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May. 26th, 2008

Don and Cathy

To sum it up:
This was a great experience. It brought us back to days when we had one income, two growing boys and were on a tight budget. Planning your meals for the week is the key. We ate well, were satisfied, had variety, and in fact we still have a few items left over. Don would spend $25 a week at Brennan's just for lunch and we laughed realizing two of us ate for the entire week, breakfast, lunch and dinner for $42. We have learned what a tremendous value Grocery Outlet offers to its customers..... having actually lived it. Thanks GOI..Cathy will continue to shop at the Livermore store. We Love Bargains!!!!

May. 23rd, 2008

Deanna - Final Notes

I can honestly say that the Sheehan Family survived for one entire week on about $75.00 (yes I still have money left on my gift card which I am assuming is mine to keep). We maintained our eating habits as close to normal as possible with the exception of a few things -- we ate less fresh fruit and less fresh vegetables.

I did not find this exercise to be a hardship. If anything it made me accutely aware of how much food we wasted prior to this exercise. It was also good training for the future since we will soon be a one income family.

Thank you Grocery Outlet for the experience.

Diana Final

Used the rest of our allotment for dessert last night. WOW! 2/$1.00 Baby Ruth Drumsticks. They're at least $3.00 at the ballpark, and I had forgotten how yummy the chocolate stuffed in the bottom of a waffle cone can be. What a treat!

We had Hot Dog sandwiches and mac daddy sal for our final dinner last night, and while it's been a real eye-opening exercise, I'm looking forward to a big salad with all the inclusions tonight.

I've changed the way I look at shopping, and buying, and budgeting. And yes, I think the greatest lesson is how very fortunate that we were able to make this an experiment, rather than a life shift. We're thankful for all our blessings.

May. 22nd, 2008

(no subject)

GO Team
After 6 days of watching what I have eaten, consumed, and/or forced down to get through this challenge, here are a few things that I have learned:
1. Being on a no/low carb diet and not being able to take advantage of "meal stretchers" such as beans, pasta and bread has been a nightmare.
2. Scrounging at work for food has its limitations - chorizo, sausage, bacon, cheese, cheese and more cheese is probably not good for your intestinal track?!
3. I love Eggs - BUT NOT every day!
4. I have great friends who provided me with leftovers on two occasions - thank you.
5. Ground Beef (Meatloaf) for dinner 3 nights in a row is my limit.
6. Marlene Grant has a sixth sense about her - she came by one day and offered me half of her lunch. She must have seen the desperation - Marlene, thanks again.
7. Vienna Sausages are not as good as I remembered when I was a kid...especially with no crackers.
8. Most people do not have the luxury of eating a great meal out and then only have it cost them $2.00 out of their budget.
9. Our shoppers will continue to struggle making ends meet with Gas and Oil at all-time highs and commodity markets driving up food prices.
10. We owe it to our customers to provide them the best value proposition in today's retail grocery environment - no matter who the competition is!

All in all, a real eye-opening exercise that has made me feel even more grateful for all the things I have.

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!


David C

Day 7 dinner was great. Cheeseburgers using my homemade sourdough bread for buns and I did use that last potato for homemade french fries. It was messy and I nearly set my kitchen on fire, but they were worth it. Seasoned them with Chipotle Sea Salt (everyone has that in their pantry, right?) and they were great - never need to go to McDonalds again. With our last $1.50 we got a pint of Haagen Dasz Mayan Chocolate ice cream.

The takeaway for me on this challenge is that we need to be a better resource for our customers. Eating well on a budget requires a little creativity and we should be better at giving ideas to our customers - recipe cards with shopping list attached, cross merchandising items that go together for a meal, tips on how to get multiple meals out of one protein, sampling & employee product knowledge so they talk up items while they're on the floor.

And Suzie - if you can't bring yourself to eat that past dated sausage, I'd be happy to take it off your hands :)

May. 21st, 2008

Suzie...Day 7

Here is what I learned during the past 7 days:

*Iceberg lettuce lasts much longer than other types of lettuce.
*Too many carbs are not a good thing.
*I still have a hard time with past dated product (I am happy to say that I didn't have to eat the second Jimmy Dean sausage that is now past dated)
*The $21 budget was enough to buy the quantity of food I needed to stay full but not enough to buy the variety I would have enjoyed.
*Egg sandwiches are good but not exciting 7 days in a row!
*My kids are way too strict. I tried to sneak food but they were on me like hawks!!
*If I ever do something like this again, I will schedule more days in the office because it was hard to go with no snacks at home.

This was a great exercise. It reallly makes me appreciate what I have. I think I will be a much smarter shopper because of it.

I have to sign off now so I can go dream about my nice big breakfast tomorrow morning and my glass of wine that I will have with my carb free dinner tomorrow night!

Dave - the final day.....

I really miss my morning protein shakes. Like Diana said, doing this seems to really mess up the balance of your whole being, unless you're really good at shopping and cooking, like David and Deanna. But with only $21 for the week, there was a lot of repetition and not enough of the good stuff to last the whole 7 days. I really miss that broccoli and lettuce I had for the first few days.

Once my whole balance shifted toward desperation, I found myself carb-loading and grazing on a lot of stuff in the office that I would have been more selective with before.

I really miss salads, bananas, oranges, apples, fresh vegetables, and home-made pasta sauce!

But I have also become much more aware of the choices people have to make in order to fit within a budget. Throwing things out because they weren't eaten is no longer an option. But I was dying to toss that SPAM after a few meals.

Tomorrow I will celebrate with a delicious protein shake (miracle greens, protein powder, nonfat vanilla yogurt, chilled juice, frozen berries, oat bran, banana and ice - YUMMMM!!). Maybe I'll pick up some flax seed oil to add, since I have an improved food budget. AND after I leave the house I'm going to stop at STARBUCKS for my first latte in a week - YIPPEE.

Ziah's Final Post

I must clear this up...I meant that eating breakfast is important for health reasons. It gives your body energy to start your day. That said, I can't believe Light n Fit is considered yogurt- yick! It really takes some doing to pick a good yogurt though.

Speaking of yogurt. Tuesday morning, I was pressed for time so I decided that, for breakfast, I would just get some yogurt when the store opened. My body was angry at me because I ususally eat breakfast @ 6:30 AM, so waiting until 8 when the store opened was not such a brilliant idea. Then, my options were a little disheartening. The one I picked kind of curdled when I stirred it and I had to decide whether or not to brave it. I took two Lactaids (is that cheating? because I clearly did not buy them with Challenge Money- I wouldn't have been able to afford them anyway, expensive little buggers) and went for it. The yogurt was 4 for .99, so I thought- kool, I can have this today and tomorrow. No go. I had to throw it out. The sound of my stomach rumbling for the rest of the morning was confirmation enough that I had done the right thing. (Don't tell my mother! she raised five children and NOTHING went to waste, mostly because of my brother- the human garbage disposal, but still...)

I was glad to split a Blueberry muffin with my new neighbor David (thanks again!).

Monday night, we ended up having a nice salad instead of turkey hot dogs for dinner. So, the hot dog became my lunch on Tuesday. For dinner we had quesadillas...those things are dangerously good!

I'm out of milk and cereal, so breakfast has become a piece of toast. In Tuesday's mail, I got a coupon for a free Chicken Sandwich at McDonald's- good timing or what?? So that was my lunch today. I'll probably have either a Turkey wrap or a PB&J sandwich for dinner (from my church- we make PB&J sandwiches every Wednesday to pass out on Thursdays to the homeless and to migrant workers and we're allowed to eat while we work!).

Like Brenda, I've found myself eating my fair share of candy, which, considering it's bountiful supply, I suspect grows on a tree somewhere in this office!

Tomorrow I will use my other coupon for a Chicken Biscuit at McDonald's for breakfast (if I feel like spending the time to go there). My friend Christina offered to share her lunch with me and dinner is undecided.

What I have left is a few slices from that loaf of bread, several tortillas,sliced cheese, lettuce that is on it's way out, a can of chili beans, two of the 4 pack tomatoes- they are getting more and more soft (I probably would have bought just one, but they didn't have any singles at the time of my shopping trip), half a pack of hot dogs (I bought some more), some lunch meat, 3 cans of tuna and Mayo (never got around to making tuna sandwiches). I believe that's pretty much it. I wasn't always sure what my husband was eating because I leave for work before he does (there was also talk of quitting), but judging by the fact that there is no more milk, cereal, we finished a pack of hot dogs, one can of tuna is gone and the lunch meat is just about finished...I'd say he's been eating breakfast and fixing some sort of lunch.

I thought for sure I'd have money left over and I do...3 whole cents!! (wow)

David C

Day 6 dinner was probably my least inspired. Plain buttered pasta, some hamburger and more frozen green beans (still have about 1/4 of the bag). That used up the .79 bag of pasta, still have about 3/4 lb of hamburger to do Cheeseburgers for tonights final dinner.

Baked more bread. Actually started on Sunday making a sourdough starter - set out flour and water, loosely covered for a few days. Monday night made a sponge, baked the bread on Tuesday. Came out very well. Was tempted by the alcohol floating on top of the starter - I miss my Scotch...

We're going to have plenty of food left over - most of a bag of (tiny) Fuji apples (didn't eat many because they aren't very good, Don), about 4 onions, most of a bag of celery, 1 big russet potato (unless I get inspired to do french fries tonight), most of a can of refried beans, 5 tortillas, half a bag of frozen mexican beans/serrano/onion, most of a jar of peanut butter, most of a jar of jam, a bit of rice and chicken and 3 1/2 Nectar bars.

All in all, we've eaten pretty well. Miss getting our veggies from the Farmers Market - sorry, but price and quality are both better there.

May. 20th, 2008


I've really learned a lot during this experiment. And not so much what it's like to be poor, but what it means to represent my customers when I'm making purchasing decisions. David is right (?), knowing exactly what we're buying is important. And sacrificing quality for price really only goes so far. We have to weigh the pros and cons. I've learned that I personally spend too much on food, and waste too much. I learned that I'm not necessarily hungry on this tight a budget, but I'm bored and unbalanced and very long on carbs.

We bought those wonderful chicken tenders in the freezer, Roger sauteed up half and baked the other half. He ate his with the $.99 rice and chiles (from the freezer) and I had mine with the Country Crock Rice/Cheddar/Broccoli the deli team has at $1.69. Great deal! And a bag of lettuce for $.99 made sense when veggies are nowhere to be found in this plan.

Breakfast was PBJ and lunch was a grazed banana nut muffin because I was detained over lunchtime and didn't plan ahead. Leftover spaghetti for dinner, and that's the end of the spag. It was delicious, and did get a little boring.

We won't run out of food, and should still have $3 at the end of the week. Which ends after Thursday. The $1.29 sugar wafers were a life saver, as were the turkey hot dogs in the deli.

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