People love coupons, in fact one site reports that anywhere for 81%-96% of Americans report using coupons. If that is the case we are in the minority, but why? Clipping coupons is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of saving on the grocery budget. Why don’t we use them more?
Truth be told we once did use coupons. When we were first married we would go down to the store on Sunday and get the paper look at the coupons and clip away. Then on Wednesday we would go get a paper and go through the circulars looking for where we could use them.
As a young newly married couple when we would shop we would often gravitate toward prepackaged prepared foods, frozen dinners, chicken pot pies, spaghetti sauce, etc. Interestingly, those are the same things you can get coupons for, so couponing worked. We did that reasoning that it was cheaper for just two to eat that way than to buy a bunch of ingredients that will go to waste because we didn’t know how to cook anyway. Then we had kids.
I can just hear it, “REALLY, YOUR GOING TO BLAME THE KIDS!?” Well no, but, yes, kind of. By the time the kids came along we had already begun to shift away from using coupons. Our budget was already tight and we often found that when we would go shopping the companies issuing the coupons were not always the best deal that could be had. We also found other ways to save when grocery shopping. Once the kids came along our budget really, really got tight and we discovered there were more important, and fun, things to do with the kids than clip coupons. However, we still needed to save money.
About the same time the kids came along we had started to notice that the prepackaged meals were not as cheap as they once were and also not as filling. For instance, we love chicken pot pies. As a couple we used to be able to get them for 4 or 5 for a dollar, sometimes better if they were on sale. Today you might find that same brand on sale 2 for a dollar; usually they are at least a dollar each. At that time 2 a piece plus a salad and we had a decent meal. That was because the pies were full. Today you pop the top on one of those puppies and you might find a half cup of filling and a lot of nothing else. That is when menu planning came into the picture. Since we started menu planning we had discovered we can make our own chicken pot pies, and about anything else, a whole lot tastier, nutritious, and cheaper.
True we have had to learn to cook to make this work. But that has been a blessing anyway. Learning to cook has given us an almost artful form of self expression that is itself satisfying. But it came with other benefits too. We have also discovered we are more adventurous when it comes to trying new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients. But, more importantly, we have found that it is far more nutritious to eat this way. When you stop to look at the recipe for, say, Chicken Pot Pie and compare it to the ingredients on the box of the frozen version it makes you wonder what you were actually eating. Something we should all think about, especially when you have kids.
Once you learn budgeting using menuplans and cooking the meals on that menu you find your shopping list changes. You start buying ingredients, produce, meat, spices, and things like this. Not prepackaged prepared foods, frozen dinners, chicken pot pies, spaghetti sauce, etc. When we did this we found we couldn’t find coupons for the items on our grocery list.
Ultimately, that is why the kids don’t let us use coupons for grocery shopping.
Couponing takes time.
Kids are more important and fun than clipping coupons
Manufacturers only print coupons for processed foods.
Homemade food from real ingredients is cheaper and more nutritious
They don’t print coupons for produce, or meat and only occasionally for spices.
(We didn’t find one in this week’s paper.)
That isn’t to say that couponing doesn’t have its place. We found plenty of coupons in the paper this week for other household items that we use. Time will tell whether or not we remember to use them or not. We just don’t find them useful for grocery shopping.
Your lifestyle no doubt differs from ours and you may find after weighing important factors in your life such as budget, time, and dietary needs that they are useful. We have friends who are couponing geniuses. They make it work for them and you may too.
Our goal for this blog is to simply share what works for us and hopefully inspire you to find what works best for you and your family. Because at the end of the day budgets are tight for most of us and any way we can find to save is better than none.