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I am pretty selective on where I shop for my groceries. While there are dozens of different grocery stores around Denver, I find that I tend to have a couple favorites where I do most of my shopping. That said, the main place that I shop during the spring, summer, and fall seasons are my local farmers markets. I love being able to see the face behind the products I buy, especially food items. I feel strongly about supporting the local Colorado economy and shopping at farmers markets is a great way to do that. Plus, it helps that I work in the farmers market industry, so I feeling closely connected Colorado’s local markets.

My first choice, and most favorite grocery store, is my local Vitamin Cottage store, aka. Natural Grocers. They are a Colorado-based company with very strict standards on what they will and will not carry. They try to carry as much local produce as possible, as well as many other local, Colorado products. I tend to find that Vitamin Cottage is typically cheaper than my other grocery store of choice, King Soopers, especially if you watch the sales.

King Soopers (owned by Kroger) is the other store I regularly shop at in the Denver area. I’m not sure why I favor King Soopers over Safeway or Albertsons (the other two main grocery store chains in Denver), but I do and that’s where I feel comfortable shopping. I love that I can walk into the King Soopers down the street from my house and know exactly where everything is. I shop at King Soopers and Vitamin Cottage weekly.

We do have several other popular grocery stores, like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Sunflower Markets, but I don’t often shop at them. I don’t agree with many of Whole Foods’ politics and policies and have serious issues with the fact that even though they tout healthy foods, if you look closely, a lot of their products will contain GMOs, refined sugar, refined flour, vegetable oils, etc. I only shop there when I can’t find what I need elsewhere. I don’t have a Sprouts anywhere near me, and I have found that Sunflower Markets carries a lot of conventional, unhealthy products that I don’t like, as well as having prices that are typically much higher than King Soopers or Vitamin Cottage.

I also have a membership to Costco, where I stock up on various household goods, as well as certain organic products. Costco carries a large selection of organic food and they seem to be expanding those options all the time. One of the main reasons I love Costco is for their large selection of organic fruits and veggies, both frozen and fresh. For the same price as 1-2 pounds of frozen blueberries at King Soopers, I can get a 4-5 pound bag at Costco. The same goes for many of their other products. While the produce isn’t local, living in Colorado doesn’t offer a lot of options during the winter, so I do the best I can with what I have available. I typically shop at Costco about once a month.

About twice a year, I will stock up on bulk products like coconut oil, legumes, chia seeds, grains, etc. I purchase many of these items from Golden Organics, another great Colorado-based company. Their prices on most of their products is outstanding. I also occasionally order through a local co-op from Frontier Natural Products, for things like organic tea, sea salt, etc. Buying in bulk, especially on products that you use a lot of can save a lot of money in the long run, even if it costs more up front. I highly recommend investing in a deep freezer, even if it’s a small one. Having that extra freezer space will really open up a lot more food preparation and storage options for you and will save you money in the long run. Many times, you can get a great freezer off of Craigslist for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

I don’t typically buy meat at the grocery store. Twice a year, I purchase grass-fed, pastured meats from local ranches. My favorite ranch for beef is Highplains Highlands Ranch. The cost is really not that bad when you average out a per pound price. Ordering in bulk, while a little pricey up front, is much more cost effective than buying from the grocery store. Plus, it is hard to find 100% grass-fed and finished beef in the supermarket. On average, my cost per pound is between $5.00 and $5.75, depending on the cuts of beef I order. To buy grass-fed and finished meat in the grocery store (if you can find it), you’re looking at well over $8.00 a pound, if not way more. If you want to find a local ranch near you for grass-fed, pastured meats, then I recommend checking out the Eat Wild website.

For products that I can’t find locally, I will typically buy online. A couple of my favorite online vendors are Tropical Traditions and Amazon.com. I love Amazon’s recurring orders for some of their food products. They also have great prices on certain items and with their “Subscribe and Save” option, I never have to worry about running out of things like coconut water (which I use a lot). Tropical Traditions is also great. I order quite a few products from them, including their coconut flour, coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut cream (best price of anywhere that I’ve found). Plus, they always run really great sales, so I save a lot of money ordering products through them!

I would love to hear from my readers. Where do you shop? Do you find that you favor the same one or two stores, or do you mix it up regularly? What are your favorite local health food stores? While Vitamin Cottage, Sprouts, Sunflower Markets and Whole Foods are the main health food stores in Denver, I would like to know about the local stores in your area. Leave a comment and tell me your favorite place to shop!

Image courtesy of stock.xchng and JMTorres

Tropical Traditions - Coconut Oil, Coconut Flour, Grass-fed Beef, Grass-fed Butter, and more

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