Thursday, February 4, 2010

A letter to the chairman of Superstore

Tracy Hyatt
The Working Poor Diet

Galen Weston
Executive Chairman
Loblaw Companies Limited
22 St. Clair Avenue East
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 2S7

February 4th, 2010

Dear Mr. Galen Weston:

For the month of February, I have only $80 to spend on food. By choice, I have joined the thousands of Albertans who feed their families on a limited budget. In fact, 21% of Albertans earn less than $12 per hour in this supposedly wealthy province. I am doing my best to make healthy choices and follow the Canada Food Guide, but there are many obstacles.

Last Sunday, I visited the west end Superstore in Edmonton and was delighted to find romaine lettuce for $0.77. However, one hour later when I visited another Superstore in the city on the north side, the romaine lettuce was $1.68. That's a difference of $0.91. I know that may not seem like a lot of money to you, but for me, this month, $0.91 is two more meals. I visually inspected the more expensive lettuce and it looked the same as the lower-priced lettuce. There was no difference in quality.

Mr. Weston, why does food vary in price from Superstore to Superstore in the same city? Why would Superstore price food higher in an area of the city where household incomes are lower?

Tracy Hyatt

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My restricted diet: no dairy

It is with great pleasure and excitement I am going to give this challenge 100%. The fact that we are raising money and awareness for the Edmonton food bank is great. I never have really followed the Canadian food guide and thanks to reading and Jeff I am learning quite a bit about basically how to portion food. Good Luck Tracy and Jeff.

I think a bit of a challenge will be fulfilling the dairy category as I am allergic to dairy and I honestly don't eat or drink soy/rice/almond beverages, "cheese" yogurt ect... and comparatively soy products are quite a bit more expensive and some brands are just plain gross......... and expensive to experiment with. But I will put my best foot forward and attempt to fulfill my 2 milk and alternative category daily :-) you may ask how does one get their calcium? veggies, beans salmon, almonds, rice, nuts ect...

I will be clipping coupons and getting them online in the very very near future.

Breakfast snack: 1 serving of rice, 1/2 serving of beans
Lunch: 2 servings of mixed veggies, 1/2 serving chicken
Snack: 2 servings of bread, 2 servings of peanut butter, 2 servings juice
Snack: 1 serving of rice, 1/2 serving of beans, 1 serving of egg, one serving soy
Snack: 1 avocado, 2 servings juice, 1 serving bread
Snack: 3 servings of mixed veggies (corn, peas and carrots) 1 serving of pasta

6 glasses of water and I need a little more balance of the food groups.

Day 3 and doing great.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Although the faces have changed, the hassles are just the same.

Before Tracy and I had our final chat about venturing into the working poor diet again, I battled the thought in my mind for about a week. Did I really want to put myself through this again? The lack of food. The picture of the thin body I had in my mind. The constant worrying and preparation? It was not an easy decision, but I am glad that I am attempting the Working Poor Diet for a second time. I have a friend from work who joined us this year as well. Good luck Lorianne.

We got up at 6:00 on Sunday morning. I was in bed at 2:30. Not the best idea in the world. I picked up Tracy and we were at Superstore by 7 am. I was so excited that we were there earlier enough to fight off everyone else for the 50% discounted meat. Except to my horror, there was none. There were no pink stickers. No trace of discounted meat. I was so disappointed. We were too early. And so I had to settle for regular priced meat. A sad, but good lesson to learn.

However there was a plethora of 50% vegetables. This brought back a smile to my face. I bought a bag of kiwis, grapefruits, oranges, apples, cauliflower and other fruits and veg all for 50% off. And the produce was in fairly good shape. I think the most exciting find was the 77 cent head of romaine lettuce. They were huge!

We drove to another Superstore to see if there was any meat on sale there, but unfortunately there was nothing. Tracy and I were shocked to see that the heads of romaine were $1.68. What the hell? In a part of the city where we expected to see lower prices, we actually found the majority of prices to be more expensive. Another good lesson: not all stores of the same name have food priced the same. This was not something I encountered much of the first time we did the diet.

This time around, I am aiming to maintain my current weight (as much as possible) because I am finally at a point where I am happy with my body. As such, I am having slightly higher than the recommended 3 servings of meat & alternatives from the Canada Food Guide. I am also maxing out the grains and am going to see what I can do to maintain my weight.

We shall see what happens. Day 2 is now over.

Breakfast: 2 servings oatmeal, 2 whole wheat buns with 1 serving crunchy peanut butter (more calories, protein and fibre than the smooth kind)

Lunch: 2 servings cornmeal, 3 servings sauteed zucchini, 2 servings sauteed mushrooms and 1 roasted chicken thigh, skin on ;)

Snack: 1 grapefruit and 1 kiwi

Dinner: 1.5 cups chili (2 servings veg and 1 .5 servings meat), 2 servings rice, 2 cups milk.

8 glasses of water

Monday, February 1, 2010

No plan in hand

Yuck, the thought of eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast was enough for me to say no when Jeff asked me if I wanted to do The Working Poor Diet again. But when I thought of the $3,000 we raised for our local food bank last year, I couldn’t say no.

Just like last year, the first day was off to a rough start. I forgot about all the planning that’s involved in trying to make $80 stretch for the entire month. You can’t wing it, which I tried to do this morning. I forgot to wake up early to give myself enough time to make my oatmeal breakfast so I ended up skipping my first meal of the day. You can't just say, "Oh I didn't have time to make my luncn today. I'll buy a sandwich." You simply must go without.

Lunch wasn’t really any better. A slice of whole wheat bread and two apples got me through the workday, but I was starving by about three. For dinner I had one cup of rice and one cup of chili. I think I spend more time thinking about what I’m going to eat than actually eating. As I write this post, my stomach is growling because I forgot to buy something food to snack on. Tomorrow, I'll have to remember to buy a bag of popcorn, but I'm not sure where I'll find the time to get to the grocery store.

I wonder if the planning gets easier when you have to live on a fixed income for a longer period of time than a month. I doubt it. What meals can you make when you open up your fridge and there’s only a head of lettuce, a bag of carrots and a litre of milk?