Re-learning to coupon

Friday, February 3, 2012
Oh how couponing has turned out to be so popular!

It wasn't always that way. I remember feeling like my family was being judged for using coupons at our grocery store. I would try my best not to let it bother me but I was a kid, you know?

My mom tried to make it fun for us. I mean, she let us play with scissors, err, I mean cut out the coupons for her. She would also hand us a stack in the store and send us off to match up the items and bring them back to the cart. I realize now that my mother is a genius. Teach us to save money using coupons, teach us to read and understand the fine print instead of just matching the pictures (tricksy little pictures, those are!), and keep us entertained and out of her hair?! Genius! We played along, helped do the shopping that always took hours usually once a month, and our reward was delicious fast food on the way home. No seriously, we got really excited about our fast food on the way home! Think about it. Us kids got junk food that was oh-so-yummy, plus soda, plus a toy! And a mini milkshake/ice cream hybrid?! Sweet deal! Some of you may be wondering why the heck you would pick up fast food after getting groceries. Because after four hours of shopping with two (or more, we always had friends over) energy filled and inevitably whiny, needy, kids after a 12+ hour day on your feet at the local Post Office, who the heck wants to cook dinner?? I wouldn't.

Speaking of learning to coupon - my mom set a great example. She planned her trips for triple coupon days That's right. Triple. Coupons. Does anyone even do that anymore? We would go in the store with a massive pile of coupons. Walk every single isle searching for in-store deals, and matching coupons and products. Add more coupons from "tearpads" and "blinkies". If my mom knew about a sale that had a limit per person, our friends were absolutely coming over that night, because we would all be pawns in her check out game. Oh that was the best part! Acting like grown ups, walking through our very own check out line, cash and coupons in hand. Sometimes my friends and I, and even my little sister once in a while, would use a made up funny accent. Because of course if you use an accent you must be an adult. No matter if you can't actually see over the register... After hours of shopping we would come to the check out with two, sometimes three carts full of groceries. We always got stares. And it always took forever. If I recall correctly, my mother had her receipt pinned up on the wall behind the Customer Service Desk once. To serve as a reminder to the cashiers they needed to draw straws for who was going to take us next month, I'd bet. It was taller than all of us combined, and I can't even imagine how much we saved. Every single thing we bought would either be on sale, or have a coupon, and often both. My mother was the original extreme couponer, ladies. Props to you Mom, mad props.

Over the years we laxed on our couponing. As I grew in to teen-terror-dom (to put it nicely) I became less willing to help (understatement of the year) and my sister was incredibly stubborn (you know it's true!). Once I was able to drive I started taking over some of the shopping trips with Mom's credit card. It wasn't my money, what did I care if we used coupons or not? Teen-terror-dom was strong, and had a long and tumultuous reign.

Now that I'm growing up (yes, growing. As in currently.) with a family of my own, it's time for me to start behaving accordingly. I'm a bit of my hippie - just putting it out there. My husband is growing to love his inner Eco-friendly person. We are trying to evolve into better consumers, learning how we can respect our Mother-Earth as much as we love and feel thanks for her. Our son was the wonderful beginning of this transformation. After all, we want him to respect his planet, his home, and to care for her. Up to that point we had been all talk. Our journey started with the decision and execution to cloth diaper. The rest of this story is perhaps for another time though. Right now we are working on expanding our nutritive horizons, with an effort to eat more organic, GMO free, and locally made products whenever we can. These things are expensive compared to the crap I buy on sale regularly. Oh yes, teen-terror-dom may have dropped the couponing, but I've been conditioned to love a good sale from within the depths of my being! Okay, maybe that is a bit extreme. You get the point, right? So - with our desireneed to consume more consciously, conscientiously, and healthfully also comes the reality of our finances and the realization that we need to make a better effort to be kind to our financial well being as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen. It's time to get serious about coupons.

Normally I'm a Kroger shopper. My mother always shops at Kroger, I've spent all of my life shopping in that one particular store. I even had my first job at that one particular store. Let's face the facts though, The "organic foods" section in Kroger takes up approx 1/8 of the store's space. The options are limited and I'm pretty familiar with the prices and selection. We decided we wanted to give Whole Foods a try.

Yesterday I took the time to go over the ad, and print coupons off for things I wanted. Of course I left my coupons at home while we were out and about, but we decided to head to the store anyways. We picked up lunch first because I was starving. The bar area they have, while organic and delicious, was a bit more expensive than I was hoping for. Well worth it though, and since we missed our three month wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago, we agreed to justify the unusual expense as a celebration of our union together - with a tribute to our commitment not only to ourselves as a couple, and our family, but as a commitment to eating better, and providing a better example for nutrition to Turtle-Love. (I don't care if that makes sense or not). We then spent about an hour just walking through the store. We only purchased a hand full of items, all on sale. It was more of a recognizance mission to compare the prices of our regularly purchased items, to see what we were up against.

I ♥ shopping with my boys =)

I have to admit I had sticker shock at some of the things I saw, and was forced to remind myself not only was this a completely different store but that the product was organic, and that I generally buy said item at Kroger non-organic on sale, etc. I was also pleasantly surprised at the very little price difference between some things. An example? Whole Foods' brand of organic spaghetti sauce was the same everyday price as some of the big brands Kroger carries, while on sale. We bought the spaghetti sauce, as well as a couple cans of natural soda that were on sale (note: the only time I drink soda is when I'm sick or enjoying a root beer float on occasion. Our house has been battling a super nasty stomach bug, so I'm in the market for some decent ginger ale), two boxes of Bell & Evans Chicken Tenders (one of which was gluten free, we want to see if there is a taste difference) that were buy one get one free, and some organic avocados that were on sale for a dollar for Toad's mom.

Any one have good resources for coupons, or tips to pass along to me as I re-learn to coupon?


  1. HappyMama said...:

    Did you see that Whole Foods has free coupon books by the customer service desk? The other day I combined a Whole Foods coupon with a sale and got a big bag of organic corn chips for just a dollar.

    The Whole Foods coupon book comes out every two months, and the coupons in it are good for three months. For example, right now the January-February coupon book is out, and its coupons are good through the end of March.

    Did you know that you can get a card for a free apple or banana for each kid at the customer service desk? We do this every time we shop-- and I get Paulie the biggest organic honeycrisp apple I can find! Even if he's not hungry then, they don't mind me taking it home for later.

    I haven't been to Rebecca's Natural Food lately, but I know they used to have free magazines and coupon books from the manufacturers, that you could use at any store.

    Good luck! I look forward to hearing more about your couponing!

  1. Nicole said...:

    I'm going to need you to teach me!

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