How can grocery coupons cost you more than they save? When is whole wheat not really whole wheat? Why are some frozen foods better for you than fresh foods? Should you buy the small or large bananas? Read on for the answers.
Coupons are designed to get you to buy something you weren’t planning to buy. If the things you buy with them don’t replace more expensive options, you spend even more instead of saving money. To save money with them, then, you should use them for products you regularly buy, or to try new brands that are similar in price to what you already use.
Some stores still offer to double the value of your coupons on given days or for temporary promotions. The key to saving money in these cases is to use as many coupons as you can, and buy the smallest sizes of the product that the coupons allow. This will almost always get you the lowest unit-cost.
For example, if you have a coupon for 50 cents off on dish detergent, and the store is doubling your coupons, you’ll get 1 dollar off. If you buy the 38-ounce size, priced at $2.19, it will cost you $1.19, or 3.1 cents per ounce. However, if you buy the 18-ounce size, priced at $1.19, it will cost you only 19 cents! That’s just a bit over a penny per ounce, or one third the cost. Sometimes you can even get a 99-cent item for free with a doubled 50 cent coupon.
Other Grocery Store Secrets
Read the labels and you’ll see that sugar is showing up in almost everything. Most recently, it has been added to most brands of kidney beans, which used to be packed in just water and salt. Why? For the same reason it is added to peanut butter and many other products that don’t need it for taste – it is cheap. Cheaper than the other ingredients, in fact. Due to government subsidies, there is so much cheap sugar that growers need to dump it into as many products as they can.
You will also notice that almost all packaged products have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in them. This is the stuff that is used to give mice heart disease when scientists want to study that disease! Fortunately, due to consumer demand, some brands, like Doritos, have stopped using it in some of their products. It is still in well over half of all packaged products, though.
Whole wheat is only whole wheat if it says exactly that. “Wheat flour,” “unbleached wheat flour,” and “wheat,” all just mean some variety of processed white flour. “Wheat” bread is nothing more than white bread with enough whole grain thrown in to color it. “Wheat blend” pasta is yet another trick to make you think you’re buying whole wheat.
Frozen fruits and vegetables, when tested against “fresh” fruits and vegetables, usually have more vitamin content. It makes sense. They are flash-frozen shortly after being picked, while the “fresh” foods are in trucks for days, exposed to heat and air. Then they sit at the grocery store for days, then in your refrigerator for days. Buying frozen fruits and veggies, then, can be healthier, and they are even cheaper at times, like when the particular fruit or vegetable isn’t in season.
Grocery coupons aren’t the only way to save money buying food. Store brands are often substantially cheaper, and guess what? Often they are really the name brands in disguise. Read the label and you may see something like, “Packed for ABC Grocery Stores by Kraft Foods, Inc.” In any case, you can try the store brands, and if you can’t tell the difference, why pay more?
Finally, what size bananas, eggplant and other fruits or vegetables should you buy? If they are sold by the piece, buy the biggest, to get the most for your money. If they are sold by the pound, buy the smallest. You’ll still eat one banana at a time for a snack, right? The small ones might be half the price of the large, saving you money with every snack. When it comes to saving money shopping, there is more to it than grocery coupons.