Coffee, Coupons, and Last Minute Thoughts
At this very moment I am sitting at my desk slowly savoring my last cup of coffee for the day and the next several days for that matter. Our windows are open and there is a slight breeze billowing through the sheer white summery curtains throughout our home. As sunlight pours through my kitchen illuminating the light sky blue colored walls, the scent of a cast iron skillet cooked breakfast of buttermilk buckwheat pancakes, fresh strawberries, bacon, and pure maple syrup lingers in the air creating a fragrance that no candle or essential oil could ever be compared. My pantry is neatly organized and stocked with a wide variety of local, organic, and sustainable foods that are fully capable of providing the elements for a delectable feast with little more then a moment’s notice. In the depths of my cool basement there is a tall shelf stocked with an assortment of overflow small kitchen appliances, canning equipment, seasonal gadgets such as an apple/peeler/corer, and a small row of neatly arranged Ball jars cataloging the results of my first attempts at canning a taste of our local seasons. Yet, for a week I am going to use my imagination to pretend that none of that exists…
I have always believed that you will never understand another man’s plight unless you have walked a mile or more in his shoes. Participating in The Food Stamp Challenge for a week in no way shape or form compares to living it on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis, yet if it helps inspire awareness, compassion, empathy, and a willingness to help or aid the cause of those in need then I am in full support of it. So, as I pare down my grocery list for the following week, I am using the depths of my imagination and own personal experiences to provide menu options with ingredients that are easily attainable and consistently priced. To be honest, this is not an easy task.
Through my own struggles in life, I have long ago learned the importance of seeking out the loss leaders listed in the weekly sales fliers, the value of signing up for those free reward cards offered at most grocery stores, and there have been many times that I have clipped and used coupons to double and sometimes triple my purchasing power. Through personal experience, I know for a fact that it is possible to combine coupons and sales to buy $130 worth of groceries for under $50.
Thankfully, those days are far in the past and couponing in my home is done more out of choice then dire necessity. At this very moment, stacked neatly next to my laptop is a small stack of coupons that could easily make this weeks experience on the Food Stamp Diet much healthier and far more comfortable for both me and my husband. A coupon for $3 off any two Organic Valley half gallons of milk could easily make one of our creature comforts easily attainable and would work well with another coupon that I have for a Free Box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal. A promotional 4 week savings card mailed to my home by Meijer grocery store would enable me to save $10 off a purchase of $50.00 or more and my remaining $2 as well as anything else that could be squeezed out of my overall budget would probably be well spent buying fresh fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the cost at my local farmer’s market. A quick drive over to Aldi or Save A Lot, would no doubt be the most natural second choice for filling a grocery cart on a very low budget and no coupons on hand. However, I am very intent on approaching this challenge with an assume nothing type attitude.
My coupons, will remain at home along with my passion for cooking, baking, and shopping for the freshest local ingredients I can obtain. All of my shopping will done at Wal-mart as it is the one store that is accessible in most areas of the country. Grocery items will be chosen for their consistent prices and year round availability. For the record, I in no way wish to dumb down the intelligence of an individual that is existing on a food stamps or an equally meager grocery budget. Obviously, a home garden could go a long way in supplementing a diet and taking the time to prepare or learn to prepare meals from scratch would definitely be ideal. But, what if one was short on time, had no prior experience in the kitchen, no green space let alone a garden plot, not a single coupon, no access to a health food store stocked with affordable bulk items, could not access a farmer’s market due to limited bus routes or the rising cost of gas? How about factoring in the many other issues that might contribute to the need for an individual or family to exist on as little as possible during a short period of hardship or an extended bout of long term poverty?
It is in considering some of the direst of circumstances that I have done my best to create an emergency menu for the week. As I savor the last sip of coffee and prepare to do my shopping this evening, I can only hope that I will be successful in providing a tangible lifeline for someone who may be searching for it now or in the future.
*Listed below are some excellent links for anyone wishing to learn a bit more about slashing the cost of a grocery bill by combining both coupons and savvy shopping techniques:
Consider joining a forum site like Slick Deals, Daily Freebies, or Deal of the Day to obtain legitimate freebies offered by major manufacturers and corporations. Be sure to familiarize yourself with both the forum’s policies and information/advice offered concerning signing up for and obtaining freebies.
*Also, many coupons can be printed via the internet, but be sure you are familiar with the coupon policies of your local retailers as many of them including Wal-mart, no longer accept internet printed coupons.