A few years ago, when Gregg and I had just bought the house and were saving up money for the wedding in Scotland, we started couponing. It started out as just maximizing the CVS Extra Care Bucks, but after Gregg lost his job, we started down the dark, unholy path of using coupons to stockpile. Now, stockpiling somethings is just fine: at one point, we had 42 tubes of toothpaste that we had gotten for free. We used every single drop of that toothpaste. I am proud of that.
My pantry, however, is something that I am *not* proud of.
It started out innocently enough, but it soon turned into a nightmare of boxed goods. It was too much. Gregg and I aren’t preparing for the end of the world, economic collapse, or hosting the Duggars anytime soon, so it didn’t really make sense why we had 14 boxes of cereal, but we didn’t care. We were running on a savings high, elated over how much money we saved. We even made a game out of checking out: we both estimated how much the total bill would be.
It wasn’t an easy task: Gregg would spend Saturday night planning the purchases and we’d cut coupons. Then, Sunday morning, we’d wake up early to try and beat the scammers (people actually try to abuse the coupon policy to get the biggest and baddest deals only to sell them at a flea market or on eBay. Seriously. I can’t make this up.) We’d usually hit CVS first, because those were the deals that went the fastest. Planning the grocery stores was a bit more complicated. We’d go to Kroger and Randalls, but we had to plan out which one we were going to first based on the grocery list. We did this all in one trip, so we had to be careful about cold items in the car when making multiple stops.
But most of the “food” we were buying was crap: heavily processed, powdered, and full of preservatives. It was convenient, sure, and at that point, we were all about convenience. We didn’t buy products that we didn’t eat, for example, we learned early on that Healthy Choice meals were about as enjoyable as its cardboard packaging. Yuck.
Eventually, we learned that even though we were saving money, we were technically wasting money because we couldn’t eat fast enough before the food expired. But we couldn’t bring ourselves to admit defeat and clean the pantry; it would have been too painful to see all the food that went to waste in one, large pile.
So, it stayed in the pantry. Until last Friday, when I cleaned it all out. Not in one go, oh, no. It was a three-week process, taking up more than six garbage cans. We had been stockpiling since 2009, according to the expiry date. I couldn’t do it all in one go, besides, I was embarrassed for the garbage men to see how wasteful we were, so we had to do it in chunks.
We still have a few things that need to be thrown away, but for the most part, my pantry is clean.
It was a hard lesson, but one that I think we learned quickly.
Although I still want to go back to CVS. I need toothpaste.