Instacart Startup: Nice Comeback

There was a technical glitch with this post, so I am reposting.

Two days ago, I posted about Instacart, a new service that does your grocery shopping (at Trader Joe’s and Safeway) for you. The service is available in SF, Palo Alto, and Mountain View, and charges a surprisingly low flat fee of $3.99 if you schedule your delivery anytime 3 hours later or $9.99 if you want your groceries within the hour.

A byproduct of the startup incubator Y Combinator, Instacart, Inc., last year raised seed funding of $2.3 million from Canaan Partners and Khosla Ventures.

I had read the San Francisco Daily Candy email for Friday January 11th which featured Instacart and I decided to give it a try this past weekend. I had a bad experience which I summarized in a post that has now been retracted.

The following day, the CEO personally emailed me which I sincerely appreciated as it showed that he’s accountable, receptive to feedback, and eager to regain my trust. That evening after work, Instacart seamlessly delivered 3 bags of Trader Joe’s groceries and followed up with several emails from the team to make sure I was taken care of.

Gotta love that. Thanks Instacart. You can count on my business going forward.

Free Food at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s in Nob Hill on Hyde and California opened its doors 3 days ago, replacing the stalwart Cala Foods, a grocery chain that had been in operation since 1947. Talk about history. Well out with the old and in with the new. Cala was over-priced and unpopular. The latest TJ’s brings a much-needed, perfectly-priced grocery store to our hood. No more trekking to SOMA for food. Allelujah.

I’ll start with the bad news: whoever managed the store layout should be shot. Considering the overall layout feels so open and bright, it’s a major shock when it’s time to pay. There are 7 (I counted) registers crammed into one corner of the store. With most TJ’s, the registers span one whole length of the store. Not here. It’s extremely stressful! No one knew which line they were in and people were backed up in the surrounding aisles. Very lame. I plan on doing my shopping 30 minutes before closing time. Because of the back-up, employees went around handing out candy.

Otherwise, like I said, the space is bright and airy. I recognized one of the managers from the Masonic location running around so it looks like they’ve got seasoned workers on-board. I also like how there’s plenty of parking (similar to Wholefoods in Pac Heights with two levels), an area for bikes, and a couple benches to sit outside.

The Burning Bulge

I gained some weight while I was at Burning Man. I swear I don’t do well in all-you-can-eat environments like the Commissary where we ate our meals.

Yesterday I decided to do something about it. I limited myself to 1200 calories. Everything I ate (like those packaged meals from Trader Joe’s) had a calorie count so I knew exactly how much I was eating. After work, I went to the gym and ran two miles. Mind you, I don’t run unless it’s race time. Then I spent at least 30 minutes laid up in the steam room.

The next day, I kid you not, I had gained almost a pound. Gained! It couldn’t have been muscle either because I don’t pump iron. I hate it when people say, “Oh that’s muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat.” Where do people come up with these blanket statements?

It has always been counter-intuitive for me. Gaining weight when I eat less and exercise more.

I swear to God I lose weight when I don’t exercise which is why you don’t ever see me “training.” I don’t do that crap anymore. It doesn’t help. I think it’s because our bodies naturally know how to take care of ourselves. If we start messing that up via extreme exercise, then we get hungrier, and our bodies retaliate by refusing to metabolize all that food we eat. Maybe not so counter-intuitive after all.


Happiness is flowers. After some pretty depressing posts, here’s something that brightens up my day.

I got this bunch of flowers—so sad I forgot the name—from Trader Joe’s for $1.99 on Sunday. They’ve bloomed brighter and brighter each day.

They light up our room and make me smile.

Money Monday: Subway

For the past gazillion years, I’ve been extolling the virtues of the packaged Lean Cuisine trays: convenient, tasty, cheap. My term Lean Cuisine was really a catch-all for the microwaveable meals I subsisted on since grad school. I loaded up my Trader Joe’s cart with paneer tikka masala, chicken chile verde, panang curry. For deliveries, I noted ’10’ for the amount of Lean Cuisine spaghetti with meat sauce, ’10’ for sante fe style rice and beans, ’10’ for the shrimp alfredo. Anyone remember seeing my freezer stocked with all these goodies?

Now, there’s Subway. Yes, the fresh fast food chain with stores in all of my walking paths. There’s one next door to work. There’s one half-a-block away from home. We’re at 757 Sutter; there’s a Subway at 701 Sutter. I am now a die-hard fan. I grab a Subway sandwich at least five times a week. I get one of the $5 foot longs. I personally like the protein-stuffed Cold Cut Combo. I add lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, peppers, mayo, mustard, ranch dressing (I ask for two doses of ranch) and depending on my hunger level, I’ll top it off with guacamole for another $1. With that many calories stuffed into a sandwich, I have half for lunch and half for dinner. That’s $2.50 or $3 a meal.

I have been missing out all these years by nuking my food.