Stop Stereotyping Couponers: The Majority Frugally Shop the Outer Perimeters of the Grocery Store

There was yet another article about couponing, this time in “The New York Times Magazine,” (May 3, 2012) featuring the folks at Fabulously Frugal, and yet again, I’m astounded at how a topic like couponing can get people so riled up (read the comments, they are more entertaining than the actual article). Many of the misinformed comments that come after the article prejudge people who use coupons as unhealthy hoarders who are a burden to those who don’t use coupons. 

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries l...
NOT what I buy! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure people were so fired up about couponing before that dang TLC show about extreme couponing came along. But every naysayer thinks that people who use coupons buy loads of junk food one step up from the fast food chains. (Oh, how I wish I could find out how many people who write negative comments about coupons frequent McDonald’s or other fast food establishments I wouldn’t be caught dead in… I’m sure more than a few…). Here’s the reality of most couponers (not those on television): we save money on non-grocery and grocery items using coupons, and so we can buy good meat and fresh produce. If I can get razors and toothpaste for free-ish using coupons, that money goes towards fruits and veggies. Most of us are not like the woman in Erie, Pennsylvania, featured on “Extreme Coouponing” who has a locked door to a special room in her basement filled with cookies and snacks, called “Mom’s Cookie Room.”

One Canadian blogger tried to explain her healthy couponing in this informative, helpful article–and then she was lambasted by a reader in the comments section–you may want to read her gracious reply to this reader. Another healthy couponing article by Shape Magazine listed Lean Pockets as a healthy food to buy with coupons. I would never be caught dead with a package of highly processed Lean Pockets in my house. The article also lists Yoplait yogurt, which I know is high in sugar. My take away from these articles: we all have different definitions of what eating healthy means for us–some of us prescribe to healthy-enough while others are more strict. We don’t have to agree with each other, but let’s have a healthy level of respect for one another.

Most of us have heard health advocates, such as the Mayo Clinic, say to avoid any inner aisles of grocery stores food. So, besides buying cereals, pasta, crackers and decent cookies (when I don’t make from scratch) inside the store perimeter, ingredients for tomato sauces, and always flour, sugars, oils and other baking and condiment needs, my own cart is filled with perimeter groceries. It is most definitely not filled with fruit roll-ups (tons of coupons for those) and the like!

Speaking of perimeter groceries, there ARE coupons and sales for those! You have to find the store in your area that holds the best perimeter sales. Thankfully, ShopRite has produce Super Coupons, and besides that, I’ve been able to use manufacturer’s coupons to buy almonds, raisins, protein bars, orange juice, cheeses, yogurts (favorite is Activa), organic eggs, organic milks…with coupons matched with sales! Maybe there are not coupons  and sales for all the items all the time, but most of the time, I’m able to frugally shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

Here’s a small sampling of recent purchases using coupons/sales at ShopRite for fresh/healthy foods:

  • Sale: $1.29 a pound for organic apples
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: whole pineapple $1.49
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: broccoli or cauliflower .99 cents a lb.
  • Coupon + Sale: Blue Diamond Almonds (not in perimeter but healthy) for $1.50 a can.
  • There’s always BOGO sales on potatoes, carrots, and onions–which reminds me of the bags of baby organic carrots for $1.66 each on sale, no coupons needed.

Here is a short list of alternative coupons I used to get healthy items:

  • Groupon to Whole Foods ($10 for $20 worth of items and I bought meat and poultry)
  • Fairfield Coupon to Fountain of Youth ($9 for $20 worth of items in this organic store in Westport, and I plan to buy produce and/or meats)
  • I use the coupon booklets from Whole Foods, as well. Sometimes you get amazing deals, as you can read about in one of our posts.

    Buying frugal chicken at Whole Foods
    I bought nine packages of antibiotic-free chicken drumsticks at Whole Foods because they were affordable at .99 cents a pound thanks to a 70% off sale. Good to know that even Whole Foods has super sales! Photo: TFF

It’s always possible to buy frugally around the perimeter using coupons and sales, or just sales. To all of the coupon critics: Buy frugally around the perimeter by simply reading the store’s sales flyers!

~Marilyn, TFF


2 thoughts on “Stop Stereotyping Couponers: The Majority Frugally Shop the Outer Perimeters of the Grocery Store

  1. Thanks for the mention Marilyn. To be honest I was quite upset at the readers comments, but to each his own.

    Here in Canada we do need to rely on frozen and canned goods since our growing season is so short. It IS possible to use coupons and get healthy food! I also can and freeze a lot of produce that I grow myself or purchase from a local farm just down the road from me. I’m currently knee deep in rhubarb!

    Since writing the post we purchased 1/4 of a cow from a local farm. It isn’t certified organic, but organic just the same. The farmers grow their own feed for the cows and don’t use pesticides. $2.89/LB is a bargain!
    My 4LB prime rib roast that I cooked for Christmas cost less than $12. (Grocery store pricing here is about $15/LB. Now that’s frugal!

    I totally agree with you, I wonder how many people turn their noses up at coupons saying they are only for “Junk” and then gobble down Mc D’s. geesh

    I know someone who bragged about only spending $30 a week on groceries for her and her husband. The problem- they ate out for supper almost every night (real restaurants, not fast food) and had left overs for lunch! I bet they were spending at least $150-$200 a week in restaurants.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Deanna! Very happy to know another like-minded blogger–you were extraordinarily gracious in your response to your reader’s comment :–) Aimee and I also have a share of a cow from a local farm. The cost is high-ish, but to us, it’s worth it, and that’s part of the reason I use coupons when I can–to afford this more healthy, organic meat. I love your comment on the couple who eat out but spend $30 on actual groceries. Now, I rarely eat out–but when I do, or if I have to pass a restaurant and look in, I’m always *astounded* at how crowded these establishments are with young families. I thought everyone was trying to save money! LOL! ~Marilyn, TFF

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