Should You Buy It Just Because It’s Free?

extreme couponing

Should You Buy It Just Because It’s Free?

Do you ever pick up products that you don’t necessarily like or need but still “bought” it because it was free?  Have you asked yourself if you should “buy” it even though you don’t like it or think you won’t use it.  This is where I challenge you to think outside of the box.  Consider other uses for the product.  Maybe you can use it in a recipe.

This happened recently for me with the Planters Nutrition Peanut Butter at Dollar Tree.  I have tried the Cinnamon Raisin flavor of the Planter’s Nutrition Peanut Butter but it wasn’t until I picked it up for $0.25 at Dollar Tree with that great $0.75 off one PLANTERS NUT-rition Peanut Butter coupon (NLA) that I tried the banana flavor (the only flavor they seem to sell at Dollar Tree) and honestly I’m not a fan of it straight from the jar.  I’m trying to find new ways to make use of this product.  I’ve been using it on top of my bananas and it’s not bad that way but I also think I’m going to try using it to make cookies!  Don’t these Peanut Butter Cookies with Planter’s Nutrition Peanut Butter look great?  I’m sure the banana flavor with work well in these cookies and I will have a solution to my dilemma with not liking a cheap product I got with coupons!

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Photo Credit:

If you’re interested in making these cookies like me, head on over to LittleBittyBakes for the recipe!

Another example of this “dilemma” is the Free Diet Pepsi we picked up recently with that great $0.50/1 Diet Pepsi Coupon (NLA).  We don’t drink Diet Pepsi in this house, however I’d use it for something like the Chocolate Diet Pepsi Cupcakes Recipe we posted last week!

So, when you are trying to make a decision to buy some free or super cheap products, remember, think outside the box.  Maybe you can make a new dessert or a fun new dinner for the family.  Of course, I always recommend donating products to food banks but this is just another way to make use of free products you may not use or like.

Have you come up with a creative way to use a product your family does not really like?

If you are new to couponing, you may want to check out the Couponing for Beginners section where you will find a lot of answers to your questions.

The links in the post above may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.
  • Kim

    Another great thing to do is donate the free food you won’t use to a local food pantry.

  • Lisa

    Hi Cindy!

    I have never turned down getting an item for free. I have ended up making some amazing creations from my free stash. If I do come across something that I know no one in my family wants or can use – I always have plenty of willing people to pass it along to: I have four kids in four different schools, teachers, coaches, bus drivers, crossing gaurds, etc. are always happy with whatever we offer to them, as well as food banks, church and even the local Library. BTW I have made an amazing smoothie from my Dollar Tree stash of the Platners (bananna flavor)peanut butter, Westsoy Milk and Nestle Quick powder.

    Thanks for all you and for always keeping your blog so interesting!

  • Steven

    We’re not too crazy about the Nutrition PB straight out of the jar either but I bought a bunch because of the price. When we have ripe bananas, we use them, alittle milk and the PB to make smoothies and they turn out great.

    • Anonymous

      Good thing i read your post, I was going to post the exact same thing! Love my banana peanut butter smoothies!

    • Jodi

      Let me second that Planter’s Peanut butter! Yikes it’s awful. But as a smoothie with a banana, it was delicious!!!

  • Kathy

    Thanks for the recipe!!! I bought 4 jars and no one here is a big fan. We will definitely try making the cookies.

  • Arielle

    Donation is always a good way to use your coupons to get a free product (or even a money maker!) and give to a good cause. I bought the Dove For Men bar soap last week, even though there are no men in my house, because I thought, soap is soap! It’ll get me clean! But it smells so pungently of that “guy smell” that it stinks up my bathroom even when I’m not showering! With stacked manufacturer’s and Shoprite coupons I got the 6-pack for free, and will now donate all the unused bars.

  • Melissa B

    To buy, or not to buy? That is a tough question. I have found that the best thing to do is to leave the coupons in front of the item on the shelf for the next shopper to use. ( I don’t want to clear the shelf if it’s something I don’t really plan on using. ) If I don’t need it, maybe someone else does. Sort of paying it forward. I am happy to say that I have bought items for free or cheap because someone else left a coupon on the shelf 🙂

    • KitKat

      Agreed. I’ve been couponing for a year and a half, and found I was purchasing so many items that I’d never use just because they were free or money makers. Children’s cough syrup anyone? (My shelter would not take medicines.)
      Keep in mind that you pay SALES TAX on many items, so they’re not necessarily free. I’ll usually only buy free items that I don’t personally need if they’re on my local shelter’s wish list, otherwise I leave the coupon for someone else.

  • ann phelps

    Another thing I do w freebies that we won’t use is make a care package for someone who’s sick, lost someone, or even a gift. I have gotten great compliments over this.

  • Katrina

    I will often purchase things I won’t use or don’t need if it’s free or a money maker and then donate it to my local food pantry. My only limit is that I won’t buy it if the item is perishable. The pantry doesn’t have freezers.

    FYI- my local food pantry said that they LOVE getting toiletries and feminine products because everyone needs them and they are so rarely donated. This is probably true for other organizations as well so if anyone has an opportunity to donate free toiletries PLEASE do.

  • sarah

    we don’t really drink soda, but I pick it up if it’s free or very cheap to bring to parties. Also, I have found some things that I would have normally never bought, and ended up liking them…although I’m drawing a blank as to what the exact items are…my brain is not working…it’s been a long day with the kids…

  • Vanessa

    I had the same issue with the Nutrition PB and what do you know, both of my children’s schools held peanut butter drives around the holidays. So yeah after offering stuff to family, I always donate whatever we won’t use, will expire before we get to use it, or just want to do a good deed.

    • Anonymous

      Donating it to a food pantry, which is where some of my PB went, is so important. Those who need help usually can’t afford foods high in protein like meat and fish so this PB is a great way to provide that to their diet.

  • 0246

    Absolutely. With your (Cindy/LRWC) help, we here have this information and ability that not a ton of other people have. While it’s awesome to use that ability to help ourselves and our families, it’s even more powerful to use it to help others – maybe other families, friends, or charities.

    I’m allergic to sodium sulfates. They’re cleaning agents, in most toothpastes, dish soaps, and the like. I can’t use those products, because I have an allergic reaction. But this week I picked up free Colgate at CVS and 50c Dawn at Walgreens (paid for with register rewards from a moneymaker on the Culturelle last week). Those items will hang out in my car, and I’ll gift them out to friends and family who could use them. At the end of the month, I’ll bag up all the leftover goodies and my sister in law will donate them on my behalf to her church, where parishoners in need can ‘shop’ the pantry there.

    I really believe in using this ability to help others, and honestly can’t understand why or how people would feel otherwise.

  • Liz Kelly

    My daughters both attend a Catholic School and certain times of the year, they specifically ask certain classrooms to help stock their food pantry that they use to help local families in need. Otherwise, if I have too much, the church will take donations as well for the same cause. During the fall, the school also was taking donations for personal care and cleaning products to support a town that was affected by Hurricane Sandy. By picking up these cheap or free items, it helps us help others without affecting our grocery budget.

    We also picked up the Men’s Dove Soap a few weeks ago as a money maker and plan to give those either to family members that might use them or when the school asks again. By purchasing those soaps as a money maker, I was able to get the regular Dove bars that we use in our house for free.

  • Jennifer

    I donate to our local salvation army, or I drop off extra shampoo/conditioner, razors and such at the women’s shelter.

  • Jodi

    I am so guilty of this! The latest free Poise products, is a case in point! But I am a very diligent couponer and always find ways to use products (Poise toilettes – great to use as a body cool down after the gym)! So many of my friends and family will say why buy that, but as that one lady said on the extreme show, if it is free it can’t stay on that shelf! I will donate it, give it to friends or make some use out of it! You never know what will end up being one of your favorite products unless you try it!

  • hanna/h

    If I could not or don’t use, but I can donate to somewhere, most of time,
    I get them.

    My son belongs to the Boy Scout and they go to help the local church when church feeds homeless people and have them over night.
    Church needs soaps, tooth brush, tooth paste for those people.
    Also to wash the bedding, they need cloth detergent.

    When I have plenty supply for ourselves, even they cost a little, I try to grab them for church.

    If I found kids cereal(no one eat at my family), I get them and donate to local Helping hands rescue place.
    Kids are kids, they like those kids cereal, not just plain ones.

    They also said personal hygiene item (shaving related item and deodorant,
    body shampoo, shampoo, etc) are very appreciated. So I get Shampoo, conditioner and other item when they are free or almost free.

    None perishable foods are always in need by local food pantry.
    If there is none near you, contact Salvation Army. They always can use
    foods for needing people.

    Not only my family but even a little, be able to help others,
    makes me feel warm.

  • Rachel

    I used the free McCormick taco seasoning I picked up last week to flavor a batch of chili since I had run out of chili seasoning.
    It was better than I usually make it!

  • Carol J.

    I had too many Panko crumbs last year so I put Panko in everything…on mac and cheese, in meatloaf, …whatever worked.

  • Carol

    Dear Cindy,
    You provide such an amazing service, helping people save money, thank you. With things that end up low cost or free, it is that much easier for everyone to “pay it forward” and assist others. While many donate their time and talent, physical treasure is still a necessity.
    If you don’t need something, PLEASE consider donating it. Someone can always use it!

  • Tina

    Onion soup mix! Made homemade soup of all things lol.— (leftover bits celery, onion, can of tomatoes, can of kidney beans, and bag of frozen veggies). We were surprised at how good it was.

  • Maria

    I agree with everyone about finding a second use for the product or donation it. A habit I did change was I will not make the trip just to get the free item. I only buy the item if it is in my regular stores I shop in. I found that my time and gasoline is more valuable than a free item. But I do buy items that I normally don’t use at the stores I shop at and always find some use for them. Thanks Cindy for a great discussion topic.

  • christine

    I always purchase the free items. It allows me to donate 2 bags of unneeded items to our local food pantry each week!

    It also adds to my free turkey amount at the holidays. As that turkey amount at Shoprite is calculated before coupons. So, the more I purchase, the more credit I get. The more I can donate, the better I feel. It’s good for everyone.

  • Clover

    I have a middle step between free and charity gifting. I keep a rubbermaid container of toiletries that I get for free in my closet at work. My friends now they can stop in a get cheap toiletries. I usually mark everything $1, so it actually adds a little to my food budget envelope, they get good products for cheap, and in the end if no one buys them they go to charity, namely my son’s school and Cub Scouts. One unexpected bonus… my friends bring in their inserts…

  • Sharon

    I ran into a pastor at Target the other day. He was shopping for a razor and some shaving cream for their oldest son who is in high school and needs these items. I told him not to buy them because I bought some for free. So I delivered those to them later in the week along with a couple bottles of free laundry detergent I got a little while ago. They have quite a few biological and adopted kids in the family, so laundry is a major thing at their house.

    I also traded with a fellow couponer things she needs for stuff I need = 2 happy couponers!

  • Karen

    I have a few eldery neighbors who give me their extra coupons – in exchange I give them free toiletries that I wouldn’t use.

  • Tara

    If it’s free and I don’t particularly care for the product it goes into a “donate” box.

  • Irene Samuels

    Free food always goes to the local food pantry

  • misterbill

    I won’t buy something I don’t need if there is sales tax, or if I’ll end up with some store coupon I need to use (specifically Walgreens RR’s). Otherwise, I’ll buy it and donate it somewhere.

  • Harry

    there is an element of risk involved with every purchase be it free or not – the said coupon may not scan, may not double, the item may not be available in the store after searching for it for 30 minutes thereby losing time you could spend to get something you really need, item may not ring for the price you expect it to ring and of course human errors like picking an incorrect flavor, size or type. With an item that you need, we are willing to assume that risk and at times just buy it even if there are errors because it will be used. Given all that, I would refraim from buying free items that I dont need unless they count to make a required total like the $50 before coupons for baby bux or such other in which case the reward is worth the risk.

    That said, yes there are certainly creative ways to use the unwanted items including donating them and like is said here use them to make new and different recipes.

  • Wendy Keegan

    Tara LOL I donate all I get for free with coupons when I do not want the item. LOL however I am not the mustard lady.

    • MisterBill

      The mustard lady was an ridiculous. She spent 39c on each of those. Why would she buy 100 bottles at 39c each??? Mustard should be free.

  • Wendy Keegan

    Oh does anyone feel that extreme coupon show hurt or help those that coupon? I say it didn’t do us any favor(s).

    • MisterBill

      It’s probably made some stores more vigilant in their coupon policies and enforcement. One of the cashiers at my local Staples says he keeps expecting to see me on that show!

  • VikkiDevine

    I grab anything that’s free. If I don’t think I’ll use it and it’s food, I drop it in the donation bin on my way out (or have them bag it separately & throw it in for me if I’m using ShopRite From Home). If it’s a h&b item, I throw it in a box that I bring down to the Rescue Mission once the box is full. Animal shelters are always looking for detergents, too!

    • Denise Uzunis

      Thats awesome! It is so great to be able to share so many great freebies with those that are less fortunate! Keep up the good work!!! 🙂

  • Olivia

    If there is something that I won’t use but is free, I usually do pick it up anyway! You never know when you could help out a family member or local food pantry. I recently gave my parents enough men’s white rain body wash and dove shampoo / conditioner to last them atleast a couple months! Occasionally when I stop by their house, I’ll just bring a bag of goodies that I may not be able to use but that they may like. They’re always grateful and it always makes me happy to see it go to good use!

  • MisterBill

    My wife always complains when I come home with free stuff that we don’t need. But my son (who lives in Manhattan now) was visiting with his girlfriend this weekend, and they went “shopping” in my “store”. They were thrilled to find the Renuzit cones that I got free a while ago that my wife didn’t want, some Hall’s cough drops from last week, the cleaning stuff from last week’s SR deal, and of course some cereal. My daughter is moving to her own apartment soon as well and I’m sure she will be taking stuff from our store as well :-). Our synagogue did a food drive before Yom Kippur last week and we brought two big bags of food for that.

  • Michael Beese

    Just last night I picked up the two free McCormick brown gravy mix packets, which surprised my wife because I generally don’t like or use gravy. I told her that I figured we might come up with some other use for it, or we could always give it away.

    If I can get something for less than $1 that I am pretty sure we will use, I will pick it up. If I can get something for free or make money on the deal, I will definitely pick it up. I have shampoo and conditioner and floor cleaner that we will probably never use that we were paid to take, so I will end up giving it away to either friends who can use it or charity.