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 November 1, 2012  Posted by  Coupon Insider, Food, Groceries, Hot Deals

I started couponing many years ago, long before it was trendy, even before it had a name. As a single mother of three, I was saving money every way I could. So when an item was a loss leader at the supermarket AND I had a coupon for it, I bought it. That meant a lot of processed food found its way into my kitchen — because back in those days, food labels weren’t very informative and we didn’t  have much accurate data on food additives.

Now I feel guilty about those cookies and crackers I gave my kids, because now I know they were made with high-fructose corn syrup and/or various partially  hydrogenated oils. Thank goodness I used to cook with fresh proteins and fresh vegetables, so at least our meals were reasonably healthy.

Now I’m a really careful couponer. So a soup company offers me a 50 cents off coupon that will be doubled by my supermarket. I don’t use it — because the salt content of that soup is ridiculously high. Same thing for most frozen entrees —  many of those are high in saturated fat as well.  I often use coupons for some frozen fruits and vegetables when good fresh produce isn’t readily available, as long as the labels don’t show that anything nasty was used in the processing.

Video: How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Snacks

Coupons for “green” soaps, detergents and toiletries aren’t as abundant as those for non-green products, but they are available, and if you don’t see them regularly in your local newspapers, you can often get them online or by liking your favorite products on Facebook.

Some supermarkets — Stop & Shop does this regularly — offer $2 to $5 or even $10 off on orders of a certain amount. Those are much better deals than buying food items that are loaded with chemicals and additives just because you get 50 cents or $1 off the price.

When companies realize that there is a serious demand for better canned and frozen products, they will not only make them, they will also provide coupons for them. Have you noticed that over the last year or so, there have been coupons for nitrite-free cold cuts and hot dogs? Granted, these aren’t good-for-you-foods, but when you take away the nitrites, at least you’ve eliminated one preservative you definitely don’t want in your food.

What do you do to make sure that couponing isn’t bad for your family’s health?

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Lillian Africano

Lilllian Africano is the editor-in-chief of, cruise editor at JAX FAX, senior editor at Elegant Accents and executive editor at She also blogs on and She formerly served as a freelance editor and writer at AOL Travel and is the author of 16 books, including three best-selling novels (under the pseudonym “Jessica March”). She co-authored the 9th edition of Off the Beaten Track Guide to New York, as well as You Know You’re in New Jersey When… and two editions of The Insiders Guide to the Jersey Shore. Lillian is president-elect of the Society of American Travel Writers and past president of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. Find her on Google +.

  3 Responses to “Is couponing bad for your health?”

  1. Great insights Lillian. So many of us are focused on how much we can save on individual deals that we forget the long term cost of unhealthy eating. I admit, I’ve purchased frozen dinners in bulk before. Those Hungryman meals are delicious! (and deadly probably)

  2. It’s absolutely true — it’s so easy to start buying things because they’re so cheap with coupons. And even once you shake that habit, you’re still going to be drawn to lots of fatty/salty/otherwise unhealthy foods. I think the biggest issue is that most of us love those unhealthy foods to begin with, so we gravitate to the corresponding coupons. I know I buy way too many unhealthy things, coupon or no. I’m trying to moderate it, but it takes awhile to turn around those habits. For me, a very very very long while.

  3. Ordinarily, Lillian would have responded to the comments, but she is on the Jersey Shore with no power, no Internet, no cell phone, etc.

    I find it difficult to resist coupons for ice cream or other sweets, but I don’t clip them so I’ll have less incentive to buy those products.

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