Please join me in welcoming Lisa Lightner, who is guest posting today at Looking Good (for a mom). If you watch TV or spend any amount of time online, you’ve no doubt heard the words “Extreme Couponing.” It’s a newer cable TV program and it shows shoppers getting huge amounts of product, all for free using coupons. As a self-professed supercouponer, you might think that naturally, I’d enjoy the show. I don’t. In fact, I’ve grown to actually loathe the show and the term ‘extreme couponer’ over the past few months. I won’t even use it to describe myself.
One of the main reasons I dislike the show is that it feeds into stereotypes about moms that clip coupons. One of those stereotypes is that we only feed our families over-processed junk that isn’t good for you. In fact, there have been times that I’ve posted a particularly good grocery shopping experience I’ve had, and I’ve had friends comment “I wish I could do that, but I just never see coupons I want, we don’t eat Hamburger Helper.” Well, guess what? Neither do we. And I’m not passing any judgment on those who do; we just don’t care for it.
First, let me explain why supercouponers bristle a little when comments like that are made. A comment like that inherently implies that I have put a price tag on my family’s health—that I would choose to feed them free junk food instead of paying for healthier stuff. And implying that I have put a price tag on my kids’ health=bad mom. And that’s why we get defensive. I can tell you, even among my couponing friends, we’re making comments about how many Ramen noodles are shown on Extreme Couponing.
Let’s face it, you are who you are, and your eating habits are your eating habits. If you eat lots of junk food or eat quite healthy, that’s not going to change just because you try to save money using coupons.
There are plenty of ways to save money and be a couponer and still eat healthy. First, I use coupons to get very cheap or free items like toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, cleaning supplies and so on. In turn, this frees up more money in my grocery budget for items like produce. No doubt, it is cheaper to eat unhealthy than it is healthy. A gallon of organic milk costs about 8x what a gallon of soda would cost you. But use coupons to save where you can to free up money for more expensive items.
Organic companies do offer coupons, just not usually in the Sunday paper. Putting a coupon in the Sunday insert costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most of your organic companies tend to be smaller so they can’t afford that. It costs much less to run a printable coupon online, so many companies do that. One of my favorite websites, Organic Grocery Deals, keeps a very current list of which companies currently have printable coupons on their site. They also have forums and boards where shoppers highlight the current organic grocery deals at your favorite stores.
Organic companies are also more likely to offer a coupon in small booklets or tearpads found near the items, so look around while you shop. It seems as if Earth Day has become the reigning holiday for organic companies, so look for promotions around this time. It also can’t hurt to contact the company and ask if they’ll send you some. With Internet and Facebook, contacting a company can be done in about 60 seconds.
When it comes to buying organic meat and produce, I’ll be the first to admit, it can be hard to find good deals. I have two friends who recently just purchased an entire cow-grass fed, organic and all that. But neither wanted to spend the money to buy the whole thing, nor had the storage space, so they split it. Although it is significant money upfront, their cost per pound for organic meat is much less. Buying in bulk is usually cheaper, so it’s an option.
Another way I’ve found to save money is to just be realistic about how much my family will eat in a week, and buy accordingly. Buy produce with a plan in mind. I can’t tell you how often I’ve purchased beautiful, colorful produce and because I didn’t have a plan for it, it got rotten and thrown out-money wasted. Grocery stores, large and small, are all about marketing. Everything is strategically placed, with colors, the lighting—everything is put there to entice you to buy it. Go with a weekly dinner menu and a list. Less spoiled meat and produce thrown out means more money in your pocket.
Looking for organic coupons, buying in bulk, buying less to eliminate waste and using coupons to save money where you can-those are just some of the ways you can eat healthy and save some money.
Mom to two, Lisa Lightner lives in southeastern Pennsylvania. Frugal living is a lifestyle for her family. Lisa is the author of a deal blog called Smart Spending Spot. She also runs another site for parents of special needs children called A Day in our Shoes. Both blogs are also listed on Facebook, Twitter and multiple other options for following.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Lisa and found her insights on healthy couponing as helpful as I did! Looking for a post from me? Well today, as part of a blog swing, I’m writing at Fun Finds for Families, so head on over there and check out my post on managing fitness on a financial and time budget!
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