Saving money on “real” food (an introduction)

by Angela Davis on June 21, 2010

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.

Let’s continue…

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.

Find more ways to save money on real food here.

I’d love to hear how couponing has allowed your family to eat “real” food. Leave a comment with your suggestions!

This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Tary December 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

These are great tips. Thanks for sharing. I’m amazed that a family of four can eat on $3-400/month. My family of 3 spends twice that, and we don’t buy meat and many processed foods. Boy can I use these tips!

As I read this, I was thinking about a recent challenge (the SNAP challenge) sponsored by the Oregon Food Bank that asks participants to live on $30/week (for family of 4). I wonder if any of you frugal shoppers might be able to meet that challenge! Contact Sarah Flynn at sflynn@oregonfoodbank.org for more information.

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maile November 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Thank you!!! I love “real” food aka: no added pesticides, no added chemicals, no genetically modified frankenstein organisms , and meats from animals that are not fed GMO franken-feed!
Looking forward reading more posts!

ps love Fred Meyer, Chucks Produce, and Costco

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Mindy August 26, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I read your article and thought your readers would be interested in a book I publish called Mix-A-Meal Cookbook. It teaches people how to save money and time by making mixes out of basic dehydrated foods. The ingredients are shelf-stable so you can buy now and eat later when food prices are higher. For more info see http://www.mixameal.com.

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bekarene May 22, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I am glad that you’re planning a series to address this problem! I have been working on a tight budget and using coupons for almost year now and I have frequently been discouraged by the apparent gap between the huge number of sales and coupons for junk food and my desire to feed my family the best I can buy. But, here’s something I’ve noticed that works: I clip a lot of coupons for household items … soap, makeup, deoderant, toilet paper, detergent etc. Since I get most of this stuff for super cheap and sometimes free, I have more budget for organic produce and high quality meat. And it never hurts to have a couple of frozen pizzas you grabbed for next to nothing for dinner “emergencies,” either! ;) As is true for everything else in life, BALANCE is the key!!

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charolyn May 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

Catalina’s are the printed out rectangular slips of paper that you sometimes get from the cashier-some are just advertisements, or coupons for items in that store, but the best ones are these that give you a certain amount of money to spend on your next trip-which are “Catalina’s”. The great thing about these blogs is they let you know the specifics on these-as they often aren’t marked in the store. Sometimes by the products you will see details-but generally it doesn’t stay up for the entire period it runs. Click under resources above, then catalinas & it details them for you.
Overage, is when you make money on your coupons/ecoupons/catalina’s on a product-then you need to make sure you buy enough so that you don’t have a negative balance, as the store won’t allow that (ie give you money back).

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Jan May 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I have never heard of catalinas. Please tell me what they are.

I also don’t understand what this means: “You can use the overage created buying fake food with coupons, eCoupons and doubles to buy real food.” Curious about what you mean.

Thanks

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amber bustanoby May 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Great Post! I loved your definitions :)

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Robyn May 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I’ve been couponing for over a year now…thanks to some wonderful friends who showed me how…anyway…I now feel guilty not using a coupon each time I go to the store…does that sound right?

What I want to say is that I too now have more money to buy “other or real” food. Couponing doesn’t only allow you to buy “fake” food though. There are other household items that I save on too…that is where the REAL MONEY is saved (from a coupon)…in your cleaners, TP, paper towels, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamins, shampoo/conditioner, body wash…I can go on…. I save money in this part of my budget so I DO HAVE MORE MONEY TO BUY “REAL” FOOD.

Don’t get me wrong, I also do currently have about 25 boxes of cereal stockpiled, and my girls do eat “convenience” foods cause we are constantly on the go…but the “fake” food they/we eat doesn’t amount to the same as the real food we do eat.

Thanks for all you gals do to help us stay informed!!!! :)

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Anna May 18, 2010 at 8:52 am

I was one of those who didn’t coupon because I do not eat fake food hardly at all. But guess what? There are a LOT of coupons for real food, and other ways to save LOTS of money—my grocery bill has gone from $600 a month to $200. And with the deals on shampoo, deodorant, paper products, etc., well, you’re silly not to do this!

I scored big on real meat this week—-there was a BOGO sale this week, and I had meat coupons for pork tenderloins that I doubled, as well as catalinas from refried beans and taco seasonng. I bought almost $200 worth of meat for about $60.

I also have coupons for eggs, milk, organic products, salad, veggies, and we’ve started buying our veggies from a co-op service. We get about $50 worth of amazing produce every week for $15. So there…I’m officially a couponer now!

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Yvonne May 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I’d love to coupon. We don’t eat much “fake food,” not cereals, snack bars or juices, and hardly any canned food. We also don’t use any commercial cleaning products. I’d love to know where you get those “real food” coupons, I’ve never seen them before. I’d love to get my grocery bill from $600 to $200!

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Meghan May 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Yvonne,

Check out the http://www.mambosprouts.com website for lots of organic coupons. You can also sign up for any of your favorite companies for their email newsletters, which often contain coupons (stoneyfield, horizon, seventh generation, etc.) Lots of times there are coupons for buy charcoal, get $2.00 off meat…..you can then get organic meat if you choose or buy 4 cereals (Kelloggs makes a really good granola cereal now) , get a free gallon of milk….get organic! I’m not sure what cleaning products you use, but you can always get coupons for baking soda, vinegar, etc if you make your own cleaning products or seventh generation always has great coupons for more natural cleaning products. Lastly, watch for sales on the stuff you love and buy it when it is cheap!

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Twin Mom May 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

Much of the problem is that food banks aren’t set up to handle small donations of fruits, vegetables, meat and home canned items due to liability and food safety concerns. I see no problem with donating foods I wouldn’t eat. Obviously someone eats them or they not would be sold. And some of them are healthy but not part of my culture- jalapenos, hominy, and water chestnuts are good examples.

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Melanie May 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

JS makes an excellent point. Many people probably don’t realize what is found at a local food bank. I admit I was surprised to read that; I always thought there would be health standards. One of the savings that I love the best is when Safeway does their dried beans and lentils for 10/$10. As a Cubscout mom, I see the food we collect while Scouting for Food and it does amaze me that there is never any dried beans. I always over purchase that special so I can donate my extras.

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Sara May 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm

JS… interesting point, that we should consider not donating foods we wouldn’t want to eat ourselves. Along those lines, my friend & are are planning to donate our extra garden produce to Neighborhood House in SW Portland. As we plant our gardens this spring, let’s consider planting a little extra to share. Check out the great page put together by Oregon Food Bank for ideas of where you can drop extra produce from your garden this summer. http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/ofb_services/food_programs/PlantaRow.html

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JS May 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I’ll admit, I coupon some. Not extremely, and as a family on food stamps, we have a fixed budget for food (that we rarely go over). BUT, I have difficulty hearing from families that they give their “fake” food to pantries and such… are those people’s families not deserving of “real” food too?

I don’t have a solution (other than fixing the system from the ground up), as there is always a need, but I feel frustrated that people think it’s okay to feed the “needy” what they themselves wouldn’t feed their family.

And then people talk about how low-income people are obese and don’t make good food choices …hmmmm I wonder why? If the options in food pantries are only sugary cereal, instant meals and canned goods, and that’s all they can afford to get, then why blame them for not making good choices? If they have to work 60hrs a week, don’t have a car and are a single parent, do they really have time/energy/childcare to shop four different stores? Let alone a method to carry it all home? What about starting a shopping-buddy system, where someone with a minivan picks up someone without a car and takes them shopping for the sweet deals?

It’s all about the system, and helping neighbors.

Did you know you can buy vegetable seeds and starts using food stamps now? I’ve put in what veggies I can at my apartment complex, and I think that’s a good way to encourage people to eat more healthly. Donate seeds (do you really use the whole packet you buy?) to Growing Gardens, educate about gardening, and promote living wages in ALL industries so people can afford to feed their families AND pay they rent.

I live in a small, 2br apartment, and stocking up is not really much of an option. We recently moved from a larger house, and I’ve had to shift my shopping habits because I just don’t have the space to store extras.

Sorry for the rant. I love this site, it’s given me some good tips. It’s just been stewing for a while :)

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Donaca May 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

In reply to your comment…
” BUT, I have difficulty hearing from families that they give their “fake” food to pantries and such… are those people’s families not deserving of “real” food too? ”

At this point it isn’t possible to donate what has been defined as “real food” to food pantries. Real food, doesn’t have a shelf life, it has a short expiration date. It isn’t processed.
Food pantries will only accept non-perishible items.

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Kimberly January 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

“Food pantries will only accept non-perishable items.”

I live in Eugene, and Food for Lane County, often has perishable food. They have their own garden, but also they except garden overages from regular people, farmers, farmers markets, restaurants (if packaged correctly, Market of Choice freezes a lot of their unsold entrees and soups so it can be donated.) They often have eggs, potatoes, and seasonal fruits and veggies.

BTW – when I have tons of toothpaste, toothbrushes and get free babywipes and toiletries I don’t use, I give it to WomenSpace. http://womenspaceinc.org/contribute/

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Susan May 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

To be honest the word is “donate”. I hate to hear that any donation is not accepted with open arms then don’t accept it. As a person on food stamps I would think you would want to coupon to have free household, etc…

I hate to hear the system needs to be fixed. Like I tell my kids “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. I came from a home of very limited means and I worked my way through college, bought my own home without any help. We all make choices!

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Katherine May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I have been couponing for about 8 months now, and at first I went for every deal that was exciting- free pop tarts, fruit snacks, etc. The problem was I found myself compromising our health because it was a “good deal”. Now, I have set some boundaries (with balance) regarding what I will not compromise with- like organic milk and free-range eggs, fresh meat (organic if it’s on mark-down or on sale), etc. I shop the Fred Meyer sale ad weekly and buy the veggies and fruit they have on sale. I also buy what ever they have marked-down (meat, organic milk and yogurt, etc). I also meal plan now and try to be as creative as possible to not let any food go to waste.

The book “5 Dollar Dinner Mom” has helped me tremendously. She makes almost everything from scratch and it’s all easy stuff her kids like to eat. She also writes about this very subject in her book, stating that she tries to stay away from any preservatives.

Just using these techniques, I can now feed our family of 4 healthy food for $200.00 a month, including toiletries and diapers (used to be $400+ ), and I feel good about what I am feeding them.

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Mommy41 February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

Any help for a newbie to get started. We have a family of 3 soon the be 4. Never been a couponer but need to start. Our food/dog food/cat food/toiletries etc we probably spend about 600 per month. What is a good $ budget for a family of 3 soon the be 4 and then will be having to buying diapers. Thanks.

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Kate February 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

If you are not couponing but shopping at Winco and making your own meals you could probably get away with $400 a month including diapers. If you started couponing for household/toiletry items or shopping on Amazon for discounted diapers you could probably get that to $300. Making meals ahead or freezer meals will help to save alot. So this would require meal planning. I would suggest you start here with our coupon guide to get started. http://www.frugallivingnw.com/theultimateguide/
Then pick a store that is convenient for you and take baby steps. Also, ask questions on posts. We are more than happy to help but most often our readers answer before we can :)
Welcome, we’re glad you’re here. Subscribe to our email or via Google reader to stay on top of online deals and start to get the hang of the types of items we post.

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Mommy42 February 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

What about buying diapers at Costco and shopping at Costco.

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Meghan May 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I have been couponing for about 3 months now. Our old household food/toiletries/alcohol/etc. cost was averaging $1100 per month for a family of 6. I decided to make a goal of reducing that to $600 per month. I am still buying the same type of things I bought before….fresh meats, fresh produce, organic milk, but I am buying things when they are on sale and using coupons when I can. I am now averaging about $350 in coupon savings monthly and $150 savings just by getting the weekly ads and watching for sales each month. A huge portion of these savings are in the toiletries (toothpaste, tp, diapers, etc.) department. I was not stockpiling and would just pay full price when we would run out of something. Now I can put those savings toward the foods we really like. We do not eat many “fake” foods as I love to cook and have to be creative with my picky eaters!

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Melody May 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I have been couponing for almost two years now and this question really got me thinking. When I first started, I would do every deal and stock up on all the free stuff, until I realized I had a pantry full of food our family wouldn’t really eat (or would eat just to get rid of it). I started narrowing it down and only buying things our family will eat, which has significantly lowered our budget. I agree with everyone else, I do buy fruit snacks, cereal and other “fake” foods, but by building a stockpile on canned beans and veggies, pasta, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, I have been able to make a lot of things from “scratch”.

I’ve become creative in using up our stockpile, making homemade granola bars with free oatmeal, Rice Krispies and peanut butter. I’ve become really interested in how to lower our budget even more by making my own refried beans, breads, freezer jams, etc.

A few ideas on how to save on “real” foods: Shop the meat clearance sections. Most stores will mark down meat that is close to expiration or needs to be frozen and you can get significant bargains. I do shop at a few different stores and I have made a list of the average prices on produce. Each week, at whatever store I’m headed to, I pick up the lowest priced fruit and veggies, whatever it may be and plan meals around that. This has allowed our family to have a much more diverse menu.

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Yoko May 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

It’s been about a year since I started couponing and it’s been great! I’m definitely paying less not only for cleaning and paper products but also for food. I donate more than I used to, too. I wish I couponed when I was paying a lot for my daughter’s diapers…
I try to buy organic and these days I get coupons for organic food, too. I use coupons from Chinook book (I bought three of them when they were $13 at New Seasons). I go to organic food companies’ websites and print coupons.
Just paying attention to the grocery stores’ weekly ad makes a huge difference, I think.

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kirsten May 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Rhonda, I know a produce guy who can bring you berries and fruits :)

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kirsten May 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

To save on real food you have to be willing to work – read ads, go to different stores, etc. I grew up eating more real than fake foods because my mom grew up on a farm and wouldn’t have it any other way. Golden Grahams is as sugary as my cereal gets – never had Froot Loops or anything like that and my kids don’t have it either (hubby has it as a once yearly treat I swear). I look for things that I can get the most mileage for – bought the whole pork loin at Safeway last week and had them cut it into 3 roasts. I only buy what I know we’ll eat and stay away from bargains that would go to waste – hubby is a picky eater at times.
Always look for markdown items in dairy, produce, and meats – many can be cooked and frozen or directly frozen for a longer shelf life.
Real food also involves some time and energy on your part but it isn’t tough – just look at what you value and adjust accordingly. My children’s health is worth 30 minutes to me.

Yogurt – it is real food if it contains more real than fake ingredients. One of the few organic items I favor – I love Nancy’s! Yoplait and the like may be cheap but often contain more sugar than beneficial ingredients.

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amy May 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

I just wanted to state..this website has helped me considerably in buying “real” food. For example..your post on Seasons(?) anniversary sale $2.99 for hormone free 5%fat beef. I stocked up for the year. Seasons is not a store I go to regularly if at all. I would not have known about this sale without you.
Many, many, many more examples. Thank you so much!

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Chip May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

I wanted to say thanks for all your efforts. I do not remember where I first found your link several weeks ago, but when I went to your site, I was truly amazed. My friends think I am crazy but I have to say that I am now a believer. My wife thought so too but after going to Target and getting 4 boxes of Nabisco 100 Calorie Snacks for $2.79, she is re-thinking my insanity.

Since I am a newbie to this, it is hard for me to talk much about “real” or “fake” but I would say that I plan on using most of my purchases for healthier foods. If I can find “fake” deals where I spend little (or get it for free) then I will just pass it along to a young, single guy in my office that ONLY eats junk food.

I like that I can get canning or freezer supplies at a discounted price. This just makes the finished “home made” product all that much more desirable.

Keep up the good works!

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Rhonda May 17, 2010 at 10:03 am

I LOVE picking my own produce. We are not able to have a garden, so I go to local farms. Last year my family picked over 100 pounds of strawberries and 50 pounds of raspberries (we didn’t have a chance to pick blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, and marionberries). I made freezer jam (27 batches) and freeze berries whole and put them in freezer bags for yogurt (homemade) smoothies throughout the winter.

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m March 13, 2013 at 7:48 am

I do this too.
For the past 2 years, I’ve been picking FREE strawberries. Towards the end of the season, you can ask farmers if you can glean their fiels before they till :)

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tina May 17, 2010 at 9:26 am

Safeway will double 4 coupons? which ones? How do I get the monthly “spend $50, get $10 off” Safeway coupon?

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Angela May 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

Safeway doubles up to 4 manufacturer’s coupons up to $.50 each in Oregon and SW Washington. The $10/$15 coupon is released in the Oregonian about once a month.

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Kristin May 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

The Statesman (Salem) and some of the other bigger daily papers in the state (Albany Democrat-Herald, et. al.) also release the $10 off $50 coupon. Often they come out in Tuesday or Wednesday papers. Watch the blogs (like FLNW) to find out when!

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Katy Wolk-Stanley May 17, 2010 at 9:14 am

Umm . . . “diehard couponER,” not “diehard coupons.”

Silly me.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley

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Katy Wolk-Stanley May 17, 2010 at 9:12 am

My absolute favorite coupon is the monthly “spend $50, get $10 off” Safeway coupon. I usually get two of them, (my neighbors give me theirs) and shop at the beginning of the week and then again at the end of the week. I also try to always use the four coupons that Safeway will double and end up doing most of my shopping for the entire month this way. I do not consider myself to be a diehard coupons, but you’d be a fool pass up an across the board 20% off groceries coupon.

I never hold back on buying the food I want to buy, but it can definitely be done cheaply.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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kalin May 17, 2010 at 8:42 am

i use coupons to pay little or nothing for things like toothpaste, shampoo, vitamins, etc… which means there’s more money in our budget for the pound of organic spinach i eat every week!
i also try to stockpile “real” products when there are coupons + sales… i bake bread, and last year i got like 50 packets of yeast for 1.50 because they were on clearance and i had a stash of coupons…
whole wheat pasta can be cheap or free with coupons too.

couponing also has helped me learn to keep a stockpile so that i have things on hand…i stock up on things when they’re cheap, and it saves a lot of money to not have to make a last minute trip because we’re out of , say, cheese, and find that *nothing* is on sale.

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Angela May 17, 2010 at 8:36 am

I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear this complaint! A few more ideas – try MamboSprouts.com for great organic coupons. If you have a Fred Meyer in your area, you need to check it out. Learn to browse the bins at Winco for baking basics. They have everything from flour, spices, and dried fruit. Finally, I always tell my readers to save in areas that are less important to them to free up money in their budget. For instance, go to Walgreens for free shampoo and deodorant so you can devote $10 to produce. Follow blogs that specifically find these types of deals – they do exist. Eating healthy and on a budget can be done. It’s not impossible.

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Susan May 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

I am a Mom of 3, ages 4 to 11. My kids go through between 3 to 5 apples per day, lots of yogurt, cheese and are big meat eaters. At the same time I do put fruit snacks and granola bars in their lunch, they get ice cream, cookies, popsicles and other similar foods that I get basically for free. My food budget is 250/month which includes all household, dog food, coffee, alcohol – EVERYTHING. I look around for inexpensive produce, meat and dairy then the rest I stock up for free, never over .50. As stated above I do not think, ww pasta is fake, peanut butter, crackers (kids eat that w/ pb instead of bread for lunch), nuts, guacamole, feta, bacon, all cereal, canned vegetables and frozen, canned beans, jarred pasta sauce, butter….you get my point! Of course I buy other things and save them for special occasions – sleepover, team parties, etc. Also my kids bake lots of cakes, cookies and juice ( I get for free) and sell them at their stand in front. Since I started couponing a year ago, I can supply class holiday parties for free, donate extra canned food and toiletries to pantries and we have an stockpile that would last us a month. We actually eat healthier because I meal plan. Before we were spending over 600 and constantly out of food. It does take time to get the hang of it, but in the end is very worth it.

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Melanie May 17, 2010 at 7:55 am

Couponing has allowed me to purchase my meat directly from the farmer. We invest in a hog once a year and meat chickens. The cost is hire because you pay for the animal, slaughter, cut and wrap, but then you also know exactly what is going in as well.
Without the extra money saved from couponing I wouldn’t be able to do this. I do buy the fake food though too. We’re a busy family and I don’t have the time to make pasta even though I have the means. Sometimes I make the granola bars and sometimes I buy them on sale. Either way when I see my children reaching for oranges and apples to snack on rather than chips from the cupboard, I know I’m doing things right, regardless of how I’m saving my money.

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Kristin May 17, 2010 at 7:53 am

I started this coupon thing a little over a year ago and yes, about 6 months after I started, I looked in my stockpile pantry and wondered what I was really buying….it was full of fruit snacks, sugary cereal, and Bayer Meters :) Then it clicked! Yes there are deals out there for this stuff, but honestly, my kids gravitate towards fresh fruit and veggies more than the fruit snacks ( please don’t get me wrong, they DO eat fruit snacks and sugary cereal from time to time)…. So, I started paying more attention to overage to get my organic dairy, fruits, veggies and meats and also to the New Seasons and Fred Meyer ad….they have great deals on these items almost every week! And, I am not spending one penny more on my budget! Also, if you only buy ‘real’ food, then at least you can get TP, cleaning products,and other household items free with couponing. I also make many more items from scratch. HUGE budget saver. Thanks FLNW!!

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 7:27 am

I just had this conversation a week or so ago with a woman at my son’s baseball game. I had planned to go to the store right afterwards, so I looked over my purchases when I got home. I saved a ton of money, and the only “fake” food I bought was Pringles (totally fake) and yogurt (is that fake?). I bought pasta too, but it was whole grain and I don’t really consider pasta fake.

I admit that I do buy more “fake” food than I would if I didn’t coupon, but like you said, I use the overage or Catalinas to buy other real foods. Well, sometimes I roll the Cats too (I currently have 33 boxes of Mini Wheats and Raisin Bran in my garage that cost me $5.08!). I am currently passing out fruit roll-ups that I got free with overage for snacks after the baseball games. This is a win/win for me: I’m not the dorky mom who brought bananas as a snack, the snack didn’t cost me a penny, and my kids don’t eat all the fake stuff by themselves. :)

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Kristin May 17, 2010 at 7:17 am

This was an awesome post! I agree that “real” food becomes that much more of an affordable option when I coupon for as much else as I can. Now, I have to admit that I don’t care too much about whether something is organic, or not, but I have two kids. I want them to outlive me, so I do care about what I give them. Yes, they get a fruit snack a few times a week, and yes, they eat some sugary cereal, but we also have a house filled with fresh fruits and veggies because I have extra money to buy more of them. We are also trying different produce because we have the extra money.

The deals do come around for all of the “real” stuff, too. Even before I couponed, I shopped very frugally, so I know about meat and produce sales. I have just found ways to extend them even further. I got a $1 off Safeway bagged produce coupon at the register the other day. I never used to pay attention to those printed coupons, but wow! I got a big bag of oranges for even less! Or you can buy a bunch of chicken when it is under $7 for a 4 lb. bag and your fresh stuff on weeks where there is a $10 of $50 coupon.

I cannot imagine going back to the old ways…I was a very smart shopper before, but now I have even lower bottom-line prices and a higher standard in other areas because I know what I can get.

Even if you don’t want to buy processed foods, the deals you can get for just household items and toiletries are enough to keep you busy and saving!

Thanks for all you do at Frugal Living NW!!

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