The End of Couponing

Image via Wikipedia

A year ago, I was totally into the couponing thing.  And I was darn good at it.  I could get out of the grocery store paying around 40% of the total cost of the food I brought home.  You know how some people get a mental high off of spending money?  I got that same kind of high off of saving money.  And the BEST was getting something free!  I tried to never EVER be one of those crazies who would get a bazillion free things just because I could.  I really only got things that I would use in a reasonable amount of time…in product and in quantity.  We were eating cheap.  But, for the most part, we were eating cheap food.

Nutrition and health are two topics that I greatly enjoy reading and learning about.  My education in all things healthy began about 9 years ago when I read You: The Owner’s Manual.  If you’ve never read it, it’s an easy read that walks you through the ways to best care for each system in your body.  And, despite the heavy topics, his writing style is very light, kinda funny and the illustrations are entertaining.

Cheap food very often contains a lot of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and and even more difficult for your body to deal with.  Food was not meant to stay in our cabinets for weeks, months and sometimes more than a year.  We’ve altered foods to the point of convenience, but in the process we’ve strayed from what is good for our bodies.  More and more in my reading, I’ve come across the now-evident dangers and harmful effects of artificial colorings, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and foods that have has their vitamins processed out and then added back in.

Knowing what I knew, I had to decide between saving money and feeding my family quality foods.  Granted, there are still some coupons for natural products, they are just a little more difficult to find.  So I stopped.

Another step in our food and nutrition journey came when Carter and I went to the allergist.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I started having some crazy allergic reactions, which I found out is common with all the changes that happen during pregnancy.  Most of our allergies are inhaled, but we both have some slight food allergies that are likely causing our excema. Two are particularly troublesome – wheat for Carter and soy for me.  It’s awfully difficult to avoid those 2 things in purchased foods.  I knew the best I could do for us would to be to make as many things as I could from scratch with the best quality ingredients I could get my hands on. Thankfully, I enjoy cooking and there’s a Whole Foods close by.

To drive the point home completely, I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc.  It was scary, really, the low standards of quality that our government has for our food production.  After I got over wanting to become a vegetarian, I began to think of ways to make better choices for my family.  I began to “vote” with my food purchases whenever possible.  Stores will stock what consumers buy.  Right now, most consumers have no problem buying a lot of junk and processed-beyond-recognition foods.  But, if the tide begins to shift to local, organic and whole foods – the stores will be forced to respond.

What I discovered shopping in this new way was pretty shocking.  The price difference is not all that different.  It is only marginally higher.  A normal shopping trip allowing the coupons to direct my purchases was $50 – $60 per week.  Now, purchasing mostly organic and local ingredients, I am spending $60 – $75 per week.  I would much rather spend a few extra dollars each week on quality food for my family than on medications or doctor visits.

My ultimate goal is to begin to grow my own vegetables, and have enough to give or sell to others.  I’m fortunate to live on family land, surrounded on 2 sides by acres and acres of open field.  My grandfather’s cows called the fields home until last year, when he sold them all.  I’ll admit that I know right around ZERO about gardening.  My yard is a joke.  My thumb is black.  But, I can learn.  And you have to start somewhere and we are doing something – and doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Other great documentaries:

No Impact Man
Super Size Me 


7 responses to “The End of Couponing

  • gracedmommy

    I couldn’t agree with this post more, Mandi! It’s free because it’s so cheap to make. We scour the internet for some of our favorite organic coupons, but they are hard to come by. My best tip for organic on the cheap is to look at mainstream grocery stores for their organic sections. One example is being able to purchase “Apple and Eve Organic Apple Juice” at Publix for $2 less per 64oz. bottle than at EarthFare. We water it down for Seth, so one will usually last close to a week. It’s $3.49 at Publix.

  • LMB

    Can you give us an indea of what your weekly shopping list looks like?

  • vernakale

    I have an allergy to flavor enhancers–they go by many names: MSG, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, carageenan, “natural flavors” to name a few. So we mostly eat a whole foods diet as well. It’s a pain in the butt, to be honest. Forget eating out too. Most chain restaurants don’t prepare their food in-house. Chain restaurants use pre-packaged food from their brand’s distributor. When you try to identify everything you’re eating you find out how hard it is to do that these days. I do save a bunch couponing, though most of my savings are from following the store’s specials and planning meals around the sales cycles. I also love my garden! One book you might find helpful for beginners is The Farmer’s Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden And Eating From It, Too!: Storing, Freezing, and Cooking Your Own Vegetables. The growing tips are helpful as are the freezing tips.

    • Mandi

      Wow…that double sucks. You really can’t get around those ingredients. I would love to know where you find the coupons for the “good stuff” in stores. Thankfully Greenville has come a long way, so there are a few places that we can trust to eat out – but they are few and far between.

      Thanks for the book tip, I’ll be checking it out.

      • vernakale

        I shop at Kroger, and they periodically send out coupon mailings to their shoppers card holders–they send coupons for oj, cheese, cereal, yogurt, bagged salad, meat, and stuff like that. I also have a Kroger credit card as my main credit card and the rewards points on it can be redeemed quarterly in the form of store coupons good on your whole order (excepting milk, cigs, and booze, as per Virginia law). Kroger also has a fuel points program so every $100 in groceries earns 10 cents off per gallon, redeemable at Shell.

  • homecreationseveryday

    Nice post! Very informative. It’s amazing how coupon savers can get alot of food for “nothing” but at the end of the register that is what is being received. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: