Grab bag of coupon questions answered

Jill Cataldo

This week, I’d like to answer a few quick questions from emails:

Q: I enjoy reading your column and particularly love the topic of stockpiling. I would love to start, but I’m concerned about food going bad. I know flour, sugar, pasta and soup all have expiration dates. I’m nervous I’ll stockpile, forget about the food and everything will be bad by the time I need it.

A: Watching for good sales and buying a little more than needed when prices are low keeps us from paying full price. It also keeps us from running out of pantry staples.

When I refer to stockpiling, I’m typically buying about 12 weeks’ worth of a product. If I use one bag of flour per month, I’ll buy three when I’m stocking up. In about 12 weeks another sale may come around and I’ll stock up again. When we stock up on three months’ worth of food, it’s unlikely that we’ll be faced with expiring food on the shelves at home. If you keep your stockpile limited to the items you use most, you won’t have issues with expiration dates. You’ll also be able to keep your stockpile to a reasonable size. If you hit a great deal on nonperishable items, like paper products or cleaners, it’s fine to stock up in larger quantities.

Q: On the dark side of extreme couponing: the quality of foods these people are buying and stores are offering. When I see overweight people buying 10 packs of hot dogs just because they have coupons, I think this is the socioeconomic effect that is basically increasing health care costs.

A: I think it’s outside the scope of this column to debate the impact of shoppers’ food choices on long-term health. While I personally enjoy great savings with coupons, I also make a point of focusing on healthier food choices for my family. We eat a lot of organic items and fresh produce and we avoid artificial sweeteners. But we do enjoy an occasional hot dog, too? It’s tough ground to tread when we start telling each other what we should be eating.

Q: Some seniors can’t get to the store. And we may have the time but not the endurance to sit at a table to cut coupons. Any ideas?

A: If you can’t get to a store or cut coupons, it’s going to be difficult to be a coupon shopper. Getting the best coupon deals is typically going to require trips to the store and picking up scissors.

Grocery delivery services often accept paper coupons. Check to see if your store has the service. If you’re can’t clip but do make trips to the store, look into e-coupons, which can be loaded to a store loyalty card. Check the store’s websites. No scissors!