Keeping Kosher on a Budget: Coupons to the Rescue?

I’ll admit it: TLC’s Extreme Couponing fascinates me. With the exception of the people who donate their deals to food shelves or the troops, I think that most of the people profiled should probably be on Hoarders instead – 40 some bottles of acid reliever just because it’s on sale and you have a coupon??!! But when they get to the finish line checkout with their carts, I can’t help but be slightly amazed at just how low those total bills end up being.
I’m certainly not going to spend 4+ hours every week getting coupons in order, matching up to sale prices and then driving to 6 shops all over town to get the best deals (after all, time is money) but I’ve been wondering if there’s a way for me to save even just a little bit more on groceries/household items each week by couponing. And, I wondered if I could do it within my criteria: healthy food only (with the exception of a Magnum bar every now and then) and kosher-style items – my kitchen is “ingredient kosher” now but will be fully kosher once I get married this fall. As good as those deals on frozen shrimp can be, crustaceans just aren’t invited to my house.
I was pretty excited to get started but when I flipped through the Sunday coupons, it seemed like the deals were on Oscar Meyer bologna (neither healthy nor kosher) and fruit snacks. So I had to ask – Is there anybody else couponing with the same criteria? I can’t remember if it was Twitter or Google that lead me to Mara at Kosher on a Budget and I don’t suppose it really matters. All I know is that I got sucked up in her story of getting out of debt (using advice from a book written by a fundamentalist Christian) and her approach to couponing seemed easy/sane enough. I’ve been using her tips and tricks modified to fit my needs – I don’t have kids to buy cereal for and my kitchen is tiny with limited pantry space. I’m only on week 3 of my money-saving experiment, but I think I’m off to a good start.
For me, couponing is not a “need to” but a “why not do” – at least at this point in my life. I figure I’ll get started now so that I’ll be a well-qualified Chief Frugality Officer by the time kids come around (I’ve heard offspring are ridiculously expensive). And, in the meantime, I’ll get a kick out of watching the savings add up.

Your turn: Are you a couponer? Shopping for a kosher kitchen or not? Other tips and tricks for saving on groceries/household items?

(Image: dmdonahoo)