Whole Foods is like Disneyland for foodies and organic-everything lovers. The only problem is, it’s so dang expensive! Or so I thought until I dug below the surface to find out how to save money at Whole Foods.
It’s true — there are actual, tried-and-true ways to save money at Whole Foods without feeling like you just blew your whole paycheck on a jar of pickles. I’ll give you a hint: The only way to save a decent amount of money at this grocery store is to sign up for Amazon Prime.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to save at Whole Foods.
1. The Whole Foods Amazon Prime discount gives you 10% off sale items.
One cool thing about Amazon owning Whole Foods is that Prime members get extra special savings when they shop there. Inside the store, you’ll see yellow signs that indicate a sale price, and everyone — whether you’re a Prime member or not — gets the marked sale price.
But if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get an extra 10% off the Whole Foods sale price listed.
Yellow sale signs get you the standard discount, but blue signs can help you save up to 50%.
Ten percent not enough for you? Be sure to keep an eye out for blue signs around Whole Foods. Blue signs indicate an exclusive sale just for Prime members. There are about 30 of them each week, and they can save you up to 50% off. That’s right — half-price at Whole Foods is really happening.
This is my No. 1 tip when readers ask how to save money at Whole Foods: shop those items with a blue sign.
What is the best day to go shopping at Whole Foods for Prime members?
Each day of the week, Prime members can save on a different item. Need ground beef? You’re gonna wanna shop on Tuesday. Sushi fiend? Shopping on Thursdays is your best move. So there’s not really one answer to the question of “What is the best day to go shopping at Whole Foods?”
Here are the current specials:
- Monday: 30% off Whole Foods Market Iced Tea
- Tuesday: 80% lean ground beef for $3.99/lb (usually $6.99/lb — save 43%!)
- Wednesday: 20% off Chef’s Plates in the hot food section
- Thursday: BOGO 50% off packaged sushi rolls
- Friday: Large cheese pizza for $10 (usually $10.99 — save 10%-ish)
Pay with your Prime QR code in the Whole Foods app to claim the savings.
When you download the Whole Foods app, the first thing they’ll ask you for is your Amazon login. As soon as you log in, you’ll see your Prime QR code. This is the code you’ll scan at checkout to get your Prime savings applied.
Link your Amazon credit card in the Whole Foods app to get 3% – 5% back in rewards.
Look right beneath your QR code. Which credit or debit card is listed there? Because that’s the card that will be billed when you scan the QR code at checkout.
Ideally, you’ll want that card to be your Amazon Prime Rewards Visa credit card. When you use it to pay at Whole Foods, you’ll get 5% back in rewards. (The rewards go down to 3% if you’re swiping the card and don’t have it linked to your Prime account. But if you’re paying with the QR code inside the app, it’s already linked, so you’re all set.)
TIP: Of couse, you can use any cash-back credit card to pay at Whole Foods — you’re not limited to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa. Though the Amazon card will often give you the best deal.
2. But Prime isn’t the only way to pay at Whole Foods — you can use your palm in some stores.
You’ve got tons of options on how to pay at Whole Foods these days. Check it out:
Whole Foods lets you pay with your hand.
This one is a little too Big Brother for my tastes. But for people who love convenience and don’t mind giving Amazon a scan of their palm — fingerprints and all — you can use biometrics to pay at some store locations. Just sign up for an Amazon One account to use this service.
TIP: Whole Foods is trying to get this technology into all store locations by the end of 2023.
Pay with Apple Pay at Whole Foods.
Yup, Whole Foods makes things super simple by accepting Apple Pay (unlike Walmart). You can even link your Apple Pay account to your Prime QR code by adding your digital Apple card number to your Amazon Prime account. Then, make sure that’s the payment method that’s showing up beneath your QR code.
Yes, Whole Foods accepts EBT.
Whole Foods will accept EBT as payment. Better yet, you can link your EBT card to your Prime account so you can use it as your payment method with your QR code.
With all EBT orders, you’ve gotta remember that your state has specific rules about what can and can’t be purchased with SNAP. Generally speaking, you can only use it to pay for food that is not hot and not already prepared, though there are nuances across state lines.
If there’s anything in your cart that won’t qualify — or you need to cover any service fees for things like Whole Foods delivery — you’re going to need a second method of payment to cover the difference.
TIP: You may also have TANF cash benefits on your EBT card. Those benefits can be used to pay for items that aren’t covered by SNAP, but you might have to bring the physical card with you to the store to use them. Regardless of how you’re using your EBT card, remember to use it to claim your 50% off Prime discount!
But Amazon gift cards won’t work. And Whole Foods gift cards only work in the store.
What a weird bummer! Whole Foods doesn’t accept Amazon gift cards, even though Amazon owns Whole Foods. Here are the gift cards they will accept, though:
- Visa gift cards
- American Express gift cards
- Mastercard gift cards
Of course, you can always use a Whole Foods gift card to pay — but only if you shop in person. They won’t work online.
TIP: One neat thing, though, is that you can order Whole Foods gift cards online, and even if you order a physical one as a gift, it’ll ship for free.
3. Whole Foods sales run Wednesday to Tuesday and can save you 20% – 30%.
This tip is kind of a given if you’re hoping to be frugal at Whole Foods.
Whole Foods releases new sales every Wednesday, and the pricing runs through the following Tuesday. Most of the sales you see will fall in the 20% – 30% off range after you account for the extra Prime savings. Occasionally they’re less — I spotted one this week that was only 11% off after the Prime discount, and another that was 33%. So it goes both ways.
4. Save 30% with the 12 Days of Cheese Sale in December.
You’ve probably heard of the 12 days of Christmas, but have you ever heard of the 12 Days of Cheese? It’s a sale you can find at Whole Foods every December, with award-winning cheeses marked down 30%.
But it’s not like Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty sale where each item is only on sale for a day. No, all of the fancy cheeses are on sale throughout the entire 12-day period, which typically runs from Dec. 13 – Dec. 24.
You’ll also be able to pick up a holiday gift bag if you’re buying the cheeses to give away. These themed sampler bags cost $29.99 in 2022, and included:
- Three hand-picked cheeses
- Blackberry rosemary spread
5. Get cheese on clearance year-round.
Instead of throwing away the smaller pieces of cheese that are shaved off the larger cuts, Whole Foods sells these smaller pieces for $1 – $5. Perfect for a cheese platter or charcuterie board. Plus, you can ask them to slice your cheese for you for free!
Just look for a basket full of the packaged leftover cheese.
6. The Whole Foods Body Care Sale saves you 33% in May.
Whole Foods revamped their yearly beauty sale in 2023. Instead of happening in March (and competing with Ulta and Sephora‘s beauty sales), Whole Foods did their big beauty sale in May this year. And instead of being a single week, it ran for two.
The sale primarily focused on body care items this time around, giving shoppers 25% off everything in the body care section. (You got 33% off if you were a Prime member!)
7. Look for special Prime Day deals at Whole Foods in July and October.
Amazon Prime Day runs in July and October, and you KNOW Whole Foods participates! Here are some of the awesome Prime Day grocery deals we found in July (and hope to see come back in some form Oct. 10 – 11):
- 35% off ice cream
- BOGO free 12-packs of LaCroix
- 30% off Aurora snacks
- 30% off organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
There are usually a ton of deals on 365-brand items, and people who shop with their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card tend to get boosted rewards of 6% back.
8. Whole Foods’ Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go boxes are a bum deal.
It’s no secret that Whole Foods is more expensive than other grocery stores. But they get particularly ridiculous when it comes to their Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go boxes. Those things will run you $399.99, no joke. They feed 10 – 12 people, but this is still outrageous pricing.
To give you an idea of how overpriced it is, I regularly feed that many people holiday meals from Honey Baked Ham for under $200. Honey Baked Ham is delicious, and requires very little cooking effort on my part.
You could also get Thanksgiving to-go boxes from any number of other grocery stores for less. Publix comes in the cheapest at $54.99, and theirs can feed 7 – 10 people. Even if you doubled up just to be safe, you’d still only be spending $109.98. That’s just over a quarter of what you’d spend at Whole Foods.
Related: Check out our proven strategies for scoring a free Thanksgiving turkey this year.
9. Shopping the bulk bins can save you up to 52%.
If you’re all crunchy granola, you’re probably already familiar with Whole Foods’ 365 brand. Instead of buying the prepackaged 365-brand items, it’s often cheaper to shop the Whole Foods bulk bins. Here are some of the biggest bulk savings you can count on:
- Black beans — 52% cheaper
- Garbanzo beans — 48% cheaper
- Red lentils — 38% cheaper
- Muesli — 34% cheaper
- Sprouted pumpkin seeds — 31% cheaper
Be careful, though! Bulk bins don’t always save you money. Here are some of the products that are cheaper when you buy pre-packaged:
- Brown rice — Save 43% buying prepackaged
- Peanut butter — Save 38% buying prepackaged
- Cashews — Save 10% buying prepackaged
10. Wine Down Wednesdays at Whole Foods are no more.
Whole Foods used to run “Wine Down Wednesday” which gave you a 10% discount on up to five bottles of wine and an additional 10% off when you bought six or more.
But at virtually all store locations, this stopped being a thing when Amazon took over. Meatless Mondays also hit the dust. They also got rid of the glorious 10%-off-when-you-buy-a-case-of-anything discount.
TIP: If you’re missing Wine Down Wednesdays, take a peek at all the Wednesday food deals we’ve assembled for you.
11. But Whole Foods has cat wine!
Whole Foods has that Moselland kitty wine that you might have heard about. This Riesling is available in cat-shaped bottles in all kinds of shades and colors. But regardless of which color you choose, the white wine inside is all the same.
Prices are really going to vary depending on where you live — each state regulates its own alcohol taxes. It’s not always in stock, but when it is, we tend to see it going for somewhere between $12.99 – $19.99/bottle depending on your state. Check prices against your local liquor store, but typically Whole Foods doesn’t inflate the pricing on this one too much (again, depending on where you live).
It’s sad that you don’t get the Wine Down Wednesday discount anymore, but it’s also happy. Because the bottle is shaped like a cat.
TIP: Even if the cat wine is on sale, you won’t get an extra 10% off if you’re a Prime member. The 10% off discount doesn’t apply to alcohol purchases.
12. Ask an employee if you want to sample any Whole Foods snacks.
Interested in a new product but aren’t sure you want to buy it because it might be awful? Ask an employee about sampling the product. Whole Foods usually is all about providing customers with delicious samples — even packaged products like chocolate.
13. Use coupons and rebate apps to save on organic products and produce.
Just because an item is organic doesn’t mean you can’t find coupons and rebates for it! For example, you can regularly find coupons for Seeds of Change products on their website, and we’ve spotted plenty of rebates on Ibotta and Checkout 51 that can be used on common items you’d find at Whole Foods.
Related: Get started with our favorite cash-back rebate apps.
14. Check their disclaimers page to find location-specific coupons.
Wanna know a secret hack to find out if your store location currently has any above-and-beyond coupons? Check out the coupon disclaimer page. These aren’t the actual coupons — they’re just the fine print. But by checking this page, you’ll also find the coupon’s promo code listed for online shopping.
Here are a couple of examples that are live at the time of writing. These coupons can have seriously big values — they’re almost always 20% off a set dollar amount. So, yeah, they’re certainly worth pursuing:
- Springfield Plaza outside of DC: $10 off $50, $15 off $75, or $20 off $100.
- Rochester: $10 off $50, $15 off $75, or $20 off $100.
We’ve also seen similar coupons in the past for the Historic Walter Reed location (also D.C.), and the Bozeman, Montana, location.
15. Bring your reusable Whole Foods bags and get a $0.10 credit on each.
Whole Foods makes it a little easier to be environmentally friendly. You can buy reusable grocery bags there, or you can bring your own and get money off your total.
Now, there is a caveat. If your city or state enforces fees for using plastic bags, your Whole Foods probably won’t participate in the $0.10 credit program.
16. Whole Foods doesn’t do price matching.
Even if you find something cheaper on Amazon.
Related: See all the stores who currently offer price matching.
17. The Whole Foods return policy refunds manufacturer coupons.
You might not be able to get price matching at Whole Foods, but you can make returns for 90 days. Be sure to bring your receipt with you, and be aware that any clothing that’s missing its tags won’t be returnable. (You may or may not be able to return your Whole Foods cat wine depending on state liquor laws. But why would you want to?)
The sweetest part of Whole Foods’ return policy is that they’ll refund you the value of your coupons. So if you had a $1.50 coupon on an item you spent $10 on after the coupon, you’d get $11.50 back in your pocket when you made your return.
18. You can still get free Amazon returns at Whole Foods.
As long as you’re still within the 30-day window, you can make your Amazon returns for free at Whole Foods. You won’t even have to repackage it or print any labels. Just start your return in the Amazon app, select Whole Foods as your dropoff location, and you’ll get a QR code to show at Whole Foods. They’ll handle the whole return for you — from printing the return label to packing and shipping everything off.
Amazon recently started to charge $1 for certain returns you make at UPS, so this is a much better option.
19. Start your Whole Foods career and get the 20% – 35% employee discount.
The Whole Foods employee discount is bananas! You can apply for a job at your local Whole Foods and earn 20% off all your favorite goodies. Plus, you get another 15% off select items at the hot food bar.
Related: Check out our other 60+ favorite employee discount programs.
20. Share your Prime account with family members to save no matter who’s shopping.
If you’re a Prime member, you can extend your Whole Foods savings to your entire Amazon Household, including one other adult and up to four teens. This is especially helpful if you’re all sharing the same bank account in the end.
You can share your Prime benefits with another adult by linking accounts through Amazon Household and agreeing to share payment methods. To share with your teen(s), just head to “Your Account” and add them to your Amazon Household.