If you’re anything like me, you love Whole Foods. It’s the God of all food stores, and it’s so easy to walk out with bags and bags of food—along with a very empty wallet (even since prices have been slashed by Amazon). But there are tons of simple tips and tools to follow if you’re trying to survive Whole Foods on a college student's budget, while still eating healthy and high-quality foods.

1. You don’t have to buy all organic.

tomato, pasture, vegetable
Emma Dorshimer

Whole Foods has great produce, even if you don’t want to pay for organic. You can still get high-quality fruits and veggies at a reasonable cost. Look for deals like buy one get one free and your fridge will be stocked with the best stuff before you know it. Besides, avocados, onions, corn, mangoes, and cantaloupe don’t necessarily need to be bought organic (they're part of the clean 15).

2. The frozen food section is your friend

tea, vegetable
Emma Dorshimer

Whether you’re a smoothie connoisseur or a frozen treat kind of person, the frozen food section is the place to be. You can buy ready-made items like meals, but you can also get bags on bags of vegetables and fruits—perfect for your oatmeal, your yogurt, your smoothies, or straight from the bag. And it’s cheaper than fresh produce.

3. Only splurge on the stuff you can’t get anywhere else.

beer, tea
Emma Dorshimer

Whole Foods definitely has all the obscure foods that you can’t find at a regular grocery store. Only splurge on that stuff! Things like chips and cookies and regular juices are things you can get for cheap elsewhere, like convenience stores or your local chain grocery stores. Trader Joe's  is always a much cheaper option, or check out the best grocery store in your state. Organic chocolate, rare protein bars, high quality seafood—these are the things to buy at Whole Foods.

4. There’s no such thing as too much.

liquor, whisky, alcohol, wine, beer
Emma Dorshimer

Foods like peanut butter, chia seeds, nuts, coconut, spices, and pasta sauces (an absolute staple in my college apartment) can usually be bought in large quantities and can last a long time. When you can, buy them big! They might cost more upfront, but they’ll last longer, and make your bank account feel better in the long run, since you won’t be constantly going back.

5. Avoid the hot bar (unless you have extreme self control).

Emma Dorshimer

The Whole Foods hot bar is the real MVP. But, as much as I love popping in when I’m too lazy to make a meal, I end up spending $15-$20 on a container of food and a drink, when I could have just stayed home and eaten from what I already had. If you do *need* the hot bar, grab the smallest container enabling you to save some money.

6. Stop trying new foods because you “might like it.”

peach, juice, vegetable, pasture, apple
Emma Dorshimer

Whole Foods can market you everything from coconut chips and vegan chocolate desserts, to dragon fruit and dairy-free, nut-free, kale, pear, and banana ice cream. But you don’t need this stuff. It might be cool to try something new every now and then, but as a college student, it's not the time to do it on your own budget at Whole Foods. Stick to what you know and need and your wallet will thank you. If you must try something new, see if you can get a sample or try one thing at a time. 

Whole Foods can be affordable with a little smart thinking and self-control. Stick to a plan, and eating healthy and clean on a college budget can be possible at Whole Foods.