Do Coupons Deserve Their Bad Reputation?

by Katy on July 30, 2010 · 14 comments

My Grocery Outlet deals. Fruit, vegetables, grains, olive oil, dairy, seafood and even a treat or two.

Coupons get a bad rap. Sure, there are countless coupons for Lean Cuisine, Count Chocula and Sunny Delight. But there are also huge numbers of coupons for butter, bread and pasta. Add in store specific coupons, and there’s no reason to turn a blind eye to this opportunity for grocery and general savings.

I just now got back from The Grocery Outlet. Although this store does not accept manufacturer’s coupons, it does publish $5 off $25 coupons online occasionally, as well as in The Chinook Book.

Here’s what I bought for $46.13:

  • 2 organic chocolate covered soy cream bars 79¢ apiece
  • 2 cantaloupes 99¢ apiece
  • 3 boxes of ice cream cones for an upcoming party 79¢ apiece
  • 16 ounce jar of organic fair trade honey $2.99
  • 1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts 99¢
  • 10 pound bag of rice $4.99
  • 2 pound bag of shredded cheese for pizzas $4.99
  • Clearance bag of romaine hearts 99¢
  • Clearance bag of broccoli 89¢
  • 24 ounce jar of marinated red peppers $1.49
  • 5 ounce tub of shredded parmesan cheese $1.99
  • 2 boxes of fancy-schmancy Belgian cookies 99¢ apiece
  • 2 boxes of sesame water crackers $1.29 apiece
  • Small round of brie cheese $1.99
  • 2 jars of Knotts Berry Farm blueberry preserves $1.49 apiece. (No high fructose corn syrup)
  • 34 ounce bottle of olive oil $6.99 (We normally buy olive oil at Costco, but this saves me a long drive.)
  • 3 bags of pasta 79¢ apiece

Not a week goes by when I don’t use coupons for something or other. For example, I took the family out for a night on the town last weekend, which included dinner at an Indian restaurant, (A $25 coupon bought for $2 on and then fun and games at a slightly smelly historic arcade. (Free because I signed the boys up for their birthday club, which meant free admission for all of us as well as free bags of nickels to play the games!)

I use coupons for two-for-one movie admissions, bowling adventures, bagels, bakery goods, used library books and just about anything else you can think of. I’m not buying anything I wouldn’t have bought in the first place, and we’re able to enjoy many, many screaming good deals.

I have found that the best resources for coupons are the blogs that specialize in them. The Portland area is lucky to have Frugal Living NW, which posts about local deals. (I’ll be able to match a store coupon plus an online coupon to score some free butter thanks to a post from them.) I subscribe to the blog and always take a quick glance to see if there’s anything that appeals to me. It just takes a minute or two, and has clued me into many awesome cheap and free dealios. Your area of the country most likely has a blog that is serving a similar function. It’s hardly any extra work, and I do love me a bargain!

Are you learning to love coupons? Do you feel that coupons are just for people who eat unhealthfully? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla July 30, 2010 at 5:48 am

Meh. I live in a very rural area. I have never, ever seen our stores offer double or triple coupons which is where I see people get all these fantastic deals. Nor will local stores allow two coupons, even in different, for the same item. I don’t bother with them.


Beth D. July 30, 2010 at 6:01 am

I love coupons and use them almost every time I have to shop. However, I never use them for things I wouldn’t already buy, and I don’t really spend too much time to try to match them to get free stuff. (Part of the problem is that in my area, by the time a store coupon comes out for a product the national coupon has expired! Grrrr)

When I go out to eat, I usually pick a place that I have a coupon for and I think people just know that I’ll whip one out if they go out with me.

For me coupons are like a treat added onto a boring chore. If I feel like I got a good deal it puts me in a good mood, and grocery shopping especially makes me cranky so anything that makes it better is good for me.


Rebecca July 30, 2010 at 6:07 am

We use them when we can, esp for stock up items like canned tomatos, beans, cheese. Baking stuff too, like flour.

And right now our local Woodmans’ is offering a $1.00 off a single box of tissue or a 4 pack of TP. That makes it $.39 for a box of tissue or a 4 pack of TP. And its %100 post consumer paper content makes it even better. We are totally stocking up. I have 30 coupons left, and have spent over 20 already.

since my grocery list doesn’t change that much week to week, we use coupons when we can, but I know I can get what I need even without them. But they do help us afford to buy treats once and a while, like crackers or chips, and the occasional frozen food item instead of going out to eat.


Angela July 30, 2010 at 7:24 am

Thanks for the shout-out, Katy! And I didn’t even know about the $5/$25 GO coupon in the Chinook book! And they are having a big produce sale this weekend. I may just have to make a trip.


Amy July 30, 2010 at 8:02 am

I’m not a coupon fan, because it often seems like you have to search through many, many pages before you find something worthwhile–i.e., not for processed food, and not expecting you to buy at least three to get a mere 17 cents off per item. The exception is that around Thanksgiving and Christmas, coupon booklets usually have good deals on baking ingredients such as flour, sugar and pie fillings.

However, I do make use of grocery store loss leaders and grocery store coupons. I also love to shop at Grocery Outlet and it’s good to know about the $5 off of $25 coupons they have online.


WilliamB July 30, 2010 at 8:18 am

I use coupons. I’m not sure I should.

It’s hard not to be influenced by them, especally if the coupon is about to expire. I suspect I buy more than I need of certain things because the coupon is about to expire. My faves are for new items; these coupons are usually high value and my usual store is quite inexpensive, so I get the thing for very little. The $1 off Small Steps tissues have kept me in free tissues for over 6 months now.


GLM July 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

I like them, but I don’t use them very often. 1) I don’t buy newspapers and 2) I don’t want to download the programs that you have to install to get on-line coupons.

Instead, I buy based on what is on sale at my grocery store, and I watch for sales at the stores I like to shop at. Could I save more money? Probably, but I am comfortable with the amount of money I spend on food right now, and I’m continuing to work to improve on it.


Dot July 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

We rarely see double coupon offers in my area anymore. I used to be the local ‘Coupon Queen” in the day, but now only one independent grocer offers doubles and only up to 50 cents. I do use coupons other places, shopping the sale ads as much as possible to add to my savings. A place I just discovered to get coupons is on eBay; people in other parts of the country get access to coupons we might not have in our area and you can bid on different coupons for all sorts of stuff. You pay for the seller’s time, not the free coupons, and you pay postage. is a great place to join and get discount coupons for member restaurants – in fact, we used one last night at our favorite Japanese place – a new member (yes, we thanked them for being part of the program!). If you buy the certificates, rather than to a certain restaurant, you can redeem them anytime and they don’t expire, as the others do (in a year).

Just got back from G.O., spent $27, saved $21…whatadeal!


Karen July 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I am not so much a fan of coupons because I rarely find them for stuff I would buy anyway. But I do love the Grocery Outlet and, which I regularly search for new eateries or old standbys whenever the website has those 80% off deals. I hope these deals help our local restaurants as much as they help us enjoy life a bit more.


Bellen July 31, 2010 at 4:42 am

Now live in a part of the country that does not offer double coupons, no great on-line coupon site, and being seniors have very different needs than when the kids were home and I used tons of coupons.

Our local Publix offers a variety of BOGO deals every week so as long as it’s something we regularly use I take advantage. I also enrolled in a couple of sites that give coupons on their products – First Choice Haircutters that comes every 8 weeks for one – and will look for products that have coupons on the package – 8 o’clock coffee has a $1 coupon and Publix has a BOGO every 6-8 weeks so we stock up.


Julia July 31, 2010 at 6:52 am

When I first was able to finally quit my part time job and become a stay-at-home mom to my then 18-month old son, I met a friend for lunch at a fancy mall. When I pulled out a coupon for the restaurant we were dining at, she snorted derisively and said “wow, you really are a stay-at-home mom”. (She had her own business and put her child in daycare when she worked. Her husband made excellent money and she certainly could have stayed at home had she wanted to.) At the time, I was really offended and I quit keeping in touch with her shortly thereafter. Looking back on it now, I wish I’d pointed out to her that doing things like using coupons and being frugal was what was allowing me to have precious time with my son and I don’t care if anyone else thinks that’s not cool…I still use coupons (although not much at the grocery store) whenever possible—why pay more than you have to?


Beth D. July 31, 2010 at 6:24 pm

No one should ever feel bad using a coupon. The restaurants pay to have them printed and distributed to get you to their establishment. Some places even track how many they get back as a way to know if their advertising money was spent efficiently. When I use one, I always tip the server on the original amount and have never had anyone say anything rude to me or give me a bad look.


Tracy Balazy August 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I clip coupons when they’re for items I would normally buy. And I’ve recently become a fan of Groupon, through which I’ve bought coupons online for items that are non essential but fun, such as half off at Mudgie’s, my favorite deli (in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood; all locally sourced ingredients, and DARN tasty sandwiches and other fare), Kim’s Produce ($10 for $25 worth of goods), a green market that recently opened in Detroit, and one that cost me $10 for $25 worth of food and/or drinks at Cheli’s, a bar in my hometown owned by former Red Wing Chris Chelios. I like Groupon because it promotes local places and has gotten me to try new venues!


Deb August 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

I use coupons only if they’re for something we regularly use or need. We don’t eat much in the way of processed food, which a lot of coupons seem to represent. I do like to peruse store ads to hunt for special deals. I’m fortunate to have 2 large stores (Fred Meyer and Safeway) right next to eachother, which makes it easy to pick up good coupon deals there.

We do use coupons or when eating out. We don’t dine out often, but like to cut costs when we do.

I prefer to just shop at places like Winco and Grocery Outlet, and I also buy in bulk and use food storage bags/bins. Because we live in a smaller town surrounded by lots of farms, I prefer to get my seasonal produce at the farm stands/farmers markets. Eating what’s in season really cuts costs as well.


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