Friday, February 17, 2012

Frugal Fridays: When to Spend More


I've spent a long time in the frugal blogosphere.  Years, in fact.  I used to be a devotee of sites like Money Saving Mom, which teach home managers how to stretch their grocery budgets further via coupon shopping and sales.  I've even written about the topic myself.

But, lately, I'm having second thoughts.

Not about using coupons in general.  I still love getting personal care items for free by playing The Drugstore Game.  I definitely think it's a good idea to clip coupons, read supermarket fliers, and search for good deals.  And when I find a great price on a product we love, I stock up. 

But I'm starting to rethink the wisdom of making ALL grocery purchases this way.  Of only buying things when I can get them for rock bottom prices.  Of planning my meals around only the items in my pantry, and the items I can get on sale.

Because here's the thing: at the end of the day, shopping and cooking that way makes it really difficult to have a healthy diet.

I remember one time this past fall, Crystal at Money Saving Mom shared a post about how she got a great deal on apples.  She was pretty happy about it, and good for her.  She made tons of applesauce, apple butter, and other baked goods for her freezer.

But know what?  They weren't organic apples.  And that's not irrelevant; apples are the number one item on the "dirty dozen" list of produce most contaminated by pesticides.  Choosing to eat non-organic apples means choosing to ingest a boatload of potentially harmful chemicals.  That's not a good deal at any price.

But even more disturbing than the actual post were the comments.  I can't tell you how many people wrote that they were jealous, because they hadn't had apples in weeks.  Their kids were begging for them, but they hadn't been able to find any below $2 a pound.  They would stock up as soon as they found a low price, but in the meantime, they would do without.

I'm not kidding.  These moms hadn't fed their kids apples in weeks, because they were too expensive.  At $2 a pound.

I just don't see the wisdom in that.  Kids need healthy foods, like apples and other fresh fruits and veggies.  Even when they're not on sale.

I understand, of course, that some families have such limited food budgets that they truly can't afford to pay $2 a pound for fruit.  Those are cases that need to be alleviated through programs that bring fresh produce to inner cities, or improved food stamp guidelines that will allow low income families to buy plenty of fruits and veggies. 

But middle class parents who can afford to cough up an extra dollar or two to put fresh apples in their kids' bellies?  They need to make it happen.  And refusing to do so in the name of frugality?  Inexcusable.

So I say, clip your coupons and save your pennies.  Stock up on pasta or tuna or tomatoes when you can get them dirt cheap.  But also fork over an extra dollar (or five) to feed your kids fresh, wholesome, nourishing foods.  Even when they're not on sale, they're certainly worth the price.

What do you pay extra for?  Are there any foods you won't skimp on, no matter how expensive they get?

For more posts on frugal living, visit Life as Mom. 

3 comments:

  1. I am with you on the nourishing food. I am not much of a couponer but I do look for the deals on in season produce. My strategy for saving on fresh food is to buy what is in season. I also buy local meat. Not only am I helping to support a local family and a small business, I know where my meat comes from, I can drive by their cows anytime I want to. Yes it sounds extravagant to buy grassfed beef but when you realize that I spend less than $20 on a meat a week it is not that expensive.

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  2. I found and read that post and did not see any such comment like the one you mentioned. Jealous of the deal, yes, but no one posted about depriving their child of apples. Maybe you need to stop the hysterics over everything.

    If you want people to fork over extra money for organic produce, maybe you should fork over extra money to buy clothes from places that don't use child or forced labor. Or is it just your child that you care about, and not the children in Jordan slaving away in Old Navy sweat shops, or the child labor involved in harvesting cocoa used in Reese's peanut butter cups.

    The point is, get on your soap box about what you think is important, but don't look down on people who don't make the same decisions. I care more about cruelty-free food, such as not eating meats and buying fair-trade coffee and chocolate. If I have to skimp on organic produce to ensure that my coffee doesn't come from the forced labor of people living far from me, I am okay with that. It may be inexcusable to you, but it's important to me.

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  3. For me.....I cannot afford to spend that much at the store on apples, but my children do not lack for fresh fruits and vegetables. If apples are that much we can usually find another fresh fruit or vegetable for the right price. We usually pick our apples locally for canning applesauce or apple pie filling for the winter, they are free and are organic....worms and all sometimes...

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