"She's holding up the checkout line as she gives her pile of coupons to the person checking her out. She has a binder full of coupons. The binder is rather large and full of baseball card holders, holding her coupons, which are alphabetized and divided by food categories (e.g. canned goods, cereal, frozen foods, etc.)."
I use to be that lady with the large binder of coupons. I was very proud of my binder and the money I saved. One time the person checking me out was astonished as I saved over $25 in combined store and paper coupons. I was good at "couponing" before it became a "thing" on national television. No, I never enjoyed a "free" grocery trip to the store as seen in the TV shows, but I did save a lot of money on what I was purchasing.
Then, one day, my husband and I learned one of our kids had some dietary issues. It meant the end to packaged and processed food. We were forced into making much of our food from scratch. Sure, we still purchased potato chips and certain types of cereal, but our grocery shopping choices changed dramatically as we purchased staples and whole foods. Our grocery bill dropped dramatically when are food choices changed. How could that be? I was using very few coupons, because there weren't (and still aren't) many coupons for fruits, vegetables, meat, sugar, spices, eggs, and other whole food items.
What I learned was that when I was using coupons, it became such a game that I was buying items I really didn't need. I also found myself buying name brand items just to use the coupon when the generic brand would work just as well and be less expensive than the popular brand with the coupon. Sure, we ate a lot of packaged food I purchased, but we also gave a lot away to food pantries or others. Or, sometimes it was thrown away because it expired. I learned that if I made as much food from scratch as I could, I saved a lot of money on groceries and I saved more than what I would have saved using coupons. And, another added benefit, was that my husband, kids, and I felt better physically.
Are coupons bad? Absolutely not! However, they can be spendy (I know "spendy" isn't technically a word). I still take advantage of Safeway's coupon program and use coupons for some food items when they are available, but I no longer buy packaged and processed food just because I have a coupon for it. Maybe coupons are causing your grocery bill to be a bit spendy?