Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coupons


I was in the car listening to NPR and some people came on talking about their wonderful coupon site. This woman was touting her website – you pay her to become a member and you may save $100-$300 a month – on WHAT? Seriously? Rice a Roni? Cokes? Doritos? Then the man from the organization that counts who uses coupons said that use was way up. He also said that the Sunday Paper had the best coupons. Hmm – I haven't seen a Sunday Paper in over 10 years. What am I going to do with it?

The first thought that went through my mind was – I don't use coupons. But this may be interesting.

Then callers started in with things like – oh if I don't save 50%off my grocery bill then I'm devastated. Really? What the heck are you buying? Because honestly, I never see coupons for much of the food I buy. For some reason my brain has started shutting down when it comes to processed, packaged, marketed foods. Even the organic supposedly "green" ones.

I must admit – the "coupons" my favorite salon offers to tempt me, but honestly folks, I can't afford to do that right now anyways. I have mentioned them before, in more flush times, and used their coupons for an express facial with a 90 minute massage. Heck, yeah – you know – this is their way of surviving our economic mess. If they aren't around when we come out of a recession will I cry? No. Will I find another salon that made it? Probably. Maybe I'll give it up altogether and use the at home salon techniques my Body and Soul Martha Stewart magazine has taught me – I have plenty of yogurt and honey – supposedly that's a great facial.

For other DIY SPA things go here:

http://www.wholeliving.com/photogallery/DIY-spa

Coupons are different than a "special" – which is what I find myself buying. Every once in a while there's a 2 for 1 deal on the organic sugar I like, or the store is trying to turn over some inventory on something I like to buy as a pantry staple – like organic, corn syrup free ketchup (although I should be making this myself and will this year) and they'll have a deal, but in general, there's no coupons for apples, carrots, or organic meats.

It has come to my attention that this world thinks coupons are a good thing. Maybe they are when it is 50% off a kid's pair of shoes, or 2 for 1 dinner out at a new restaurant you've been wanting to try, or even diapers – but when it comes to food, cleaning products, pet food and all of those other things you can get at the grocery store it is a scam. My dad used to be one of those guys that made sure the end-cap display looked good – about 40 years ago – and he told me – avoid the middle of the store – shop on the outside, that's where the fresh stuff is, the middle has long shelf life = fillers, preservatives, low nutrition. And all of this coming from the guy who worked for Frito Lay?!

Let me allay your pet food come back right now – unless it is a coupon for the brand you use – it is just a marketing scam to get you to try something different. Most dogs actually need to have a vet visit and get a good recommendation for dog food. Dogs are actually quite sensitive and should eat a balanced diet.

In general, coupons are a way of making it seem okay to buy something you do not need.

There are some great "green" coupon sites:

http://www.pristineplanet.com/coupons.asp

http://www.retailmenot.com/coupons/green

http://www.organiccoupons.org/

But do I honestly need any of that stuff – the answer is NO.

And I bet – if you ask yourself – can I give up 1 pre-packaged food a week and replace it with something fresh? Can I treat packaged items as the treats they are? Or even eliminate them completely?

Can I reach for a fruit or veggie instead of a bag of chips? Yes, you can, and so can your kids. Did you know that your kids may turn their noses up a few times, but eventually they'll get hungry enough to eat something healthy? They will not starve to death if you have a stronger will than theirs. Just offer them a banana, carrots with almond butter, apples with tahini and raisins – you'll be surprised.

Farmers Market shopping can solve a bunch of the coupon battles, you'll stay out of the temptation of the grocery store and have local, seasonal produce (and in some cases, eggs, and meat) to choose from.

I'll leave today with a couple of recipes:

Tuna Nicoise

Serves 4

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 jars (7 ounces each) best-quality tuna packed in olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving

2 heads Bibb lettuce, pulled in layers of cups

1 1/2 cups nicoise olives, pitted

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced

Directions

Put onions, 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; season with pepper. Toss to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add tuna and its oil to onion mixture. Add lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Gently toss to combine.

Top with olives, eggs, and tuna mixture, dividing evenly. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Serve on lettuce cups with lemon wedges.

Warm Hummus
Adapted from Develi, Istanbul
Time: 50 minutes

4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Coarse salt
2 15 1/2-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons tahini
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon kirmizi biber or Aleppo pepper (see note)
Flatbread for serving.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With food processor running, drop garlic, cumin seeds and large pinch salt through feed tube, and process until minced. Add chickpeas, 2 tablespoons hot water, tahini, oil and lemon juice, and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to shallow casserole, preferably earthenware.

2. Heat butter in small skillet. Add pine nuts and kirmizi biber, stirring briefly, and pour over chickpea mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, and serve hummus warm with wedges of flatbread.

Yield: 4 appetizer servings.

Note: Kirmizi biber, which is Turkish red pepper, and Aleppo pepper are sold at Kalustyan's, 123 Lexington Avenue (28th Street), and at Adriana's Caravan in Grand Central Market, Grand Central Terminal. A mixture of equal portions sweet paprika and cayenne pepper rubbed with a few drops of olive oil can be substituted.

Gluten Free Flatbread

This recipe comes via celiac.com from Arvinder Malhotra.

150 ml tepid milk

275g (10 oz.) rice flour

60 grams tapioca flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons dried active yeast

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

150 ml plain/natural yogurt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

In a bowl mix tepid milk with 1 teaspoon sugar and the yeast, then sit bowl in warm place for 4-5 minutes.

Sift the flours, Xanthan gum, salt, baking powder into a bowl or food mixer. Add remaining sugar, oil, yogurt, egg and mix until smooth.

Preheat oven to the highest setting. Make dough into 6 equal sized balls. Roll out balls into a tear shape that is ¼ inch thick (use rice flour if necessary to prevent sticking).

Preheat a heavy baking tray in oven. Remove tray and put the naan on it. Return to the oven for 5 mins, or until the naan puffs up and turns light brown. Place tray under the broiler 30 seconds to 1 minute for extra browning.


 

1 comment:

Mrs. B said...

I used to be "the coupon lady" and some peopl still know me as that. I could walk into a grocery store and come out with $300 worth of "food" and only pay $20. Sadly most of it was all JUNK! The best deal I've ever gotten on an OK food was Rolled oats. At .02 a canister after coupons. And I bought 50 of them!
In the past two years we have completely changed the way we eat and now it is nothing to spen $400 at the grocery store. But I know that my family will be healthy and that I won't be making my kids sick. I now get excited when I find a $1 coupon for Applegate Farms products and that is rare.