processed and likely contains fillers and additives.

whole foods almond butter
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Buy: Almond Butter

We’re lucky this healthier alternative to peanut butter is available at most grocery stores these days, but it’s definitely considered a specialty item. So for now, you’ll still find the best variety, prices and sometimes even some sales on jars at WF.

whole foods coffee
Rosa Say/Flickr

Skip: Coffee

No matter what, brewing your own cup at home is cheaper than buying your daily fix at Starbucks—so props for that. But there are so many places to buy organic, fair-trade beans, from online to your local coffee shop, that Whole Foods’ prices just can’t compete.

Buy: Bread

Whole Foods bakes its bread fresh every day, and it’ll even pre-slice it for you if you ask. Best of all, the price is comparable to a premade loaf you’d buy on a shelf at the grocery store. Win-win. 

whole foods candy
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Skip: Candy

It might be tempting to buy a pretty chocolate bunny for your kid’s Easter basket from Whole Foods instead of the drugstore. And yes, some of the candy selection contains no artificial flavors or colors, but it’s still candy. It’s not magically healthy just because it’s sold here (and it’s a lot more expensive).

whole foods baked goods
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Buy: Baked Goods

Many of the cakes and cupcakes at Whole Foods are baked in-house, and they’re made without refined sugar, artificial colors or bleached flour. The markup isn’t any higher than it would be at a bakery (and sometimes they put bacon on top, so there’s that).

whole foods spices
Lisa P./Yelp

Buy: Bulk Spices

It’s a corner of the store you’ve probably never even noticed: a shelf lined with glass jars full of turmeric, rosemary and cinnamon. Measure out only as much as you’ll need for the month instead of the year. You’ll save money, and you won’t end up with any questionable, decades-old jars of nutmeg in your cabinet.

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Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.