Back when I started the transition from a workin’ girl to a stay at home mama, I spent a considerable amount of time online checking out various homemaking blogs. A common theme I found among them was that many of the moms were coupon queens.
They would spend mere pennies and come home with bagfuls of food and toiletries. Oftentimes, the items would end up being completely free! This totally appealed to my frugal side. I was fascinated!
I began to look into the fine art of couponing. I joined a few coupon download sites and had full intentions of learning how to work the system.
So, why haven’t you seen me share my couponing secrets here at The Prairie Homestead? Well, it’s because I never even started. And let me tell you why.
As I started reading couponing blogs, I also was reading many natural food blogs. For the first time ever, I was pondering the ideas of raw milk, grassfed meat, and organic produce.
It didn’t take me long to realize that these 2 concepts didn’t quite match. I slowly began to realized that even though it was pretty cool to come home from the store with bagfuls of free Crisco, Hamburger Helper, and Pepsi, I didn’t really want to be feeding those things to my family anyway. Simply because they aren’t actually food. Free or not, I couldn’t deny the health issues that could arise from a constant diet of those items.
Even coupons for “natural” foods are often for organic “convenience” foods. In my opinion, many of those items are ‘organic’ in name only. They are still a far cry from being real food. Plus, they are expensive to start with, and many of the coupons only reduce the price slightly. Many of these items are still healthier and cheaper to make at home.
When it comes to non-food items, I still seem to find other alternatives. A few examples:
- I use homemade cleaning products. They usually cost mere pennies to make and use non-toxic ingredients (like essential oils)
- I use cloth diapers and cloth baby wipes, which eliminates the need for clipping all those diaper coupons.
- I simply skip a lot of items like dryer sheets, air fresheners, or shaving gel.
- I reduce the use of disposable products as much as possible: paper plates, paper towels, throw-away baking dishes, plastic cups. Too wasteful for my tastes anyway!
We don’t subscribe to the local paper. In order to really be an effective couponer, you must have multiple coupons from multiple sources. There are many printable coupon sources online, but you must research, download, match, and print them. You also have to be willing to drive to various stores to redeem the various coupons. I only shop once per month (to save on gas). It’s a jam-packed day already. I simply don’t have the time to drive to extra stores for only a few items.
As I mentioned above, we live 35 miles from the nearest grocery store and I only shop once or twice per month. I find that once monthly shopping saves a considerable amount on gas, as well as helps to reduce all the “little extras” that you end up grabbing on each trip to the store. It would be difficult and costly for me to run to the store every time a coupon is about to expire.
If you sucessfully coupon, that’s great, I admire your skills! I know it’s a great fit for some families, but it just doesn’t fit with our homesteading lifestyle.
That’s not to say that when I occaisionally find a coupon for some herbal tea, or organic tomato sauce, I won’t use it. However, those times are few and far between and I’ve never gotten an item for free.
For now, I keep our grocery costs low by producing as much of our own food as possible (vegetables, meat, milk & dairy) and making nearly all of our food from scratch (like homemade tortillas, sausage gravy, and pie crusts). I guess I would rather spend my time growing veggies and making cheese, rather than clipping coupons. But, of course, each family is different.
However, you can bet if they ever start printing coupons for hard white wheat berries and organic fruit, I’ll be the first in line!
Do YOU coupon? If you eat real foods, have you found ways to make healthy eating and couponing fit together?