From the Globe and Mail, Dec 1:
A week on the dollar-store diet leaves me queasy
Here’s the sad state of affairs I found myself in last week: I had to go to the dollar store to see if it sold knock-off Pepto-Bismol because the stew I bought there the day before was making me queasy. Living on dollar-store bargains was turning out to be literally stomach-turning.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
A few weeks ago, I was walking through the aisles of the dollar store near my house when I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff for sale, everything from household cleaning items to dishware to stationery to toys.
Then I hit the food aisle – yes, the food aisle – and the thought struck me: Could I live out of the dollar store, and save a bundle doing so?
After a week immersed in this experiment, I can say without any doubt that you do indeed save plenty of cash shopping only at the dollar store. You also risk becoming malnourished.
Let’s do a little price comparing.
On the first day, I bought two small bags of chips, four cups of inferior-brand pudding, a can of chick peas, four drinking boxes of apple juice, one can of tuna, a bag of Butter’n Cream candies, a can of Chef Boyardee Mini-Bites and the aforementioned can of stew. Total cost, with tax: $10.19. The cost of the same basket of items at my local grocery store? $18.78.
Frankly, I was amazed. I seriously considered dropping $20 for an entire cupboard full of chocolate pudding. I would never have to worry about my pudding needs again.
But when you’re living out of the dollar store, the initial glow of saving so much money soon gives way – for me it was day 3 – to the realization of just how much stuff you can’t buy there: fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, food that doesn’t come in a can or a box, baby food, diapers (oh, how I wish it sold diapers!) or, unfortunately, anything to relieve an upset stomach.
You also realize that while you can technically survive on the dollar-store diet, at least for a week, making it your only food source would probably kill you in a month or two. Bargain-basement beans and stew aren’t exactly a great source for all your daily vitamins and minerals.
Living out of the dollar store also makes you realize there are a few things worth paying a few extra bucks for. Have you tasted dollar-store coffee? While it isn’t bad enough to make you do a spit-take or gag, nor is it all that great. Starting the day with a crappy cup of coffee makes for a crappy day.