The work week can get awfully busy — and don’t even get me started on the weekend. And that probably means that you don’t want to spend what limited time you may actually have wandering the aisles of your local grocery store (or worse, waiting in line). But you still have to eat. So it pays to know how you can accomplish both of your goals — healthy, delish meals that don’t require you to spend any more time than necessary in the grocery store or at the stove. If you know how to navigate it, Whole Foods makes it pretty easy to make sure you’re well-fed for the week, without wasting all your precious free time at the grocery store.
1. Ask the butcher or fishmonger to prepare your protein.
If you’re buying fish that will need to be skinned, cut, or deboned, shrimp that needs to be deveined, or meat that needs to be trimmed or ground, ask the butcher or fishmonger you’re working with to do it for you. They’ll generally do it for no charge (remember to always ask nicely), and then that’s less for you to worry about later.
You can also sometimes have your fishmonger or butcher season your proteins for you (yet another step cut out). Additionally, some stores will cook your fish for you, as per the Whole Foods Market website, though that’ll cost you slightly more. Still, if you’re really that pressed for time, that fee might be worth paying.
2. Shop the salad bar.
The salad bar is a great place to grab veggies, particularly if you’re looking to shave any little bit of time off your prep or if you only need a small amount. If you’re loading up your container with heavy veggies, you might not save much money (or may pay more), but if your primary concern is saving some time, the salad bar can be a godsend.
3. Don’t overlook the Amazon meal kits.
Though this isn’t an option for absolutely everyone as of yet, if you live in certain places, you can take advantage of the Amazon meal kits through Whole Foods. According to Food & Wine, you can buy Amazon meal kits inside of Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area, Arizona, Southern California, and Nevada, and AmazonFresh and Prime Now members can order meal kits to be delivered in Chicago, Seattle, the Northeast, the Bay Area, and Southern California.
4. Shop the prepared foods section.
Whole Foods’ prepared foods section is another place that can save you some serious time. You can pick up some pre-made chicken or a portion of a grain salad and have a quick and easy dinner in no time at all. Additionally, per Thrillist, the meal deals on offer (which vary based on where you live) can actually make this choice an affordable one.
5. Go the semi-homemade route.
Picking up something like pizza dough from your local Whole Foods can save you some serious time, but without requiring you to sacrifice a delicious meal. Use it for pizza (duh), calzones, flatbreads, DIY Hot Pockets, and more.
6. Swing through on a Thursday night.
Though you may not exactly love the idea of heading to the grocery store after a long day at work (we don’t either), it might pay off to head over to Whole Foods on a Thursday night rather than waiting for the (much busier) weekend. In an interview with Well + Good, cheese professional and long-time Whole Foods team member Tiffany Cunningham said that Thursday nights and weekday mornings are when lines are shortest. Take advantage.
7. Take advantage of the dietary guides.
If you follow a specific diet, chances are, you know what to look for and what not to, but if you’ve recently made the switch, or you’re hoping to try something new, you may not be as well-prepared, meaning more time spent reading and researching products while you’re in the store. To save some time, take advantage of the help that’s available to you. According to Domino, there are printed dietary guides available at customer service desks that can save you a ton of time.
8. Check your flyers (or app!) and plan before you go.
If you go in with a plan, you’re less likely to let yourself get distracted by other things once inside the store. That means that you can get through your shopping more quickly and on with your day. Your app and store flyers will give you an idea of what’s on sale when, which means you can plan what to buy now, and what to save for next week.