This Whole Foods Haul Cost Just Under $135 — And I Turned It into Almost 21 Meals for a Family of Four

updated Oct 9, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Danielle Centoni

For me, Whole Foods doesn’t exactly scream bargain shopping. It’s where we’ve always gone for organic, sustainable and health-conscious ingredients, usually paying a premium for them in the process. But ever since the Amazon takeover, I’ve had to readjust my old “Whole Paycheck” expectations. It turns out, if you shop smart, you can score some great deals. 

I wanted to see just how low I could get my grocery bill to go while shopping for a week’s worth of meals at Whole Foods. Could I manage to buy the ingredients for seven days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a family of four and keep the total below $200? Maybe even $175? 

I shocked even myself when I walked out of the store with a cart full of groceries that totaled just under $135. How did I do it? I planned ahead and shopped according to the sales.

Every week, Whole Foods posts its weekly deals online (you can look by store!), and Prime members get the best deals, with big members-only discounts and often an extra 10 percent off sale prices. I scrolled through the flyer, pen and paper in hand, and started brainstorming meal ideas. I started with the meats, which are typically the cornerstone of our meals and also the most expensive component. I knew I could save the most money if I only bought the meats that were on sale and found ways to stretch them by combining them with lots of vegetables, belly-filling broths, and inexpensive bonus proteins like beans and legumes. 

I spotted chicken breasts at $2 off. I could turn them into pounded and breaded cutlets and serve with a ton of roasted veggies. Beef bottom round was $3 off, and seemed perfect for soup. Maybe I could even save some to use in a different meal? Made-in-house pork sausages were $3 off and could easily go in pasta. Cooked shrimp was $6 off but still pricey at $7.99 per pound. Combining them with another cheap protein, like beans, would mean I could get away with buying less while still getting to enjoy them. We like to have fish once a week, but the sale-priced fish (swordfish) still seemed expensive at $14.99 per pound. Luckily, frozen breaded fish fillets were 30 percent off. I could get those and use them in tacos with lots of cabbage slaw to bulk them up. 

Even though I work from home, I don’t have lots of time to cook. I’ve got kids, carpools, and deadlines all vying for my attention. But convenience foods really add up fast, so I’d just have to keep my meals from-scratch yet simple. With that, my meal plan started to take shape!

The planning alone took almost an hour, but once I got to the store, the shopping went a lot faster because I knew just what I wanted. I did some price comparisons while I was there and found the bulk bins and the store’s 365 label were definitely the cheapest options, so I skipped the name-brand stuff. And when I was able to check out with a cart full of premium ingredients like gourmet cheeses at 40 to 50 percent off, sustainable meat and fish, and interesting fresh produce like escarole and baby broccoli — all for less than $150 — it was worth the upfront effort. 

Keep in mind some of the meals required a few staples from my pantry, like olive oil, breadcrumbs, and broth, which I tried to note. And sometimes lunch was a mish-mash of leftovers for one person and a sandwich for another. Same with breakfast, which my husband doesn’t eat. And, yes, we drink coffee but get our beans from a local shop. Still, it really does seem possible to eat well on the cheap at Whole Foods. Here’s what I got and what I made with it all.

Credit: The Kitchn

What I Bought

  • 365 Almond Milk: $2.99 for 1/2 gallon
  • Free-range eggs: $4.99 for 18
  • Bulk bin nutty granola: $3.30 for 1.04 pounds
  • Bulk bin French green lentils: $2.29 for .92 pound
  • Bulk bin black beans: $1.95 for .98 pound
  • Bulk bin oatmeal: $1.49 for 1 pound
  • Bulk bin organic brown rice: $4.08 for 2.05 pounds
  • Bulk bin organic barley: $1.05 for .53 pound
  • Bulk bin corn grits: $1.99 for 1 pound
  • 365 multigrain bread: $3.39
  • 365 organic whole tomatoes: $3.38 for two 28-ounce cans
  • Canned olive oil-packed yellowfin tuna: $4.48 for two 5-ounce cans (on sale)
  • Cave-aged Gruyere: $5.38 for .39 pound (on sale)
  • Piave cheese: $4.40for .48 pound (on sale)
  • 365 fusilli pasta: $1.49 for 1 pound
  • Anchovies: $2.39 for 2 ounces
  • Organic baby Broccoli: $4 for two bunches (on sale)
  • Organic escarole: $2.49 for one bunch
  • Organic lacinato kale: $1.99 for one bunch
  • 365 bagged organic carrots: $1.99 for 5 pounds
  • Organic garlic: $0.96
  • Limes: $1.32 for four
  • Organic cherry tomatoes: $3.99 for 12 ounces
  • Organic blackberries: $5 for 2 pints (on sale)
  • Red seedless grapes: $4.72 for 2.37 pounds (on sale)
  • Haas avocados: $5 for five (on sale)
  • Organic Fuji apples: $1.61 for two
  • Organic green cabbage: $5.59 for 5.69 pounds
  • 365 organic firm tofu: $1.79 for 14 ounces
  • Gluten-free battered frozen haddock: $4.89 for 10 ounces (on sale)
  • Cooked shrimp: $4.23 for .53 pound (on sale)
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast: $13.17 for 3.30 pounds (on sale)
  • Hot Italian and white wine garlic pork sausages: $7.98 for two pounds (on sale)
  • Beef bottom round roast: $14.97 for 2.96 pounds (on sale)
Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Granola, almond milk, and fresh fruit (twice)
  • Oatmeal and almond milk (twice)
  • Crustless quiches with tomatoes and greens 
  • Avocado toast with fried eggs
  • Poached eggs with sautéed polenta and warm cherry tomatoes
Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Tuna sandwiches 
  • Black bean, brown rice, shrimp and/or chicken and avocado bowls (several days)
  • Leftover beef soup
  • Leftover lentil soup
  • Leftover kimchi stir-fry
  • Chicken and Piave cheese open-faced sandwiches 
  • Fruit on the side (grapes, apples, blackberries)
Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Beef, carrot, and barley soup 
  • Sausage and beef ragù on polenta with Broccolini
  • Fish tacos with avocados and cabbage slaw  
  • Italian sausage fusilli with Piave cheese and escarole salad 
  • Chicken schnitzel with roasted cabbage wedges
  • Lentil stew with carrots, kale, and sausage
  • Tofu-kimchi stir-fry on brown rice
Credit: Photos: Danielle Centoni, Products: Whole Foods

The Daily Breakdown

The sales start on Wednesdays so I waited to shop until then.

Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Dinner: Italian sausage fusilli with Piave cheese and escarole salad. (Made a simple sauce of canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, anchovy, and spicy sausage. Added a peach I had on hand to the salad but one of the apples would have been great too. Pantry items: olive oil, vinegar and onion.)


  • Breakfast: Granola, almond milk, and fresh fruit.
  • Lunch: Tuna sandwiches (kids) and tuna melts (adults). (Pantry items: mayo, mustard, and pickle relish.)
  • Dinner: Lentil stew with carrots, kale, and sausage. (Used 2 of the 3 white wine sausages and saved the third for the ragu. Pantry items: chicken stock from my freezer.)
Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Breakfast: Oatmeal and almond milk. (Pantry items: applesauce and almonds.)
  • Lunch: PB& J sandwiches (kids) and leftover lentil stew (adults). (Pantry items: peanut butter and jelly.)
  • Dinner: Chicken schnitzel with roasted cabbage wedges. (Pantry items: flour, Dijon mustard, lemon, capers, and homemade breadcrumbs from my freezer.)


  • Breakfast: Avocado toast with fried eggs.
  • Lunch: Black bean, rice, shrimp and/or chicken bowls with avocado and cherry tomatoes.
  • Dinner: Beef, carrot, and barley soup. (Used 2 of the 3 pounds of top round I got on sale. The other pound was used for the ragu. Pantry items: Homemade chicken stock and two cubes of leftover tomato paste from my freezer.) 
Credit: Danielle Centoni


  • Breakfast: Mini crustless quiches with cherry tomatoes, sautéed kale, and Gruyere. 
  • Lunch: Open-faced chicken and Piave cheese toasts.
  • Dinner: Sausage and beef ragu on polenta with Broccolini. (Used the sausage and beef, which I chopped in a food processor, that I reserved from the other meals, plus carrot, garlic, canned tomatoes. Pantry items: Onion and broth I defrosted for the beef soup and lentil stew.)


  • Breakfast: Poached eggs with sautéed leftover polenta and warm cherry tomatoes (just tossed halved tomatoes in with the polenta squares while they seared).
  • Lunch: Leftover beef and barley soup (one kid); open-faced tuna melt (one adult); black bean, rice, shrimp and/or chicken and avocado bowls (one adult and one kid).
  • Dinner: Fish tacos with avocados and cabbage slaw. (Used the frozen battered fish, which was just barely enough. Family would have been happier if I bought two boxes. Pantry items: mayo, spices.)


  • Breakfast: Granola, almond milk, and fresh fruit.
  • Lunch: Tofu-kimchi stir-fry on brown rice. (Pantry items: soy sauce, gochujang, and homemade kimchi.)
  • Dinner: Black bean, rice, shrimp and/or chicken and avocado bowls.


  • Breakfast: Oatmeal and almond milk.
  • Lunch: Leftover kimchi stir-fry (one kid); bean, rice, and slaw bowls (one kid); adults foraged in the freezer for frozen meals purchased at a different time.