Couponing and Healthy Eating

By ERIN TURNER

Sometimes I feel like I live in two different worlds — the world of couponing and the world of healthy eating.  Can these two lifestyles actually coexist or is the disparity too great?

It is true the majority of food coupons are for processed and packaged convenience foods.  Most of the grocery store sales and promotions are also for these foods.   Unfortunately, the world of couponing revolves around foods which are high in sodium, high in sugar/high fructose corn syrup and lots of additives and preservatives.  Recently I have seen an increase in coupons for natural and organic foods. Yet, most are still for those foods which would be deemed unhealthy.

Now, jump with me to my next world — the world of healthy eating.  I truly believe food makes up a large part of our health, both mentally and physically.  As a mom I feel responsible for the health of my family and I want to make sure their meals and snacks are wholesome.  I have outlawed certain foods to enter my home because they don’t meet our standard of healthy living.

We run our own vegetable farm and are dedicated to growing chemical-free, all-natural produce. We also raise chickens and pigs for our meat and eggs.  This gives me comfort knowing there aren’t toxins and other nastiness in the foods I feed my family.  I’m not a food nazi by any means, but I try to be conscious and aware of what we eat.

So, how the heck do I blend these two opposing lifestyles?  Very carefully and with much balance!  First of all, the health issue is always my priority.  So, when I see coupons or sales for foods which really shake my inner core, I walk away.

Yet, there are other items I consider “not-so-great” but when consumed in moderation I don’t think I’m jeopardizing the health of my family.  I’m not a huge fan of microwave popcorn but every now and then, I do buy it.   Finding your “comfort zone” of moderation is key…what things are you okay feeding to your family occasionally, never oralways?

If you stay within your zone, then you can move forward with your plan of saving money using coupons and/or the sales.

If you don’t want to buy any of the food for which you have coupons, you can still save mega amounts of money by using coupons on household products.

If you have a budget of $300 for groceries/toiletries a month and you only want to buy organic, fresh food you may struggle.  But if you use coupons for your household items (toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc), you will have lots left in your budget to spend on the organic, fresh food.  Like I’ve said in past posts, couponing lets you determine where you want to spend YOUR money!

There are numerous ways you can combine couponing and a healthy lifestyle.  Most of the grocery stores now have decent organic food aisles.  Watch for sales in those aisles. I picked up tofu packages for $1 at Safeway this winter–a big score for me since it is one of my kids’ favorite snacks.

As mentioned earlier, there are increasing numbers of organic coupons available. Also be on the look out for produce coupons.   With summer arriving soon, don’t forget about all the local farmers’ markets.   Those are great places to get fresh, healthy food for goodprices.

I’ve also noticed many mainstream companies starting to offer healthier choices.  I stumbled onto Skippy Natural peanut butter which has no high fructose corn syrup.  Both the store sale and my coupons applied, so I stocked up!

The other way I help bring these two diverse worlds together is by doing a lot of home cooking/baking.  We rarely buy store bought cookies but I do stock up on chocolate chips, nuts, etc. so I can bake my own cookies. That way I have control over what goes in them.

We make our own spaghetti sauce for pasta dishes but I have an entire shelf stocked to the top with pasta noodles I bought using coupons.  We can and freeze all our vegetables and fruits each fall. This not only saves oodles of money, but also gives me piece of mind knowing I am serving my family fresh, organic food.

I realize not everyone has a garden so watch for seasonal sales on produce and stock up in order to freeze or can them.   Limiting or excluding pre-packaged foods not only saves money but is much healthier for your family.

Couponing and healthy eating can actually complement each other when you do it right.  First, determine your priorities and create your “comfort zone.” Then go out and conquer! You’ll feel good about saving money AND eating healthy!

Update on last week’s Menu Planning contest!  Congrats to ANGI DELLINGER who won the menu planning board!  Thanks everyone for entering!  Stay tuned for more contests!

 

Back to the Save It blog home page.  AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club” for savings updates throughout the week!

Click here to see the Coupon Queen’s “Save It”archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for herfamily.