Hi, I’m Mark, the Marketing Director for Grocery Outlet at our home office in Berkeley, CA. I’m going to share with you my experience this week in eating on only $4 a day, which is going to be interesting since I can occasionally blow $20 on just one lunch! My wife told me I was on my own this week, so I’m having a “bachelor” menu.
Eating in Berkeley isn’t cheap, unless you shop at Grocery Outlet. I’ll be doing all my shopping there, so I’ll be paying about half price for my food which will put me at a big advantage versus people who shop at regular grocery stores.
So here’s my story, hope you enjoy it, I’m sure I’m going to learn a few things! Monday
I had planned it all out, I would do my shopping on Sunday and have everything ready to fix during the week. Then family came in from out of town and we had to travel on Sunday and all of a sudden it was Monday morning and I hadn’t shopped. Now what do I do? I looked at my “rough” meal plan and went downstairs to our store to strategize. I had planned eggs ($1.49/dz) and hash browns (only $2.49 for ten Lindens hash brown patties!) for a couple of breakfasts, then I saw some Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage sandwiches for only $5.99 for a 20ct box (only 30 cents a serving!). Sounds good! However, as I picked up the box and looked at the ingredients, it struck me that I was making some less than healthy choices. Hmmmm….
So I started my Monday with oatmeal and frozen blueberries mixed together which was very tasty. Lunch was two yogurts (3 for $1 at GO) and a “Nimble” peanut butter nutrition bar. Ok, Nimble is supposed to be for women, but the price was right ($ .33/bar) and it has 5g of fiber, 10g of protein plus Calcium, Iron, Vitamins C, D, E & B6, Lutein and Beta-Carotene! Dinner was my one vice with a salad with two pieces of Red Baron 4 meat pizza (only $ .50 a slice!). I normally drink water for most meals and the savings will help me save up for some wine with dinner later in the week!
Final tally for Monday; $3.35
$16.65 left for the week
I scrambled three eggs and added some fresh fruit for a nice breakfast that only penciled out to $.62. I started to adjust my plan for the week and observed that healthier choices (salad, fruit, etc,) were actually bringing my costs down! Lunch was a nice green salad with a Nimble bar. You can get a lot of salads out of a head of lettuce!
In fact I got a little “heady” and decided I could have a glass of wine for dinner the last four nights with a $3.99 bottle of Newman’s Own Merlot, a great wine that sells for up to $9 elsewhere. With Newman’s Own, I’m also benefiting the charities that they donate their proceeds to so it’s a “win-win”. A 750ml bottle is 25.4oz which translates to four 6oz glasses. Cheers!
I’ve got this figured out! Final tally for Tuesday ; $3.45
$13.20 left for the week Wednesday
Felt a little hungry this morning so I grabbed for breakfast one of my yogurts I was originally going to have for lunch.
When I got to lunch, I found to my dismay that my lettuce was going bad! Rats! I had pre-washed it and put it in an airtight ziplock, but I hadn’t dried it properly and didn’t put it in the “crisper” drawer in the fridge (yes honey, I know!). So, I had some slightly rusty salad for lunch along with a Nimble bar and some “humble pie” (cost: “priceless”). Then for dinner, with my 2 slices of pizza I had to substitute fruit for the salad (in addition to the grapes from the wine of course!
With my lettuce gone, I need to start re-strategizing the rest of the week now. Final tally for Wednesday; $4.11
$9.09 left for the week Thursday
Take a look at a very nutritious breakfast bowl! This is oatmeal ($ .28), with frozen blueberries ($.83) , plus a light showering of an anti-oxidant trail mix ($ .25). I usually get off to a good start with breakfast, then it’s all downhill the rest of the day! Lunch was yogurt ($ .66) and a Nimble bar ($ .33).
My wife and I have our bocce ball league tonight and I’m meeting her there, so I’ll have to grab something before I leave. A two pack of mini burritos ($ .79, $1.49 elsewhere) looked good (remember what I said above about going downhill the rest of the day?) so I had those along with a banana ($ .20) for some extra potassium.
While looking through our NOSH (Natural-Organic Specialty-Healthy) section I noticed Clif Mojo bars for only $ .50! With all the “Nimble” bars I’ve had this week I figured I could use a little extra “Mojo”! Final tally for Thursday: $3.84
$5.25 left for Friday!
When I ventured into Melissa Porter’s (VP of Marketing and my boss!) office I caught her eating a full size salad bowl! We sell these pre-packaged salad bowls (complete with proteins, cheese, veggies, etc., even a fork!) for only $2.99, but that still would bust a $4-A-Day budget. I think there’s something fishy going on here!
I’m in the home stretch and have a whopping $5.25 left for today! My only question left was, “what would Lois Prices do?”. I went to my old standby, 3 scrambled eggs with fruit for breakfast ($ .62). Lunch was yogurt, a Nimble bar and a banana ($1.20). So, $3.43 left for dinner… let’s see, what would I like?
Friday is always pizza night at our house, so I went for 2 slices of pizza ($1), some salad (ok, I had to borrow it!) for $.25 which left me with $2.18 for...hm, I guess that means I can have an extra glass of wine! Cheers! Total tally: $19.82
Looking back on the week, I was surprised at how cheaply you can eat with careful planning, preparing and of course, shopping at Grocery Outlet for the best prices! I do have a new found respect for those who face a tight food budget every day as it does require considerable thought up front as well as planning and preparation for a family. I look forward to using the things I’ve learned this week to eat for less money as well as eat healthier (and store my lettuce properly!). What about you? What have you learned on your $4-A-Day Challenge? Leave us a comment on Facebook and let us know!