I had heard rumors that these women existed. A while ago I told my husband about these fanatical coupon-cutters who end up with $1000 worth of groceries for a few bucks, and he said, “that’s impossible.”
“No, it’s true! I read about it on the internet!” I persisted, realizing the absurdity of my statement as I said it.
And then this show came out on TLC called Extreme Couponing and I made him watch enough of it to see a blonde woman bring about a thousand coupons into a store with her and leave with $1200 worth of groceries. She paid $30.
“See, these people do exist!”
“Wow, she bought a lot of crap," was all he said and then left the room completely unimpressed.
I took another look at her grocery cart and spied piles (literally) of chips, soda, sugary cereal, imitation cheese, hotdogs, toxic household cleaners and other junk I usually don’t buy at the store.
And then it got worse.
This lady gave the cameraman a tour of her “stockpiles” in the basement below her home while her husband joked that they’d “be set for Armageddon.”
There were shelves and shelves of odd things, like 25 sticks of Lady Speedstick deodorant, enough Reynold’s Plastic Wrap to cover the moon, Jiffy Peanut Butter and Hamburger Helper (and the like). The husband was beaming with pride when he counted 50 bags of various chips.
Her basement was set up just like the middle aisles of any grocery store in the U.S. Those are the aisles where all the junk food is kept – and the ones most health-minded people avoid.
And then it got worse… or worser, if you will.
It turns out this woman spends four hours a day hunting down coupons, carefully organizing them, and then planning her day around shopping trips in order to be “the early worm.” On one such shopping trip, she snagged about 30 bottles of Maalox (a remedy for upset stomach). Phew! It’s a good thing she got there early!
(I can understand food storage for emergencies, but what are you going to do with 30 bottles of Maalox if a hurricane hits? Make cocktails out of it?)
Are you wondering why I watched this show if I feel so strongly about it? I’ll tell you.
Coupons have always been this thing that I feel I should do in order to save a buck, but never do because I don’t usually buy the junk advertised. After all, Captain Crunch for $.25 is still the same crappy food I wouldn’t feed to my kids if you paid me.
When we go to the store or the farmer’s market, I buy produce, dairy, beans, rice, chicken. Stuff like that. And then I cook meals out it. What a radical idea, right?
I do not find many coupons for real food. Just coupons for crap.
So if you’re like me and want to save some money at the grocery store, but don’t want to live on chemical-filled non-foods simply because they come with coupons, follow these tips:
- Invest in a deep freeze to stockpile perishable food when it goes on sale
- Buy large amounts of foods during the time of year when they’re heavily discounted (turkeys during Thanksgiving, corned beef during St. Patrick’s day) and put them in your new freezer (that you bought because of the preceding tip).
- Only buy what is fresh, in season and on sale at the grocery store. Then cater your recipes to those ingredients. You will eat better and save money.
- Look around you: what’s growing in your area that you can pick for free? We used to pick gallons of blackberries and freeze them. We also would fill our freezers with salmon every year. Here in Texas, it’s all about the free pecans in fall.
- Find your local farmers and buy from them. If you’re diligent, you can find farmers to provide you with your dairy, eggs, meat and all the produce you can shake a stick at.
But they won’t take a coupon.
UPDATE: I think I may have been proved wrong. Holly over at her website http://www.foggyphils.com/ has taken on my challenge and posted a list of places where I can get some healthy coupons. Aside from hating to be mistaken about anything, I’m excited to check out her links!
You can check out her healthy coupons links here: http://www.foggyphils.com/hollyjournal/2011/4/16/why-yes-virginia-there-really-are-healthy-coupons.html
A big thank-you to Holly for such a gracious and informative response!