- Stop Using Coupons
If you get the weekly paper, you likely receive a ton of coupons. Everyone seems to love them and there are a myriad of coupon bloggers, TV shows, and websites that will show you how to find what they call incredible coupon-based deals.
BUT, it is NOT coincidence that the manufacturer issues a coupon within a few days or weeks of the store offering a sale on the same product. Your "friendly" neighborhood coupon blogger then tells you how to match them up for the biggest savings. Sounds great, right? You can get stuff for pennies on the dollar or even for free. What you need to remember is that neither the manufacturer, nor the retail store, nor that coupon blogger have YOUR best interest at heart. They are ALL making money... at YOUR expense.
The manufacturer wants you to buy on sale now so you'll buy it again later when it's not on sale (ka-ching!). The retail grocery store lures you with a "loss-leader" to lead you to their store over others (ka-ching!). And the coupon bloggers are being paid by manufacturers and other coupon sites every time you click on ANYTHING on their website (ka-ching!).
It’s not that coupons are always bad or that name-brand products, when combined with a coupon, are always more expensive than generic brands, but they can often change your eating (and spending) habits for the worse.
We personally use coupons ONLY on non-food products or the very rare grocery chain store coupon on fresh foods. Otherwise, we shop the sales, stick to fresh or frozen, compare sale prices across stores, and buy generic, saving an average of $10 or more per trip.
We have been capturing grocery sale data from 3 leading supermarkets in NC for more than 5 years and this you should know. The same products go on sale week, after week, after week and VERY few of them are healthy options. Click here for a list of the top 20 products that have been on sale the most often at Food Lion, Harris Teeter, and Lowes Foods in the past 18 months.
- Stop Buying Processed Food
Processed food, even those that claim to be organic or natural, are NEVER healthier than buying fresh and cooking from scratch. NEVER! And although there are supposed to be government standards for being able to call a product organic or natural, do you really trust them? Some people have studied this and are well-versed on what qualifies to fall into these categories. They can read the ingredients and tell you whether it is REALLY as natural as they claim. Most of us just rely on the manufacturer's label that says natural or organic.
The truth is, as we have captured grocery data over time, we have seen this trend at ALDI followed closely in time by Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Lowes Foods. Both the manufacturers and grocers see this as a trend and, as with other passing trends (like the "low-fat" focus of recent years), will make ONLY the minimal changes necessary to get a product into a trending category and then put these products "on special" so you think you are getting a deal on healthier food. Don't be fooled. They had to add a lot of sugar to those low fat items to make them palatable.
Now we know it is very hard to eliminate ALL processed food from your shopping list. I mean, very few of us are industrious enough to make our own mayonnaise. But, for the most part, its best to avoid purchasing anything that comes in a box. It's rarely healthy but has a huge profit margin for the store and manufacturer.
We regularly post low-cost recipes and meal plans in our blog that offer healthy options using the products that are on sale at the grocery store. Go here for examples on saving money and eating healthy at the same time.
- Understand What Your Supermarket Knows About You
Here's what your grocery store chain and grocery manufacturers know about you.
By avoiding exposure to coupons, ads, and promotions on unhealthy products, you can take a big step toward making healthier choices while shopping.