Sunday, November 21, 2010

From the Coupon Queen--A Week of Groceries for $20

From Inforum. At the end, I'll tell you how to achieve the same thing without coupons at all, and eating better to boot!

"Some enjoy the thrill of getting free groceries with coupons. Others use coupons to free up money in the household budget for entertainment or leisure. Still others rely on coupon savings to put food on the table every week."


"Recently, a new coupon shopper asked me for help. After her spouse had been out of work for more than nine months, she began clipping coupons and trying to learn how to match them to sales to cut her weekly grocery bill.

Since she’d only been couponing for a few weeks, she didn’t have much of a grocery stockpile built up yet. During a particularly difficult week, she asked for help. She had less than $20 to spend on a week’s worth of lunches and dinners for her family. Could coupons help?

To achieve the biggest savings, coupons and low-priced sales go hand-in-hand. In a near-emergency situation such as this, I decided to focus on staples that would get her through the week and products and items that would last through several meals. The shopping list we came up featured all name-brand products that were hitting low points in the pricing cycle; we added coupons to cut the sale prices even further.

* Pasta sauce: On sale for 99 cents. Two $1 manufacturer coupons good for the purchase of two bottles. Purchase: $1.96 for four jars

* Pasta: On sale for 99 cents/box. Two $1 manufacturer coupons good for the purchase of two boxes; stacked with a $1 store coupon good for the purchase of four boxes. Purchase: 96 cents for four boxes

* Bologna: On sale for $1/16-ounce package. Two 50-cent manufacturer coupons. Purchase: $1 for two packages

* Bread: On sale for $1.19/16-ounce loaf. Two $1 store coupons. Purchase: 38 cents for two loaves

* Margarine: On sale for $1. $1 manufacturer coupon. Purchase: 1 package free

* 100-percent juice concentrates: On sale for $1. One $1 manufacturer coupon good for the purchase of four canisters. Purchase: $3 for four canisters

* Beef roast: On sale for $1.99/pound. $2 store coupon good for a $10 purchase of fresh beef. Purchase: $8.44 for a 5.25-pound beef round roast

Grand Total: $15.74."

Look what this lady considers food: bologna, margarine, sugar-laden juice, and pasta sauce? She even refers to these as STAPLES! Some coupon queen--getting you to load up on junk foods with little to no nutrition. She didn't even have peanut butter on her list, which would've been healthier than bologna, but what can you expect from the microwave generation?

~~Now for the dethroning~~

Wenchypoo's solution: do the commercial version of the Food Stamp Challenge Cheats. If I can do it organically for $30/week, then you can positively do it for substantially less than that (maybe even less than $20/week), beating the supposed Coupon Queen by a mile, and NOT HAVING TO RESORT TO COUPONS to do it!

A review:

Highest-Nutrition/Lowest-Cost Foods
Organ meats
Rice/Quinoa (preferably dark-colored)
In-season fruits and vegetables (the darker, the better—growing them is cheapest)
Sprouts (self-grown is cheapest)
Milk (powdered dry)
Cottage Cheese (depending on liquid milk prices)

*pasta will be added back to this list as soon as wheat prices return to normal (fall 2011?)

*nuts are "in season" for the holidays--add some to your list if you can afford it.

Be prepared to find the cheapest source of some of these foods in unusual places: foreign grocery stores (Asian, Latino, Caribbean, Jewish, etc.), the international foods section of your grocery store, dollar stores, farmer's markets, or even health food stores and co-ops. If there are any damaged goods or grocery salvage stores in your area, don't hesitate to use them.

Instead of trying to squeeze in a little bit of lots of foods (as most people do), shorten the shopping list and load up on AFFORDABLE effective foods to fit your budget. It’s not the lack of variety that should bother you, but the chance for creativity with what you have. These ingredients above can turn out some wonderful soups, salads, casseroles, omelets, dips, you name it—creativity and imagination are all that limit you. As the seasons change, a new assortment of fruits and veggies to choose from will only increase your imagination when choosing ingredients for dishes to create.

Another way to stretch that food dollar and get foods for free: foraging--but don't do it unless you have a trusty experienced companion or good book, because some seemingly-edible foods have poisonous look-a-likes (like mushrooms). Right now, nuts, fall berries, wild onions, miner's lettuce, and dandelions (among other foods) are in season or about to be. Places to forage: parks (state/national/local), school and sports fields, open lands, vacant lots, your yard, yards of abandoned/foreclosed homes, along railroad tracks, in roadway medians...the list goes on.

How much can you create with pasta sauce, noodles, bread, bologna, and the rest of that hideous list the so-called Coupon Queen has in the article? She didn't even have CHEESE on it, for crying out loud! I don't even want to know what her cholesterol and energy levels are! The only thing I agree with on her list is the roast.


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