Coupons & Healthy Foods: How to Have Both

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Coupons & Healthy Foods: How to Have Bothby Leslie Vandever

This is a guest post by Leslie Vandever. She is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in Northern California.

Collecting and using coupons while shopping for food and household items can save you–whether you’re single or have a family. There are a few drawbacks, however: most coupons offered by the food industry are for processed foods in boxes, cans, bottles, and packages. Processed foods necessarily contain extra ingredients to lengthen shelf-life, and enhance nutrition and flavor. Some of those extra ingredients are questionable and unhealthy. Buying processed foods with coupons will save you a few bucks today, but in the long term those inexpensive or free products may cost you thousands of dollars in poor health, lost income, and medical bills.

The fact is, a diet made up of fresh, whole foods is so much better for your overall health than processed foods can ever hope to be. Fresh foods are full of vital nutrients and useful calories,
and you control exactly how they’re cooked and what ingredients go into each meal you make. But finding coupons for fresh foods is harder than finding them for packaged foods. You can’t rule them out entirely. What to do?
Be picky. Steer clear of processed foods that are obviously stuffed with sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and salt. These foods–mostly snack foods and sweets–are often the culprits behind unwanted weight gain, high blood sugar, sodium, and cholesterol levels. Over time, these foods can cause such serious and even deadly diseases as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Save these foods for special treats and occasions, and eat them sparingly. They’re only a bargain at the check-out counter. After that, the cost soars.
Pay attention. Serving sizes shown on labels are often laughingly small, so figure a single, 250-calorie serving will actually be at least twice that if you eat your normal serving. A lot of extra calories sneak into your diet when you eat processed foods.

Check ingredients. Most processed foods have long, long lists of ingredients. If it has more than seven ingredients, and sugar and sodium are among the first five, straighten your spine and leave it on the shelf.

Shop the U. The freshest and most nutritious foods are located around the walls of most grocery stores. That’s where you’ll find the fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bread departments. The aisles inside the U–with a few exceptions—are the realm of processed foods in boxes, packages, bottles, and cans – avoid them if you can. An exception the U rule is that spices and baking staples are normally in the middle aisles.

You can still get some good savings from coupons each week. Check your local newspaper or
look online, using “healthy food coupons” as your search-engine key words. Just be discerning. Look for coupons for healthy, small-ingredient-list foods, like whole grain loaves of bread, whole grain cereals, uncooked brown or wild rice and pastas, and for dried beans and legumes. Coupons for health foods and bulk bin-foods, like whole grains, seeds, flour, pastas, granola, protein-rich nuts, etc. in specialty, organic grocery stores or in the health-food sections of other stores are often available as well.

You can also look for coupons for packaged salads and fruits in the produce section, but be sure
to check the prices for the same foods, but not pre-packaged. They may be even cheaper. The
same goes for the meat department. You might find a coupon for fresh chicken breasts, pre-cut
into neat filets. But compare the coupon price to whole chicken breasts you skin and filet
yourself. That filet bargain might not look as good.

Coupons are also plentiful for fresh-frozen meats, vegetables, and fruits. Canned foods aren’t
quite as nutritious as fresh, but they’re a very good substitute in a pinch, as long as there isn’t a lot of added salt or sugar.Coupons for cleaning supplies and detergents, paper-products, and other dry-goods will still help you pinch pennies. Even without ever using all those processed foods coupons, you’ll be saving considerable money each week on these sorts of things.

But the biggest savings are going to be in your health and well-being. Eating a nutritious, healthy diet will go a long way toward keeping you away from the doctor and out of the hospital. You’ll feel better, look better, and move better, too. Isn’t that a savings you can really appreciate?


Aim for a Healthy Weight: Shopping Tips. (n.d.) National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on May 31, 2015 from
Heart Disease and Diet. (12 May 2015) National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on May 31, 2015 from

Help With Food Costs. (n.d.) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on May 31, 2015 from

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