The coupons section of the Sunday paper, for many, must be a treasure trove of money saving goodness. Where else can you get multiple sections of coupons and savings every single week. And on the things that we need to subsist on [namely food], no less! Only in America, right?

I used to think that coupons in the Sunday paper was so great. You can clip and save a ton of money when you go to the grocery store. But over the last 15 years, there have only been a handful of food coupons that I have actually used. Why? Don’t I want to save money? Am I happy to pay retail for food? But if you look at the coupons that Corporate America [Nabisco, Coca Cola, etc.] are handing out, they are telling you what you want to eat. And you know what? It’s scary. I would say for every 10 food coupons [I’m not talking about make up, dog food, and useless supplements] I see, there are only 1, maybe 2 items that I would even eat. And not on a regular basis. The coupons you see are mainly frozen foods, processed foods, buy-more-than-you-can-eat-so-you-can-save-$0.50 kind of food. Even though there are granola bars, Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisines out there to be had and saved money on, it is loaded with sugar and sodium. Two ingredients I think we can use less of.

But how can a family of 4, with a single income survive without some savings? How can Timmy and Sally get their nutritious meals without costing mommy and daddy a king’s ransom? Well, our food industry has solved our problems. They have kindly sent coupons of their own foods to our home every week. How thoughtful of them to give up some profit for the sake of a family to buy already packed meals at a discount! Once again, Corporate America has come to the rescue.

It really is a bunch of crap. Corporate America, out of their need to increase shareholder value and the bonuses of their upper management, has taken America’s health to the limit. Sugar, sodium, and preservatives have ruled the food industry for years. And our minds are force fed, every day, that our time is too precious. Too precious for anything and anyone. Cooking? Puh-lease. I get that when you have a family, it takes every last ounce of energy out of you. And I’m not about to stand on a soapbox to say that life is easy or that everyone in this country can knock out meal after meal in their kitchen with organic products and made-from-scratch meals. But damn, we have got to try. The amount of sugar and sodium that is in that prepackaged crap we call food is not investing in our health. A home cooked meal of fresh ingredients doesn’t have to mean an 18 course tasting menu from the French Laundry. It does take more time to prepare, mentally, what needs to be cooked. But I’m with Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Anthony Bourdain on this one: Cook SOMETHING. The amount of money you think you’re saving by buying crappy frozen foods, no matter how many coupons you clip, cannot be compared to the money you’re really saving by making your own spaghetti sauce and freezing that instead. No, you cannot freeze it for 3 months, but you get to control the salt, sugar, and other ingredients you’re eating.

I’m not against all sugar and salt because heck, I love going out to eat. But we never buy frozen foods as a meal. NEVER. Our lives cannot afford it. No matter how many coupons we clip and no matter how much money we think we’re saving. We have to bring cooking back into the homes in our country. Our lives depend on it.