Saturday, December 10, 2011

Healthy Eating on a Budget -- Couponing: An Introduction

Have you ever seen the show Extreme Couponing? It's a TLC production that followers Americans as they grab way too many items they may never use into dozens of shopping carts and rack up hundreds of dollars in grocery bills. However through the magic of coupons, they pay less than one percent of the cost of the bill. Their homes and garages stocked with walls of these free or nearly free products.

Insane right? 

I agree. Additionally, I notice that many of these couponers rarely purchase healthy items, contributing to the common myth that it costs too much to eat healthy.

A dear friend of mine in Colorado turned me on to coupons and sales shopping when she sent me a link for a well-known company that makes organic soymilk. She thought I might like it. She was right. My goal since the first coupon has been to see how low I can bring my grocery bills. Shopping store sales, combining store coupons with manufacturer coupons (known as "stacking"), and seeking out the right time to use the coupons has almost become a game.

I have had a number of conversations over the last few weeks about my new hobby. My students laugh as I clip coupons at tournaments but then enjoy the coupons I share with them. My friends email each other with great deals they find or a coupon they have spotted. And a number of folks are intrigued by the savings you could rack up using coupons.

There are a lot of myths out there about coupons. For example, there are only coupons for processed foods with little nutritional value. While those coupons are exist, there are also a lot of coupons for healthy food items, including fresh produce!


Here are some of the deals I found this week at Whole Foods:

365 Everyday Value Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (WF store brand): $2.69
After using a coupon from WF in-store "Whole Deal" coupon book for $2
I paid $0.69

Arrowhead Mills Whole Wheat Flour: On Sale for $2.19
"Whole Deal" in-store coupon for $1 PLUS
Arrowhead Mills printable coupon from their Web site for $1 OR
Pull-off product coupon for $1
I paid $0.19

Almond Dream Non-Dairy Unsweetened Vanilla "milk": On Sale for $2.00
"Whole Deal" in-store coupon for $1
I paid $1.00

Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread: On Sale for $3.99
"Whole Deal" in-store coupon for $1 PLUS
Manufacturer coupon found on Mambo Sprouts for $1
I paid $1.99


I recommend printing coupons that you know you will use. Then try to hold on to them until you find a sale to increase the value of your coupon. I keep an accordion file folder with an index taped to the front that has different product categories to keep the coupons sorted. This will make the coupons easier to find. Finally, make sure you read the coupon policy for your favorite store and the fine print of the coupons.

A few friends have asked me to blog my deals when I find them, but there are a lot of sites out there that post match-ups. The secret is having the coupons they blog about.

Places to find coupons:

* Subscribe to the Sunday edition of your local paper. There are a lot of great coupons that get sent out in this paper. For example, I got a $1 off any POM product which I combined with a sale at SaveMart this week to score a fresh pomegranate for only $0.50!!! You can also sometimes catch an online preview of what will be in the paper. Seriously, I save enough from the paper (plus I enjoy reading it) to make it worth the cost.

* Mambo Sprouts has a Web site full of healthy manufacturer coupons plus they sometimes have coupon books at your local health food store.

* has pages of manufacturer coupons, although you have to scout for the healthier products.

* Check your favorite companies out! Many companies offer coupons on their Web sites and Facebook pages!

Do you have any places you like to find coupons? Cool Web sites you want to share? Deals you have found? Please share them!


Mom on the Run said...

I must confess that that I have become that Mom who says "we don't have a coupon for that" so it stays on the shelf. I use all of your strategies plus look at couponsuzy and a few blogs. Today I saved 10.00 on coupons. I don't buy diapers unless I have a coupon.

Anonymous said...

the saddest thing is WF in NY doesnt accept coupons.
Also, its hard to coupon in NY as the stores do not double coupons. So i have been discouraged and punished for living in a city full of trust fund babies LOL

C.G. the Foodie said...

Mo - Do they not accept all coupons, including their own? Or just computer printed ones? We don't get coupons doubled out here either unfortunately.


I get asked by readers if I am being paid to push products. The simple answer is no. In fact, most of the products I write about are ones I have found and purchased during my trips to the grocery store or on the road. Occasionally, a company will send a sample my way and if I believe the product will serve a need for my readers and I would buy the product myself, then I will share it with you. Sometimes I will write to a company after reading about it, if I believe it will help us lead healthier lifestyles. But even then, if the product doesn't pass my scrutiny, it won't make the screen of Uncovering Food. You can trust that every product or recipe posted here has passed through my lips, and that I wouldn't blog about it if it wasn't worthy of you... my favorite readers.