Food Shopping With A Tightwad – Keefe Night on Dateline NBC.

One day the phone rang in the kitchen of our Keefe family home in Wellesley Massachusetts, in 1990. It was a producer for Dateline NBC. She asked Patti Keefe if our family would be willing to help NBC review a book called the Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn.

At the time Patti and I had ten children and were pretty sharp food shoppers by necessity. The Complete Tightwad GazettePatti said yes to the producer and the producer showed up at our home a couple of weeks later with a camera crew together with the author of the Tightwad Gazette and an NBC  camera crew.  On camera Amy Dacyczyn  asked Patti about how she shops for food, her budget, and her techniques for saving money. Then Patti, Amy and the NBC crew headed off to Roche Brothers in Wellesley with the NBC  camera crew. The camera crew followed Patti and Amy as they shopped for fresh fruits and vegetables, canned goods and meat. Amy talked to Patti and gave advice as they considered items to buy, prices and value.

At one point Amy held up two bags of apples for $3.00. She weighed them both, showing Patti that one weighed more than the other, and therefor was a better value.  Amy also had a view of chicken that did not go over very well with the Keefe boys. When Johnny was unpacking the groceries, he held up a package of chicken legs, and Amy declared “Oh I always cut those in two before serving. You see, to me, chicken is just a condiment” Wow.

Amy Dacyczyn  had a lot of ideas for saving money and she had been writing them up in a newsletter she published and wrote for 10 years. Her “Tightwad” books can still be found on Amazon, at the neighborhood library or on EBAY.

Dateline NBC asked us to try out the ideas from the book, and Amy’s advice while shopping for food for three months. Basically, Dateline NBC TV show was putting Amy Dacyczyn’s book, the author’s advice and ideas to a real live test in the Keefe Family to see if the ideas held up. It was hard to stay on track with Amy Dacyczyn ’s advice because she wanted you to buy everything unprocessed, and make everything from scratch. We did that, (actually Patti did that) and followed other advice she set forth for us. We were able to reduce our food bill by about one half! Further, our 10 year old son, James lost 10 pounds over the three month trial. He wasn’t too happy about that!

Three months after the trip to Roche Brothers, Dateline NBC finally came back and interviewed Patti and me in our living room about following the extreme food budget ideas in the Tightwad Gazette. We had to admit that even though it was a lot more work in preparing the food, the savings were substantial. However, most of the kids were not in favor of continuing the program, especially James!

The night the program aired that fall on NBC we all sat by our TV sets. Our daughter Emily by then was a first year student at Harvard and she had gathered her new college friends to watch the show. We all enjoyed the show except Emily who thought her own on air cameo went poorly – it did not – but she was sensitive in front of her new sophisticated college friends. On air I was asked what would we do with the money saved from following the Tightwad ideas in family food shopping. I replied that I would like to take the whole family to Disney since for a family our size it is pretty expensive. Funny – we still have not made it to Disney. Maybe Patti I can redeem ourselves by taking the grandchildren some day.

See You Tube videos of Amy Dacyczyn  giving her Tightwad Advice:

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John L. Keefe
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