Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
When you watch the extreme couponing shows or here about extreme couponing trips where people get all of their groceries for free, it might make you wonder whether or not these super coupon clippers ever pay for groceries. With the goal being free, they rack up thousands of dollars worth of free coupons to feed their families.
Wouldn’t it be great to live on all the things you get with extreme couponing?
The reality is that normally, even if you are getting all of these items for free, you can’t necessarily get away with never having to pay anything for groceries. This is because of a little known fact that the extreme couponers don’t tell you on the show: most of the best bargains and coupon sales combinations happen on very processed food.
So yes, you can get hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for just a few bucks, but you may find that your freezer and pantry are filled with things such as 40 boxes of toaster pastry, 60 boxes of pop tarts, and 25 boxes of sugar-laden cereals.
But where is the milk, eggs, meat, fruit and vegetables?
While you can still get some good deals on healthier whole foods with extreme couponing (see my recent article about using catalina coupons to do this), you can’t count on doing this often or enough to supply your family with good food. So you need to apply other strategies to get the healthy food that you want.
First of all, realize that you need whole foods to maintain a healthy diet. There is just no way around this one. Let go of the goal of not paying for any groceries for a moment and make sure your budget has some money in it for unprocessed or minimally processed food.
Next, see if you can trade some of the products you get by extreme couponing for healthier items. If you know someone with a garden, for example, you might be able to trade a bunch of cleaning supplies or frozen pizza that you got for free in exchange for their abundance of garden produce. This way you both win, and it is as though you got all of that produce for free!
Another strategy is to use your extreme couponing savings to pay for a share in a CSA, community sponsored agriculture program. You basically buy a share in a farm and share all of the bounty of all that the farm produces. Sometimes this also includes dairy products and well as vegetables and fruits.
So can you live on extreme couponing? Not completely by itself, but you can get pretty close if you employ some of the strategies listed above.