When Couponing Becomes a Waste of Your Family’s Time


Amy's Kitchen Freebie Coupons

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I’ve come to an unfortunate reality; couponing doesn’t provide a generous amount of savings for my family. In fact, for my family’s needs, couponing is mostly a waste of time and I think it is because my family is a bunch of frugal foodies.


I’m not saying that I won’t use coupons or look for them from time to time. However, I’m not buying a newspaper, cutting out coupons that I might use some lucky day in the future or arranging, organizing and tracking coupons. I’ve found these activities to be a complete waste of time. While it might fit well with many American families, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for mine.

It’s a simple fact that my family’s tastes, needs and activities simply don’t provide a lot of opportunity for coupons.

My Family Doesn’t Buy Things that have Coupons

A good 80% of my family’s grocery purchases are bought around the outside of the grocery store. In other words, we buy from the vegetable section, bakery, meat section and dairy section. Nearly none of the items in these areas have coupons.

There is no $1 off fresh apples to double. Ground beef goes on sale, but there is no chance clipping something that makes meat $.50 per pound. The only time my family will venture into the aisles is when we need to feed our dog or buy bulk oatmeal, diapers or canned goods. Obviously, coupons abound for the small number of items we do buy in the aisles, but the fewer the items you purchase, the fewer savings you get from buying a newspaper. In fact, when I decided to give couponing a try, I used only two coupons from the Sunday paper and the savings didn’t cover the cost.

My family does not buy snacks, drinks or cereal. The freezer section is only trafficked for some frozen peas every month or so. For my family, about 99% of coupons are nothing more than dead trees.

We Make the Food We Eat

My favorite money saver is to buy a whole chicken, cook it, freeze the meat and make stock or chicken base from the bones. This provides lots of meat for our meals and base for our soups, stews and casseroles. When one of your key strategies is to cook your food for yourself, you will start seeing less of a benefit in coupons.

That’s because coupons are from brand manufacturers selling prepackaged food. I’m more likely to save from manufacturers by selling to them than I am from buying from them. While I’m willing to substitute to some quality prepackaged food in order to save a little from coupons, most of these items decrease the quality of what I’m cooking. When that happens you aren’t talking about savings anymore, but a tradeoff between taste and low cost.

Sorry Stouffers, I’m not willing to make the trade.

Bad Fit for My Family’s Food Budget Strategy

My family’s goal is not to eat for as little as possible. Otherwise I’d go to a different restaurant each day and complain about uncooked food. My family aims to lower our food costs as much as we can, while eating the tastiest foods we know how to make.

Thus, I approach my food budget by looking over recipes and finding the ones that provide good value: superior taste with low cost ingredients. This is what my family is good at; we do not search out the best deal, then stockpile and plan meals around the three-year supply of canned creamed corn we stumbled across.

The Best Use of Coupons for My Family

Realizing that couponing and frugal foodie is simply not a good mix, I still use coupons, but don’t go through the coupon routine. I’ll scroll through online coupons on a regular basis. It doesn’t take long to browse or print and clip. I’ve found that many of the coupons I’d use from the Sunday paper are also online. I also search for coupon codes before buying anything online.

That’s it! I no longer go through reading all the grocery ads and certainly no coupon folders. My time is better spent finding frugal recipes and devising ways to buy cheaper ingredients and that’s what I’m sticking to.

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