One Mom's Not-So-Extreme Guide to Couponing

Free baby wipes and 10 cent mustards are out there. You just need the right coupons.

Free baby wipes and 10 cent mustards are out there. You just need the right coupons
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It just opens up ways to give that you never imagined were possible. Two weeks ago, mustard was on sale. I bought enough for my family—it was like 10 cents each—and I went ahead and bought extras I'm going to donate to my church.

How does having a husband and child with Type 1 diabetes impact your couponing?

I just don't buy a ton of items that are packaged that have a lot of sugar in them. I make more things homemade. It's not that they can't have sugar, but if they do, then I prefer to make it myself because I can control what goes in it.

My daughter is also highly allergic to peanuts. So those are just questions that I've had people ask me: 'What if I have an allergy? What if my child's allergic to peanuts? Can you still buy stuff?' Yes, you can still save on everything else.

One common complaint around couponing is that they tend to focus on packaged foods at the expense of fresh produce or organic items. Any strategies on getting coupons for healthier options?

I actually purchase more organic items and more fruits and vegetables now that I coupon than I did before. One of the main ways to do so is just by cutting back on your household expenses: things like dishwashing detergent, washing powders, toothpaste. When I'm not having to use a large part of my grocery budget on all those items, it's going to free up more money that I can use to purchase fruits and vegetables.

Also, there are coupons for organic items. There may not be as many, but you follow the same principles. When they're on sale, and there's a coupon paired with that, then buy enough to last you about 10 to 12 weeks.

[In Pictures: 10 Ways to Save on Food Costs]

Anything else you would like readers to know?

Couponing doesn't have to be all or nothing. Whether you save 5 percent, 10 percent or 50 percent, you're still saving. You're in charge of what goes in your cart. If you don't want 100 boxes, then just buy five, or just buy three or just buy two.

Just because you might have seen people coupon to the extreme, doesn't mean that you have to do that. For my family, I've gone to the grocery store three times this month. Each time before I went, I took about maybe an hour in preparation in cutting out coupons and printing them online, and I saved my family close to $500. For me, I'm not trying to compare myself to other people. I'm not trying to average 90 percent off. Fifty percent is fine with me, but even if it's 10 percent that week, that's still money that I got to keep in my pocket. If you do that week after week, that money adds up.