Trader Joe’s, Where Are You?

Home Raised Box Garden Paso Robles, CAFort Collins is great because it’s a small town with big city amenities, especially when it comes to food. With three farmer’s markets, and plenty of natural foods stores, including Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”), I haven’t experienced the gourmet foods deprivation I’ve felt in other small towns.

But too much of a good thing is wreaking havoc on our budget. Yesterday I went into Whole Foods chanting the usual mantra “I just need a few things.” All I wanted was some produce, some bulk foods, and good lunch meat for Jim. Two bags and $56 later, I walked out while shoving the receipt in my wallet without giving it a second glance.

To my horror, today while going over the receipt, I discovered that those tasty organic “essentials” included a small bag of bok choi that cost $5.10, and two apples at $1.56!

In preparation for our upcoming home purchase, I’m freaking out about money. We’ve been kind of careless about our food bill since escaping the grind of homeownership two years ago. So today Jim and I discussed things we can nix from our spending habits to make life a little less expensive.

At the top of our list of things to avoid is Whole Foods. Unless we want to go broke before we settle into the new digs and get another business off the ground, we won’t be setting foot in that upscale foody store again.

Too bad there isn’t a Trader Joe’s here!

20 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s, Where Are You?”

  1. Don’t listen to that liquor law crap. TJ’s operates in Towson MD and doesn’t even sell wine or beer (horrors) because of their screwy booze regs.

    Just got back from Santa Rosa and restocked with $300 worth of “essentials.” Bet I got a truckload more than you !!! I was getting dangerously low on their Aoli Mustard, which is like heroin in its addictive qualities.

    I have eight words for you … dark chocolate covered English toffee rolled in pistachios … arrggghhh !!

  2. Hydroponics and “tomatoes”? Oh I get it, hydroponics and “tomatoes”.

    Hmmmm, starting a small business some day on our five acres, yeah, hydroponics and “tomatoes”.

    Yes your honor, we did at one time live in Humboldt County, why do you ask? Oh, the hydroponics and “tomatoes”, well, those were for personal use. Actually, if it pleases the court, I would like to state for the record that our tomatoes were medicinal but with a culinary bent.

    No your honor, neither Jim nor I have ever regarded the Roma as a gateway tomato. Sure, we gave a fair run at cultivating beefsteak, polish, and even the ever so sweet Sungold F1, but it was never our intention to sell or distribute until casually approached by those who share our practice of casual use.

    I can see the headline now: “Humboldt Couple bring Hydroponics and “Tomato” cultivation to Ft. Collins”

    Now pass me the salsa, mmmm, man oh man, is that salsa roja? Delicious, I wonder where they go the tomatoes?

    Enrico strikes again!

  3. no trader joes? the horror! i would shrivel up without good ol’ affordable & yummy tjs!!

    stephen & i did the same thing last year at whole foods, our couple of things cost us $75!! we haven’t been back since! lol!

    like the others said, growing your own will be an awesome way to go! 🙂

  4. I know it’s too late for one this year – but are you planning on growing some of your own food for next year? Sam and I also like buying from local farmers…..whenever we can find them.

    • Oh absolutely going to grow our own next spring, possibly even do the Farmer’s market for a specialty item we are thinking of selling. We’ve already got the spot picked out. Meanwhile, we’ll get our hydroponics setup going on. It’ll be fun to try to grow tomatoes in early spring.

  5. I used to think about that as well, like, damn, it’s so expensive to grocery shop when you actually buy good, organic or local food. But then I started doing some research and found that Americans spend way less % of their income on food and it got me to thinking…

    We’ve become accustomed to having to only pay a small amount for food, but then again, we’ve become accustomed to not eat food (ie, cheese slices aren’t cheese, McDonalds isn’t necessarily even meat, most things you buy at the grocery store have 150 ingredients, but only 2 that don’t read like a chemistry book). It started to become easier and easier to spend lots of cash on food when I realized that I was actually paying to improve my own health and the health of our planet.

    But I’d still rather grow and raise my own food anyday…just trying to figure out how to fit a goat and some chickens into the RV and how we can plant some corn on the roof of the old rig. 🙂

    And thanks for adding us to your blogroll! Sweet!

    • Hey Nathan, it’s great to hear from you. I’ve also heard that we spend far less on food than other nations, but something about paying $5.10 for bok choi just strikes me as nuts. I do carry a list of foods that are OK to buy conventionally versus organically, and that helps the budget out.

      I like the idea of a rolling farm with corn on the roof and livestock inside!

  6. TJ’s isn’t in Colorado because of the outdated liquor laws in the state. There is a petition somewhere to bring one to Denver, but TJ’s doesnt want to come to CO under existing rules. Something about CO only allowing ONE of a chain’s stores to carry alcohol in the entire state, or something like that. I don’t blame them!

    As for health benefits of organics – you can say there are no overwhelming health benefits, but there sure are health detriments to eating food covered in toxic pesticides and fertilizers. I’ll stick with the organics, thanks!

      • We went to a “six pack” in PA, where you couldn’t buy a six pack of beer, but instead were forced to buy an entire case. It seemed very strange to us that the state doesn’t want people to have easy access to alcohol, but when they are allowed access, they are forced to buy a TON!

        • Yeah it’s odd…learning to buy beer across the nation.

          Like you said, in PA we can buy beer only in the following ways:

          At a bar, by the 6 pack, maximum of 2 at a time and it typically costs $$$$$$. You can only buy 2 at a time, right? But if you want 4 6-packs, you just buy 2, take them to your car and come back in for 2 more, which is legal.
          At a distributor, which is the only place you’re supposed to be able to get a case of beer or kegs. These guys are only open from noon – 8pm, typically, and never on Sundays.
          All liquor and wine is handled separately, through state owned stores, and apparently we pay more than 50% in taxes for our liquor.

          It’s all insanity, meant to somehow keep non-Christians and kids from drinking, I think.

          The first time I tried to pull a 6-pack out of a bar in Texas, the bartendress looked at me like she as about to kill me!!!

    • I heard that about why TJs isn’t in other states too. Also, a TJs worker I talked to said that they don’t have a major distribution facility set up here in CO yet, and until they do, they won’t be coming here anytime soon.

    • I heard that story Bob, and I think it’s a load of fertilizer. I’d really like to know who this “London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine” is, and who actually paid for the study.

    • Totally agree with you, Rene – anytime you’re eating fertilizer, arsenic, etc. vs. good ol’ fashioned nature it’s going to be worse for your body, the same way styrofoam doesn’t have the same amount of nutrients as an orange.

  7. Rene,

    You guys need to check out Sunflower Market ( We just got one in the Springs and it appears there is one in Ft. Collins. They are like a small scale Whole Foods, but with much better prices, and a lot of locally grown produce. I was amazed! Check them out and let me know what you think!

    • I do like Sunflower a lot. They have the best bulk selection in the state. But the problem with them is that it seems their produce isn’t the freshest, you have to eat it right away. And, their organic selection is pretty skimpy. Still though, it’s better than most, and I’d rather have them around than only Whole Foods.


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