I found a potato plant growing out of my compost pile from an old one I’d tossed last fall and got a free side dish, just for not throwing my scraps into the landfill!
I’ve always looked at the coupons in our Sunday paper and not been able to use much. I didn’t use most of it even before we had to be gluten and dairy free, and now, I really can’t use much of it. I might get a coupon for razors or recycled paper products of make-up. Though I’m trying to switch to vegan Zsu Zsu Luxe. I barely wear it anyway, so it takes me a loooong time to run out.
But I’ve flipped back and forth between the “Extreme Couponing” show a few times. Maybe I’ve seen three episodes or something.
I had the natural first reaction. Shock and amazement and wondering how to implement the same tactics.
But that was mingled with the reaction of what the carts were full of. Vitamin Water (a total scam, and decidedly unhealthy), lotions, shampoos and shaving gels full of chemicals that cause me headaches that I wouldn’t put on my kids anyway, candy’s we’d never eat due to artificials or dairy, cake mixes we wouldn’t have eaten even when we ate gluten, and other boxed stuff.
I sat staring, wondering if people realized they are trading their health for free junk?
What do Americans value their health so little? I swear, please keep reading, I’m not being judgemental. I mean this truly. Why, why, do we rush to get something for free because it is a food, tritely responsible for our energy, our mood, how healthy we glow (I’m vain. That’s why I’m healthy, folks. Aside from wanting my kids to not get tummy aches), and our longevity.
Free stuff, sure, we all love it. But at what cost? This junk isn’t free or cheap, even though it seems that way. It costs you your life. Either you spend the money on fresh food, or you spend it treating your heart disease, acne, ADD, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. This isn’t judgement. This is the fact that this is what Americans are suffering from.
Why suffer just because it’s free?
All that being said, clearly the show focuses on the wow-factor. I seriously doubt that these filmed grocery trips are the typical ones for most people. They go for a huge “haul” for the show. Not everyone that coupons is a hoarder with basements full of products so that they never run out.
And I learned some cool tricks watching it. Now I know to save the few coupons I can use for when those items are also on sale. I can print a 7th generation scent free laundry detergent coupon off the week it is on sale, and save more, than buying it once with a coupon and once when it is on sale.
The other thing that bothers me is how the extreme couponers buy the smallest size when they can because than the get it item free, instead of the dollar off the larger size. That is the worst thing you can do for the environment.
So this is my brand of getting stuff discounted.
Plant stuff. Eat it.
Go to the Farmer’s Market, get to know the farmers, or call around to farms, and get them to give you deals on the bruised and imperfect veggies. We got several free things last Saturday because the farmer knows us and gave them to us, because they were bruised.
This is what we got, for $19:
My guess at supermarket prices:
Personal size watermelon: $4
Baby tomatos: $3
Larger tomatos at a few pounds: 2 x $3 = $6
Eggplants, 2 lbs: $4
Dozen eggs, with two thrown in for free (watch Food Lion do that!): $2
Couple pounds of peaches: $4 at least
Total about $27. Add to that, the fact that these were ALL raised organically, that price goes up to at least between $30 to $40.
To me, it’s a bargain I can feel good about, for the health of my family, the local economy, and the health of the earth.
To me, extreme couponing (and I do mean extreme. I know lots of my friends coupon reasonably! haha) is the actual opposite of the fresh, farm raised, local food movement. The couple on the show that bought two months of frozen meals so that they didn’t have to grocery shop for that long and could go on vacation– that *can’t* be the norm. It’s just so horribly unhealthy! Alright, sorry for my prudish, food-snobbishness. I just hope that people that look into couponing because of these shows don’t see this as an ideal to live up to.
It’s not a good goal to achieve. Paying all kinds of money for electronics, cars, clothes and houses, while treating our bodies as an after thought.
And what gets me too is that people act like it takes so much time to make every meal from scratch, and to use not a single box, save something like pasta that takes skill to make at home. Yet, these moms are spending 60 hours a week printing, cutting and dumpster diving.
They could can their own tomato sauce, jams, and make freezer meals in that time. They could be organzing for affordable food from local farmer’s in that time. It’s actually a misconception that making real food at home takes more time.
I know because I’ve been there. Before the kid’s food intolerances, I loved eating out because I didn’t want to spend the time cooking and cleaning. Now that I know *how* to cook healthily, I spend less time making good food than I did sitting in a restaurant waiting for reheated crap passed off as fresh food.
We spend a decent bit of our budget on our food. Food sustains us. It’s the one thing that affects our body more than anything else. We need to it survive. We are happy to spend the money on something important.
The saying goes, either you spend the time at the doctor or you spend it in the kitchen. Apparently, either you spend it couponing or in the kitchen. But you will spend the time.
Nothing in life is truly free.