We visited the grocery store chain that's an alternative to Whole Foods -- here's why it's better

Tanza Loudenback/Business InsiderWhole Foods and Sprouts both use Instacart for grocery delivery.
  • Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market are health food stores with locations all over the US.
  • Both grocers sell mostly natural or organic products and have fresh salad and juice bars, sandwich counters, and pre-made foods for purchase.
  • They also both have partnerships with Instacart to deliver groceries on demand.
  • After shopping at Sprouts for a few months, I’ve found it’s the perfect blend of Trader Joe’s prices and Whole Foods quality.

Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market are natural grocery chains with hundreds of locations all over the US.

Both grocers sell mostly natural or organic products and have fresh salad and juice bars, sandwich counters, and pre-made meals for purchase, along with in-store dining areas. They also sell natural health products like vitamins and supplements.

Ever since Amazon bought Whole Foods last year for $US13.7 billion, the company has been working to shed the store’s “whole paycheck” image by lowering prices and opening new, no-frills stores called Whole Foods 365.

That’s placed Whole Foods in direct competition with health food stores that have long advertised low prices, like Sprouts, which has built a national brand on the motto “healthy food for less.”

I’ve always been loyal to Trader Joe’s for its unique and cheap products. Still, there’s no salad bar or sandwich counter at Trader Joe’s. I started shopping at Sprouts a few months ago out of convenience, and I’ve decided it’s the perfect blend of Trader Joe’s prices and Whole Foods quality.

Keep reading to see what it’s like inside a Sprouts store in Los Angeles – and why I think it’s so great.


Sprouts has over 285 stores across the Southern US, the majority of which are in California, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Sprouts opened 36 stores in 2016 and 32 stores in 2017, and is projecting 30 new locations this year.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Source: Sprouts


The Sprouts location I frequent is in a busy part of West Hollywood on the bottom floor of an apartment building.

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There’s a huge seating area right at the front of the store.

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Nearby is a coffee and juice bar offering fresh-brewed coffee, frozen yogurt, and fruit and vegetable juices.

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Fresh bottled juice costs $US4.99 and the various snack boxes are always under $US5. Fear not: quality isn’t sacrificed for low prices.

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Every store is separated into three sections: deli, produce, and packaged goods.

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One thing I love about Sprouts is the clearly labelled departments. You can see this sign for frozen foods from the opposite end of the store, so there’s no unnecessary wandering to find what you’re looking for.

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My favourite tea brand was priced at $US1.79, or two bottles for $US3. Trader Joe’s, one of the cheapest health-focused grocery stores around, sells it for $US1.99.

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Sprouts typically has about 30% of its 19,700 products for sale at a discounted price, according to the company’s 2017 annual report.

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Source: Sprouts


You can’t miss the coffee bean section…

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…or the bulk foods section, which is definitely bigger than the one at my nearest Whole Foods. It includes everything from nuts and grains to dried fruits and chocolate covered pretzels. There are over 300 varieties and it’s all weighed by the pound.

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Produce is the main event at Sprouts. It’s all locally sourced, which Sprouts defines as grown in-state or within 500 miles.

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The produce section is at the heart of the store and extends to the entire back wall of this location. About 15% of the floor space in each store is reserved for produce, according to Sprouts’ 2017 annual report.

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Source: Sprouts


It all looks bright, colourful, and delicious. Plus, it’s fully stocked. It really feels like a farmers market.

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That’s probably why the salad bar at Sprouts is exceptional, with tons of fresh options. At $US7.99 per pound, I often make a lunch-sized salad that rings up around $US3.50.

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Sprouts doesn’t have a major hot bar like Whole Foods, but there are a bunch of cold side dish options.

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The roasted chicken costs $US7.99 per pound. There are packaged veggies, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes here, too. Each one is labelled with the exact time it was packaged that day.

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The sandwich counter is a popular spot during lunch hour. Boar’s Head sandwiches and wraps start at $US4.99. I’ve paid $US10 for a similar sandwich at Whole Foods. The first time I went to Sprouts’ sandwich counter I was blown away by the prices.

Tanza Loudenback/Tanza Loudenback

There’s also a large selection of pre-made foods, like potato salad, chicken cutlets, and more vegetables. Next to the sandwiches there’s a small sushi counter with fresh-made rolls.

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Sprouts also sells beer and wine — organic and otherwise.

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One part of the store I haven’t checked out yet is the vitamins department. It’s at least two aisles wide, with a designated specialist ready to answer any questions, so I can’t imagine I won’t find what I’m looking for.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Sprouts announced a partnership with Instacart in January, joining a host of other retailers who use the service, including Whole Foods. I personally enjoy grocery shopping in person, but it seems to be a popular service. I often see Instacart-clad shoppers in Sprouts.

Sprouts Farmers Market

Source: Markets Insider


I’m lucky to live in Los Angeles where there are dozens of Sprouts locations, because it’s the perfect blend of Trader Joe’s prices and Whole Foods quality and there’s no turning back.

Sprouts Farmers Market

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