Yesterday, I stumbled on a marathon of Extreme Couponing – that’s the show where people rack up $700 or $800 bills in a grocery store, tie up a line and hold up one or several store managers to approve their transactions, and walk out paying as little as $4. And then they show these people triumphantly stacking their purchases at home where, I can only assume, they are preparing for their next reality show audition on Hoarders.
I love the idea of coupons, and my BFF Anne has a great system in place that stretches her family’s grocery budget a very long way. And when it makes more sense for the final price to buy more items than her family can use, she does the kind and sensible thing and donates the extra to a local food pantry. So there’s obviously a healthy way to go about the couponing thing, and I’m sure that I will be picking her brain on that a lot as our family grocery system evolves.
But for right now, I just can’t get my head around it. When I look at the total crap that these extremist people buy, I have to wonder if it’s even worth the $4 they’re paying? I can’t remember seeing a single piece of fruit or fresh vegetable in those carts. If your grocery budget is $10 a week (like some of these people said), but you aren’t actually walking out of the store with any food, what’s the point?
I do still buy processed food, but I’ve been working on cutting out some of them out and replacing them with homemade. You’ve seen my series about cooking freezer meals instead of buying packaged heat & eats. And right before the holidays I cut out store-bought bread and started baking my own at home. My next target is freezing homemade soup instead of buying canned. Once I stop having to remind myself to make something instead of buy it, I move on to the next thing. I feel especially committed to this now, as I’m making PJ’s baby food and I want him to grow up clearly knowing the difference between the flavor of fruit, and fruit-flavored.
I have to say that I feel much better when I’m able to stock my kitchen and freezer with fresh-made meals and snacks, but the problem is that this can be much more expensive. I really wish there were more coupons for ingredients rather than for packaged products. If I’m wrong about that, and anyone knows sites where I can find them, please let me know! The couple of times I’ve tried to sit down and comb through the coupons for things that we use, I’ve ended up with a whopping $2 or $3 in savings and it takes me at least an hour.
So where do you guys fall on the scale? Are you more about saving money with coupons, even if it isn’t on products you would prefer to buy? Or are you all fresh and/or organic all the time, even if it costs more?