Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why I hate sales and coupons:

Yep, you have read correctly - the resident vegetarian on the cheap is anti sales and anti coupons! Now let me tell you why:
I have written before about the importance of an eating plan for the whole week before you go out shopping. There is simply no way to make intelligent shopping decisions when you don’t really know what you will have to cook the rest of the week. The more you plan, the better your shopping experience will be. Events such as soccer practice, attending a dinner potluck, having to work late one night - all have to be factored in since they have a huge impact on what you will be able to cook or eat that week. If you also consider other influences such as, what is in season or how fast some produce will spoil - you realize why it is a good idea to sit down at home and devote 10 minutes to actually write down what everybody in your family will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner that week.
And here it often comes - “But how will I know what is on sale at any given week - if I am supposed to plan my week at home?”
Well, quite honestly the more you make your own buying decisions, the better off you are. Sales are nothing more than gimmicks. Supermarkets are not our friends - quite often you almost feel like they are the enemy. A sale is not a friendly offer to pass along the discount the big chain supermarket was negotiating on our behalf - you wish!
A sale or a coupon is a marketing tool. Nothing more. It is supposed to get you to come to the store and separate you from your money.
I know there are people out there who are the coupon queens and kings but what they don’t realize is that they are still being told what to buy, when, where and how much.
I never use coupons and furthermore most of the foods I buy are never on sale or featured in coupons. You will rarely find a sale in the bulk bins, and store brands not only rarely are featured in coupons, but are almost never more expensive than the brand name item, coupon and all. The coupon madness has finally also arrived in the health food stores, since many of the smaller mom-and-pop manufacturers have been gobbled up by the multinational mega corporations that also own the big chain supermarkets: Stonyfield Farms is owned by Danone, Kashi by Kellogs, Boca Burgers by Kraft Foods.
So, where does that leave us when we are trying to feed our families as intelligently and efficiently as possible?
My rule is this: if something that I had on my shopping list is on sale hurrah! If one item is an easy substitute - cheddar over mozarella or cauliflower over broccoli - fine, but if a sale would prompt me to buy something that I would not usually buy, or have never bought before, I simply pass.
 This way I am still making my own buying decisions and take comfort in the fact that I don’t fall prey to the mass manipulation that is the coupon game. Any thoughts?


Rose said...

Hear! Hear!


Another problem with coupons is that I can never remember I have them when I'm shopping or planning. Also, they are always for brand names and like you said, the sale price is either more than or at least equal to the store brand price.

Some people I know take the Sunday paper so that they can see the weekly sales at the grocery stores. Usually theres a big section of ads just for grocery stores. This can be used to plan some of your meals around.


moni said...

Yep - you said it. The important thing is that you are still at home with the inserts of the Sunday paper - so you are immune to impulse buying. I really think that some people devote an insane amount of time to coupon clipping and they would be surprised to find that better planning in the first place - a la better thought out recipes - would save them so much more. That's where I am going with the blog the next couple of weeks - recession recipes!
Thanks for the comment - Rose - any luck with the dishwasher yet?

Rose said...

Haven't had a chance to try it. I'm still in the middle of moving. ARGH! *pulls out hairs*



moni said...

Ah! " Moving" = *shudder*

Cheryl said...

I don't do the coupon thing either, but a sale is another story altogether. Often, produce is on sale just because it is "in season" and there is a lot of it available. If possible, I will stock up and freeze it if I can, or even (sorry!) change my meal plan if it includes lots of fresh, in season veggies. I hear what you're saying about meal planning, but a little bit of flexibility isn't necessarily a bad thing. Also, some stores (like Whole Foods) put their sale flyers online so you can check out the sales before you make your lists.

moni said...

I agree. Flexibility is a good thing. So many recipes are quite adaptable when it comes to produce. I love Whole Foods and have found that their fliers don't only contain what's on sale but also feature some really well written recipes.

earthmother said...

Both my Dad and I tried and tried to convince my Mother of this for years (to no avail). She was the Coupon Queen and planned her meals/grocery list around the sales circulars.

Me? I don't even look at them. They get tossed right from the mailbox into the recycling bin.

Confession: occasionally, I will pick up one of those Mambo Sprouts coupon books at the local organic market and see if there's anything I can use. Since about 95% of my shopping is done in the produce aisle, I buy so few packaged products these days.