After the recent economic crash in 2009 and the rise in frugal/self sufficient lifestyles, it has become increasingly popular to coupon. Some of my readers may not realize that when the American economy crashed, the world economy crashed. I’m not saying that it was a cause and effect relationship, but the whole world went into a recession at the same time. So, by my best guess, I would imagine my readers in Australia, England and Europe might have thought about couponing.
I’m here to tell you to quit couponing for one very simple reason:
Junk food, processed food, not real food. Coupons, 90% of the time, are only for processed, name brand foods. There are exceptions of course, but I’ll get to those in a minute.
I recently tried to start couponing and I was appalled by what I found. Pages upon pages of free, printable coupons for nothing but junk. I take great pride in cooking from scratch and feeding Justin and I good food. All the food I cook with started raw and needed to be processed by me. There is a big difference between me chopping up some chicken and buying it with a coupon where it’s been chopped, breaded, flash fried and frozen.
There are two arguments that are bound to come up, and I’ll address them here:
Fresh food is too expensive.
This argument has no basis in fact whatsoever. Fresh food is actually cheaper than processed food, the USDA did a ton of studies on it, you can google it if you like. What people see is a meal in a box for $1. What they don’t realize is that the amount of food in that box is almost nothing compared to what you would get if you made it fresh. I’ll cite Pasta Roni. These boxes are 2 servings of a pasta mix. They are extremely tasty and the cheapest I’ve ever seen them is Wal-Mart for $1. There is about 2oz. of angel hair pasta (or shells) in the box with a sauce packet, you have to provide the milk, butter and water. So let’s break it down.
Pasta Roni (2 servings)- $1
Homemade (2 servings)-55¢
2oz Angel Hair-13¢
1 tsp. Corn Starch-3¢
1 Tbs. Powdered Milk-25¢
Something as cheap as $1 is overcharging you by almost 50%, just because it’s convenient and in a colorful box. It takes the same amount of time to make the boxed version as it does the homemade version. Even with a coupon, you have to buy 3 boxes to save 50¢, you are still being way overcharged.
“But that’s not FRESH food” you say. Well, take a look at this.
Applesauce (packaged)- $3-$8 a pint, depending on what you buy.
Homemade Applesauce-$1.38 a pint or less, depending on what you buy.
I made 6 pints of applesauce for less than $12. Since I hate cheap applesauce, I would have bought a higher quality if I didn’t make it myself, I probably just saved myself close to $25 and I have applesauce in my pantry when I want it. I also know what’s in it exactly and because I learned to can, I don’t have to worry about filling the jar with preservatives to keep it fresh in Wal-Mart.
I don’t have time to cook.
There are two really simple ways to fix this problem. 1) Get over it and MAKE time to cook, not that it takes any longer. 2) When you do have time to cook (on weekends), make too much food and package it and freeze it. That’s easy warm-up meals or meals on the go!
We live in a very fast paced world. I can confidently say that this is the first time people in my generation who are 24 years old have absolutely NOTHING in common with people 3 years younger than us. That is insane. I have more common knowledge with my parents than I do my sister who is almost 20. That’s not a maturity thing, she grew up in a transformed world. I grew up as the transformation was taking place.
Because of this, it is more crucial than ever for people to slow down and relax. If you’re like me, cooking will relax you and give you a moment to yourself. You stay busy, but you’re not in a rush and you can think. Pork chops don’t cook any faster and you can’t force them to or you’ll burn the snot out of them (and they’ll be raw inside). So slow down and take some times to cook.
Things you should do:
1) Coupon for produce or fresh meat. Some places offer them, but most times they will just be on sale.
2) Shop Sales. Buy more than you need when chicken is 88¢ a pound and freeze it. Same thing with freezable produce.
3) Start a garden. You can easily supplement your groceries no matter where you live. Pots were made for a reason and grass is totally useless. If you eat grass however, please keep growing it.
4) Shop smart. Now I can shop at Wal-Mart and get cheap food OR I can go to grocery stores that are not franchises and get an even better deal. We found a store near us that has meat for $1 less per pound than anywhere else and it’s better quality and cut/packaged in the store.
5) Coupon for special things. I really love tater tots and oreos, I just can’t help it. So I continue to coupon for those things, but I also make sure to eat them consciously and in small amount.
Even with coupons, processed food is still more expensive than fresh and it’s full of stuff that you really don’t want to eat. Save yourself the time and printer ink and start reading those sales papers that come with the newspaper. Or find a better place to shop. Or learn to can or freeze. Even with the initial startup costs (jars, lids, canner) you’ll still be saving money AND eating healthier.
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