08 January 2012

my adventure in couponing

By now everyone's heard of or seen the American show, Extreme Couponing.

Being on a single family income, I thought, "Hey, this could really help us out!" And so I began my research and coupon clipping.

I found a super helpful website, smartcanucks.com The site is made of thousands of members from all over Canada sharing all of the deals and coupon tips they find. They share all Canadian store policies, sales, and where and when to find coupons. There is even a part where you can trade coupons with other members, by mail.

I did it all. I was spending about $80 per week, including diapers, pet food, vitamins and of course food. This isn't too bad for a family of 4, and 2 pets. They are able to do a lot more in the US, due to competition, but for Canada, I was getting complimented by Wal-Mart cashiers. That's where I was doing most of my shopping because of their generous price matching and coupon policies, and the fact that they're physically, the closest place for groceries.

It seemed to be mostly the same brands, the same products that were always free or cheap. P&G products always have coupons, and sometimes have freebies. I made a profit on shaving cream and hair products, got free catfood and juice. After a while I noticed that I was buying more processed food than I normally would because, hey, this pizza was $2! My obsession with reading ingredient lists was letting up.

So, we had received a generous gift card for M&M meats. Awesome! More free food! So I packed the girls in the car, drove down to M&M and bought a variety of things, including a shepherd's pie and strawberry filled ice cream bars that Lauren had requested. She loves when I make shepherd's pie, I don't get it, but am not complaining.

So we went home for supper, I heated the shepperd's pie, and we sat down to eat. It was aweful, sorry M&Ms.. The potatoes were definitely instant. Lauren needed to be bribed with the ice cream treats in order to eat any of it, I felt guilty, since it was gross. After eating I got the ice cream bars out of the freezer. They were on a stick, white ice cream covered with fluorescent pink bits and filled with a strawberry jam substance. I decided to see what surprises the ingredient list contained. First I noticed that the fluorescent pink bits contained bleached flour. Bleached? WTF for? They dyed them pink anyway, okay continue on.. Propylene glycol. WAIT. What the hell is propylene glycol doing in food?! Okay so it's not food. It must be safe levels though so we finished our treats. I felt a little light headed after eating, and had a bit of a scratchy feeling in my throat, but brushed it off. Maybe I was starting to get a cold.

After the kids went to bed I did a little research. Oh yes, so propylene glycol is antifreeze, which explains why it would be in the "strawberry" goo. It's partially metabolized as alcohol, and partly a toxin which is not. Awesome. I continue reading that children under 36 months can't metabolize the alcohol... so that means... pure toxin. Fan-fricking-tastic. So that explains why I felt light headed. I ate another as an experiment, yep, light head and scratchy throat. Confirmed. The rest ended up in the garbage.

It was at that moment I decided that it wasn't worth it, to get cheap food that was worthless, and possibly harmful. I have no trust remaining for corporations. None.

So of course there are still things I need, like toilet paper, where I can benefit from using coupons, but everything from now on will be homemade wherever possible. I still have to find some good sources of meat, but will certainly no longer be buying Wal-Mart's bloody, yellow, chicken breasts which have so little care taken that even feathers remain. It's not worth it.

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