Coupons and Junk Food

Crystal at MoneySavingMom.com recently penned an article that summed up perfectly what I have been meaning to talk about for quite some time: keeping to your budget while eating healthily in a market swamped with coupons for highly-processed food!

Crystal was asked an excellent question on one of her blogs, and then wrote her response below:

I’ve been using coupons for a while, but I’ve just newly done research on getting the most bang for each coupon. The thing that I notice though is that much of the food you get at really great prices is not really so healthy… chips, candy, cookies, and lots of processed stuff which could definitely be left out of the grocery budget totally. I have a terrible sweet-tooth and really love all that stuff, but if I got that much I know it would not be so good for my waistline. Are there ways to coupon and get healthy stuff, or does the couponing really only work for the junk food? I don’t seem to find a lot of coupons for fresh foods, and healthy meal/baking supplies. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place? Any suggestions? -Melissa

Melissa, what a great question! There is a widely-held myth that using coupons means you only feed your family junk food. From a cursory vantage point, it can seem like us couponers buy a lot of processed food. And yes, it might appear like my family must only eat MSG and high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden foods. However, that is very far from the truth.

I definitely do buy some processed foods and my grocery shopping trips are evidence of this. I know that bothers some people and I often receive hate mail about it. I understand that some people want to avoid every ounce of processed foods–and that’s okay with me! But that’s not where our family is right now. We strive to eat a balanced diet and do the best we can with the time and money we have.

We don’t eat all organic, we do eat processed foods probably at least once or twice a day, and I don’t always bake and cook every single thing from scratch. But if you look at examples of our weekly menus here, you’ll see that according to most people’s standards, we do try to eat fairly healthfully. There are definitely areas we can improve in and I’m always seeking to work on those. It’s a learning process!

Crystal’s article goes on to include many helpful tips and ideas on how to save money off your grocery and cleaning bill without bringing any processed food into your house, if you should aspire to do so. It also offers the idea of saving money without using coupons, and other ways for your family to eat healthy while still saving money. You can read the rest of her wonderful article here.

My personal goals are similar to Crystal’s: I try to provide as many homemade meals as possible, and use the processed food we acquire as a treat, not as a staple of our diet. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Four Goals, I’m currently learning how to cook and my focus is entirely on healthy dishes. I’m adding to my cooking repertoire one meal at a time, and I hope that, eventually, dinner every night will include freshly-picked vegetables from my garden.

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