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Need to Shop at Whole Foods - What to Buy?

A good friend has a group that is having a fundraiser at Whole Foods. A portion of proceeds from that days shopping by people who request it will go to this charity. I generally avoid Whole Foods like the plague so I have no idea what sorts of things are good buys. Things that I'm not likely to find at Safeway, or are significantly better in quality. My budget is tight, so as long as I'm there I want to make the most of what I need to spend.

Thanks Hounds

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  1. I think their potato salad is like crack. Very good.

    Whatever you do, DO NOT buy the rotisserie chicken. Awful shit. Like a big giant Peep that has all the sugar sucked out of it. Actually, a big giant Peep with no sugar probably tastes better than the Whole Foods rotisserie chicken.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Amen, I bought the rotisserie chicken once and it was like eating desert sand.

      1. re: redfish62

        Yes, I returned the rotisserie chicken I bought there. It was like jerky and so offensive that I needed to get my $17 back.

        Agree on the potato salad, too, though it needs salt, like most of their prepared items.

      2. re: ipsedixit

        I read somewhere that Sysco makes a lot of the stuff sold in their deli department.

      3. I don't shop there much, but when I do go, I look for the following things:
        1. fresh ground honey-roasted peanut butter--about $3/lb in my area, beats anything you will get in a jar. Terrific on crisp apple slices.
        2. Vanilla granola from the bulk bin.
        3. Produce--it can be hit or miss, but I've gotten better deals on tomatoes, apples and potatoes at WF than at my local A&P.
        4. Cereals--they often run sales on these, and the cost is favorable in comparison to whay generally see in the supermarket.

        1. In the prepared food section they have a penne pasta salad w/ smoked mozzarella that I really like. I've tried to replicate it at home but it's not the same.

          Also for some reason their brownie bites are especially good.

          They are also the only place I can find truffle butter (although at around $9 last time I bought it for like 4oz, it's not really budget friendly), and I like their chicken sausage selections. Also I like the "bargain" cheese area where they sell the bits and pieces of the fancy cheeses.

          1. Why not give your friend a direct donation, then 100% will go to the charity. I find most fundraisers in that style net very little to the charity. Believe me, WF isn't going to forfeit profit. If you feel the necessity to purchase, I'd stick to some cheese.

            1. I agree with treb about donating it directly to your friend's charity.

              But if you do want to check out the goods at WF anyway, the bulk section and 365 brand will get you the most for your money. I would avoid the prepared foods - IMO they're overpriced and usually not very good. Grab the weekly sales flyer to see what specials your local store is running. You should also look at the "Whole Deal" booklet - they're usually either by the door or at the end of checkout lanes - which is loaded with special buys and coupons.

              5 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Thanks for the replies (auto-correct prefers replays.) I have and will continue to give the cause direct contributions, but the idea is that if this one goes well, they have a better chance of getting future support, and that leads to wider community participation. If it is stuff I need to buy anyhow, then so be it if I pay a little more.

                I agree that most fundraising sales are silly, be it a church bake sale, bbq chicken (HuliHuli in Hawaii), or even girl scout cookies. But for some reason people would rather buy two boxes of cookies they shouldn't be eating rather than give some little girl down the street $10. Lots of psychology and sociology in there somewhere. Beyond the bounds of this board for sure.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  My wife LOVES the smoked whitefish salad, which is usually in little containers near the fresh seafood section (next to the packaged smoked salmon).

                  Other than that, the cheese selection is great, but not cheap. However, they will let you sample cheeses and break up packages if you want a smaller quantity.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Ah, that makes a lot of sense. Go you.

                    As for WF, I generally avoid it too, but agree with iluvcookies upthread on the freshly ground peanut butter. Or, if they have it, the callebaut or valrhona chocolate in bulk can be a good price (like $10/lb?) and can be stored for later when you need to make an extra special treat or present.

                    Avoid the pre-baked goodies. I tried a box once as a treat, thinking "It's sold at WholeFoods; it's got to be fancy & good". It was stale. :-/

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I'm somewhat wary of the 365 line; I've generally had good luck, but taste tests on serious eats show 365 doing very badly.

                    1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                      This makes no sense to me. You said you've enjoyed the products yourself - isn't that all that matters?