And the winner is….

Based on price comparison alone, Trader Joe’s is the clear winner at $110.11. 

See prices here: Grocery list — Trader Joes calc

Grocery list – Frazier Farms

Grocery list – Sprouts

Grocery list — Henry’s calc

TJ’s staff rates high in friendiness as well, although on a busy day I wouldn’t say the same for some of the customers (especially in the parking lot!).  They do offer a wide variety of organic food options, but I found that I have to be careful not to be enticed by the equally large choice of convenience (read salty and hi-cal) foods.  Their Trader Joe’s brand items are usually less expensive than national brands, but the store lacks a fresh deli and meat counter.  The bottom line comes down to a savings of about $7 per shopping trip at Trader Joe’s over Frazier Farms, which probably covers the price of the extra gas to drive to Oceanside. 

All in all, my grocery comparison experiment didn’t uncover any earth shattering results.  All the stores I surveyed are quite comparable, but I did learn more about what is available and how much things cost (e.g.: a typical shopping trip is not going to be under $100 at any of the “Natural Store” venues.)  Given the relatively small variations between stores, I will likely do most of my shopping close to home at Frazier Farms, and use Trader Joe’s or Sprouts when I’m in their neighborhood.

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Henry’s shopping results

Prices were a bit higher here, but that wasn’t what made an impression on me.  The atmosphere at the Henry’s store on 76/College was so different than the bustling, upbeat feeling at both Frazier Farms (Vista Village) and Sprouts (Las Posas, San Marcos).  The Henry’s store was very quiet, with few customers.  Employees were busy with stocking, cleaning etc.  After waiting at the deli counter for a few minutes while watching the clerks busily at work, I had to ask if they were open, as they paid no attention to the customer side of the counter. — They were open. — At checkout, the cashier became openly annoyed with me for the dual infractions of forgetting my cloth bags and not writing the bulk ID#s on my trail mix.  I was happy to pack my own bags and slink away, tail between my legs.  I might give this store another chance since it is so close to my daughter’s high school, but then again, I might not.

Grocery list — Henry’s calc

Grocery list – Sprouts

Grocery list – Frazier Farms

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It was twenty years ago today…

          I’m listening to Pearl Jam this morning.  The tune is “Yellow Ledbetter”.  You  know the one with the really sweet and tangy guitar melody.  It’s like wasabi for my ears – so beautiful and kinda painful at the same time.   The sound makes me nostalgic for the 90’s. 
          Gosh, it wasn’t that long ago was it?  We were twinkies (is that correct nomenclature for two incomes, no kids?) in Portland, Oregon at the time with plenty of time to ourselves to enjoy what the place had to offer.  Stuart worked downtown just off Pioneer Square with its café’s, restaurants and shops.  Fridays, I would get off work at the local community college, change from my skirt and pumps into a comfy flannel shirt and big soled boots, and meet him at the corner McMenamin’s pub . 
          So many trends that are mainstream in our culture today, started in that misty corner of the country during that time.  Coffee bars, of course, kraft beers, REI, Eddie Bauer, and “slow foods” are only a few things we all now know from California to New Jersey.  Some things, like the Grunge music, left their mark and passed on, but were perfect for the time and place.  Four shades of blue with some earth tone underneath, Grunge painted the background of the Northwest perfectly: summer along the Willamette riverfront crowded with colorful flea market tents and Nirvana playing from someone’s boom box, or winter, holed-up in front of your fireplace with wine, fondue and Eddie Vedder’s growl .    Nowadays, I’m living in non-stop sunshine and parenthood has replaced the pub, yet, for this moment, I’m happy to be kidnapped by the music and taken back to that special  time.

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Sprouts vs. Frazier Farms

If price were the only criteria – Sprouts would beat Frazier Farms by about $5 ($113.43 vs. $118.00 ) on an almost identical shopping list*.  Some qualitative differences of note:  Frazier Farms offers more choice in the fresh bakery area, and has a larger deli with counter service for salads and lunch meats/cheeses.  Sprouts offers more “sale” prices and more choices in the frozen food area, but your deli items are prepackaged.  Next week I’ll compare these two stores with Henry’s.

Grocery list – Sprouts

Grocery list – Frazier Farms

* I deleted the costs of items that I could not compare between the stores.

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Comparison Shopper – Natural Grocery Stores

This spring, I finally weaned myself off the ultra-convenience, one stoppa shoppa of Albertson’s because I got fed up with the crappy produce and lack of free range meats/eggs.   For months now, I have been making the rounds of several “natural” grocery markets.  They all seem similar in many ways, but I have yet to decide on a favorite for my weekly “big shopping” routine.  I have dared myself to complete a survey of grocery items each week during my regular shopping trip, purchasing the same or similar at each store, recording the price and brand/quality information.  I will post my results here on theglb.  May the best store win!

7/30/10 Grocery list – Frazier Farms

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The Garden at Boothill

We have a vegetable!  A tiny, tiny vegetable!

Can you guess what it will be?

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Filed under California Gardening, Gardening, Joys of Nature, living well, Raised Gardens, Vegetable Gardening

Oh, I’m being followed by a dogshadow…

dog-shadow, dogshadow…

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