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Coupon Patch: Mythbusting ... Are Coupons Only for Junk Food?

Obviously, there are coupons out there for the junkiest food you can buy. But is there anything else?

When I tell people I use coupons and still manage eat healthy, they are sometimes surprised.

I commonly hear, “oh, well, they don’t have coupons for the things I buy! All coupons are for pre-packaged junk food.” First, maybe you never buy anything packaged, processed, or slightly junky, but I’m going to admit right here that sometimes I do, and I bet if you check your pantry, you’ll find that sometimes you do too. And it’s true - if you do want any of those things, you’re likely to find a coupon to help you on your way. But are coupons really just for junk? No.

Let me tell you three ways to get around this issue.

Milk, Eggs, Butter...

First, the Sunday circulars (which also appear in your mailbox, among other places) do have coupons for basics like flour, sugar, milk, and eggs. They have coupons for organic items. They have coupons for frozen vegetables (often believed to be higher in nutrients than their fresh counterparts).

There are even rare coupons for fresh vegetables and fruits - usually name-brand products and/or coupons that require you to purchase item A to get a discount on your produce. But they do exist.

Whether you buy Sunday’s paper or wait for the free coupon circular that will probably show up in your mailbox on Tuesday, take a flip through before dooming it to the recycle bin. You may be surprised at what you find. 

Coupons Aren’t Just for Food

Second, there are many, many non-food coupons out there. There are coupons for makeup, toiletries, personal hygiene products, household items, and more. If you’re brand loyal, you can watch for the brands you use and save money on what you were going to buy anyway.

If you’re willing to switch it up a bit, you can watch for a sale that pairs with a coupon for something like toilet paper or dish soap and stock up while spending very little. Some of these items are in demand by homeless shelters, by the way, so if you don’t personally use them but catch a great deal, you can get things like this for nearly nothing and donate them with ease. 

The Internet Will Show You the Way

Third, the Internet has made it easy for the brands you prefer to give you coupons for the things you buy. Do a search or just go directly to your favorite brand’s website and see if they’re offering any specials.

And check out mambosprouts.com for a wide variety of organic, natural, and healthy coupons that you can print from home. (For more information about printable coupons, .)

Basically, unless you grow all of your food in your backyard, sew all of your clothes, and make your own soap - and really, if you do all these things, I applaud you! - I believe that you can make coupons work for you on some level.

If you could trim two dollars off your normal grocery bill each week without changing anything about what you buy or how you buy it, you could buy yourself an extra latte at Starbucks every once in a while. Which is probably counterintuitive, now that I think of it.

Yeah, just clip some coffee coupons instead.

Kimberly Head Amos May 16, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Marla, thanks for this!
gomommy May 18, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Marla, I decided to work from home all summer so I can save money on childcare...but I'm giving up a steady source of income and I just want to thank you for you for your column. I just clipped some coupons today and I will be following your advice. Keep it up, I'm going to need it!
Melissa Martinez July 14, 2011 at 05:38 PM
I use coupons for basically everything and no I don't think coupons are just for junk food either. I signed up for Driscoll's and they send me coupons for their berries last time I checked berries are not junk food. I also got a good deal on low-fat salad dressing and so it doesn't go to waste I have been making way more salads and experimenting with different greens. I also agree that there are coupons for everything so I stock up on toiletries for my family for practically nothing when there is a super sale. Coupons if used intelligently save you tons and tons of money. Bottom line is keep on couponing and you will see results. People are going to buy junk food with or without a coupon anyway.

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