Couponing started as a way for consumers to cut back on expenses when the recession hit in 2008. Now it’s become the newest money-saving craze. Maybe it’s because we saved 4.6 billion dollars in 2011 by using coupons! We’ve turned it into a verb and there’s even a television show where the “stars” redeem so many coupons they actually make money.
Along with saving you money on toothbrushes and razors, couponing is also a great way to create healthy meals without blowing the budget. Whoever said healthy eating has to be expensive is so wrong.
Before I wrote this post, I talked to one of the most enthusiastic “couponers” I know, my sister Erica, about why she loves couponing so much. Her first response, “It’s fun!” For her, couponing is like a hobby or a game.
Couponing does make healthy eating fun. When it comes to buying food, using coupons helps you keep it creative. I compare it to the co-op I belong to – there’s always a surprise in store. If you put jut a bit of effort into trying something new (because you can buy it on sale), you’ll be rewarded with more dietary variety. That means healthy eating doesn’t get boring!
Erica: “It saves your family money. It’s fun to see how much money you really do save
in the end!”
I think we can include store specials and sales in the same category as couponing too. And it’s definitely fun to save money! Prime example: whole wheat pasta on sale last week for a dollar a box! There’s seven servings in there and a box at regular price can be more than double that cost. Add some frozen vegetables and chicken and you can feed a family for less than five bucks. Needless to say, I bought several boxes.
Erica: “You always have extra [items purchased with coupons] for those in need. Sometimes I give my extras to family and friends. And I love my stockpile!”
I couldn’t agree more. Couponing helps you stock up on the staples. Cereal. Pasta. Frozen veggies. Yogurt. Always needed, always there to build healthy meals. And another good point – couponing can help others eat healthier too. If you end up with too much, take extra food to your local pantry. Sometimes they’re in short supply of healthier items and donations will be much appreciated.
Using coupons and buying what’s on sale is a great way to include healthy foods in your diet while saving money. But heed this advice: don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Stock up on non-perishable “staple” items so you always have ingredients on hand. For perishable goods, go shopping with a plan so you’re ready to create a meal from what you buy.
Find coupons in the newspaper, your weekly mailers and online – there’s tons of websites devoted to providing free printable coupons, like smartsource.com.
How do you make the most out of coupons?
Elizabeth Patton MS, RD, LD, CDE is the chief blogger behind Good Food Tastes Good, a blog where Liz shares her passion for healthy eating and expertise on the matter regularly. Follow Good Food Tastes Good on Facebook.