Monday, November 1, 2010

Savvy How To: Eating Healthy With Coupons

My Two Cents:  Eat Smarter

If you know anything about me, it’s obvious that I am a coupon-a-holic!  I teach coupon seminars frequently and there demonstrate the amazing savings of coupons in my family’s life.  During these Savvy Shopping Seminars I often hear participants question if the majority of coupons are for prepackaged foods or canned goods they would not normally eat in their homes.  To answer that question, in actuality, the majority of the coupons I use, and find some of the biggest overall savings with, are for household products, cleaners, health care and personal hygiene items.  Products like laundry detergent, diapers and even deodorant and toothpaste are big ticket saving items in my savvy pantry.  Paying little or no money for these items allows me to allocate my budget to include enough fresh produce and other healthy options to satisfy even the stingiest budget.

It’s certainly true that amazing deals can be had on packaged goods and canned goods, as well as sugary snacks and drinks.  However, I also teach shoppers that there are always healthy options to most any purchase.  The choice is ultimately yours as to what you choose to stock in your pantry.  As an experienced shopper I have found a few tricks to eating healthier while still saving with coupons.

1. Smarter Breakfast Cereals.  I’ll admit Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch is my cereal temptation.  I love its’ peanut buttery goodness, but not necessarily the sugar content so it’s not a cereal I stock up on often.  However, when it does go on sale and can be combined with a great money saving coupon I try to balance the sugar with some common sense cereals as well.  Most cereal coupons include a low sugar option like Corn Flakes, Cheerios or Rice Krispies.  Many of these now include whole grains versions as well and combined with low fat milk make a great breakfast in our home.  I make sure that at least half of my cereal purchases, if not more, include low sugar cereals as well as kid favorite choices.  We alternate cereal breakfasts between these two choices on a regular basis.  Another option would be to only eat sugary cereals on special occasions like birthdays and holidays.  Growing up my parents let us choose a sugar cereal of our choice only on our birthday and the rest of the year we ate low sugar cereals.  (Guess what I picked?) This is another great sugar busting breakfast option.  I also stock up on low sugar, high fiber instant oatmeal for a quick and hearty breakfast when the price is right and coupons are a plenty!

2: Smarter Snacking:  It seems like chips and high fat snack crackers are always on sale and there’s a coupon to match.  But, have you noticed the baked options are on sale right along with them?  Not only can coupons be used for higher fat chip and cracker buys, they can also be used for low sodium, baked and “thin” low calorie product lines.  Rarely will a coupon exclude the lower fat varieties.  Another coupon snacking option would also be pretzels.  We don’t eat many fried chips in our home, rather we opt for pretzels and baked snacks to cut down on cholesterol raising snack choices.  Chips are reserved as a treat and usually only for back yard barbeques and holiday parties.

3.  Smarter Soups & Canned Goods:  There’s nothing better than a bowl of warm soup on a chilly day, but sometimes the sodium levels are out of this world, not to mention the sugar!  That’s why I love to purchase the low sodium, high fiber and “healthy” lines of name brand soups.  Manufacturer coupons rarely exclude these options and in fact almost always include them.  I can’t taste a big difference between the two versions and neither can my kids.  While I’d love to make homemade soups every night, our lives get so crazy that opening a can is sometimes the best option.  I try to make that option as healthy as possible, and make sure we add fresh produce and sides to our dinner plate.

I have found that when many new-to-the-scene couponers begin their amazing savings journey that cake mixes, cookies and fruit snacks are purchased in abundance.  Even though these products hit rock bottom prices with coupon savings there is still a need to balance our purchases with healthy, low calorie, low fat buys.  Smart shopping is more than just buying blindly with only cost as the consideration. Savvy Shoppers shop smarter by opting for healthier product versions while still seeing out of pocket expenses reduced with coupon use.  And remember, you still need to have enough fresh produce, meats and dairy choices to provide a balanced diet and meet nutritional guidelines in your home.  We even get coupons for those as well!

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