Saved $99.48 With Coupons, Bought 51 Items For $45.46

Consumerist reader LadySiren, married with 5 kids, is a coupon ninja by necessity. “My kids go through a box and a half of Pop-Tarts each time they eat them for breakfast,” she writes by way of explanation. Here’s how, in exhaustive detail, she bought 51 items at the supermarket this week using coupons, super double coupons, and catalinas, for only $45.56, saving $99.48. Her haul is pictured.

She writes,

This week, one of our local grocery chains, Harris Teeter (HT), is running a “Super Doubles” (SDs) event – they are doubling the face value of coupons up to $1.99 instead of $.99, which is their normal doubling policy. HT allows you to double a max of 20 coupons per day, and this limit is tied into your store loyalty card, call the VIC card. They tie it into the card so as to prevent people from cheating the system and doubling more than 20 coupons per day. Some folks cheat by borrowing cards from friends or family members who won’t be shopping at HT during the event, but for the most part, couponers tend not to break these rules.

Today was the first day of the sale. In addition to the SDs, there are a number of catalina deals running (a catalina is the coupon you get at the time of purchase from the catalina machine at the register), as well as a $6 instant savings when you buy 20 General Mills products. I pulled my coupons over the weekend after I found out SDs were this week, then spent last night doing matchups (matching coupons to catalinas and sale items to maximize savings). Here’s what I was able to get today:

6 boxes Pop-Tarts
2 canisters Quaker Oats
2 packages Keebler cookies
2 boxes Snickers ice cream bars
2 gallons Turkey Hill Iced Tea
3 boxes Dannon Coolision yogurt
6 cans Spaghettios
6 boxes Tuna Helper
4 cans Progresso soup
2 packages Pillsbury ready-to-bake cookie dough
2 bags Pillsbury frozen biscuits
6 boxes Green Giant frozen veggies
3 packages Old El Paso taco seasoning
1 package Old El Paso tortillas
1 Old El Paso taco kit
1 package Kool-Aid Fun Fizz
3 lbs. 93/7 ground beef
1 package Good Nites sleep pants

Based on my purchases, I received the following during my first transaction:

$6.00 immediately off my total
$3.00 off On Your Next Order (OYNO) for buying 6 boxes of Hamburger Helper
$2.00 off OYNO for buying 6 boxes of Green Giant veggies
$1.00 off the purchase of beef or chicken for buying 3 Old El Paso taco seasoning mixes

My total Out of Pocket (OOP): $45.46
Amount saved using my VIC card for sales, coupons, and catalinas: $99.48
Number of items purchased: 53
Average price per item: $1.17

I achieved this by doing two transactions. In the first transaction, I purchased 20 General Mills items to get the instant $6 savings. I bought the Hamburger Helper and Green Giant veggies to get the two OYNO catalinas, and the Old El Paso seasoning to get the discount on meat. Note: I did make a mistake with my Old El Paso purchases and the catalina, which I’ll explain in a sec.

Once my first transaction was complete and I was sure all of my discounts had been applied and my catalinas were printed, I started my second transaction. I took my $6 in catalinas and applied that to the total for my second transaction. This is generally referred to as “rolling”, meaning you roll the savings or discounts from one transaction into a second transaction.

Now, that mistake I made…yep, it’s true – even coupon ninjas sometimes make mistakes. I can only plead that it was 7 AM and I hadn’t had my coffee yet after staying up until 1 AM the night before. :) That being said, I made a noob mistake: I didn’t follow the rules of the Old El Paso deal the way I should have because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what the deal was. I expected to get a $3 catalina for the ground beef I purchased but only received a $1 catalina because I didn’t buy the right Old El Paso items OR the right number of items (double noob mistake). I’d purchased three taco seasoning packets, one package tortillas, and one dinner kit. The rules of the catalina say:

Buy any Old El Paso Taco Shells, Dinner Kits, Seasoning, Refried Beans or Heat & Serve Side Dishes Between 9/6 – 10/2

Save $1 OYNO Beef or Chicken Purchase When You Buy (WYB) 3 packages

Save $3 OYN) Beef or Chicken Purchase WYB 6 packages

Unfortunately, I thought the tortillas were included in the products for this catalina deal, and that I had grabbed four – not three – packages of taco seasoning. So, I missed out on the $3 catalina and got the $1 catalina instead. It’s a rookie mistake, bleh. As a result, my OOP total was $6 than it should’ve been because of the ground beef. I knew I’d made a mistake as soon as she handed me my catalinas but I had to get home by 8:30 AM this morning and was too tired and lazy to fix the mistake (fixing it would’ve required returning all the items, getting all my coupons back, then getting the correct items and quantities). Also, HT tends to be very busy during SDs and it’s inconsiderate to hold up the lines.

This sale goes on until next Wednesday and I’ll likely be there each day this week to stockpile items that we use frequently.

While not bad, my trip today could’ve been better if I hadn’t made that stupid $6 goof and there are other couponers out there who are doing better than I am, based on what they’re buying. I made a point of buying my most critical items today (i.e. – stuff we really, REALLY needed – those stinkin’ Good Nites pants were $6.99 even with a $1.50/1 coupon doubled – and only a few stockpile items) instead of stuff that would’ve gotten me a lower OOP. If you really want an eye-opener, go check out this thread over at Hot Coupon World.

You’ll see that at least one shopper MADE money today. I’ll be going back tomorrow in the hopes of scoring some better deals than I did today. I also picked up a new coupon booklet at the store put out by General Mills – with SDs running, the new coupons will be getting me a number of free or nearly-free items. :)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Kazbar says:

    It’s nice to see the savings, but I hardly call that food.

    • kimmie says:

      i was about to say something similar. but i don’t have 5 children, so i consider myself lucky to be able to afford organic locally sourced groceries.

      growing up, we weren’t allowed to have junk food, but my mom let me have unfrosted poptarts in the interest of my ability to get myself off to school alone.

      • UnicornMaster says:

        Agreed. I can’t imagine how tired I’d be with 5 kids. I think by the end of the week i’d get tired of cooking whole foods and would just throw five cans of spaghetti-o’s at the kids with a can opener and take a much needed nap.

      • Groanan says:

        Being kidless myself I enjoy spending my money on the non-organic groceries: legos, packaging peanuts, aluminum foil.

    • WorkingDad says:

      +1.

      Even if I got all that food for free, I would be embarrassed to show that food list to anybody I know.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I agree, but she’s doing what she can do with coupons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen coupons for veggies unless they were frozen veg.

      • Sammich says:

        Frozen veg isn’t necessarily bad, though. Some produce will hold it’s nutritional value better frozen than it will sitting on a shelf or in a bin.

      • hotcocoa says:

        I give her props for at least having veggies and soup, but damn. Everything else is processed, sugary shit. Blech. Not much better than eating off the dollar meal or having ramen noodles every day to save $$

        • Willnet says:

          The soup is actually not good. Too much sodium.

          Theres oatmeal in them thar hills. Its actually easy to be poor and eat healthy.

          Potatoes at 10lbs bag. are $2.47, oatmeal $cheap, bananas, “great value” frozen veggies, turkey spam (in moderation), eggs, “natures own” bread (no hfcs), lettuce, celery, brown rice, and beans.You could buy all those things for under 20$ and it last 2 weeks. I know, I know, potatoes and spam are naughty but everything in moderation. When in doubt grab a banana.

          • jasonq says:

            Oatmeal: $3/box
            Potatoes: $2.50/10lb
            Bananas Say, 2lb@ $0.59/lb =$1.19
            Frozen veg: $0.99/12 oz. bag. With 7 people yer gonna need at least a half dozen bags, so $5.94 there.
            Nature’s Own Bread: $2.49/loaf. Get two=$4.98 It’s good, so it’ll disappear fast.
            Lettuce: $1.99/head for anything other than iceberg.

            ***That’s right at $20 right there. This much food, with presumably a family of seven, would last rather less than a week.

            Celery: $0.99/stalk. Get two =$2.00
            Brown rice: Maybe $2.00/ 1 lb bag. Get two=$4.00
            Pinto beans: Maybe $1.00/lb. Get 5 lb, so $5.00.
            Turkey Spam: $3.50/can. Get at least two=$7.00

            We’re pretty close to $40 at this point, and we’ve not even accounted for varying food preferences, beverages, fresh meats, dairy products, etc.

      • VeganPixels says:

        On the rare occasion I will find a coupon for a few cents off fresh fruit if you purchase some quantity of animal milk.

        • hotcocoa says:

          Where do you shop/what area of the country do you live?

        • mbz32190 says:

          FYI: Coupons that say “$1.00 off Meat, Milk, Produce, etc. when you buy xx” really translates to a dollar off of “xx”. Coupons can’t be barcoded for milk, produce and the like. Companies likely do this as they don’t want to make their product seem too cheap, yet still give the buyer something.

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      I have to agree.. Most of that stuff I’d never eat or want to feed anyone else. Where’s the non-processed, non-garbage foods that can be cooked for a real dinner?

    • BocaMan says:

      99% agreed (everyone is entitled to a little bit of junk). I wish there were coupons for fresh veggies, fruits and grains!

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        Coupons (a.k.a “subsidies”) are only for the agribusiness that “grows” the food, not for assistance for YOU in buying it, silly sheep! Can’t have you spending less on HFCS now, could we?

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      LadySiren here…the image and list I sent to Ben today isn’t representative of our entire diet at our house. You’re absolutely right – this is a lot of processed stuff, however, it’s also the stuff that tends to go the fastest during these crazy coupon doubling and tripling events. Once it’s out of stock, you have to hope they get enough stock back in before the event ends in order to be able to buy any of it. This event is a week-long affair; the fresh veggies, meat, and healthier stuff seems to go out of stock a bit more slowly than the processed stuff, so I buy these items first, then return for the other stuff.

      And yeah, I do let my kids eat processed foods. It’s not the staple or mainstays of their diet but hey, it’s not entirely bad either. I know, I know – there goes the Mom of the Year award, right? :D

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I think most of us understand it’s hard with 5 kids to feed them consistently healthy foods in a budget.

        But also with children, and really adults, consistency is key. Routine is required. Many of these items should be treats for kids, not the norm.

        I, and probably many here, would appreciate the list and picture of your second run with all the fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables. If nothing else to prove us wrong about this particularly scary food run.

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          I’ll try to do so; I’m hoping to go back tomorrow and score another round of good deals if there isn’t a whole lot of out-of-stocks. Because of the restrictions on coupon shopping during these special events, it makes it a bit harder to shop. For example, you can only use three of the same coupon (i.e., I could only buy 3 Quaker Oats in one trip…if I’d found my other Oats coupon, dangit) and a limit of 20 coupons total, you have to sort of carefully plan when to shop.

          Also, I should’ve known that Consumerist is full of nothing but judgmental folks but hey, ya live and learn. :)

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            Just send the food bill for the “healthy stuff” to those judgmental people, since they have an opinion on how you feed your kids. Otherwise, buy what you can afford, and they can pound sand.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            i get the impression, that since you saved up these coupons for a special coupon event that they ARE special treats due to the low price and that your kids probably understand that these things only get purchased when they are super cheap.
            actually, you throw the lettuce and tomatoes and peppers or whatever in with the ground beef and taco shells and it’s pretty darn healthy

          • lukesdad says:

            Go ahead and turn your kids over to the comments board for proper dispersal, I’m sure they’ll do a much better job.

            In all seriousness, though, my wife is also a coupon ‘ninja’ and I’ve seen a few of these kinds of hauls from her too. I’d like to believe that most of us are aware you can buy 100 boxes of Pop Tarts and still manage to eat them in moderation — and in addition to a healthy overall diet. Sometimes you just want to have a GD Pop Tart.

            But I’m sure the Judgy McJudgersons here eat nothing but 100% healthy/natural/organic products at all times no matter what so they can be nice and smug about it while putting down others’ eating habits.

        • somedaysomehow says:

          How incredibly judgmental of you.

        • jesusofcool says:

          I can see both sides. On the one hand, I find couponing to be incredibly frustrating lately because they’re generally for junk I don’t buy in quantities I could never eat. But I’m a single person with limited storage space (and limited eating capacity), so generally my money saving tactic is just to buy whatever’s on special that week.
          However, if I were feeding a large family and had a pantry, I can imagine coupons being more useful. The judgmental, smug, high-horse attitude here is really horrid. She doesn’t have to prove anything. People are allowed to eat a little processed food in moderation. And we can’t all afford the Whole Food super organic free range natural lifestyle. Sometimes, you reach for the frozen veggies because they’re cheaper and you need to save some money that week (I’ve been there).

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          WOW!!!

          You want her to prove that she buys more wholesome food? Her saying so isn’t enough???!!!!

          WTF!

        • pop top says:

          “I, and probably many here, would appreciate the list and picture of your second run with all the fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables. If nothing else to prove us wrong about this particularly scary food run.”

          Wanting to see the rest of a stranger’s diet because you want them to prove something is creepy as hell and incredibly weird. She doesn’t need to prove anything to you, or anyone else. You should probably go outside for a while and look at some birds or something.

          • K-Bo says:

            I want to see it not because I feel she needs to prove her diet to me, but because the healthier food and how much money you can save on it is of way more interest to me than the food shown here.

            • pop top says:

              That’s completely different than demanding to see what else someone bought because you think they’re a neglectful mother or something and HAVE TO prove to you that they eat other things too.

            • Echo5Joker says:

              I don’t think you understand quite how these things work. Things like veggies rarely get coupons, but coupons are common for things like boxed dinners, granola bars, and other less healthful but shelf-stable items. I regularly have orders like the one above, carrying home bags of stuff that would kill me if I ate it all the time. Instead, it will then sit in my pantry for months until I use it. Coupons encourage buying in bulk, and since there is no harm to letting my noodles or Helpers sit for six months, I buy them on the cheap and eat them on rainy days.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        You know, I was thinking the same thing as Kazbar, although I wasn’t going to comment….but now, having read your follow-up, I bow deeply in your general direction and apologize for my uncharitable thoughts. Well done, m’lady. ;)

      • crazydavythe1st says:

        You should maybe teach your kids to cook when they’re old enough :) With five kids, you could probably get one or two of them to do at least a portion of the cooking.

        I’m a 22 year old dude, and everyone seems shocked that I can cook. Apparently it’s the way to a woman’s heart too.

      • KittensRCute! says:

        I am happy for you and your kids that you are able to get this kind of savings.

        1-when someone says they got $100 off their grocery list is COMPLETELY valid to ask what was in that list.
        2-that said, it is incorrect to judge someone’s parenting skills based on one trip to the grocery store.

        however, i did forward the link to my friends and family, as everyone is on a coupon cutting thing lately and i have all but stopped cutting coupons.

        for ME, the vast majority of these foods are high sugar, salt, poor in taste, bad for the enviroment and bad for your health. instead in my house we make a list of the things we like to eat that are healthy and shelf safe, healthy and perishable and we allow our selves to buy ONE and ONLY one snack that is “junk food”. as a result we spend a LOT more money on food, but we are also healthier and happier with ourselves and our bodies. without any change in workout times and amounts we have lost a LOT of weight.

        interestingly other things have happened because we spend more on food, we spend less on other things and what doesnt get spent from our $50 a week food budget per person goes into savings, so we have been saving more money to. going out to eat less but spending more time together. for us buying these kinds of food would be a bad idea. for her family it might be right thing to do. but i have learned to treat coupons with caution. we examine the things we eat with care so buying things with coupons just there is a coupon because would not work for us.

    • zekebullseye says:

      If you pay attention to the circulars you can get great food for cheap: Broccoli for $.99 a bunch, grapes for $.90 a pound, fresh corn for $.19 a pound, peaches and nectarines for $.98 a pound, bananas for $.49 a pound are examples of recent deals I’ve taken advantage of.

    • jasonq says:

      Spoken like someone who knows little about feeding a family.

    • DariusC says:

      You call that savings? That is NOTHING compared to what my dad saves EVERY TIME he goes into the store… She’s an amateur. Seriously… I will have my dad send in a list of his receipts and you will see a true coupon ninja…. except he doesn’t use coupons… so hes a deal spy? Meh…

    • pop top says:

      You know, when I saw the picture, I was just sure there was going to be a ton of people crying about how there’s processed food and how terrible Lady Siren is for feeding it to her children. Because every single person saying it eats only natural, organic foods 100% of the time. You people are being judgmental assholes over a simple picture of some stuff someone bought. You have no idea what else she feeds her kids and judging someone over something so petty reflects more on what kind of person you are than Lady Siren.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        True, but 1 1/2 boxes of Pop-Tarts for 5 people for breakfast? That’s not healthy. I like them but once I looked at the calories on just one I stopped eating so many. They don’t fill me up. She has some healthy stuff up there – oatmeal, frozen veggies – but some of the stuff up there is stuff that just annoys me in general. Like the Danimals. Why do we feel the need to package, flavor, and color a food just for kids? What’s wrong with just regular yogurt?

        • pop top says:

          And you personally have no idea how often it is that they eat Pop Tarts or Danimals or whatever. Judging her based on ONE trip to the grocery store for SOME of the things that her kids eat is ridiculous at best. Having that stuff in your house and letting your kids eat it doesn’t make you a bad parent.

          • chalkboard17 says:

            Are you LadySiren in disguise? If not, I think you need to chill out. These people aren’t attacking anyone. They’re just pointing out that some of the food is less than nutritious.

    • jessjj347 says:

      The good thing is that all of the this shelf-stable food is good to donate.

    • jessjj347 says:

      1. Also, might I point out – there are coupons for healthy foods. There is a mailer/ coupon website called Mambo Sprouts which is good for all the health-concerned and organic people. Individual healthy food manufacturers also typically have coupons on their website.

      2. In addition, many coupons are good for nonfood items. Those are especially a good use of coupons.

      3. Most couponers utilize rebates or other “money-making” offers and can buy fresh food with those savings.

  2. ShadowFalls says:

    I don’t understand how people can save a lot with coupons really. Double and Triple coupons seem to be a thing of the past and the sales rarely match up with the coupons themselves, nor are the values that high…

    • apd09 says:

      don’t forget about all the coupons that explicitly say do not double or triple. I have seen that more and more.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Most of those get doubled by my grocery stores anyways – the grocery store doesn’t get reimbursed for the doubling, but once one grocery store started doing it, they all did. It’s a bonus by the grocery store.

        • ShadowFalls says:

          Yea again, the stores around here don’t do doubling things anymore. Most the coupons are generally for crap these days too.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I save more money by only buying things when they’re on sale, but the coupons add a little oomph and justify the cost of the Sunday paper.

    • Laines says:

      My store doubles or bumps even if the coupon says not to do it. A .40 goes to .80; a .75 will get $1. (They top out at $1)

    • sweaterhogans says:

      I don’t understand how people save money with coupons since the only coupons I can find are for junk food. Do I REALLY need 3 boxes of pop-tarts?! For other things, store brand is cheaper 99% of the time even with a coupon. I guess then I’m saving $200 a month by buying store-brand real food .

    • jessjj347 says:

      You have to combine store sales, manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and $/$$ coupons. Plus there are catalina deals such as getting $3 off your purchase. It’s hard, but the Internet helps a lot because everyone pools their finds together.

  3. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    2 gallons of ice cream? Or did you mean 2- 1/2 gallons? And everytime I read the word “noob” I believe she meant “newb” or “nube” as in newbie, right?

    Regardless, great job Ladysiren– I do this myself, though not to the extent you do. I have 4 kids myself, it’s great to catch a price break on the food they inhale!

    • badachie says:

      Honestly, I’ve only ever seen noob.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yeah I’ve only ever seen noob.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Dare I say it? Only noobs spell it “newb” ya n00b.

    • dolemite says:

      I believe the universal acceptable spelling is now noob. It started off with variations such as newb and nube, and even nub. But I think except in some of the more rural outskirts of the internet, noob is now the default.

      • Wolfbird says:

        That’s like all the junk food we ever got in a whole year. I remember almost shitting my pants in excitement every time my mother waved a box of Mac and Cheese at me. HOLYSHIT, ORANGE SALT NOODLES TONIGHT! Mind you, I was raised on tofu, so I got excited about anything that wasn’t soy-based.

        In all seriousness, I can’t believe this was posted. Premade food is unhealthy and overpriced even if you do have coupons. Consumerist, I expected better of you. Real tips next time, plz.

  4. Alvis says:

    Would have been cheaper just buying store brands, I reckon.

    I guarantee a box of pasta is cheaper than those Tuna Helpers.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Was going to make the same comment. Coupons for name brand goods only make buying name brand cheaper.

      It rarely gets my bill lower than with store brands.

      • apd09 says:

        True but I would challenge you or anyone on this thread to just buy store brand items and see if you can get as much food as she did for the price. I am jealous of the ground beef and just might go to the store tonight to get the beef, but I really don’t want the taco stuff. That is my biggest problem with those types of sales, I don’t want to buy 4 products to save 6 off the beef. I would rather just spend the 8 dollars on the products buying the beef and not car about getting all the other stuff for a couple bucks more.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          so donate the stuff you don’t want to a food bank and get a tax deductible receipt?

      • Etoiles says:

        Pasta at our local supermarket. When the brand name goes on sale at 5 for $4 and I have a coupon, and the store brand is its regular $0.89 each, then yes — the brand name is cheaper. Stuff like that happens fairly often.

        • zekebullseye says:

          Ha ha. Just today I got two pounds of Barilla Pasta for $.80 each, not including my $.50 cents off two coupon. Don’t pay attention to the haters, subby, they’re just jealous. Plus they probably went to Starbucks today and spent $5 for a cup of coffee, while I spent the same amount on a 34 ounce can that will last me a month!!! Cackle!

          • EarthAngel says:

            I spent $5.00 on a cup of coffee this morning because I left my $.32 coffee in my travel mug sitting on my kitchen counter. Why did I go for the $5.00 cup of coffee? Because I couldn’t get the image of McD’s maggots out of my head.

            And we all know Starbucks wouldn’t have maggots…

            Right?!?

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Um…I paid $.50 per box after the coupons and not including the $3 off my next order. And now, won’t have to buy any for oh, six months. I also have some to share now during local food drives.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I paid a total of $2.29 for two cans of name-brand coconut milk today using a coupon. The store brand was $1.69 per can. Please tell me how buying the store brand would have saved me money.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Name brands are often free when they go on sale. For example, it is common to get $1 pasta coupons and the pasta will be free.

      I was reading an article that basically was talking about how food prices have gone down, but the name brands will never go down in price (if they do, they typically shrink in size). So, the companies just offer more coupons so that they don’t need to lower prices. The company then makes more and more money, because not many people take advantage of coupons.

  5. Talisker says:

    Yeah, you saved money but you bought a lot of crap. You aren’t feeding your kids breakfast if you’re feeding them Pop-Tarts. You’re just giving them a zero-nutrition snack. They’d be better off eating the box they came in.

    Spaghettios? You can make a big pot of spaghetti and sauce a heck of a lot cheaper and divvy it up into individual servings for later.

    Jugs of iced tea? Teabags are dirt cheap and it doesn’t take much to make a pitcher of iced tea for your freezer – without added sugars, HFCS or chemical preservatives.

    Tuna helper? Pasta is cheap. You need to buy the tuna anyway. Just boil some egg noodles, toss in some butter and cheese and add the tuna. You’ve saved money.

    Those Dannon yogurts are more expensive and have more added sugar than regular brands. Don’t get taken in by the fancy logos.

    Ready to bake cookie dough – do you know how easy it is to make cookie dough? Or how much fun kids have when they make it? Or how you can control what goes in it? You can make a big batch and freeze the dough or you can make the cookies and freeze those. And it’s cheaper.

    This shopping list is filled with stuff that is expensive and bad for you. It’s like being proud of yourself for saving money on the rope you’re going to use to hang yourself.

    • apd09 says:

      I felt the same way about the Iced-Tea, Ice Cream, and yeah just about everything else. I would never buy any of that food, not even the tuna helper. Good for her for being able to save money while “feeding” her family but I could never eat most of that food especially the spaghetti-o’s, those things make me sick just thinking about them.

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        Looking at the picture, I can say I would only buy the Quaker oats, frozen veg, and the beef. Everything else on the list qualifies as junk in my book.

        • Archergal says:

          +1 here. And I wouldn’t buy most grocery store ground beef because of e. coli worries.

          That’s why clipping coupons like this doesn’t work for me. I don’t eat the things that coupons help you buy anyway. And if I want something processed, I buy store brands instead of name brands.

          OTOH, it’s just me & my husband, no kids.

          • RandomHookup says:

            There are lots of coupons for non-food stuff…shampoo, toilet paper, OTC drugs. It’s one way to save a little money and yet not worry about the processed food issue.

            • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

              Store brands are still cheaper. Plus, I shop at Aldi most often and they don’t take coupons.

              • RandomHookup says:

                Depends. If you combine a sale with a coupon, then the brand name item is cheaper. Without a sale, you are probably right, though store brand items don’t go on sale as often.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        Sigh…I knew I should’ve explained to Ben that this is the FIRST of a bunch of trips and you have to buy the processed stuff first because it goes fastest during these events. You get the fastest-movers first, then go back for healthier items that tend to go slower (ironic that the healthier stuff seems to hang around on the shelves longer, no?) later in the week, since it’s a week-long sale. This is just an example of how to max coupon savings with a little work.

        And for those of you making wild assumptions about my life, it’s not any of your business if I want to feed my kids Pop-Tarts with Reddi Whip on ‘em (not that we do that, sounds icky). We do lead a very busy life though, and sometimes a Pop-Tart provides a quick and easy option if we’re on the run.

        • Dutchess says:

          Sorry Lady Siren, I understand you’re buying the processed stuff first but I see a lot of calorie laden food that provides little nutritional value.

          Pop Tarts, Ice Cream, Snicker Bars, Cookies, Crackers. WOW…that is just a lot of junk food.

          Spaghetti-Os, man those are even loaded with sugar.

          It’s easy for an outsider to be judgemental, but I never recall once having most of these items in the house let alone having them in the house all at once.

          Saving WIN. Nutrition FAIL.

          • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

            Meh, we balance out the sugary stuff with other foods – fruit, dairy, etc. But if I want to have any of this convenience stuff on-hand, I have to buy it when it’s cheap with the coupons. I refuse to pay full price (or at least, I hate to) for anything so I generally wait until I can score it for pennies then load up. Stockpiling works well for us, given the size of our family and the sheer volume it takes to feed all of us. We’re only short a couple for a baseball team.

            • heybebeh88 says:

              Wow. How many kids do you have?

            • Jedana says:

              I do the stockpiling as well. I don’t go coupon-crazy; most of the coupons I get in the newspaper here are for things we just don’t use so I usually just use the coupons I find in the store ads or in those things they stick on the shelves. I also do the B1G1 sales. If I find an awesome deal on something I don’t use (like the Hamburger Helper), I buy it and donate it to the food bank.

              I don’t save as much as the OP, but I tend to do ok. I spent $210 at Publix yesterday, with a savings of $150. The best deal? I got my coffee creamer for .50 each–on sale for 1.50, with a 1.00 off coupon for each. Maybe the 2 6 packs of flavored water– on sale for $2.00 each, one 2.00 off on 2 coupon and when purchasing 2, get a pack of xx chips for free (so $2 for 12 waters and a bag of chips)

              We tend to not eat a lot of processed foods as meals; my husband has ESRD and has to watch his diet. I will admit to having the blue box mac-n-cheese hiding in my cupboard for the occasional lunch treat for the kids. Pop-tarts are for snack only, not breakfast. My secret treat? Those canned chinese La Choy meals–when I was a kid, those were for mom only, and it drove me nuts; and those yellow Mexican tv dinners (I can’t think of who makes them).

        • apd09 says:

          The upfront explanation would have gone a long way, and I think many of us might feel somewhat different about seeing it all. It does not change how I feel about tuna helper or spaghetti-o’s. I don’t eat those things, it has nothing to do with the nutritional value of them, I hate spaghetti-o’s and all other Chef Boy’r’dee products. I don’t like Tuna Helper either. As I said, good for you being able to save that money but I would never buy those products because I personally do not like them. As for iced-t and whatnot the old adage I make my own at home is true, I have mint growing in my garden and spent 3 dollars buying a box of tea bags. I can make tons of iced tea on my own so I don’t buy it.

          it is impressive what you were able to do, but I and many other people find that products we actually want to buy never have coupons, so when we see people buy things like you do we get offended that the stuff we want does not have discounts so we buy off brand when it comes to name brand items to be able to save money. That leads to an inherent dislike of name brand products and through no fault of yours get our feelings thrust upon you. It is more a rage against the system than you.

        • wheeitsme says:

          I am curious, since this is just part of your week long coupon event, how long this set of food is going to last for?

          I mean, my mom would sometimes buy poptarts as quick breakfast treats, but generally we ate cereal.

          Is this just part 1 of a 7 part shopping spree that will get you enough food to last a 4 to 6 weeks, and this was the “processed food that sells out quickly” part, and there are 6 more trips (1 per day for a week while the event is going on) to cover the other stuff?

          • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

            Yup, you got it in one. I, like many other couponers, use the stockpile method. Yes, I bought six boxes of Pop-Tarts but those will last us a month or two. Given that they won’t go bad for what…a year? it’s fine for us to keep them stocked up. Ditto for the stuff like the Tuna Helper. We won’t go through that for another oh, six to seven months or so, but it’s shelf stable so it’s no big deal for it to take that long.

            If work cooperates, I’m planning on going back at least three or four more times this week. If all goes well (no out-of-stocks, etc.), I should be in good shape and not have to buy anything but staple items for awhile.

            • japinard says:

              Well, you’re not to bright when it comes to writing (don’t worry, I’m worse). Just one comment: “a box and a half of pop-tarts gone in one breakfast” is all pre-empt we needed to think you’re a lazy Mom feeding your kids crap. And honestly, I would never buy pop-tarts for my kids. Toast with peanut butter takes all of what – 2 extra minutes and is 1,000x healthier? I’d assume you have two 4-bread toasters for your family so you can make it en masse’ and fast. Don’t put those unhealthy options in the house and you adapt. You’re obviously very intelligent, so you should take some time to find out what you’re doing to their bodies.

              Honestly, look at that pictures and it is all terribly bad food with one exception – Quaker Oats. The only way you could have made it worse, would be to have the whole counter lined with Reese’s Puff’s Cereal.

        • Big Mama Pain says:

          You posted a photo of junk food you take five paragraphs to explain how you “only” paid $50 for and now you want people to not judge your life? Why wouldn’t you have sent in the photos of the nonprocessed food? Oh, it’s because you’re full of shit-there isn’t any; I have seen blog after blog of this super-coupon nonsense, and it’s always junk like this. I don’t see this as saving $100; I see it as having wasted $50. (Ok, minus the oatmeal and diapers)

        • crazydavythe1st says:

          holy crap. Pop tarts with Reddi-whip? I’ll be back in a little while…

    • Parsnip says:

      She has 5 kids. God forbid she do what she has to to save time and money so she can spend time with them. Good for her.

      • RioPuerco says:

        I am from a family of 11 and we were able to spend time together, save money, and enjoy life and still not eat like this. You learn the tricks of throwing together a home-cooked meal that is not packed full of preservatives and processed sugars; it just takes a little time and patience and then it is easy sailing from there. I enjoy cooking meals for my family and if you get your kids involved in the process than you can also spend time with them in the kitchen and use it as a time for education (measuring, math, and life skills.)

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          With 9 kids, is it safe to assume there’s a stay at home parent in the mix?

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          Is that a Jesus with a velociraptor? I <3 your icon!

        • Parsnip says:

          That’s nice for you. You have no idea what her circumstances are. Perhaps she works full time and genuinely doesn’t have the time to cook like that. My mother and father most certainly didn’t. I grew up eating much of the same stuff pictured in the OP. It’s pretty unfair to judge for her for what she feeds her family when it’s entirely possible that there isn’t much of a choice.

          • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

            A few hours on a weekend spent in the kitchen with her children and the rest of her family would have food ready to eat for the rest of the week or longer.

          • scoobydoo says:

            When your life is so busy that you do not have the time to provide healthy food for your kids, you know you are in trouble. How hard is it to boil some pasta and make a huge bowl of sauce once a week? I get the whole “2 jobs, so many kids, so little time” problem – I too struggle finding spare time, but you can’t use that as an excuse to feed your kids crap.

          • RioPuerco says:

            My parents worked full time my entire life and both of them found the time to fit in healthy meals that weren’t from a box. You have to be responsible to fit in the time to feed your children healthy meals without making excuses.

          • Sammich says:

            If she has the time to put in to being a coupon ninja, she has time to cook meals (at similar – if not greater – cost savings) instead.

            People over-estimate the time and effort it takes to not eat total junk like that. A lot of the stuff she bought can be replicated at home for less cost and in the same amount of time and effort.

            • Heresy Of Truth says:

              I take the same or less time to cook everything from scratch. I can make scratch mac and cheese just as fast as someone with a box. I don’t do coupons because they aren’t worth my time. It would take me more time, and the results are crap food like this.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        One benefit doesn’t cancel out the other detriments. This might save her the time and energy that she then puts toward being with her kids, but at what expense? They’re eating sugary, sodium-laden, pre-packaged and processed foods. That soup is full of sodium, and it’s cream-based. Those spaghettios are full of sugary tomato sauce, and those Grands biscuits are full of so much butter and preservatives, they’re empty calories.

      • Wolfbird says:

        Hahaha, no.

        Paying attention to your kids is essential, but so is feeding them properly. You can’t have one thing make up for the other, that’s not how parenting works.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      This. A thousand times this.

      Also, the jug of iced tea contains only a fraction of the antioxidant power of tea actually brewed at home.

      When you’re shopping for so many people, it really pays to cook yourself with raw materials rather than buying all that pre-made crap. And much healthier.

    • rpm773 says:

      It’s like being proud of yourself for saving money on the rope you’re going to use to hang yourself.

      I just sprayed HFCS-laden iced tea on my keyboard and urinated in my Good Nites sleep pants

    • Sammich says:

      Agreed. A lot of that stuff can be swapped out for equivalents that aren’t pre-made, will cost less most of the time (crazy sales on specific items not withstanding), healthier, and with a little planning ahead it will take little to no extra effort than what it takes to reheat the pre-made food.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree. If she wants a breakfast that is as easy and portable as a Pop Tart, make granola bars. It’s really easy and is much healthier than Pop Tarts or store bought granola bars.

    • Dutchess says:

      I completely agree. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this calorie laden pile of crap with practically zero nutritional value!

      Practically EVERYTHING in that pile is a refined carbohydrate or is primarily a refined startch.

      It’s possibly the worst diet you could eat.

      I see NO FRUITS….I see NO VEGITABLES….

      • jasonq says:

        You don’t seem to understand anything about what or how 5 kids would eat. The above groceries, if they were all the family ate, would feed them for maybe four days. As the OP mentioned, there are lots of other things in the kids’ diet, but they RARELY have coupons available for, say, carrots.

        I love how so many commenters are all high-and-mighty about what this lady bought on one trip to the store, when most of them probably consume significant amounts of processed foods themselves.

    • lettucefactory says:

      Harsh as you sound, you do have a point. And I say that as a working mom who probably relies on processed foods more often than I should, so I’ve got a lot of sympathy. But this is the exact problem with this kind of coupling – you save a lot of money on foods you’d be better off not eating.

    • kewpie says:

      This exactly!

      While I don’t think attacking the mom is productive, I do question why The Consumerist thought there was value in holding this up as some kind of impressive feat. It’s not. Not only is the “food” mostly all junk, it isn’t even really a good deal. At $50 the cost is still more than it would be to make similar products with fresh wholesome non-chemical ingredients.

      For example, the OP stated the Tuna Helper was “only” $0.50 a box. That’s still more expensive than just buying a box of pasta (at regular price) and making your own. A box of Tuna/Hamburger Helper contains about six ounces of dry pasta and a chemical flavoring pack. That’s it. A 16 oz. box of store brand rotini or macaroni sells for about $0.89 around here (without a coupon) and would make the equivalent of more than 2 1/2 boxes of meat helper. For a little more you can buy whole wheat pasta (there are even coupons for those sometimes) which would be nutritionally superior and would still be pretty much the same cost as the $0.50 boxes of Tuna Helper.

  6. Alvis says:

    Here, here! I only eat an organic paste made from ground-up bark and my own sense of self-smugness!

    *dismissive wanking motion*

    • PunditGuy says:

      Learning how to cook a small portfolio of dishes can offer variety, healthier food and savings that don’t require the time and effort of clipping coupons.

      And I make my own self-smugness at home, along with tonight’s roasted whole duck, buttermilk mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach.

    • davegins says:

      If you are willing to make 2 transactions you can buy 3 packages of Westsoy liquid smugness to get a $2 coupon off your next purchase of Earth’s Best sustainable bark.

    • MamaBug says:

      totally agree here. I mean, for all we know, she raises free-range chickens and organic apples.
      That amount of food in my house – 2 parents, 2 kids – could easily last us months. It’s called “Stock up, but you don’t have to eat it every day.”

    • provolone says:

      I commend this woman for stretching a dollar to get her family fed, but if you think questioning a diet of pop-tarts, tuna helper, spaghetti-o’s, snickers ice cream etc. is smug, you might want to get checked for diabetes yourself.

    • Marshmelly says:

      +1 for you

      Most of these comments are really irritating, considering these people probably grew up on these foods as well. How can people honestly say that they didn’t have spaghettio’s or cans of soup for lunch and icecream as dessert or poptarts for breakfast as kids?…either people are being incredibly hypocritical, or they didn’t really live the way a most typical American families did…cause most of these foods were extremely commonplace in basically every household I visited when I was little. I remember going over friend’s houses and the meals being hamburger helper or kraft mac n cheese.

      • Marshmelly says:

        …and I should also mention that my friends and I grew up perfectly fine and healthy.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        I ate these things too, but then again I was overweight throughout my childhood up to 250 pounds in High School, and still 200+ now and FIGHTING to get below it. It sucks :(

        And I’m a girl :(

  7. RioPuerco says:

    I may get bashed for saying this, but as wonderful as I find her money saving abilities, I find her “food” choices frightening. I understand that need to scrimp and save, but I do not understand filling a family full of most of these shopping choices.

  8. scoobydoo says:

    Look, I too have (just one) kid – so I understand the need for some speedy food, but that shelf of food is just one massive pile of crap.

    May be better off checking out the prices at a local wholesale/club store or restaurant supply store like GFS if you go through food that quickly.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Second GFS!

    • jasonq says:

      The per-unit prices at warehouse clubs on food don’t necessarily offer much benefit over watching for sales at regular grocery stores. About the only area I’ve seen much difference is in…you guessed it, processed foods, though the deals on fresh produce can be good at times.

  9. Bodger says:

    Savings, yes, but that food haul doesn’t look much like part of a healthy diet. Just think how much more might have been saved and how much healthier it might have been to buy a lot more of the Quaker oats and Green Giant veggies and a lot less of the Pop Tarts and Ice Cream.

    • denros says:

      I’d say the oats are the only thing in there that I’d touch, however I eat steel cut organic now (a whopping 1.59 per pound). Tastier and healthier.

  10. johnrhoward says:

    I’m sure I could do things like that, but my money is not the only thing that’s valuable to me. My time is also valuable.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      My health is more valuable than either of these things. Seriously, people, eat food, not crap.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Must be nice not to need to save money!

      I spent about three minutes cutting out coupons while watching the local weather this morning. This afternoon, I saved $29.08 off my groceries, which consisted of unbleached flour, coconut milk, organic canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli, not in season here), cat treats and a few other dry goods. Had to make a grocery trip anyway, and coupons just made it easier — I’d love to have a job where I could get that kind of pay for a few minutes’ work.

      • johnrhoward says:

        That’s not the same as what the person in the article did, which would take more than three minutes. If you can save money by cutting coupons, that’s great. I’m just saying it’s not worth $100 to me to make a second job of studying coupons and strategizing when and/or where I shop.

  11. cybercjh says:

    OK! OK! I admit it, I used to do this. I could walk into Publix armed with coupons and after the BOGO and sale prices, walk out with $100 in groceries for damn near $20.

    But, it was all highly processed, highly sweetened, highly fattened, highly unhealthy stuff.

    One day, after seeing this … http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5774892958354867332# … I realized I should be feeding my family good food that tastes good, not just good tasting food.

    True, I spend more money on food now. But, I think it’s worth it.

    • Kibit says:

      We spend a little more money on food than we used to, but mostly because we like to try new products that we buy along with our normal groceries.

      We eat 80-90% organic food. Mostly whole real foods, but occasionally my husband has Kraft Organic mac and Cheese. :) We do not drink soda anymore, so that has taken some off of our food bill as well as not eating hot dogs, frozen prepared meals and meat.

      If you look you can find coupons for these items. Mambo Sprouts is a good place to start as well as Organic Valley, Newman’s Own and Seventh Generation

      http://www.budgetorganicliving.com/home/2010/8/24/top-tips-for-saving-money-when-buying-organic-food.html

  12. Geekybiker says:

    I make my own double coupons at home.

  13. megs says:

    No wonder diabetes is on the rise.

  14. misterfweem says:

    I’m reminded of a line from “Ghostbusters.”

    “Look at all the junk food. You really eat this?”

  15. Ce J says:

    Ditto.

    I am all for coupons and frugality, but there’s a lot of crap there. You could make several more meals with that same amount using real food ingredients, organic or not.

  16. Sully111 says:

    After eating all that “food” the dentist bill alone is going to wipe out any savings.

  17. kt says:

    She may have saved a few bucks with the coupons, but how much is she going to have to pay in medical bills after feeding her kids all that garbage for a few years.

  18. eccsame says:

    All of that money saved will buy a lot of insulin for her kids’ type 2 diabetes.

  19. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    To each her own I guess, but this is a prime example of why I don’t do the coupon thing. Too much time and planning for the “deals” and too much junk food. I think we do a really good job already by having a garden, shopping carefully, buying in bulk (especially grass fed beef) and meal planning for healthy meals. In my opinion, you are what you eat, and if you’re eating a bunch of junk it will come back at you later in a much uglier fashion.

    • dolemite says:

      I think it’s harder to do coupons if you are a small family or single. Most of the deals are like “Buy 10, get 1 free” or something. Usually when I see coupons and sales, I ask “Do I really need 14 cans of Spaghetti sauce?”

      • Charmander says:

        I use coupons, but only on things I really use and eat.

        I feel really bad for the poster. Yes, she did save a lot of money.But the photo shows mostly highly-processed, sugar and HFCS and MSG-laden food. I try not to buy this kind of food, because it really is junk food.

  20. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    That picture makes Jamie Oliver cry organic tears.

  21. BocaMan says:

    When the Green Market is in season, I’ll submit a pic of all the veggies and fruits I can buy for $25.00 (a $60.00 value in Whole Foods!) I wouldn’t be able to show a comparison of fresh stuff bought at the supermarket, because Publix has a teeny tiny veggie section where everything is wrapped in cellophane and the selection just plain sucks.

  22. RioPuerco says:

    It may be my OCD, but did anyone else notice how absolutely disgusting the garbage can area to the left is in the photo? The whole thing makes me want to break out my gloves and some cleaning solution.

    • Laines says:

      Weak. How about hating on the microwave? I’m sure the all you oh so clever I only eat 100% healthy food folks can find something to bitch about – wrong power level? The room is painted ugly?

      • RioPuerco says:

        It’s called an observation, one I prefaced with “It may be my OCD” because that is the actual way that my thoughts function.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Um, you got me there. I’d just thrown a bunch of stuff in the can because I was cleaning out the fridge this morning. Note to self: take out trash before snapping a photo. :P

  23. Laines says:

    Good for you, LadySiren. (And I thought my 25% off the entire order last week was a triumph. Must shop harder!)

  24. fsnuffer says:

    My wife swears by this service http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ . They keep track of past coupons and in store specials. When they find a store sale, they tell you to go back four weeks in the newspaper coupons to pull out one to match the in store sale. Combine that with double coupons it is a good deal. My wife saves about %25 to %35 a week. They also tell you what combination to buy to trigger catalinas. As a disclaimer, I am just a customer of the above site and have no financial interest in it.

  25. mcs328 says:

    I really don’t see a problem with any of her food choices. Fine it’s not healthy as organic or cheap if you made it yourself. She could make time to do everything cheaper. We could grow and pick our own tea leaves too. We could get a large bucket, a small bucket, plastic wrap and a stone to make our own filtered water through condensation but we don’t. Who has the time to do that? So lucky for those of you who can afford organic non-processed food, don’t have kids, and are stay-t-home-mom/dad/parent. The point is she saved money and I assume it’s on food she would have bought anyway or use when she doesn’t have time make cookies from scratch or raise a cow to slaughter for ground beef. This is how she chooses to spend her money, how to save it without paying retail and what lessons she wishes to pass on to the rest of us, like it or not. That’s my two cents anyways.

    • Laines says:

      Thanks for this. The replies in this post are such a good example of why I come to the site less & less. The trolls & haters are taking over the asylum.

    • PunditGuy says:

      That would make perfect sense — except that the point of this post was about saving money on groceries. Pointing out that it’s possible with a tiny amount of time and effort (probably akin to finding and sorting a bunch of coupons) to both save money and be healthier is directly on point.

  26. invisibelle says:

    Yeah, this is great for some people, but I’ve never gotten the zeal of the coupon hounds. I don’t know wtf I would do with 2 giant cans of oatmeal, for instance. It’s really almost never stuff I want.

    Also, it annoys me to DEATH to get behind one of these people in line. And they’re all smug about it too.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Sorry that the coupon people waste your valuable time waiting in line.

    • webweazel says:

      “I don’t know wtf I would do with 2 giant cans of oatmeal”

      Here’s some ideas: Make oatmeal hot, add brown sugar and maple syrup instead of buying the instant maple & brown sugar packets. It comes out a whole lot cheaper per serving.
      Make “cowboy cookies”. These are a HUGE hit around this house. They taste like extra rich chocolate chip cookies. At least mine do.
      I use quick oats as a replacement for chopped nuts in some baking recipes, as I am not a big fan of nuts. I make lace cookies with oatmeal. They come out super crispy and as thin as a piece of paper, then sandwich them together with melted bittersweet chocolate. I also make an awesome coffee cake that uses chopped oatmeal in the streusel.
      There’s plenty that can be done with quick oats. Oats are oats, brands don’t matter. Cheap store brand works as well as expensive name brand.

      • invisibelle says:

        Yeah, I know plenty of oat recipes (apple crisp is my favorite), but I only make that kind of stuff a few times a year. I don’t know that many people that bake cookies all the time, either, but maybe I’m just hanging around in the wrong circles.

        • webweazel says:

          That’s probably it, wrong circles. I bake very frequently, but I don’t know anyone else who does. Our house is rarely without cookies, pies, or cakes. I think it’s one of those things, either you love to do it, or you don’t.

  27. whereismyrobot says:

    I used to be a grocery game member until I realized that most of the food offered is highly processed. That is okay sometimes, but for the most part, I found that my cupboards were overflowing with foods I would never eat. I often couldn’t find a lot of the food that I really liked through all the mess. I ended up throwing a lot of stuff out.

    I now found it is much easier to go through the circulars and get coupons for things I already buy, not to eat whatever is the cheapest.

    I have found this is also a good method for clothing. Don’t go to the clearance rack at Target; buy what you know you will wear even if it is more expensive.

  28. central_ny_dude says:

    I agree. Saving money is good, but that is mostly junk food. And time is valuable as well. But the time you spend going over all the coupons and deals, you could have used to prepare some raw ingredients and actually make something, instead of buying quick meals. I look for deals too, but saving time is important. If you want to stretch your money, buying raw ingredients instead of ready made can almost always save you money. Being in grocery retail, I can tell you that you pay more for the convenience foods. I tend to balance what I buy. Buy some ready made stuff, and balance it with ingredients when I have the time to cook for myself.

  29. moonjest says:

    Here’s the thing about coupons:

    Coupons entice you to spend money on things you may not have bought otherwise. In this case, they encouraged the shopper to buy a lot of treats, like Snickers ice cream bars, cookies, and Kool-Aid. And, I really hope she’s not feeding her kids an excess of tuna (due to the mercury levels, which are dependent on the kind of tuna: light, white/albacore, or albacore).

    The only coupons I look at nowadays are the ones from Costco, and that’s because about twice a year they put a lot of non-food items I use daily on sale (toilet paper, kleenexes, paper towels, etc.).

    • RandomHookup says:

      For the average shopper, absolutely coupons can get you to buy stuff you don’t need. But for smart shoppers who were going to buy these same (or similar items) anyway, it’s a way to cut down on your expenses. If you know you are going to go through 5 boxes of Pop Tarts a week anyway, why not save a $1 a box doing it? It’s especially smart if combined with a sale and/or some other promotion.

      • moonjest says:

        Question is, would she buy the Pop-Tarts if they weren’t on sale?

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          Nope. If it’s not on sale, they don’t get ‘em. The stuff in the photo is only purchased if it’s uber cheap thanks to coupons and doubles/triples.

  30. misslisa says:

    I lived in an orphanage as a kid and ate better than this.

  31. Dutchess says:

    Sweet JESUS….this makes me want to go to the Farmers Market NOW!

    Thankfully, Portland Farmers market is pretty awesome. I get good deals on produce and fresh organic stuff without paying Whole Foods prices.

    After looking at this, I’m stocking up this weekend.

    Savings WIN. Nutrition FAIL!

    • Marshmelly says:

      Then go off to the Farmer’s Market then. Meanwhile, I’ll sit here continuing to eat some delicious canned clam chowder with a side of potato chips and probably live the same age as you anyhow without any health-related issues. But by all means… claim your superiority for your “nutrition”. I’m going to assume that you were raised on all those Farmer’s Market products that you currently eat? If not, then you have no place to judge.

  32. WagTheDog says:

    I spent $25 last Saturday at the Farmer’s Market on enough fruit and veggies for two weeks, then went to Costco and with the coupons they sent me got $25 of my $85 bill. Do I qualify as a Ninja trainee? I don’t eat Pop-Tarts or Spaghetti-Os anymore so this is the best I can do.

  33. eturowski says:

    It’s only saving if you would have bought it at full price. If you go to the tire store and see tires on sale for $20 each (regular $50), so you buy 40 of them, congratulations. You haven’t saved $1200 ($30 each x 40 tires), but now your $800 is tied up in cheap tires instead of on things you need.

    And if you’re buying that much “corn sugar” anyways… barf.

  34. enabler says:

    I think a lot of the comments here are way too judgmental. It’s not like the family is going to eat all of this next week and nothing else. Did you not ever have treats like ice cream when you were a kid? You’ve never bought taco seasoning, frozen veggies or canned soup? Come on.

    Okay, Pop-Tarts make a pretty awful breakfast, but let’s give them some slack.

  35. redwing41 says:

    The closest grocery shopping ever came to rocket science.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Because you can turn this stuff into rocket fuel?

      I mean, there must be enough weird stuff in the food there to make it into some kind of explosive.

  36. energynotsaved says:

    I’m not opposed to junk food. Love it, actually. However, about 8 weeks ago, I discovered the caloric count of my ab fab,addicted for the last 12 months- Breakfast biscuit at Chick-fil-A. I stopped buying them. Changing nothing else, I dropped 3 pounds. So, now I’m doing the same thing with my groceries. I need to drop another 12 pounds to get back to where I was just a year ago.

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to manage this large of a family with such young kids. I understand her need for ease, however, as the kids get older, perhaps she will be able to transition into more traditionally prepared meals and cut back on the pre-fabs. She may want to save some of those calories (and salt) for those wonderful breakfast biscuits….. sigh. I loved them….

  37. Gulliver says:

    The problem I see with this is not putting a value on your time. How much planning and manipulations did it take to put all this together (and even after that you still missed something). I also refuse to make multiple trips to a grocery store to save a few pennies here and there.
    If these are items you would have bought regularly, then it is great, but if you bought them for the savings you actually COST yourself $45.46 plus whatever you value your time at. The problem in most coupon situations is it is given for heavily processed sodium heavy items.
    I also wonder of maybe they could find a coupon for condoms.

    • moonjest says:

      Reading the post, I get that this is much more of a game to her than anything else and she enjoys it. (A third of her post is about how she didn’t save $2.)

    • Laines says:

      Wow – so now you’re judging the number of children in the family. From a coupon post.

  38. Merujo says:

    I shop exclusively at “The Teet” because of the amazing deals they offer, including double coupons up to $0.99 all the time and these “super double” deals every few weeks or so. If you’re a savvy shopper, you really can come out far ahead in the grocery game with the stuff they offer, including great deals on fresh fruit and veg (for the processed food haters and the snooty peeps.) Not really a coupon situation on the produce obviously, but I end up determining what fresh goodies wind up in my crock pot week to week, nestled with the frozen and canned stuff, by scouting the fresh deals and combining them with the coupon deals on other products. All hail The Teet and the VIC card! (My friend and I call shopping at the store “suckling at the Teet.” Yes, mentally, we’re 12 years old.)

    It’s a hard balance between the cheapness of processed foods and the health bennies of fresh when you’re just scraping by, and I hope some of the folks who are quick to judge never find themselves in that position. It doth suck, trust me.

  39. Andy S. says:

    If your five kids are going through a box and a half of pop tarts each time they eat breakfast, you’re doing it wrong, and failing as a parent. With four pouches to a box, each containing two pastries, I can only presume that LadySiren is feeding the kids one two-pastry pouch each (that’s the only way she would be using more than one box per meal).

    Problem is, *ONE* Pop-Tart is a serving. One.

    Way to fatten up those kids, LadySiren.

    (also, if you’re having so much trouble making ends meet, have you considered trying store brands instead of insisting on name-brands for items that your family apparently gobbles down with abandon?)

    • enabler says:

      Awesome, let’s snark about the food *and* assume they can’t make ends meet. Feel better?

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Could you be just a little more judgmental, please? I don’t think your attempt at blaming and shaming the OP used up every far-reaching assumption there is for you to make, and I do hate seeing asshattery go to waste.

  40. drjayphd says:

    Aw, come on guys, only three more comments bashing the selection of food until we hit our challenge grant! I know you’ve got it in you!

    (Seriously, first comment thread here. Her response is right at the top, and she said this doesn’t represent their typical diet. I know, I know, reading before spouting off, how dare I suggest such insanity…)

  41. Boston says:

    Chicken, diapers and veggies seem like the only worthwhile purchases. She will spend much less to begin with if she cuts down on the processed food and junk food. Not trying to be judgmental, but there are savings on pasta, canned tomatoes, and other things you can use to make nutritious, inexpensive meals for your family. You can feed your gang whatever you want, but to me it doesn’t count as savings when you buy this crap.

  42. zekebullseye says:

    Good job! A fellow coupon ninja salutes you.

    A tip: My son needed those stinkin’ pull-ups till he was 6. We bought a bedwetting alarm and he quit wetting the bed within one week. It trains your bladder to avoid nighttime wetting…donno how. I do know that it was a good investment. No more pull-ups, no more leaks onto sheets and he felt like a million bucks about being able to wear underwear to bed , finally.

  43. Bizdady says:

    Great! Now I want a pop tart!

  44. hotcocoa says:

    I think it’s funny people are being labeled judgmental for not being impressed with saving on a bunch of unhealthy food. I’d be impressed if someone sent in an article for how to save on salads, fruits, and veggies or good food like that.
    But like some people already said, the really healthy stuff *never* have coupons so your basically SOL there. I get coupons all the time for $1 off 5 boxes of Hot Pockets, or $0.75 off 2 bottles of Coke, but it’s money saved on crap I shouldn’t be stocking up on anyway.
    It’s easy to eat cheaply if you buy processed carbs or empty sugar calories. Quality food is what hurts your wallet. No snark or nit-picking here. For the same amount of money you could buy around 50 items at a fast food joint, prob. also chock full of sodium, fat, and sugars.

    • lettucefactory says:

      Seriously, I think I’d offer the person who writes that article sexual favors. My grocery bills are absurdly high, but my cart is always half filled with produce and as a policy I won’t buy anything with “corn sugar” in it. If I can stick to those principles and save money…

    • RandomHookup says:

      The reality is that fresh produce and the like doesn’t come from manufacturers in the traditional sense, and there’s little to no real brand competition in the space. When you start seeing “Kelloggs Fresh Plums” and “Kraft Romaine Lettuce”, then you will see the type of competition that leads to coupons and promos.

  45. dragonprism says:

    Haters gonna hate.

    You did an amazing job in saving money, and I think people are having freak out sessions thinking you’re going to shove nothing but koolaid and cookies down your kid’s gullets all at once.

    Has no one ever heard of moderation anymore before going “OH MY GOD, SUGAR!” ?

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Thanks much; I’m actually getting a kick out of the OMG, PROCESSED FOOD, KILL IT WITH FIRE! people. Nobody on Consumerist has any impact whatsoever on my life and they want to judge, more power to ‘em. Meanwhile, I’ll be kicking back with my refined sugar-filled kiddies and enjoying the fireworks. :)

      • hotcocoa says:

        Ok and you wonder why they go through so much food…? *shrug*
        A breakfast of oatmeal with strawberries is more satisfying than 2 pop tarts. You can spend the same amount of money for the oatmeal, but it’ll last longer and it’s healthier. Cut out the pop tarts and you’ve saved money right there.
        Isn’t this site supposed to be to help other consumers out? it sounds like some people are offering you sound advice on healthier alternatives, but you’re choosing to ignore everyone (whether helpful or just nit-picking). Not everyone is slamming you.

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          Oh, really? So people saying I’m feeding my kids nothing but junk and the money I saved will go towards dentist bills and treatment for Type 2 Diabetes isn’t judgmental? If you read my reply at the very start of the comments, you’d understand that this isn’t our typical diet but if I want any of this type of food on-hand, I buy it only when it’s cheap.

          My email to Ben was to show that if you shop carefully and take advantage of coupon events like this one, you can save a lot of money. Personally, the comments taking potshots at my parenting skills or lack thereof bugged me for a few minutes but then I remembered that most posters here these days are either trolls or are firmly affixed to their high horse. Either way, makes no matter to me. I’m happy with my savings even if it’s on (OH NOES!) processed foods. ;)

          • hotcocoa says:

            And if you read what I wrote, I acknowledged that there are trolls and nit-pickers and those slamming you, but there are others that are not.
            Your attitude is just “hah, who gives a fuck about what you all think?” Obviously you do, because you’re responding and defending your purchase.
            Your purpose was to show that with coupons, you can save money, OK. Some people were pointing out that you’re only saving money on shit. And it’s not worth it anyway. Crap food is always on some rotating sale, you can always eat unhealthy shit for cheap.
            That doesn’t make said people “haters” or part of the “I harvest my own eggs at home” crowd or judgmental pricks. They’re just observant people who noticed this isn’t a steal. I have coupons I got in the mail for “buy 1 get 1″ on Big Macs…that’s 50% off! Whooooo! Big deal.

            • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

              It did actually bother me for a few minutes before I got to the point where I realized yeah, the trolls and high-horsers here don’t amount to beans in my life and I let it go. So yeah, I really don’t give two Pop-Tarts for what people here think. They can use these tips as they see fit, or not – it doesn’t actually matter to me.

              On the other hand, yes, I do find it hateful to suggest that my kids might get Type 2 Diabetes. I’d wish the same back to the commenter who said so but why do that? It just breed more of the negativity and vitriol that seems so prevalent on this site these days.

              • jesirose says:

                They didn’t say they wish your kids will get it, they said it’s likely to happen.

                I comment all the time about how I wish my parents had taught me to eat properly. At 24, I’m finally learning how to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. I LOVED all that crap when I was a kid, and now I’m unhealthy. It’s hard to say no. It’s harder to watch the people you care about get sick.

        • dragonprism says:

          It’s kind of funny you mention that because she DID buy a ton of oatmeal and she’s mentioned repeatedly she’s going out the next day to buy fresh produce.

          You need to relax and stop being an internet vigilante smacking the wrists of people everywhere.

          • hotcocoa says:

            Actually you need to relax because I know she bought oatmeal. I used that a building block for an example of a better breakfast. She talks about making several more trips for fresh produce, so buying strawberries and substituting that for pop tarts will keep the kids satisfied, way more than 1 pop tart (the actually serving size, and not 2) could ever do.

            Internet vigilante? Smacking everyone’s wrists? OK, people like you that love to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion are hardly worth trying to have a discussion with. Someone offers advice and then suddenly they are a vigilante. Mm hmm.

      • mcs328 says:

        I defend your purchases. In fact, I’d eat everything your purchased except for the oatmeal, the snickers( peanut allergy) and of course the pants. Cheers to saving money!!

  46. Amy Alkon says:

    Of all this food, if you know anything about evidence-based dietary medicine, here’s what’s healthy to eat: 3 lbs. 93/7 ground beef

    Of course, what would be healthier would be 27 percent fat ground beef, which allows you to be satiated on less.

    (The “Sleep Pants” probaby wouldn’t be anywhere near as unhealthy to eat as the Spaghettios — at least they wouldn’t do much to your blood sugar.)

    Per the exhaustive research into dietary science from the 1800s until now by investigative science journalist Gary Taubes, it’s carbohydrates (sugar, flour, starchy vegetables like potatoes) that cause the insulin secretion that put on fat.

    How can a mother not feed her children vegetables? They go through Pop Tarts? We didn’t. My mother would sooner have fed us vodka and tonics. It’s called…are you ready…PARENTING. And no, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t some sort of race to make your children like you.)

    • hotcocoa says:

      The OP did buy oatmeal, which is also very healthy, and veggies (which don’t seem to be pictured). You should read the list and not just go by the picture. Just sayin’.

  47. 108socks says:

    I have six kids. It’s hard to feed them well but cooking (mainly) from scratch saves money. It WORKS and tastes BETTER. Stuff like, making my own cookies, own spaghetti sauce, biscuits, pizza, that type of thing. We also garden a bit for some supplemental veggies and herbs. For a family of eight, I spend $500.00 on groceries a month.
    BTW, I buy a box of Pop Tarts once a week. The two tarts get split 5 ways (older 2 get half, younger 3 get a 1/3–baby doesn’t eat yet) IF AND ONLY IF they do their chores for the day. It’s considered a treat.

    • RioPuerco says:

      Very well said and bravo to you. :) My son loves to help cook in the kitchen and I have found that making meals together has been a way to teach lessons while acting like we are having fun and making a mess. Your children are lucky to have a Mother that puts in the time to feed them well and take care of them for the long run.

  48. stint7 says:

    You people are such fuckheads sometimes. I know most of you grow all of your food from your garden in your backyard and pick the eggs from the coop every morning to make an all natural organic breakfast for your 8 kids before you go to work but some people don’t have the resources to do that and maybe, just maybe, a can of Spaghetti-O’s every month for a kid isn’t going to automatically kill them. Get off your high horses and stop acting like you are ideal pictures of health. For a week you should all write down everything you eat and if one of those things was even slightly processed or considered a convenience food, you should pray to the gods of stuckuppity to forgive you.

    • 108socks says:

      Like I said earlier, I have six kids. I also have processed food in my house for the occasions that I am too tired to cook, etc. My oldest kid is nine so time and tiredness are incredible factors.
      But in an effort to be encouraging, perhaps she could rethink how she uses her time. I use coupons sometimes, but all the effort to scour for coupons, stock up on items she uses *sometimes*, and time at the counter can effectively (from my experience) be used to cook more from scratch…she would probably see comparable savings in her monthly bill.

    • Amy Alkon says:

      maybe, just maybe, a can of Spaghetti-O’s every month for a kid isn’t going to automatically kill them.

      Actually, the Spaghetti-O’s, and the Pop Tarts daily and all the rest of the carb-filled foods ARE going to kill them — and make them obese and perhaps give them diabetes if they keep eating that way.

      For science on what to eat, see http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/ and follow @DrEades on Twitter. He links to and writes about solid science on what to eat. My boyfriend dropped 30 pounds effortlessly, in a matter of months, and had his blood pressure go from high to near-normal after cutting out carbs.

      • dragonprism says:

        Really? They’re going to kill them? Right this second? When they don’t eat this kind of stuff every day?

        Wow.

      • hotcocoa says:

        Don’t bother sharing useful information, you’ll just be labeled a judgmental hater. People think health problems like you mentioned magically appear, and aren’t related to what you eat. *shrug*

        • stint7 says:

          When you judge people and their lives and make it a point to share that you are better than them because of the choices you make, then yes, I will call you a judgmental hater.

      • Marshmelly says:

        wow. cause last I checked, I ate poptarts as a kid for breakfast and I’m still alive today…healthy, normal weight, and certainly no diabetes. So no, they aren’t going to “kill” them and that is nowhere near factual information. Wtf did you eat growing up anyway, if I may ask?

    • Hoss says:

      I shop at the market every week and I don’t think I’ve ever looked at someone else’s food purchases and admired them. And I know my purchases look weird to everyone else. For all I know this lady could be raising the next great ballet dancer and engineer, along with three others that are like you and I. Some people need to feel they are superior in some way, so they criticize the smallest choices others make

  49. DarkPsion says:

    The last time I used a coupon, for a free 12pk of Coke, it took the cashier and several managers over 15 minutes just to decide if it was real.

    • lettucefactory says:

      Yeah, the general default reaction by cashiers to a good coupon seems to be “this cant be real, let me probe for weakness!” Which is why it always astounds me when people do this super couponing stuff and manage to break the rules thanks to an inattentive or generous cashier. (As the OP here did, breaking it into 2 transactions.) I try to pass off my one stupid fifty cents off coupon and practically get strip searched.

  50. H3ion says:

    Jeez. cut the woman a break! The point of the post was how much savings could be realized by using coupons carefully. Instead it’s turned into a witch trial with everyone obsessing about the food choices. There’s nothing wrong with a little junk food every now and then and the OP made it clear that this was part one of a two part shopping trip with the second presumably passing muster for the commentators. For those Whole Foods aficionados, look at the published data that indicates that organic is no better nutritionally than regular produce. I mean some of us actually made it out of childhood while not eating organic rutabaga. Just relax.

    • VA_White says:

      This is not a little junk food. This is the mother lode of junk food. And it’s useless to pretend she doesn’t shop like this every week. She does. Lots of Americans do. But the people who read this blog are more tuned into to consumer issues – and that includes industrial food issues – and are maybe not the best audience to crow about your cheap haul of pop tarts and snickers ice cream bars that you toted home in dolphin-choking plastic grocery bags.

    • Kibit says:

      Full disclosure. I do shop at Whole Foods, but this has nothing to do with my comment.

      You don’t have to shop at WF’s to eat healthy food. In fact WF’s does sell packaged food.

      There are plenty of healthy foods at Harris Teeter. Fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, whole wheat pasta and bread. Beans and Legumes. The cost per serving of dried beans and pasta is far less than canned food.

      There are also foods with less sodium too. Hamburger Helper, Spaghetti O’s and canned soup are filled with sodium. One or two cans of soup are not going to feed a family of 5 children and two adults. How much per serving does the food come out too?

      Eating food like this on a daily basis is not good for anyone, especially children.

    • BytheSea says:

      The point is that coupons aren’t saving you money on food because as many posters have said, coupons aren’t on good food. You don’t see coupons on staples like milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, nonprocessed grains or rice, bread, pasta, beans. The coupon game is a pablum for the masses that’s making us pay less money to get fatter on sugar, salt, and HFCS.

  51. Poisson Process says:

    I’m all for saving money, but looking at the picture, these things really aren’t food. They’re food-like products. Here’s a rule of thumb. If bacteria or bugs won’t bother it two months after purchase, then it has no nutritional value and thus, not food.

  52. dunnowhat says:

    What about the fact that she disregarded HT’s rules by doing two transactions?

  53. bsh0544 says:

    These posts pop up every now and then, and I notice that in most cases the haul is exclusively name-brand products. I wonder (and would like to see if anyone doesn’t value their free time) how the cost/savings stack up against just buying store brand stuff.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I can tell you that with a coupon promo like this, you’re almost always better off buying the name brand. With coupons today, I paid a total of one dollar for two name-brand 18 oz. containers of oatmeal and a total of $2.29 for two cans of name-brand coconut milk. Store brand prices were $1.97 per 18 oz container and $1.69 per can respectively.

  54. KrispyKrink says:

    For me, this would have been a net loss of $45.46 because there is nothing on that list I would eat. Well, except for the Oats, I go through at least 3 of those canisters a month. And maybe the vegetables if I’m in a pinch. I usually buy all my vegetables at the local Farmers Market and my meats at a local Butcher.

  55. JulesNoctambule says:

    Harris Teeter grocery is running a promo this week where they’ll double any coupon with a face value up to $1.98. I bought almost $50 worth of groceries; after coupons, I paid $17 and change. Before the ‘OMG COUPONS ARE ONLY FOR PROCESSED CRAP’ brigade scoffs at this, I’ll say that I bought two bags of unbleached flour, one bag of brown sugar, two containers of oatmeal, a big jar of Nutella, three packages of frozen vegetables, two boxes of ‘feminine hygiene products’, three bags of cat treats, and canned tomatoes for making pasta sauce.

    If you refine sugar, mill flour, grow oatmeal, make cat treats and pads, and blend chocolate-hazelnut spread at home, I’m extremely impressed with the amount of free time and house/yard space you have at your disposal. Me, I’ll stick to coupons and my ‘processed crap’.

  56. MissMostlyMittens says:

    Okay, I think I’m losing faith in consumerist commenters. Why do people who are supposedly consumer savvy constantly bash coupon users. Where are all the smart advise and good tips, it’s just a bunch of people that get a stiffy from being condescending judgmental jerks. Every freakin time someone states they save a lot of money with coupons you get the amount of vitriol usually reserved for those who beat puppies.

    So here is my example of coupon use for the 5 statements/questions that pop up every freakin time there is a post about coupons.

    You can get many coupons for produce, bread and cheese as well as the processed stuff. If you only rely on coupon sources from the newspaper yes you will only get mostly processed stuff but there are coupon places like mambo sprouts and it’s all whole or organic stuff. Coupon packets for stores, signing up for store newsletters and myriad of other online coupon sources.

    Ok people keep ignoring those that tell you that you don’t have to spend 80 hours clipping coupons or buy only crap. These are some of the deals I got recently.

    Roman meal bread, Ralphs Sale and coupon = $1.00
    Almond milk, Ralphs sale, manu coupon and catalina coupon = 0.40
    Total cereal. Manu coupon and store sale $0.80
    Canned Tuna. Albertsons sale 0.44
    Huge packets of flax seed from Whole foods normally $4.00 bucks I printed out a whole foods coupon from the newsletter and got two packages for 0.99 each.

    Items for grooming and for gift baskets
    CVS 0.40 for Milanos cookies (again for a gift baskets you judgmental health Natzis)
    2 Garnier Herba shine, 2 secret gel deodorant (powder fresh) Free with ECBS

    Drugstore.com aniversary sale: 2 17 oz Bain de-luxe hand soap, foaming exfoliator, shea butter hand cream and rosemary conditioner $6.00. They were all $0.5 but $6.00 is including shipping and tax. All are really pretty and will make lovely additions to someones b-day or Christmas gift basket.

    Actually most of the time I don’t even pay for lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, tooth brushes, OTC items and gift basket items.

    I came to consumerist a couple years ago hoping I would learn to be more savvy and although it is quite entertaining at times eventually learned how to work a deal from coupon blogs. I’ve learned about sales cycles and the value of using my google reader to find the best freebies and deals quickly and from super nice people always willing to give you tips.

  57. momtimestwo says:

    Those Grands biscuits have trans fat in them. Other then the meat and oatmeal, everything there is loaded with salt and artificial everything. Good job using the coupons, but more real food and less packaged will be better in the long run.

  58. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    I think it’s a little sad that it’s some kind of consumer triumph to bring home frankenfood that has, probably, $15 worth of nutrition for $45.

  59. kyramidx3 says:

    My boyfriend & I save roughly $50 – $75 every time we go food shopping, because we go to a discount grocery store, rather than the overpriced local grocery stores (Giant, Weis, Stauffers). They have a good number of fruits and veggies, even. We can easily get a cart-full of groceries for $50 – $60.

    The only thing they don’t have there that we eat on a regular basis is tofu, and so we go to Weis for that…however it’s not expensive in the first place, so that doesn’t really matter.

  60. kitty says:

    If she bought Great Value brand, it would have only been $9.88!

  61. Suzie says:

    Congrats.. you bought a ton of sugar, processed foods, and crap for your kids. Thanks mom for the obesity!

    • Marshmelly says:

      Congrats…you’re an ignorant fool that apparently missed the memo that this is not ALL this woman is feeding her children.

  62. ALP5050 says:

    I bet that grocery store hates you.

  63. MoreFunThanToast says:

    People really need to get off of their high horses.

    Although I don’t eat most of the stuff found in that picture, I don’t really see an occasional poptart or ice cream is going to kill you. Chillax, stop acting like you don’t do a single bad thing that could potentially be bad for your health.

    • M3tALHaz3 says:

      Yah except she said that they have a pop tart every day for breakfast. I bet you they blow through all this food in a month and a half…tops….So your comment is invalid

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        Uh, I most certainly did not. Learn to read, maybe? I said that when they DO eat Pop-Tarts, they go through a box and a half. I have five kids, two of whom are teen boys with huge appetites (and no, they’re not fat in any way). Nice try at spreading disinformation.

  64. DEVO says:

    Take her savings, divide that by hours spent running around to different stores, sifting through various newspapers etc. A buck an hour?

  65. John B says:

    Wow!

    This stuff is just SO nutritious………

  66. Lis de fleur says:

    Most coupons are only for processed foods, so she may be saving money…at the cost of health.

  67. Draw2much says:

    I’m sorry about the posters here. Sometimes they’re just really stuck up and mean and ignorant. READ THE COMMENTS AND THE WHOLE POST PEOPLE. Seriously. D:

    If it helps, I understand what you’re doing. Processed food lasts longer, but sells quicker. Buy it first, and it keeps for ages. Obviously you don’t have to feed them this stuff every day, or every week. Just once a month and you’ll STILL burn through most of it before a year is over.

    (Seriously people, even eating something processed once a week won’t kill a person. *rolls eyes* )

    And of course, the fresh stuff you buy on the second trip, as it’s usual on the racks longer. And often the fresh stuff doesn’t have a coupon or is full priced. So obviously that’s not as exciting to talk about.

    So, good job OP! Just ignore all the haters. ;)

  68. bwcbwc says:

    While I’m impressed by these coupon ninjas and their savings, being caught behind them in line is not a pleasant experience. Last one was a lady who knocked a $100 tab down to $27. All the coupon scanning and validation made her transaction take three times as long as it did to ring up the original purchase.

  69. Chipzilla says:

    Why not feed your children a proper breakfast and see how much you save? Would a sane person consider Pop Tarts to be food?

  70. fuceefacee says:

    Pop-Tarts? Spaghettios? Tuna Helper?

    Yet no one has called Child Protective Services?

  71. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    BTW – Taco Seasoning – cheaper, over the long term, than the packets, plus you can use the spices in lots of other recipes:

    From All Recipes

    Ingredients
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper

    Directions
    In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

  72. Spider Mann says:

    Buy food that you can use to make healthy food.

    Instead of hamburger helper buy some wide egg noodles, a tub of sour cream, 80/20 ground beef (seriously folks, fat content in your hamburger is good for you and good for cooking; this ultra-lean beef is so processed you are losing nutrients), and some fresh mushrooms. You now have the ingredients for cheap, healthy, and good tasting beef stroganoff.

    Buy pasta: you can usually find good store brand pasta for 99¢-$1.50 (most of the time the former instead of the latter), get some chicken breasts, garlic, bacon and eggs. You now have the ingredients for a wonderful carbonara.

    You will save more money if you buy the ingredients for a good meal instead of the quick fix. Plus, your kids won’t be the fatties they obviously are if they are eating a pack of pop-tarts for breakfast each morning.

  73. provolone says:

    Nice job, but 6 boxes of Tuna Helper is more than 1 family should consume in a generation.

  74. JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

    Well, I applaud your money-saving skills and I, for one, could care less about what you feed your kids. My parents were busy people, and my brother and I got 50/50 of home-cooked meals and processed crap. Granted, we are now overweight (like everyone else in my family) but my food choices nowadays are a lot healthier. When I was a kid, I didn’t WANT to eat healthy. I wanted the crap! It doesn’t matter. Your kids, when they are old enough, can make different food choices for themselves if they want to.

    Personally, I think that spending time with them is more important than what you feed them. I have nothing but good memories of my childhood, regardless of the crap that my brother and I ate.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Well, glad you’re happy, to each his own, but every study in the known universe acknowledges that habits formed in childhood extend through adolescence into adulthood. It’s excruciatingly hard to “make different food choices” when you’re “old enough” when you have to undo fifteen or twenty years of being trained that there isn’t a difference between real actual food, and chemistry experiments. Besides the missed opportunity cost of all those years when kids COULD be learning what real food tastes like, how to find it, how to prepare it, how to appreciate it, but instead are inhaling manufactured crap.

      And does the child’s health in actual childhood not matter? It’s not like a kid can’t become dangerously overweight and start to have metabolic problems at age 5, or 10, or before “when he’s old enough to make different food choices” happens.

      I also don’t buy the “it’s more important to spend time together than make an effort to eat decently” argument. What about those two things is mutually exclusive? A substantial portion of the quality time I spend with my kids involves planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking, baking and eating together. During this time we’re talking, laughing and generally positively relating, WHILE living a wholesome and reasonable relationship to food. It’s hardly an either-or.

      I, and my kids, have our fair share of junk food from time to time–but treating junk food as a viable default mode, instead of occasional treats, is irresponsible parenting that unacceptably puts kids at risk.

      Side note, related to the above observation: It absolutely burns me up that so many people with no ability to evaluate risk will freak out if I let my kid walk down the block alone to get the mail (stranger danger!) or own and use a pocketknife (she could cut herself and bleed to death!) or hold my baby on my lap for a plane flight (in extreme turbulence she could become a projectile!) but yet they’re perfectly happy with letting their kids sit in front of screens for hours, inhaling sugar/salt/fat, getting on a guaranteed conveyor belt to overweight and related poor health.

      • JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

        The gist of my comment was, while I was fed a lot of crap when i was a kid, I make healthy choices now that I am an adult. This includes not eating fast food, making home-cooked meals with low fat ingredients for my fiancee and I, and enjoying a vast variety of fresh produce and alternate sources of protein (such as tofu and the like).

        While I am overweight, my bloodwork is always positive, my blood pressure is always 110/80, and my immune system is high. I must be a superhero though, because most of the people in my weight category are riddled with all sorts of health problems. Believe it or not, there are obese people out there that are healthy.

  75. quirkyrachel says:

    Based on that list, the only items that I would buy are the frozen veggies and the beef. Everything else is highly processed. Generally the only coupons I find usable are ones for non-edible items like beauty products.

  76. Marshmelly says:

    Jeez. Why the hell are there so many people being so incredibly judgmental about the food this woman purchased? I grew up with eating spaghettios, poptarts for breakfast, Dannon, hamburger helper, those lunchable things, fruit rollups, McDonald’s happy meals, etc (all which are very COMMON kid foods). I also had healthier meals that my mom would make for dinner with vegetables and other healthy items. Its quite obvious (considering there are barely any dinner meals in this list) that this is not the entirety of what she purchases for her family…not that it should be anyone’s concern anyhow. Just because nowadays everyone is on this hip, organic, naturally-grown and farm-raised food kick doesn’t mean that everyday people with large families are as well. Really…stop judging this poor woman and go eat your soy milk, flaxseed and free range chickens.

  77. Truthie says:

    Good, she can use that money when everyone in her family develops diabetes.

    I know eating healthy isn’t always cheap, but there have to be far healthier options than these at a low cost.

    Seriously, pop-tarts should be an occasional treat, not a regular breakfast. Ugh.

  78. frugalmom says:

    Even without double coupons, I’ve been able to work similar or even better deals at Jewel, and for the most part of actual food, including flour, soup, and cereal. Last week I got 5 bricks of cheese, a box of 100% juice Capri Sun, and a bag of tortilla chips for $1.47, plus I got a $5 ONYO Catalina. (The Capri Sun and chips were snacks requested by my son’s preschool.)

    Paying attention to spending and sales and reading a few deal-seeking blogs has reduced my family’s grocery spending by about $150 a month, down to about $275 including toiletries and diapers.

  79. Nick says:

    WOW! That’s not food, it’s FOOD Inc! Hope she can get discount coupons for the artery plumber. Her family’s eating habits are the poster child for what’s wrong with our low cost, high salt – calorie – fructose food supply.

  80. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    All you bashing her are growing all your own food, right? From seeds, since that saves the most money and allows you to avoid the pesticides and other chemicals, right? You’re all hand-crank grinding your own wheat to make your pasta and bread with, right? I mean, it gives you exercise and tastes fantastic, too! There is always somebody bigger than you, smarter than you, and even more holier than thou.

  81. heart.shaped.rock says:

    Jealous! In my area, we only have 5 major grocery stores and not one of them EVER does double-coupon days. Eff you safeway, albertsons, top foods, food pavilion and fred meyer!

  82. captainwalnut says:

    Man, I look at that haul and see almost nothing real there. Where’s the food??

  83. wkm001 says:

    Buying taco seasoning by the packet is a HUGE rip off. Buy it in bulk at Sam’s or your wholesale club.

    Yesterday I bought a 9 lb box (two 4.5 lb bags) of Quaker Oats for under $7. I’m betting you paid almost $5 (full retail without coupons) for your two containers that weigh 2.25 lbs combined.

  84. M3tALHaz3 says:

    6 boxes Pop-Tarts – 7g of fat/200 cal./16g of sugar per pastry! – POISON: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

    2 canisters Quaker Oats – These are ok

    2 packages Keebler cookies – serving size 2 cookies – 160 cal./9g fat/sodium 105g/sugar 9g First ingredient?? SUGAR Oh and a bunch of chemicals and other ingredients that were made in a lab that aren’t good for your body.

    2 boxes Snickers ice cream bars – serving size 1 bar – 180 cal/11g fat/15g sugars POISON: CORN SYRUP AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS

    2 gallons Turkey Hill Iced Tea – serving 1 cup – 90 cal./20g of sugar! POISON: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

    3 boxes Dannon Coolision yogurt – 60cal/9g of sugar — Not real yogurt and has barely any nutrional value: (Modified Food Starch, Fructose, Contains Less than 1% of Kosher Gelatin, Modified Corn Starch….and more artificial ingredients)

    6 cans Spaghettios – serving 1 cup (not one can) – 180cal./880mg sodium/15g sugar!–No wonder those A to Z were on sale. They were part of a recall: http://www.campbellsoup.com/consumeralert_spaghettios.aspx You might want to check on that. POISON: Corn Syrup High Fructose

    6 boxes Tuna Helper – serving 3/4 cup – 150 cal./750mg of sodium! – POISON: Corn Syrup & Artificial Flavor

    4 cans Progresso soup – Can’t tell what soup it is from the picture….

    2 packages Pillsbury ready-to-bake cookie dough – serving size 1 COOKIE – 5g fat/70mg sodium/8g sugar – Can’t find ingredients online

    2 bags Pillsbury frozen biscuits – serving 1 biscuit – 9g fat/550mg sodium – Can’t find ingredients online

    6 boxes Green Giant frozen veggies – Ok….Better if they were organic

    3 packages Old El Paso taco seasoning – serving size 1/6th of a packet! – 560mg sodium and hardly any natural ingredients

    1 package Old El Paso tortillas – serving 2 tortillas – 340mg sodium and tons of horrible crap and preservatives

    1 Old El Paso taco kit –

    1 package Kool-Aid Fun Fizz – This is about the equivalent of stuffing chemistry lab in your child’s mouth. Artificial flavors and coloring. Nothing of any nutritional value whatsoever.

    3 lbs. 93/7 ground beef – Ok

    1 package Good Nites sleep pants – Ok I guess

    I hardly call this a “victory in saving money”…

  85. BytheSea says:

    The diapers were probably the most expensive item.

    I think she coulddo better. And I think the kids could stop eating novelties everyday and have them as a special treat only.

  86. japinard says:

    As a responsible parent who has the intelligence to save money, you should also look at serving your kids decent food. HFSC, or “Corn Syrup” is in most of those goods and you’re setting them up for Type-2 Diabetes. Worse, as they get older it will be more difficult for them to break the routine taught to them as kids and make healthier eating choices as an adult.

    You may be busy, but that’s no excuse for the terrible crap you’re throwing on the table. You wanted to have that many kids, then you needed to take the responsability to feed them healthy fare. You’d be better off feeding them less than the load of junk. They’ll live longer.

  87. dipthonggirl says:

    All I see is crap crap crap!
    Where are the greens? Do you know how much sodium is in all that?
    I might spend twice as much on food as that lady, but at least I don’t feel like dying after.

  88. rucci14 says:

    You can get good deals AND eat healthy. My wife took advantage of the Harris Teeter Deals this week and spent $1, saved $71, got back $6 in coupons. She used it to stock up on items such as yogurt, oats, pasta, etc. which we store in our pantry and use with fresh fruit, veggies, meat, etc. to make relatively healthy meals.

    We don’t get great deals like this every week, but her meal planning and coupon clipping is an important part of our money management. She does a great job with it.

  89. Coupon says:

    Go to any Harris Teeter message board with pictures and you will see this exact same picture. The ninjas ONLY buy what’s ULTRA cheap to get a huge savings like this. To boot, they ALL follow the same lists on hotcouponworld.com, afc.com, southersavers.com, etc so everyone’s “LOOK WHAT I BOUGHT!” is all the same. So cute, SAHMs are.

  90. mbemom says:

    It’s great to see someone work the system like that and I did check the site she linked to and people actually DID “make” money in special offers that came back. But, yuck, I can’t feed my kids that crap. I would buy the frozen veggies, the ground beef and the frozen biscuits but all the rest, most likely not. That’s the problem I have always had with coupons, they just aren’t for things I want to buy. Plus, I am so lazy and hate cutting them or finding the right store and the right time to use them, Then it’s like a job and I don’t need another one of those. But, like I said, lazy me. Good for her for saving so much, more power to her.

  91. Luftvier says:

    Stop feeding your kids pop tarts for breakfast. Yuck.

  92. mdovell says:

    Boy do some slam on people here…

    Just a few things

    1) This isn’t exactly what she is feeding her family 24/7

    2) I heard a conversation the other day about a town that has a strip of nothing but drug stores down one street…reason being is that it’s a poorer area and fewer people have cars (thus they can’t take as much home) so yes this might not be “food” but it isn’t being used as such

    3) There’s nothing wrong with buying things in bulk or at least just in case. People buy low and sell high with stocks so it makes sense sometimes to stock up when prices dip for things. For example how many people have a fully stocked medicine cabinet these days? So they wait until they are fully sick before using medicine..not a good idea

    4) One does not have to be a nutritionist to see that good food is not often cheap food. Who’s to say that she simply saves money on this to buy say organic lean beef and eggs? There’s plenty of sites that have coupons but meats and milk are hardly discounted. As people save more they often consume more..just like cheaper gas just means driving more. So if anyone implies that the person is living on this alone would be shortsighted.

    It would be interesting if this were picked up in another freakonomics sequel