Why I Don’t Cut Coupons + A Peek Inside My Pantry
April 11, 2012 Menu Plans
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Why I Don't Cut Coupons (and a peek inside my pantry) :: Vintage Kids || Modern World Blog


A little over a month ago, I received confirmation that Vintage Kids:Modern World was chosen as an online venue to host a review of Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine’s new audio book Money Saving Mom’s Budget.  I let them know that we were a family-oriented blog that encouraged parents to get back to the basics of frugality and simplicity, and, just as importantly, to start eating whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods.

Let me say again, Crystal’s book is fantastic (You can read the full review here), and she and her husband seem to be remarkably disciplined and financially responsible.  It was just that the majority of her book seemed to deal with couponing and that section didn’t really hit home with me; not because her ideas or suggestions were faulty (on the contrary, she has it down to a precise science!). It was simply because I don’t need to coupon.

For the sake of brevity and focus in my review, I didn’t fully explain why I don’t cut coupons when I published my article.  So today, I want to give you the run down on my shopping habits and why couponing is typically not popular with Real Food adherents, WAPF followers, as well as those on the GAPS and Paleo diets.

1. We typically buy a large amount of our groceries (dairies, meats, cheeses, produce, and sweeteners) from a local source – usually the farmer – and the Amish don’t offer coupons!

2. The remainder of my staple items (grains, legumes, oils) are bought either in bulk from a local Amish store, in bulk from a local health food store or online.  If purchasing online, I typically wait until I can get free shipping or some store-specific deal before I order.

3. I make most of our “convenience” foods, condiments and dressings: we don’t eat cold cereals, I make granola and dried fruit, tortillas/tortilla chips, we purchase nuts in bulk (or as they are on periodic sale), and we occasionally cheat and buy a package of cookies or some chocolate chips to make homemade treats.  Yes, there are more than likely coupons floating around for Nestle chocolate chips, but it’s not worth me buying a newspaper, or even searching online, in hopes to save the occasional $0.55.

4. In Crystal’s book, she encouraged everyone to coupon, because there are always basic items like shampoos, deodorants and even batteries that everyone uses; so therefore couponing applies across the board.  Well I do need batteries now and then, but otherwise, we make our own health and beauty products, or we buy in large quantities. For example:

  • facial cleanser and scrub: made at home
  • shampoo: I use castile soap for those with short hair (because it can be a little drying when used by itself) and I purchase over sized bottles of organic shampoo from a local warehouse/closeout store that regularly carries overstocked items from big box stores.  I recently bought a $25 bottle of organic shampoo for $7, that lasted us well over 4 months.
  • lotions: I love Burt’s Bees and will indulge on occasion, but otherwise, I make our own lotion.
  • deodorant: made at home (and I have a great recipe coming soon!)
  • toothpaste: made at home
  • baby shampoos, lotions, diaper creams: made at home, made at home and made at home

5. We make our own cleaning products.  Gretchen posted an awesome tour of her cleaning supplies that she regularly keeps on hand that you can see here.  I know that there are coupons for Lysol, laundry soap, toilet bowl cleaner, etc. but I can make my cleaning supplies much more frugally than I can if I bought something, even with a coupon.  Here’s the rundown of what I make at home:

I will admit that I am still looking for homemade recipes for dishwasher detergent and dish soap.  I’ve tried a few and haven’t commited to anything yet.  So again, like the chocolate chips, I could find coupons for dish soap and dishwasher detergent, but it’s not worth my time.

And finally, here is a little peak inside my pantry, to see what items I regularly keep on hand and what I find myself purchasing on a weekly/monthly basis

  • raw dairies
  • grass fed meats + poultry
  • free range eggs
  • locally produced honey
  • coconut oil
  • natural cheeses
  • einkorn flour
  • buckwheat flour
  • sucanat
  • gobs of produce
  • coffee
  • oats and other cereals for breakfast and baking
  • canned and fresh fish/seafood
  • legumes
  • rice pastas

Now, please don’t think that this is ALL that we eat!  OF COURSE there are other items that I buy and we most DEFINITELY splurge, but these are the items that I buy on a continual basis and very few of them even offer coupons.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly amazed at the moms that figure out how to combine weekly sales with triple coupon Thursdays with competitors ads in order to get their items for free.

Thoroughly amazed.

But not at all tempted to try it for myself.  And definitely not going to think about it when hauling three little ones with me through the store.

I don’t want to discourage others from couponing, and if it works for you and you’re finding discounts on things that I’m not seeing then please let me know!  However, as I mentioned in my review, as well as at the beginning, those that eat a Traditional Foods diet typically buy ingredients, not just food, and very rarely do those items come with a published weekly deal. But that’s ok.  I can make 5 loaves of bread for the cost of one commercial loaf, and I can soak my dried beans and end up with 10x the amount that I would had I bought the canned version.

What other money saving tricks have you found while eating a Traditional Foods Diet?

And now, before I call it a night, here is my menu plan for the coming week:

Monday: Tuscan White Bean Stew from here – it’s fantastic! (my twist: I sub bone broth for the water and beef or turkey bacon for the pork bacon)

Tuesday: Corn tortilla tacos with seasoned ground venison, homemade refried beans + all of the messy toppings

Wednesday: Roasted Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (yes, you read that right!), root veggies and sourdough bread…and breath mints

Thursday: left over chicken with a knock-off Olive Garden Salad and sourdough bread

Friday: Pizza

Saturday/Sunday: leftovers, smoothies, popcorn, and finger foods



This post was linked to Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, WLWW Link Up at Women Living Well, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Your Green Resource at The Green Backs Gal, It’s a Keeper Blog Hop at Everyday Tastes, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, The Welcome Home Link-up at Raising Arrows, The Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morris Tribe, Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer, Seasonal Celebrations at Natural Mother’s Network, The Barn Hop at Homestead Revival, Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Fat Tuesdays at Real Food Forager

"41" Comments
  1. I am with you totally. Couponing may be great if you use those things, but don’t help much when going for the all natural and homemade. I am enjoying your posts. Thanks.

  2. As a Former Coupon Queen, I loved this post. We are the same way. I only usually use the coupons that Whole Foods has in their flyer and even then its rare cause I am so picky.

  3. I agree with you as well. Although I do not make as much homemade items as you do, I also do not purchase a lot of packaged goods. Although we do get a Sunday paper, so I will peruse the coupons since it is not costing us any more. As the year goes on I plan to make more and more homemade items.

  4. As an accountant, I LOVED the idea of being a Coupon Queen – strategizing the math, the sales fliers, and the alignment of the stars to get $1,000 worth of groceries for $2.38. It’d be a math geek miracle! But flipping through the coupon section I noticed that a good 90% of the food items are processed, pre-packaged, name brand items. It’s also slick marketing – many coupons are there simply to get you to try a new product.

    I’m not on a strict diet. We do try and eat real food/scratch cooking as much as possible. But strictly analyzing couponing from a financial, money saving perspective, I find that I can get my food far cheaper by buying in bulk, buying generic brands, or buying from discount stores.

    Coupons were NOT invented to save consumers money. They are a marketing tool designed to fool you into buying things you normally wouldn’t. We must all remember that!!

  5. I agree…the coupons are all junk food anyway. We also buy whole foods in bulk. We also have a large garden, 31 chickens, 2 beehives and will be adding 2 milk goats soon.

  6. Ditto! Though I don’t make all of my personal care items, I purchase most from a local health food store – they don’t do coupons. I purchase whole foods, with the occasional exception of a bag of chips as a treat (just occasional). We buy locally, we grow our own and we make our own as much as possible. My husband and I both work full time, have 2 busy kids in sports, look after our property and our in-law’s farm and still manage to keep up with the extra work. And it doesnt really seem like extra work, once you are doing it already. Making a pizza from start to end is quicker than ordering and waiting for delivery or picking it up.

  7. Thanks for linking up to my Tuscan White Bean stew recipe! Confession: now that I’m on GAPS, I *also* use broth instead of water, as is the case in most of my cooking now (previously, I didn’t want to “waste” the precious broth, but now we have a constant supply and I’m always looking for ways to sneak it in). We’re still using nitrate-free pork bacon, but I’m about to have to cure my own since I can’t find any (not even local) w/o sugar.

    I totally agree on couponing — you explained it in a way I’ve not yet been able to. I have several friends here who are very successful frugal bloggers, and they are magicians — but I’ll never be joining their adventures in that arena.

  8. I agree Michele – there are some store fliers that I’ll take a look at (and our city is getting a Whole Foods this winter!) but otherwise, I stick to the basics! – kelsi

  9. there is definitely a learning curve and I didn’t *start* with this many homemade items. It’s been a slow process, but a HUGE financial savings for us! Keep plugging away! – kelsi

  10. Jill, You nailed it! for almost a month I decided to cut coupons until one day, I realized that every SINGLE coupon I was planning on using that day had a carbon-copy store-brand product available for a cheaper price, even when using the coupon. Then and there I left my entire stash of coupons (which honestly wasn’t THAT impressive) on a grocery store shelf for someone else to use! It really is marketing…otherwise why would companies bother…hmmm……??? thanks for stopping by – LOVED your comment! – kelsi

  11. We aren’t at the chicken-goat-bee stage yet (I’m jealous…) but we are making slow strides toward homesteading…here in the middle of the city 😉 thanks for stopping by! -kelsi

  12. Completely agreed! usually the hardest part about making homemade items is just getting started and finding your groove, and then establishing a routine. Once you do it for awhile, it just becomes “normal”. Thanks for stopping in! always enjoy your comments! – kelsi

  13. Oooh…you’ve entered the world of GAPS?!? Our family maybe joining the “broth cult” soon, but I’m working up the gumption (and recipe stash) to do it! love your blog and its so great to find another Hoosier – we’re in South Bend, just a few hours north of you. All the best! – kelsi

  14. i totally agree with you and have not couponed all the years I have been married. Fresh food in your garden doesn ‘t go on sail and raising your own animals. i get my skincare and cleaning products from an online company that do not go on sale and they are natural. Thank you for letting know that I am not crazy.

  15. thanks for stopping by Debbie – and no – you’re not the only one! Plus, nothing beats raising your own food!

  16. I haven’t started making my own cleaners or beauty products yet, but they’re on my list of things to learn. In the meantime, I calculated that I save about 20% across the board by buying in bulk, no need for coupons. It isn’t worth my time to cut, organize and store all those coupons for things I could get a better price on by buying them in a larger package once every other month, saving me trips to the store to boot.

  17. exactly! We can’t forget the gas money we save by NOT shopping where all of the “deals” are! great point! thanks for stopping by! – kelsi

  18. Hi Kelsi, I tried couponing for a while also, figuring it was part of my role as the “domestic engineer.” I came to your same conclusion and wrote about my epiphany on my blog, thinking the replies were going to be negative or telling me all the ways I was wrong. I was so surprised at how popular the post became! For a while it was the most viewed on my blog, so I think many of us are coming to this conclusion. I aim to make most of our food at home the way you have; since I wrote that post, I have started making homemade yogurt, beauty, and cleaning products. Next up on my list are cheese and crackers. Thanks for a great post!

  19. i don’t coupon anymore, unless its a get a free bar of chocolate, because while trying to get out of debt, i actually slid more into it, because after all i had to invest money first so i get ecb, or register rewards etc. No usually get the very basics at stores and make a lot at home. Now my Kids reject store bought applesauce, and wait for us to go to the market and pick up the ones in the clearance bin, with all the bumps and bruises… those make the best applesauce

  20. To be honest, I stopped couponing when I saw how much time it was taking to surf to things (that I though at the time were healthy) instead of the Pop Tarts and “children’s” cereals. I didn’t have the time. Nowadays, there’s nothing. Of course my definition of “healthy” have tightened over the years, as I learn more. We do have one local store that publishes on their website in a quickly perused list about 12 discounted items a week, and most of those at least attempt to be real foods — broccoli crowns, and a wild-caught fish this week — but that’s in with the cuts of meat that are definitely not properly pastured.

  21. PS: I would love to make my own household and personal care products. Need to learn more. Instead I buy things like Simple Green, and Tom’s Toothpaste, which is at least something.

  22. Great Post – you beat me to it! I’ve been a MOPS Mentor Mom for 12 years now and a current event is on couponing and I’ve not said anything yet. Most don’t know how much I do so many things from scratch – from foods to soaps to lotions … I’ll probably do a similar post soon at

  23. I don’t coupon either. I can’t say that I have ever seen a coupon for vinegar which makes up the bulk of homemade cleaners! (I would clip it if I happended to see it though!) I make my own deoderant. I just started adding bees wax and I love it even more. Here is my recipe for comparison!

  24. Earth Fare offers a sign up for email coupons.. But they aren’t in very many states yet. I’ve gotten coupons for free organic apples or a whole free-range, hormone-free, organic chicken..usually it’s with a $5 purchase…it they have so many products and things in bulk that I always end up using the coupons.

  25. couldn’t have said it better myself!! excellent post!

  26. I found your blog post via the Homstead Barn HOp today. I don’t use coupons anymore either…not since I started cooking real food at home. There just aren’t coupons for those organic sweet onions etc 😉 🙂 However, since I’ve started making all meals at home and completely cut out all processed foods, that has lowered my overall food bill…and as a natural by-product, I’m losing weight, too 🙂 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂 🙂 🙂

  27. So glad you found us! And I agree! Our family has chosen to spend a little extra to get high-quality food. The grocery budget is a tough one to balance, but it’s worth it. All the best from Indiana! – kelsi

  28. awgeethanks 🙂 glad you stopped by! -kelsi

  29. aw man – that sounds awesome! We don’t have Earth Fare here in Indiana 🙁 We’re getting a Whole Foods in town soon, and although I know many people don’t care for them, I’m hoping it helps with the budget a bit! All the best1 – kelsi

  30. Thanks for sharing! My recipe is very similar but I love the idea of using beeswax! thanks for stopping by! – kelsi

  31. Isn’t it funny that when you admit you don’t coupon, people either think you’re crazy or rich?! It’s AMAZING how much money Ive saved by doing it myself – WAY more than if I had used coupons! Thanks for stopping by! -kelsi

  32. Those are great brands to move to, but don’t worry – its SO easy to make your own! There are a million recipes out on the web and it will save you a small fortune! Thanks for stopping by! – kelsi

  33. I’m losing weight too! 16 pounds in the first MONTH alone! Shocking enough to never touch processed refined laboratory food-like substances EVER again! 🙂

  34. that’s AWESOME! way to go! – kelsi

  35. Couldn’t agree with you more or said it better myself! Thanks for sharing this at Natural Mother’s Seasonal Celebration Sunday! x

  36. Pingback: Your Green Resource — Week 30 | Live Renewed

  37. I was thinking this exact same thing the other day. I am much newer to doing this whole completely unprocessed thing than you are, so I have only recently started making my own things like mayonnaise and hummus – wow, what a savings! The only thing is, my stick blender really isn’t cutting it, so I think I need to invest in a blender or a pestle and mortar or something. What do you use?

  38. I was just talking about this to my husband the other day! I have only recently started making my own food stuffs like mayonnaise, but wow, the savings! Before, grocery shopping was getting expensive as I cannot eat gluten dairy or soy, and the alternative brands know that most people think they have no option, and charge accordinly. $6 for a jar of mayonnaise, just to have one without soy in it!

  39. I TOTALLY agree… “those that eat a Traditional Foods diet typically buy ingredients, not just food,”… TRUE TRUE!!! I’ve never seen a coupon for 50% of lettuce or $1 off tomatoes! it’s all for stuff like stovetop stuffing mix, packaged pizzas, and exceedingly overpriced cleaning products. And it takes sooooo much TIME! It takes me less time to make ALL my own cleaning products, shaving cream, deoderant, and care for my cloth diapers than it would take to coupon for all that stuff from the store. Yep… totally agree with this review! 🙂

  40. I love this post! We don’t coupon either for all the reasons you’ve mentioned! When’s the last time you’ve seen a coupon for chia seeds or marrow bones?! LOL!

    I love it that you get your food from farmers! I feel that is a really important step in the food movement. I’m not knocking Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sprouts–and all the other markets that are really trying to do things a different way. But, when you can know exactly where your food in coming from, look the farmer in the face and discuss the health of the land and the crop, etc. it shortens the food cycle and I think everyone wins. It’s better for our health, the land, and the local economy.

    Good stuff!

  41. Yeah, pretty much my take on the whole thing.

    And anything with 40 cloves of garlic sounds great. 🙂 Do you happen to have a homemade breath mint recipe? 😉

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