Why I Don’t Coupon and How I Actually Save Money on Food

1976_Maypo_magazine_ad I got extreme one weekend and binge watched multiple seasons of Extreme Couponing on Netflix. It had me totally convinced that coupons were straight up gold and I was an idiot for lazily using coupons in the past. No, extreme was the way to go!

But in practice, extreme couponing or just couponing in general rarely works for me. Here’s why:

1. The time factor. Who are these women who have time to coupon 40 hours a week? I have a full-time job. I don’t even have an extra 20 hours a week for coupons. At some point I need to clean and maybe have a life.

2. Coupons are rarely for fresh fruit and vegetables. When was the last time you saw a coupon for a dollar off a dozen oranges? Yeah, never. I’m not a food snob, but I try to steer clear of the processed, prepackaged food.

3. I have no where to store 500 boxes of Easy Mac. I live in a trailer, ya’ll.

That’s not to say that if I see a coupon for toothpaste, I won’t use it. But I’ve recently discovered a much better way to save money on food. Join a CSA.

Here’s how it works: each week, I get a certain amount of points on food. I don’t let myself go over these points or I will be charged. One of my major money spending triggers is just being in a physical store. OO! Those strawberries look good! Or OOO! Green beans are on sale! Ordering my groceries online has almost completely eliminated my food impulse buying. I’ve whittled my food spending down from an average of $500 a month to an average of $250. I’ve cut that bill in half, ya’ll!

I am lucky that my CSA carries a wide variety of food. They don’t just sell veggies, but also dairy and some pre-made stuff, like bread and jellies. If your CSA doesn’t have that kind of variety, you could replicate the process by buying food through Amazon and holding yourself accountable to only spend a certain amount. Or you could use Amazon’s subscribe and save and get the items you need each month delivered to your door. It’s fast, easy and you don’t even have to leave the house! (And Amazon didn’t even tell me to say this, I just enjoy their services!)

Do you coupon? How have you saved money on fresh and healthy food?



13 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Coupon and How I Actually Save Money on Food

  1. Lilian

    What is CSA? In the UK most of the major supermarkets offer online shopping. It’s made a big difference to our food bills as well.

    1. lovelibrarianmelanie Post author

      Most major supermarkets offer online shopping here too, but you still have to pick up the groceries from the store. With a CSA, they deliver it to your door! CSA is short for Community-supported agriculture. CSA members pay for a share of the anticipated harvest from a collective of farmers. Then, when harvesting begins, the members receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit. My CSA also offers meat and dairy, too! It’s pretty awesome.

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  4. nancy

    I think the same way, I don’t want to feed my kids the crap you can get with a coupon. Plain fresh food that you cook never has a coupon associated with it. Only for vacations do we add some fun junk, like Goldfish, squirt cheese, and some fruit rollups for road trips. And they enjoy the junk, but I notice after vacation they never ask for that stuff til the next year.

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  9. Carissa

    You can absolutely find coupons for fresh fruits, veggies, and meat! I have been shopping at Target a lot lately, and they have mobile coupons, printable coupons, their cartwheel app, and manufacturers coupons. They always have coupons for fresh items. Usually coupons like “$3 off $5 produce purchase”, which you can pair up with sales. Also, Driscoll’s berries posts coupons on their website. I have been able to score very cheap fruits and veggies using coupons.

    Once you get the hang of couponing, it doesn’t take long at all. And so many sites now do all the work for you, telling you what to print and how to pair them to get the best deal. I also used to think that I could just buy off brand and save the most I could. And I still buy off brand. But I have learned you can get name brand items for even less than off brand, when you couple coupons with store sales.

  10. amanda

    I’ve recently started to coupon. I feed my family the processed food, don’t judge. but we also eat fresh stuff and I try to cook as much as I can. But the coupons have made my $$ stretch. I need snacks to send with my kids for school, granola bars are on sale AND I have a coupon. So I can buy 3-4 boxes for what I would have paid for 1 or 2. Or I just get the great deal on 2 boxes and now I can roll my savings into the fresh fruit, veggies, and meat. I did find myself getting into trouble because of all the great deals on stuff I didn’t need but couldn’t pass up a great deal. So I had to dial it back some and stick to things we needed and quantities that are controllable. at one time I had 10 boxes of cereal…..that was nuts. So now I try to keep it to 5 items or less unless I’m planning a party or the kids need them for school stuff. I got canned veggies for $0.23 each so I bought a lot and the kids took them school for the canned food drive. They were like the 5 for the price of one so why not!

  11. perigrine

    Online shopping in Australia is more expensive. Online items are more expensive if the items are not on store special (9c – 3.73 in just one ‘shop’). I find, even without that price increase it still costs more – delivery for a start is $8 (50 cents in fuel to drive there). To get FREE delivery, I have to spend $150 – as a single person + animal household, I just dont NEED to spend that. I also can’t pick and choose. Say I order chuck steak online. I will get 500gm of chuck steak. If I go in, I might be able to get 700gm blade steak ‘reduced to clear’ for LESS. Plus, at both of my closest supermarkets, there is a green grocer across the road. More fruit and veges for the same $20 in those. I detailed it here – https://perigrineseyrie.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/online-grocery-shopping/

    1. melanie Post author

      Perigrine, I’m sorry to hear that, but yes, thanks for pointing that out. My posts are definitely written from a U.S. standpoint.

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