For many, Whole Foods is a mecca of all things awesome in the food world. What’s not to love? An abundance of natural and organic products, beautiful produce and flowers, even clothing! And those prepared foods, oh my! It’s not uncommon for many to make a few trips there a week (or maybe even a day?). But there can be a bit of a problem with this, unless you’re loaded with money and have no financial worries. Some even jokingly call Whole Foods by another name: “Whole Paycheck” — because it seems so impossible to walk out of this place without spending a big part of your wages! Well, as someone who knows the reality of this all too well, I’m here to provide a few mental tricks and actionable tips that may help you to hack your experience, leaving you feeling fulfilled but not financially drained.

1. If You’re Not on a Weekly Grocery Run, Don’t Get a Cart

I use this trick often to keep myself from going in for a tea and a snack and leaving with a cart of oh-my-god-new-hummus-brand! and 5 new jars of specialty mustards. If I’m only going in for something quick, I do not grab a cart, or even a handheld basket. That way, I can only load myself up with what I can carry, leaving me with less of a chance on adding stuff to a cart that I may not really need. If you’re on a full-out weekly run, of course, you may need that cart, but use this hack for when you are aiming to just go in for a few small items.

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2. Steer Clear of Those Samples

OK, this tip might be controversial for some of you. I know sampling those amazing samples that seem to be available at every corner in most Whole Foods stores is so tempting, and how can we resist that smiling sampler’s beckon? But it’s your best interest to pass, because the fact is if you try it, you may feel obligated to pick up a jar of that new salsa he or she gave you a spoonful of. Or, even worse, you’ll then get sucked into the salsa aisle and see another salsa you must-try-now, then that cool new bag of tortillas strategically placed next to all the salsas. And then, next thing you know, your cart (if you have one, which, why do you!?) is filled with what looks like a Cinco de Mayo party spread. All because of that darn salsa sample! Ok, I may be exaggerating a bit (or am I?), but you get the point. Samples can lead to overspending.

3. Bulk Up on Bulk

Repeat after me: bulk always saves us money. Even in Whole Foods. Buying the Whole Foods pre-packaged bag of sunflower seeds for $7.99 makes absolutely no sense when you can load up on double that for $4.99 via the bulk containers 5 feet away from the pre-packaged containers. Bulk is your friend. Use it. You will save money.

4. Stay Away From Pre-Packaged Mixes

Don’t buy the nut mixes for $10.99 when you can make a bulk mix yourself by buying the parts individually and then mixing it up at home. The same goes for produce. Don’t you buy those pre-mixed stir fry mixes, even if they look pretty, Green Monster! Mix up your own by getting individual parts and then chopping at home. Yes, it takes a little extra time. But you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

5. Use the Whole Deal Book

You know that “The Whole Deal” coupon book you pass by but often never pick up? There’s often a whole lot of good savings you’re missing out on, then! Become coupon savvy and plan meals around what’s on sale, and you’ll save a little bit each time you shop. Also, check the company web site for more savings, and do keep your eyes on sales. You don’t want to be the guy or gal picking up blueberries for $5.99 on a Wednesday when you could have used a coupon and got them on Thursday for half that.

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In what ways do you hack your shopping experience at Whole Foods to save some dollars? Let us know in the comments!

Image source: That Other Paper/Flickr