Thursday, March 25, 2010


Heather has 5 coupons for $1 off lunchables. She finds that they are on sale for $.99 at her local supermarket...

You may think the answer to this question is "The store will pay Heather $.05 to take 5 lunchables off their hands."

That is, indeed, the correct answer to the above story problem. And it's kind of cool.

But the real riddle is this:

"If Heather gets 5 free lunchables from her local supermarket should she actually let her family eat them????"

I've begun couponing recently to try to save money on our family's grocery budget. I'm still getting the hang of it. I've had more frustrating experiences than positive so far, but I have saved a lot of money already and I have faith that, with practice, I can get good at this.

I've encountered a dilemma, though.

On Tuesday night I came home, having purchased $89 worth of food for only $45. It felt good.

Then I had a startling realization. I had just purchased 5 bags of potato chips, 2 jumbo boxes of poptarts, 4 boxes of sugary cereal and 5 lunchables.

We don't eat this kind of stuff. I mean, we're not complete snobs. I love a good potato chip. Every once in a while. I don't need FIVE BAGS of them in my house.

I always kind of thought that the mostly whole food, unproccessed, non-junk diet our family usually eats was the product of a tight food budget.

Well, either that's completely untrue or somewhere along the way I've learned to prefer it.

Imagine my confusion when this light bulb came on.

Add to this that Jeffrey and I just watched "Food, Inc.", I have been listening to a lot of Michael Pollan on NPR, I've begun buying as much of my produce and meats as possible through local food co-ops and have been researching local farms to find a source for grass-fed beef.

Oh. And I'm researching the effect of food additives on ADHD symptoms in adults and children.

So the real riddle lies in how I will reconcile my desire to save money with my desire to keep my family healthy by feeding them food rather than food-like-substance.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Emily said...

Heather, I know exactly what you mean! You can save lots of $, and even get things free. But the things you're getting aren't (generally) healthy.

Soooo I did couponing just on toiletries for a while. And now I've got a little stock of them, so I'm going to go through them before I start up again.

Clearly I'm not saying this is THE ANSWER. It just has been my answer lately. Thought I'd share my similar experiences.

Kara said...

Yes, using coupons can be great, but you really have to ask yourself. Is this something I would buy without the coupon? If not, then it really isn't that great a deal for you. In general I only use coupons if I plan to already buy that item or it is something I usually buy. I much prefer to just watch sales and price match.

Abby said...

We've been eating more healthy too and I've found that in the process, we use less and less coupons just because all those AWESOME coupon deals are for things WE DON'T BUY! Ack. Wish that weren't how it worked.

We just watched Food, Inc. last week and are also making the same kind of changes in our family diet. I've read a little of Pollan's In Defense of Food and enjoyed seeing him in his bits on Food, Inc. I'll have to look him up on NPR.

Ben and Teri said...

I did the same thing for a while. I finally stopped doing the whole coupon thing for the same reason that you are talking about. Good luck!

sara said...

The same thing happened to me. When they start handing out coupons for produce I'll use them.

Penny D. said...

We eat mostly whole foods too, but I never really questioned why until I read your riddle. I guess we do it for both reasons, but mostly because it is healthier. I suppose the change came about with Charity's dietary restrictions of wheat and milk. about 97% of prepackaged foods contain one or the other. It is certainly cheaper to make your own most of the time - lasagna would be a possible exception to that.
Anyway, we eat that way because it is the right thing to do. The added bonus of it being cheaper and healthier has not gone unnoticed. I mean, when the grocery store wants $4.00 a lb for tomatoes, I do without until a cheaper option shows up. When cauliflower is $4.00 a head, I buy the frozen cauliflower.