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Home Rule

Coupons, Home Cooking: Pick Your Saving Method

March 06, 1986|BONNIE McCULLOUGH | McCullough, based in Colorado, is the author of four books on home management.

There are two ways to save food money--using coupons, and making it yourself (the more traditional method). Every shopper can save a little by using some basic strategies from both of these money-saving methods.

The traditional home manager has learned to economize by quantity and seasonal buying, cooking from scratch, growing a garden and preserving at home. Your savings depend on how many people you feed and how hard you work at this endeavor.

After initial savings, you have to choose one or the other buying style for additional savings. It's like trying to travel north and south at the same time--it can't be done. If you make things from scratch and buy staples in large quantities, that is probably why your coupon-refund savings aren't higher. You just don't see a cents-off coupon on 25 pounds of rice.

Learned Every Trick

The questions are these: Which method do you prefer, and which leads to better nutrition? To some people, using coupons is fun. I must confess that I am prejudiced toward the traditional method. I learned every trick of the traditional cook when I fed and clothed my family (four children) for less than $100 a month in the early '70s. I also admit that it takes several large storage cupboards to house my supply of canned fruits and extra staples.

If you want to save money with coupons, you have to buy the things the manufacturers are promoting, which are often refined or glamour products. The reason a traditional shopper can't save money with coupons is because she or he doesn't use those fast-food and high-glamour products as often.

That individual could save just as much if not more by spending 45 minutes longer in the kitchen every day. And sometimes it's not a question of how much time you spend in the kitchen as it is how efficiently you cook and shop.

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