peligro! : why i can no longer go to whole foods.

31 01 2011

i rarely plan to go to whole foods. as a relatively new vegetarian still vainly attempting to recreate meat on her dinner table, sometimes i do find myself needing to get a specific item or two that i can only find contained within their four posh and perfectly manicured walls (have you seen their produce displays?)… but very rarely. usually, i find that i end up there accidentally (usually with a wealthier and far more health conscious friend), as a victim of  a “do you mind if we pop into the whole foods for a sec, i just need to grab some tomatillos and a cask of bulgur?” situation.

yet however i wind up there, the result is ALWAYS THE SAME. i can literally not enter through those sliding doors for more than 1 minute, without spending at least $20 (usually, on a single 10 lb. salad). like somehow, $20 is the cost of the ferry ride to get to the other side of the pricey health food river styx. as my ENTIRE GROCERY BUDGET FOR THE WEEK IS $30, this is clearly a problem.

well, that problem occurred yet again today. after a fantastic coffee date with my friend rob, he uttered the dreaded ” just need to pop in and grab a few things!”. in theory, i was supposed to drop him off there and keep on walking toward home base, but it was cold… and we were still talking… and ooh are those blackberries on sale for 2/$5? just like that i was in the door with a stack of produce in my hand grabbing whatever else seemed like a good idea at the time: seaweed & tamari rice cakes? faux buffalo wings? strawberry soy protein shakes? certainly nothing that would pass as a meal or that even have any real nutritional value.

today’s damage- $31. SURPRISE!!! MY ENTIRE FUCKING GROCERY BUDGET! and save for two bags of fake beef tips intended for making stroganoff, everything else was completely unnecessary.  in my universe, that whole store is just one big ass impulse buy.

sure, it’s absolutely possible to eat healthy on a budget (hell, i even wrote an article about it one time), but whole foods isn’t exactly making it easy or accessible for me to do that. maybe if i were a person who was able to breeze through the towers of sparkling wine bottles and fragrant cheeses and just grab a brown sack of bulk quinoa and go… things might be different. but, as we learned earlier as i was browsing the protein powders and gluten free melba toasts… i’m not that guy. i’m never going to be that guy.  i am powerless against its charms, and this is a very important thing to know about myself.

according to my mint.com account, last year i spent $869 at whole foods, and i bet that i actually “needed” about $0 of it. so for the month of february, i’ve decided that i’m breaking up with whole foods. i lived many years without it, and i’m pretty sure i can survive 28 short days away from its sweet, well lit, organic embrace. basically, when you still have $12,846 worth of credit card debt, $900 is a ludicrous amount of money to spend fancy salad. it’s time for me to learn to keep it in my pants.

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15 responses

31 01 2011
liz

i’m with you on the whole foods thing, but there are a couple of essentials that i can’t find anywhere else. number one=sauerkraut. seriously, for some weird reason sauerkraut has become a staple for my family, and i’m not talking about the kind you can buy in a can for 99 cents at hannaford. it has to be real, fermented, crunchy kraut. i can’t afford to buy local (did you even know you can spend like $15 on a jar of local fermented cabbage?), but it has to be decent. the other thing i buy there is vegenaise, the most delicious vegan mayo that keeps my vegan friends happy and is quite a bit less expensive at wf than at hannaford.

i used to need whole foods for my tofurkey sausage, too, but now i buy it cheaper at trader joes. by the way, if you haven’t tried it yet, oh.my.god. so good. oh, and they also sell a fake beef tip type thing at trader joes that’s pretty tasty and probably cheaper than the wf kind.

5 02 2011
bessmarvin

thank you! sauerkraut is on of the greatest foods known to man. i bet that $15 kraut is amazing… although i will probably never find out. i’ve never tried the tofurkey sausage- it’s good? apparently i’ve also missed the fake beef tips (although i just found out that hannaford carries my beloved gardein steak chunks for a full $1.50 less than at WF!).

31 01 2011
InfamousQBert

this store is pretty much the reason we can’t be couponers. we committed to being as organic and “green” as possible, for many reasons, and that means shopping at whole foods almost exclusively. you CAN save money there, to a certain extent (stick to your list, don’t just roam the aisles, etc), but it’s a rare thing indeed to find a manufacturer’s coupon for something you can buy at WF. we actuall DID find one this weekend, which was great. we got a free yogurt! but that’s the one and only time that’s ever happened. and they double coupons, or let you use them twice, or anything like that.

i can make some great recommendations for recipes/books. the vegetarian times magazine is wonderful. i love getting the actual magazine, but they have all of their recipes online. for the most part, they don’t do really exotic ingredients, so it’s not too hard to shop for them without blowing your budget.
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/

also, for fake meat, our preference is morningstar farms, which we can find more easily at kroger & tom thumb than at WF. their “ground beef” crumbles are fabulous for putting into chili, spaghetti sauce, etc.

ooh! and if you want, i have a really easy, inexpensive, chili recipe that is SUPER fast and has fooled many meat eaters over the years. email me at this user name, gmail, if you want it. happy vegging!

5 02 2011
bessmarvin

it’s clear that one must have an iron will to make it through WF without deviating from your list. have you tried moon mountian? i have had inconsistent experience with recipes from the veg times. the last thing i tried was the worst fake pulled pork (seitan) ever. maybe you can recommend me some things that you’ve already test driven? i tend to like things that are comfort foody. and i LOOOVES me some morningstar crumbles. a little bit of butter and A-1 sauce and they taste just like real meat (or how i vaguely remember real meat). but seriously, it’s never the wrong time to email me some recipes. (alexandra.munier@gmail.com)

31 01 2011
peligro! : why i can no longer go to whole foods. « broke 207 | Cheap Healthy Foods

[…] it easy or accessible for me to do that. maybe if i were a person who was able to breeze … health foods on a budget – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Cheap Healthy Foods and tagged broke, foods, longer, peligro, Whole. […]

1 02 2011
kate

WFM is dangerous, because once i decide to spend, it’s on. like, i spend $40 there, when i thought i was just picking up a few gourmet items (ok $8 cheese block, but still). i do buy all my meat there, though, despite the cost, since i feel OK about eating it.

5 02 2011
bessmarvin

if i could afford it, i’d shop there all the time. cave aged emmentaler! moon mountain! but yeah, unless i know i have $50 to blow, it’s best to learn to stay away.

1 02 2011
blackgirlinmaine

WF is very dangerous, went there a few weeks ago and spent a hair over $50 on literally 4 items. Insane. I think WF’s is a place you go for that one specific item that can’t be found anyplace else.

Back when I lived in Chicago I was a vegetarian (over 8 years ago) and I used to shop exclusively at WF…but that was back when the Spousal Unit and I were a tad more prosperous and could afford to spend over $100 a week back then for 2 bags of groceries.

Good luck giving up WF you can do it!

5 02 2011
bessmarvin

i’ve been told by multiple people that it is possible to shop the whole paycheck and still survive financially… but i haven’t quite figured that out yet. but apparently it’s hip to be healthy now, so at least that means that organics and vegetarian options are filtering into my pedestrian grocery store! at least i now have trader joe’s as a low rent option if i should get a hardcore health food jones that i can’t resist.

4 02 2011
jjdactyl

not for nothin’, but scout and i are TOTALLY able to do the $30/wk grocery budget thing at the whole. we pretty much have to, what with the gluten and dairy and artificial colors and whatever other problems he has with food. blargh. but anyway. we planned out meals and spend maybe $50/wk (combined) on foodstuffs. including juice and the occasional fancy ciderbooze!

i know that i’m a rare exception- i think i probably learned all of the trade secrets when i worked there. figured out the differences between the millions of brands and products that all look the same. i don’t have the discount anymore, but i definitely still know how to shop. lucky!

5 02 2011
bessmarvin

my friend michelle can do it too, i just don’t have it in me. i think it might be my heavy dependence on convenience foods, and my inability to steer clear of the fancy olive bar. perhaps you and s. would like to do a guest post about how you work your magic? you need to share your trade secrets!

7 02 2011
jjdactyl

we totally could! i’m always impressed by how much we get by on, and how much of it is special/fancy/not ramen. i totally get your dependence on convenience foods- i can’t go into drugstores (or regular grocery stores, really) by myself, because everything is so shiny and colorful and covered in buzzwords. i always end up spending money on frozen appetizers and flavored coffee creamer. things i hate that are bad for me, but are awesome at sucking up my money.

15 02 2011
bessmarvin

as soon as you’re feeling better, you need to write that shit! i think you’re charming and people would love it, and it’s definitely not an area in which i have any sort of expertise. you’d be my first guest blogger ever!!!

8 02 2011
Elisa

ugh! I have the same problem with WF. I don’t know if it is my natural ability to find the most expensive thing in any situation and want it with all fibers of my being (champagne wishes on a PBR budget) or what, but I can never get out of that place without spending at least $30-40. I don’t even go in, I know that it will absolutely tempt my sensibilities.

I find many of the same processed foods available at TJ’s and Hannaford’s, and produce from Portland Farmer’s Market. Yes, I might be contributing to some sort of massive conglomerate that is tearing apart the American fabric and destroying my body.

But in truth, I’ve never noticed a HUGE difference, if you look hard enough (Hannaford’s isn’t evil when you don’t buy Ho-Ho’s and Cheez-its…which I do, don’t get me wrong…)

15 02 2011
bessmarvin

oh, i can totally get most of the same whole foods fare at regular grocery stores (along with some other things that i require like cheez-its and snickers bars). but there’s something so seductive about all that shiny and perfectly piled fruit! i can’t be trusted!

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