When I chat coupons with a non-couponer, I often hear three objections to the way I shop:
1. Couponing takes too much time.
2. You don’t really save all that much money by using coupons.
3. You can only buy junk with coupons and my family doesn’t eat junk.
I would like to address the third objection to couponing, which I often call “The Pop-Tart Problem”: You can only buy Pop-Tarts and other junk food with coupons. True, you can get junk food for free or nearly free with coupons. And I love Pop-Tarts. I am not ashamed to admit that even my children eat Pop-Tarts on occasion. Let’s face it, we all eat “fake’ food because it’s convenient and sometimes even delicious.
Oops. Let’s stop for a second and define some terms so we’re all on the same page.
“Real” food: Food that our great-great-grandparents would recognize — raw meat (not nuggets), dairy (not Go-Gurt), produce (not Veggie Booty), grains (not Grape Nuts). Comes out of the ground or from an animal and goes into our mouth. No manufacturing plant needed. Actually goes bad if not frozen.
“Fake” food: Food our great-great grandparents would not consider food. Processed. Comes from a manufacturing plant. Has an extended shelf-life.
This blog, and other deal blogs, focus primarily on helping you get your “fake” food for free or nearly free using coupons and specific savings strategies. But did you know that coupons can help you save money on real food, too?
:: You can use Catalinas to buy the real food you need instead of rolling it to another cat deal. Instead of buying more Kellogg’s cereal to stockpile, use the cat to buy fruit for this week’s lunches.
:: By getting your fake food, household, and personal care items for substantially less than buying generic at WinCo or Super Walmart, more money is freed up in your monthly budget to devote to buying real food. After couponing for two years, I can pretty much buy as much produce, meat, grains and dairy as I want and I can buy the quality that I want, too. I buy raw milk, local produce, New Seasons meat and organic grains — all comfortably within my $300 food and household items budget.
:: As eating local, sustainable, organic, real food becomes more important to people, companies will start (and have started) offering conventional ways to save — coupons, store sales, rebates, incentives. Just wait. I’m sure we will see more coupons and other incentives to save on buying real food.
I’d love to hear how couponing has allowed your family to eat “real” food. Leave a comment with your suggestions!