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  • Our Fourth Annual Independence from Hunger® Food Drive Starts on July 1st

    Did you know that 1 in every 6 Americans is food insecure and 46.5 million Americans (15%) were reported as living at or below the poverty level in 2012?* To help fight hunger in our local communities, we are thrilled to launch our Fourth Annual Independence from Hunger® Food Drive on July 1st.


    Independence from Hunger


    What is Independence from Hunger®?
    Independence from Hunger® is a month-long, company-wide campaign where customers can donate food and/or cash to support local food assistance partners. Every Grocery Outlet store is teaming up with an agency in their area and all donations received throughout the campaign will go directly to that partner – staying in the community of that store’s customers.

    You can make a difference by visiting your local Grocery Outlet and participating in one of these easy steps:
    • Look for specially-marked food items. These are items that each local food agency has identified as "high-need" items. Purchase these products and then place in the collection bin at the front of the store.
    • Pick up a pre-made bag that is filled with an assortment of the groceries that have been identified as needed – bags are $4.99 or $9.99.

    Oakland Independence from Hunger display

    • Tell your cashier that you'd like to make a cash donation at the register. Donations will go directly to that store’s local food agency partner. Donate $1, $5 or round up your change.
    • Donate on our Facebook page where we will have an online fundraiser to benefit Berkeley Food Pantry.
    • Pick up information at a Grocery Outlet store about hunger, food insecurity and local/national resources for people in need. Be informed and willing to help.
    • Join the events at your local store to support the Independence from Hunger® food drive.

    In our first year - July 2011 – we were able to donate more than $223,000 in cash, gift cards and food to help support local food assistance agencies through the generosity of our customers and community partners. In July of 2012, donations increased to over $292,000 —more than half a million dollars donated in just two years! In its 3rd year, the total reached was $300,000. And this year’s goal is to raise enough to put the total donated amount over the $1 million mark.


    Maple Valley Food Bank donation

    And our CEO, MacGregor Read, knows how important this is to the communities where our stores are located:
    “The face of poverty has changed and hunger is a reality in every community throughout the country. We are eager for the Fourth Annual Independence from Hunger Campaign® because it is a time for communities to rally together and help neighbors in need. All of the donations collected at each store will directly impact people in your community.”

    Each of our owner/operators is committed to their community. They have chosen a food assistance agency making a difference within its unique community. We can’t do this without each of you. Stop in to your local Grocery Outlet today and help your community.

    * (U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S. - Data collected in 2012 and released September, 2013.)

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  • GO Buyer Shares the Secret to Finding WOW Products for Your Shopping Bag

    We sat down with Kai to chat about how our buyers find the best products and offer them for less than traditional retailers. Here’s what she had to say:

    Kai Mitchell

    I don’t understand why I can’t find the same things every time I shop – why is that?

    Kai: As a buyer, we look for amazing opportunities to bring products to your store. Sometimes this means that we purchase close-outs, over-production lots or promotional packaging that can’t be currently sold in other stores.

    We are able to get products that might otherwise end up unused or disposed of because it couldn’t be used in a traditional retailer. The product is still fresh and usable – and you can buy it for a fraction of what you would pay for the same thing, in a different package elsewhere. Once these special purchases sell out, they are gone. That’s why we say to come in often and stock up when you see a WOW deal.

    For example: a manufacturer was asked to create a special promotional 2-pack of deodorant for a national retailer. They forecasted more than the retailer actually purchased and they offered the excess to us – and it ends up on the shelves for you.

    Why is it that I can find products at GO for so much less?

    Kai: We’ve been around since 1946 and in that time we’ve developed some long-lasting relationships with vendors that trust us to be a great resource for them. Often times, a new vendor comes to us with an offer because they’ve heard about the way we operate. And there are other times where we seek out vendors – we meet them at tradeshows or find out that a product was sold to a new company.

    Our philosophy is to get back to our vendors immediately when they make us an offer. We take the products from them immediately so they don’t have to store it longer than necessary. We also purchase the products for a fair value – which our vendors place a high value on, enhancing our relationship with them. Many of our vendors also like knowing that they are helping a community – from the small business aspect of the independent operator to how that operator helps the community they are servicing. We really do live the “it’s just like family” philosophy and that extends to our vendors.

    I was in one Grocery Outlet and it didn’t have what my regular store had… was it sold out?

    Kai: It might have sold out or it may have been a special selection for the store. Sometimes one store will have something different than another, but there are many products that all of our stores will have in-stock. Variations come from the differences from store to store – this is the beauty of the independently owned and operated. We will make items available to purchase and the operator will bring it into the store if it is something that they think their customers will snap up. So one store may carry lots of NOSH items because their community loves the natural & organic selections, where another store may have a smaller selection but has an amazing selection of wines.

    We heard that you are now buying for the Health and Beauty section – what can we expect to see?

    Kai: We’re looking for WOW deals from conventional brands and natural product companies. Selections we’re looking to expand are the cosmetics we offer our customers – bringing in more high quality make-up choices for you. We’re also looking to expand our hair care selections – offering more variety of the brands you know and some hidden gems too.

    What’s the favorite GO product you have in your home right now?

    Kai: I love the organic maple syrup… who doesn’t love syrup?

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  • 2014: New Year, New Budget

    Happy New Year! It's refreshing to start a new year with a clean slate. While many new year resolutions may include trimming the waistline, we'd like to help folks trim their grocery spending. In fact, in 2013 we saved our customers $9,222,760.32. Here are some simple, money-saving tips for grocery shopping in 2014.


    2014 Budget

    Eat first. Never shop on an empty stomach. Most of us stop at the grocery store after work and before dinner when we are hungry. We've all made this mistake and it is a costly one. So try to plan grocery shopping on the weekends when you can go after a satisfying meal.

    Plan your meals. Meal planning will help you save time and money and avoid those unhealthy drive-thru dinners. Ask your family members to vote on their favorite meals and then take inventory of your cupboards so you don't end up with duplicate groceries.

    Shop in season. Out-of-season produce is more expensive, so find recipes for seasonal fruits and vegetables. It will also be the freshest and tastiest pick in the produce aisle.

    Think bulk. Buy yogurt, sour cream and soup in large containers. The individual servings are more expensive and not environmentally-friendly.

    Resist the ready-made. Pre-made, pre-cut or pre-washed groceries are convenient, but costly. If you're willing to put in the time to cut, wash and prepare your food, you'll reap the rewards and your wallet will thank you.

    Save the savings. Quick! Stash your savings so it doesn't run away. Some people like to make a game out of it and try to beat their savings each month.

    Wishing you all the best in the New Year! 

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  • Cheers to Holiday Wine Savings!

    Whether it's a casual gathering with friends or the traditional family Christmas meal, holiday celebrations and wine go together like Santa and cookies.  We hoped you saved a lot on our 20% off Wine Sale this weekend, but the good news is that it's still the perfect time to stock up and say “Cheers!” to your savings on great wines. And since it can be overwhelming to buy wines sure to please everyone at the party, we wanted to share these simple tips.

    Think Variety. Holiday parties usually involve a large variety of foods, including appetizers and desserts. So don't limit the wine selection to the main course. Provide a variety of wine selections including a sparkling wine, a white wine and a red wine.

    Bubbles or Bust. Sparkling wine, or Champagne, makes every holiday activity feel more festive. And it will work for brunch, lunch and dinner parties. Don't be afraid to add a little dash of color to the bubbles with a splash of cranberry juice and a few fresh cranberries.


    Holiday Wine

    Go Corkless. It's become more common to find great wines with screw caps instead of corks. So you can ditch the hassle of a corkscrew – especially handy at a large party.

    Bulk Buy. If you find a wine you know you love, go ahead and buy in bulk. And if you're not hosting the holiday parties this year, it's the perfect hostess gift to bring along. Just don't show up empty handed!

    Go ahead and raise your glasses, then toast to your favorite people!

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  • Lesson 8: Save Money by Freezing Your Food

    Frugal Find Logo

    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    We talked very briefly last month about freezing your food as a method to saving money each month. Well I want to elaborate because in my opinion this is one of the MAIN ways you can save BIG each month. The key is stocking up when the prices are low, but if your food goes to waste so does your money. So you need to be prepared to freeze your goods. For quite some time I used the affordable over the counter Ziploc Vacuum Starter and Bags to freeze various food. However recently we upgraded to a FoodSaver from Costco, we bought the lower end model for $64 (after an instant $20 rebate). I’m so happy we did this, it’s made the process so much quicker and easier! However the Ziploc Vacuum works very well too!


    Frozen Food


    Here is a list of many food staples that freeze well. Of course, this isn't an extensive end-all list, but it's a great place to start!

    Milk and Cheese - Cheese is simple, just toss it in the freezer that includes shredded cheese too! However with your milk, you'll need to take the cap off and pour out about a 1/2 cup to leave room for the jug to expand. Often times you can find milk on clearance but if it expires in just a few days, you may not consider buying 4 gallons, unless of course you freeze them! When you thaw out your milk (in the fridge) you may need to give it a good shake before serving, but that's it.

    Eggs - Yes, surprisingly eggs freeze very well! You'll just need to take them out of their shells first and scramble them (you don't have to, but I find it's much easier this way). Place the scrambled eggs in ice cube trays to freeze them initially, then I combine them in a Ziploc bag to save space. You could also just place 6 scrambled eggs directly into a ziploc bag if you plan to use them all at once.


    Veggies, Herbs, and Fruit - These are one of my favorites to freeze because it means that even when produce isn't in season I can still enjoy it. Recently I stocked up on asparagus. Here’s a tip when freezing asparagus (and brussels sprouts), the key is to blanch them first. Drop them into boiling water for 2-3 minutes then immediately place them into a cold water ice bath. Blanching stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Until vegetables are harvested, the enzymes cause them to grow and develop their color and flavor. By blanching them you stop that process, keeping them as fresh as possible.

    Bread, Cake, Pies, Dough - All forms of pastries freeze well, you just need to make sure that you prep it well using wax paper and a good freezer bag (or freezing system). Bread goes on sale from time to time and if I can find a good hearty whole wheat loaf for $1.00, that's when I buy 8-10 loaves and stick them in the freezer. We have 4 kids and we easily go through a loaf every 2-3 days so stocking up is essential for us.

    Fully Prepared or Fully Cooked Meals - This won't just save you money it will save you a lot of time too! If you can cook a meal or two in bulk and then freeze the rest you'll be very thankful when a busy day rolls around. Just grab that extra pan of enchiladas out of the freezer and stick in the oven! Maybe you'd like to organize a group of friends and create a Freezer Meal Exchange Group on Facebook!

    You may also be interested in using this Free Printable Freezer Inventory Form to keep track of what you have in the freezer. After all, you've gone through all the effort to score a deal and prep it for the freezer you wouldn't want it to go to waste because you forgot you had it!

    Frozen Food



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  • $4-A-Day Challenge: Mike

    Michael Thomas, VP of Distribution, oversees our warehouses and distribution, making sure that our product gets from our suppliers to our distribution facilities, and then on to our stores.  Originally from Liverpool, England, Mike has a very interesting perspective on what it takes to make the $4-A-Day Challenge work:

    "Leftovers are a big part of eating on a budget. Another big part is planning, buy in bulk, make a lot of something and just keep going till it’s gone. It is far easier to think about $28 per week for four people than $4 per day. Mike Thomas, VP of DistributionThe ground beef ($2 off last week) came around again for lunch yesterday, this time on top of a couple of potatoes. Pretty easy, about $1.65 by my reckoning. It's penultimate iteration will be tonight in a chili over squash and yellow beans and it will go through to Thursday lunch over a couple more potatoes.

    Dinner last night was a throwback to the old days in the UK. Meat in the UK is (and was) way more expensive than in the USA so people of modest means used to use other proteins and have meatless meals at least a couple of times a week. My parents generation went through ten years of rationing during the war and into the Korean war so meat was actually scarce. The answer - CAULILFLOWER CHEESE - ingredients one cauliflower, 4oz strong cheese. Make a cheese sauce, pour over cooked cauliflower, eat. Cost about ($1.60 per head).

    I have to say that the teetotalers have it easy. I could have killed a beer night. If I am a bit snappy at the office today this could be a clue."

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  • Lesson 6: Staycation!

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    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    Defined by Wikipedia
    A staycation (or stay-cation, or stacation) is a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions. Staycations have achieved high popularity in current hard economic times in which unemployment levels and gas prices are high.

    Common activities of a staycation include use of the backyard pool, visits to local parks and museums,  and attendance at local festivals. Some staycationers also like to follow a set of rules, such as setting a start and end date, planning ahead, and avoiding routine, with the goal of creating the feel of a traditional vacation.

    Vacationing with any size family can be a budget breaker and for many of us it's simply not possible at all.  With airfare out of the question for a family of 6 and gas prices soaring, you may have to stick close to home. That's why for the past few years our family has taken to the Staycation approach.  We take a few days off of work completely so that we're "on vacation", but instead of going anywhere, we explore our very own town.  We make time to do things that we wouldn't normally do and see.  We eat out, we go to the movies, and we just have fun!  Now those things can add up too, so you want to find frugal ways to save during your Staycation.  



    Here are a few ideas you'll want to keep in mind this summer:
    • You can head to the movies for $2 per ticket (or less!) this summer, head on over here for a full list of participating theaters.
    • How about bowling?  Take the kids bowling for FREE, there are 2 different programs running this summer.  The first is called "Kids Bowl Free" and the other is run by AMF Bowling with over 250 participating bowling alleys!
    • For dining out and more entertainment ideas, I suggest you stalk daily deals sites such as Living Social, Groupon, and Plum District.

    You can go here to see some of the events/outings we've done in the past, but we’re looking for new and fresh ideas this year as we're living in a new state!  Have you done a Staycation before?  Please share your tips, ideas, ways to make it fun, etc., on this Facebook post We'd love to hear from you!

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  • Lesson 5: Garage Sale Tips and Tricks

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    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    It’s that time of year again: it’s Garage Sale Season!  Yes it's a season, look... Fall, Winter, Spring, Garage-Saling, and Summer.  See?  I told you!

    I absolutely LOVE to go out on a Saturday morning and hit multiple garage sales.  It’s a fun hobby, but it’s also a frugal way that I provide for my family.  If there is something that we need, say clothes for the kids, a griddle, a printer, a patio table, etc., it goes on my Garage Sale Hunting List.  We have envelopes for these expenses already budgeted, so I figure out the funds and plan my trip.

    Garage Sale

    Here are a just a few tips to make the experience worthwhile…

    1.  Have a plan.  I use the iGarageSale app on my iPhone to help me along the way, but beforehand I search Craigslist and the newspaper for ads that look like they may have a few of the items I’m looking for.  I gather the address and add them to my GPS, optimizing them so that I’m not driving back and forth across town.

    2.  Have a budget.  Bring a certain amount of cash and leave the rest at home.  You’re much less likely to overspend if you simply don’t have a way to do so.

    3.  Show up on time, but not early.  I like to get to a garage that I know has something I want on-time, but if you're there early you risk being annoying.  If you annoy the seller, they're less likely to want to bargain with you.  Plus it's just rude, they had to roll out of bed much earlier than usual on a Saturday morning and they're probably feeling a bit stressed as it is.

    4.  Practice negotiating.  People that are selling the items you’re shopping for consider much of it “junk” and that works to your advantage.  Many times I’ve been blown away by what people consider junk because to me it’s a treasure!  With that said, always ask if they’ll take less.  More times than not they will.  Now don’t undercut them to the point of insulting them, but it is a garage sale and bargaining is the game.

    5.  Be prepared.  Pack a snack, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and lots of water – but not too much because you’ll have to find a restroom!

    What are some of your best Garage Sale tips?  Let's talk selling and shopping!

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  • Lesson 4: Tax Refunds Are Not a Good Savings Plan

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    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    April 15th is just around the corner and it’s time to tackle the topic of taxes.  Every year around this time, Americans look forward to a large chunk of change coming their way in the form of a tax return.  Now if this was free money, I could understand why everyone gets so excited.  However this isn't free money at all—it's money you've earned in your hourly wage all year long that you've essentially loaned to the government.  The numbers below should be proof enough.  This isn’t a new concept, but it’s one that many Americans don’t understand or choose not to adapt into their lives.

    In 2010, the average Tax Refund was $2,869.  So if you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year you're basically taking a $1.34 per hour pay cut.  You know what that means don’t you?  It means that the average American loaned the government (interest free) close to $3,000 each last year.  


    Tax Refund

    Maybe you didn’t know that you could keep that money in your pocket each month instead.  Would you turn down an extra $240 per month?  Personally, for our family we’ve NEVER received a Tax Refund instead we’ve always had the extra cash in our bank each month—and trust me we needed it and found a way to use it.  All you have to do is claim the correct number of deductions on your W4 form.  Just ask your employer to change it based on the calculations you’ve made here or have figured out with your tax consultant based on your family's situation.

    Maybe in your case you’re financially stable and you don’t need that $240 per month (likely not the case for the average American) but if that IS you, have you considered investing that money?

    Here are 3 different things you could do with your a $240 per month income:

    1.  If you continued to loan the government $2,869 per month for 10 years at the end of 10 years (if you didn’t spend a penny of your tax return) you’d have $28,690.  If you’ve been doing this since you were 30 until you retired at age 65, you’d have $100,415.00.

    2.  If you invested the $240 per month for 10 years in a slow growth mutual fund with a 10% return at the end of the 10 years you’d have $50,296.92 – a much prettier number than the interest free loan you’ve been giving the government.  If you’re 30 years old today and you did this until retirement at age 65 you would have $855,325.80 in your account.  You can run the numbers using a Compound Interest Calculator.

    Let’s put the numbers side by side here…
    Loan the Gov’t - $2,869 X 35 years = $100,415.00
    Invest the $$$ - $2,869 X 35 years = $855,325.80

    Maybe you’re thinking “I don’t get anywhere near that amount”. Let’s say you get $480 at the end of the year – if you invested that $40 per month ($480 per year) at the end of 35 years you’d have $153,131.07 or $18,200 if you continued to loan it to the government.

    3.  If you have ANY amount of debt (and this is a no brainer), that $240 should go to pay down your debt.  Let’s say you’re sitting on $15,000 worth of car loans or credit card debt at an interest rate of 16.86% (average American credit card interest rate).  Just guessing here, but I’d venture to say this person is already paying $300/month towards the debt on the low end.  At this rate they would have their debt payed off in 6 1/2 years and paid $10,000.00 in interest!   INSTEAD, if they put the extra $240 towards debt along with the $300 they’re already paying they’d have their debt payed off in just under 3 years and paid only $4,100 in interest. You can run the numbers using an Amortization Calculator.

    Let’s put the numbers side by side here…
    Debt of $15,000 @ 16.89% = 80 months (6.5 years) + $10,092.22 in interest paid
    Debt of $15,000 @ 16.895 = 35 months (3 years) + $4,100 in interest paid

    I know this can be a bit overwhelming, but this simple fact is that it is YOUR money, you’re working every day to earn each and every one of those dollars.  Take charge of your finances and put the ball back into your court!

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  • Lesson 3: Dumping Debt By Doing it Yourself

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    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    One of the #1 ways to save money is to become debt-free. I know that isn't a common way of thinking for most Americans, but I believe it's 100% doable. I'm speaking mainly of consumer debt, student loans, car loans, etc. I understand that in most areas of the country dropping a few hundred thousand dollars to buy a house outright isn't feasible. If, however, you'd like to pay down debt, you may want to follow my new series over on The Frugal Find called Debt Free in 52.

    Here are just a few tips that will help you to dump debt this year...

    Can it be MADE from scratch for less?

    Paying retail is already out of the question for those of you who are dumping debt, but even with coupons there are some household necessities that can be made cheaper from basic ingredients. I wanted to revisit the various posts we’ve written in the past about DIY household products and Cooking from Scratch recipes such as…
    1. Homemade Dog Food Recipe
    2. Frugal DIY: Turn Your Magazines into Christmas Bows!
    3. Homemade PB&J and Grilled Cheese Uncrustables
    4. Homemade Liquid Fabric Softener
    5. Homemade Granola Bars
    6. Freezer ‘BRC’ Beans, Rice, and Cheese Burritos
    7. Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
    8. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
    9. Homemade Laundry Detergent
    10. Homemade Strawberry Jam

    As you can see many of the things we buy can be made for just pennies on the dollar, especially when you find a deal on your ingredients at Grocery Outlet!

    Money Tree

    Can you FIX it yourself?

    Chances are there is something in your life that needs to be fixed, tangibly speaking. I could start a pretty good list myself from the back hatch of our Sequoia that doesn’t open any longer, the 2 small holes in our walls, the small tear on our couch, and on and on. I’m sure several things will quickly come to mind for you as well. When you’re on a budget and paying down debt the last thing you want to do is hire out help for things you could do yourself. I say this within reason—if your husband is working 10+ hour days making a decent wage and the lawn needs to be mowed, paying a local teenager $10 every couple of weeks to get the job done can be a worthy investment.

    However, there are very likely tasks that you’ve been putting off for one reason or another. Maybe it’s too technical for you, such as a computer issue or a check engine light in your car? YouTube, Google, and your neighbors are a good place to start when you haven’t a clue where to begin. It’s very likely someone, somewhere, has had the same issue you’re having. In most situations, labor is the most costly expense there is: parts are minimal and elbow grease is free. So the next time you have a broken this or that, consider repairing it yourself – you might find it wasn’t all you thought it would be.

    Here’s what I have learned from just doing it ourselves:
    1. It’s never as hard as we imagined.
    2. It’s never quite as time consuming as we thought.
    3. It’s never as costly as we expected.
    4. The gratification that comes from a job done with our own hands – priceless!

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  • Lesson 2: The Cash Only Diet

    Frugal Find 

    A 12-Month Series by Guest Blogger Julia Wessels, from The Frugal Find

    I'd like to talk today about the "Envelope Budget" or the cash-only method.   I'd like to suggest that you'll actually save money every month by using cash.  Seems like a contradiction right?  I’m suggesting that by spending CASH (note – not debit, credit cards, or checks) but hard cold CASH, you’ll actually SAVE money!  We are a cash-only family – simply put if you can pay cash for it, you should.  I know at first it might sound crazy, you might think if I have cash I will just blow it!  However, I think quickly you will see just the opposite happen. You will begin to ask yourself, do we really need this?  You will find yourself meal planning.  You will find yourself with money at the end of the month.

    “When you pay cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a credit card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. A study of credit card use at McDonald’s found that people spent 47% more when using credit instead of cash. This is money you could have saved!” – Dave Ramsey

    We do not pay cash for any bill that can be paid through our online bill pay, and I highly suggest online bill pay – it’s free and you’ll never incur a late payment again.  We get our cash out each week and divide it up between our envelopes, some of them accrue while other are spent each week.

    For example, our Car Registration envelope accumulates while our Grocery Envelope is spent in full each week.  The difference is that you do not want or need for your Grocery Envelope to have excess, it is not a “savings account”—if you have extra money in there every week, I’d bet that there's another category that could use a little bump up or, if you’re working on paying down debt, it should absolutely go there first.

    Hopefully these steps will help you to understand the process...
    Step 1Define your categories.  What can you possibly pay for cash with? One key here is to only include categories for things that you can’t pay online or through an invoice or bill. Anything that doesn’t come as a bill in the mail is probably a good candidate for cash.

    Here's a list of our envelopes.  You may notice that we do not have an envelope for gas. It’s not that we don’t have it budgeted; it’s because I don’t want to leave the kids in the car while I go into the gas station to pay the attendant. We use our debit card for this expense. You’ll need to figure out what best fits your family's needs.

    1. Groceries
    2. Toiletries
    3. Clothes
    4. Gifts (Birthdays, Christmas, etc)
    5. Date Night
    6. Eating Out
    7. Spending Money
    8. Car Maintenance
    9. Kid’s Date
    10. Kid’s Allowance
    11. Trip Money
    12. Car Maintenance
    13. Car Registration
    14. Hair Cuts
    15. School Supplies/Events

    Step 2 – Determine how much you spend in several categories per month, ie. groceries, toiletries, clothing, etc. Not while on a budget, but what you have spent on a regular basis. This make take some time, and you may have no idea because you haven’t kept any track at all so you may have to start this process now for the next 30 days. Now hold on to your seat, you’re going to be shocked.

    Step 3 – Figure out how much you THINK you will NEED in each category.  The key here is to be flexible, because it will change. It will change more than once, twice, and possibly even three times. Life is always changing and so will your budget. Another baby? Up goes the toiletry budget! Or maybe you just potty trained your 2 year old, well that saves $30 a month!

    Step 4 – Get the cash! We go every week  to withdraw our cash, it is easiest if you can keep it to an even $20 amount so you can go to the ATM machine at your bank, saves you a trip inside the bank. This has got to be the best part, it’s like playing a game of monopoly. Divide your cash, you may need to go into the bank every once in a while to get $5’s, $10’s, etc depending on your envelope amounts.

    Step 5 - Start saving money! When the envelope is empty, that’s it, your money is gone and you CANNOT purchase anything in that category until the next envelope payday. But remember, the first couple of months you need to be flexible. Also, please remember to make your budget realistic, if you undercut yourself too much, you will give up. So that is why my family has an eating out budget, because the reality is, while we shouldn’t eat out, we do. We put $15 a week into our eating out budget, if we save it up we can go out to a sit down dinner, otherwise it gets us a pizza night once a week.

    “Hey I just wanted to share with you that after starting the envelope system 3 months ago we have finally met budget AND we were able to UP-IT! Also my husband told me the other day that for the first time he doesn’t feel like we are living paycheck to paycheck. We are buying things dirt cheap before the real need for them hits. It has been a hard but wonderful journey. One I really didn’t think we could do! Thanks so much.” – Cassandra

    That is just one of hundred’s of  reader’s experiences.  I’d LOVE to hear about yours in the comment section below.  Do you use cash or an envelope budget system?  What does it look like for your family?

    See the first post in Julia's series here: Saving Money by Meal Planning.

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  • Cut Back on Food Waste

    This weekend I finally cleaned out my fridge.  It was scary.

    In December we had the holidays, followed by the mad rush to get back into the normal swing of everyday life, and as a result, my refrigerator hadn't had a good going-over in quite some time. I lost a lot of food due to my negligence, and I'm sure I lost quite a bit of money to boot.

    Food waste is a serious problem.  As of 2011, it's estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food (about 1/3 of total worldwide food production) were lost.  In developed countries like ours, most of that waste happens at the consumption stage, when the food has already reached the consumer.

    Food and Dirt

    I was pretty shocked at how much I had to throw in the compost bin and trash can, and it made me wonder how I might cut back on food waste in 2012.

    My plan:

    1. Plan my meals.  It always feels like a hassle, but I just do better when I have a plan.  It cuts down on shopping time, helps me eat healthier, and I know what's in my pantry and fridge so that fewer products go to waste.

    2. Shop my kitchen first.  Look at what you have around you before you spend.   You might have the kitchen staple you've just put on your list, so check your fridge and your pantry before you head to the store.

    3. Store produce properly.  Tired of finding a drawer of wilted, slimy vegetables?  Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables.  It's important to store foods that give off ethylene gas separately from those that are sensitive to it.  Check out this guide for tips on how to store produce and when to eat it.

     4. Use less-than-perfect produce to make stock.  If you've never done this before, it's pretty easy and uses up any discarded vegetable bits you've got in your fridge. This website has several different stocks to make with instructions: Reluctant Gourmet.

     5. Eat leftovers.  When I put mine away now, I put them at the very front of the fridge at eye level.  Sometimes I even write the date on the top of the box, so I know how long I have.

    If I follow these rules, I should have a much more pleasant fridge, and less of my money and my food will end up in the scrap heap.

    What about you?  How do you reduce food waste?  Share your ideas with us.

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  • Silverdale Grand Opening!

    Check out Bargain TV featuring the newest Grocery Outlet store in Silverdale, WA. Ben Saven made a special appearance to celebrate the Grand Opening!

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  • Summer Food Safety

    Cooking outdoors is a summer activity best shared with family and friends. But in order to stay healthy, it's important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food borne illness. Use these simple guidelines for grilling food safely:

    Store to Home
    When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags to guard against cross-contamination, which happens when raw meat juices drip onto other food packages.



    Cook Thoroughly

    Cook food to a safe minimum temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat & poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

    Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
    Whole poultry: 165 °F
    Poultry breasts: 165 °F
    Ground poultry: 165 °F
    Hamburgers, beef: 160 °F
    Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops): Medium rare 145 °F, Medium 160 °F
    All cuts of pork: 160 °F

    Don't forget to check out your local Grocery Outlet store for great values on excellent cuts of meat!  Our meat is cut-to-order just for Grocery Outlet, then packed and delivered fresh several times a week. All of our fresh-cut meat is USDA Natural—minimally processed with no added ingredients.  So-called “sale” meat at regular stores is not well-trimmed, so you pay for parts you can’t eat, but Grocery Outlet trims extra-close, so you get the most for your money.

    We provide quality meat at great prices.  It’s just that simple.

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  • Help Us Fight Hunger

    You know what they say: “It takes a village.”  Well, we agree.  It does take a village to raise children, to run a city, to operate a grocery store.  And it takes a community to provide for the needs of the people inside it.  The fact is, we all need help at some point in our lives.  And it's not a sign of weakness.  Actually, it's the strong folks who ask for help.

    That village spirit is at the foundation of Grocery Outlet's 1st Annual Independence from Hunger campaign—a month-long, company-wide campaign that will bring together Grocery Outlet stores and our customers to help feed people in our communities who are facing hunger and dealing with food insecurity.  People who don't always know where they will find their next meal.

    Hunger pains
    For 1 in 6 Americans, hunger is a reality.  And they are often hard-working adults with families who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.  In fact, national food insecurity data revealed that about 45% of those struggling with hunger actually have incomes above the federal poverty level.

    According to the USDA*...
    - 50.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33 million adults and 17.2 million children
    - 1.7 % of households (17.4 million households) were food insecure
    - 5.7 % of households (6.8 million households) experienced very low food security
    - 7.8 % of seniors living alone (884,000 households) were food insecure.
    - 4.8 % of all U.S. households (5.6 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times.
    *USDA.  Mark Nord, M. Andrews, S. Carlson.  Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

    We can help!
    Please join Grocery Outlet to claim Independence from Hunger for our community.  Throughout the month of July, as we celebrate our country's independence, we're asking our customers to donate food and/or cash to support a local food bank partner.  Your generous donations will directly impact people in our community.  

    It's easy ...
    - Look for specially-marked food items.  These are items that our local food bank partner has identified as "high-need" items.  Purchase these products and then place in the collection bin at the front of the store.
    - Tell your cashier that you'd like to make a cash donation at the register.  Donations will go directly to our local food bank partner.
    - Feel good, knowing you've helped a local family put food on their table.

    Your local Grocery Outlet store is independently owned and operated by people who are committed to giving back to the local community. We're proud to unite with our customers and community and together, fly the flag of Independence!

    Independence from Hunger Shield

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  • Gifts for Grads and our 6/8 Ad!

    We've been using vlogs to highlight some of the amazing bargains on our ads.  In this latest one, we talk about graduation gifts and other awesome finds at Grocery Outlet.  Check out our homepage (click the Grocery Outlet icon on the upper left-hand side) or your store's page for your version of the ad.

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  • The Anti-Scrooge Spirit: Giving at Grocery Outlet

    The holidays are about giving, right?  At Grocery Outlet, charitable giving is one of our core values.  With combined giving forces among store owners and individual employees, we embody the Anti-Scrooge Spirit.  In fact, the owners of local Grocery Outlet stores make it standard operating procedure to give back to the community via local food banks, Habitat for Humanity, school groups, church organizations and more.  They've built a solid reputation as local leaders in the giving department and they want to inspire others to do the same, because it's the season of giving.  And the world doesn't need any more Scrooges.

    Last year, individual donations to charities and non-profits took their biggest one-year drop in two decades, dropping 11 percent among the nation's biggest charities. It's no surprise that local charities are in the same boat, so it's more important than ever for people and business owners to think about giving to their local community and channel the Anti-Scrooge Spirit.  Here are some tips for aspiring do-gooders:

    Research.  Before making a commitment, make sure the charity will use your money wisely.  Check with the local Chamber of Commerce, or a website that rates charities, including Charity Navigator ( or the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (

    Passion.  Tap into your passion, expertise and resources to determine the best approach.  For example, if you love animals, volunteer some time at your local animal shelter.  A marketing professional could offer to design and produce a non-profit's quarterly newsletter.  And a grocery store can contribute food to a local food bank.

    Focus.  Don't overextend yourself and your business.  It's tempting to support every good cause in the community, but you can make a greater impact by focusing on just a few charities you feel most passionate about.

    However you choose to give back, we hope you'll join the Anti-Scrooge Spirit and help make the world a little bit brighter this holiday season and in 2011!

    Happy Holideals from everyone at Grocery Outlet!

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  • Expiration Dates

    We get a lot of questions about expiration dates.  Since we are a extreme bargain retailer, we've had customers assume that we sell expired or bad food.  While it is true that we sell products closer to their sell by dates than a conventional supermarket, we are extraordinarily careful not to sell anything that is spoiled or bad. Above all, we care about our customers' safety and satisfaction.

    It's a tricky thing to understand fully, but in our business, some dates are used as guides and some are strict dates.  It's very important to know the difference between expiration dates, sell by dates, and best by dates. Here's some information to help you untangle the difference between each type of date.

    Best if used by and use-by date: With emphasis on the "best" qualifier in this term, it means the product should retain maximum freshness, flavor and texture if used by this date. It is not a purchase-by or safety date. Beyond this date, the product is still good, though you should keep an eye on it to make sure it's still fresh.

    Sell-by or pull-by date: This date is used by manufacturers to tell grocers when to remove their product from the shelves, but there is generally still some leeway for home usage. For example, milk often has a sell-by date, but the milk will usually still be good for at least a week beyond that date if properly refrigerated. 

    Guaranteed fresh: This date is often used for perishable baked goods. Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed although it's probably still edible.

    Pack date: This is the date the item was packed, most-used on canned and boxed goods. It is usually in the form of an encrypted code not easy to decipher. It may be coded by month (M), day (D), and year (Y), such as YYMMDD or MMDDYY. Or it may be coded using Julian (JJJ) numbers, where January 1 would be 001 and December 31 would be 365. In even more convoluted coding, letters A through M (omitting the letter I) are often assigned to the months, with A being January and M being December, plus a numeric day, either preceded or followed by the numeric year. 

    Expiration date: If you haven't used the product by this date, toss it out. Other dating terms are used as a basic guideline, but this one means what it says. 

    Information gathered from this article on

    Each product is different!  To get more information on expiration dates, including a comprehensive list of products and their freshness time frame, check out this wiki article on expiration dates.  We were really impressed by it. 

    Stay fresh!

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