How I Came to Shop Only at Trader Joe’s

Written by Todd

Topics: Introduction

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At some point  back in the late 90’s I woke up an discovered that my life was way out of balance.  I was working too much (7 days a week was not uncommon) and I was way overweight.  Who knew that eating mini hot dogs wrapped in bacon and dipped in Ranch dressing was bad! That Jumbo Jack with cheese and fries as a snack on my drive home couldn’t have been helping the situation. Sadly, I ate like this and then went home to cook up something totally hedonistic (and poured a bunch of beer and wine down my gullet!).

I was a BIG Boy

Somewhere north of 230lbs, on a 5’5″ frame I decided things needed to change.  I had learned to cook because I love good food, but didn’t realize that with this knowledge, came great responsibility.  And so I started to learn about nutrition and ways to add or keep  flavors but not fat.  1 pound of chocolate does different things to your body than, say a pound of broccoli! Once I understood some of these concepts, my goal was to keep the flavors and to make the traditional dishes I had grown to love, just with an eye toward the health impacts each of my ingredient choices was going to make.

Once I started to focus on ingredients, I quickly realized that there was a difference between a chicken breast from the large supermarket and one I would get at one of the specialty shops, like Trader Joe’s.  I still hate the fact that I need to finish cutting the fat off a chicken breast, but what a world of difference between the big guys and some of the smaller places! (I realize that TJ’s is owned by the brothers that also own the Wall Mart of Germany, but I think the corporate attitude at Trader’s is to keep finding the highest quality foods at the most reasonable price, whereas I think the big guys in the States are packing the isles with some pretty marginal foods)

Over It

By 2005 I was done with traditional grocery stores.  I was lucky to have a small ‘farmers market’ like store near my house and a Trader Joe’s just down the road.  I was still going to Henry’s and occasionally Whole Foods, but mostly  TJ’s and the local place.  I must admit that a trip to Gelson’s did happen now and again, and I really think these guys are doing it alright, all be it a little above my price comfort zone! (But really, where else can you grab a couple of frozen squab at the last minute in Southern California?)

Part of my re-balancing act involved a new (real) job and a re-kindling my passion for rock climbing.  The rock climbing helped keep me focused on the nutritional aspect of my cooking, and the climbing helped keep me motivated to loose a bunch of weight.  Gravity games don’t treat those carrying extra weight very well!


Fast forward to today.  The local market had to close to make way for another Walgreen’s (really?, yes really.) , and I moved on to just buying from TJ’s.  Now I’m a fit 155lbs, and along the way I’ve learned a lot about fitness, nutrition and good food.  Really good food can be healthy, and yes, it can be gluten free! And I guess that’s really the point here. Shani needs gluten free food, and I want good food, and we’re going to share everything we’ve learned along the way here with you!


What are your reasons for shopping at TJ’s?


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