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Camping Out West Part 3- Buying Food

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The big planning is out of the way, you arrive in Las Vegas, and now you’re ready to relax. Not so fast. Camping still requires you get the right amount of food: not too much, not too little, just right, Goldilocks. As I often buy in volume to save $, this was a tough one for me initially. But you have to keep telling yourself: only buy what you need. The rest is wasted. Find the smallest containers for ketchup, mayo, mustard, maple syrup, etc. Check your recipes. If you only need 5 potatoes, don’t buy 3 pounds. I say this to save you money AND space in your already cramped rental car. Only buy what you need for one week and then restock.

When you arrive at the store, find the produce guy and pick up three banana boxes with the lids. They’re good sizes, are sturdy, and stack well. They also enable you to separate food into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast you’ll want cereal and oatmeal for the days you pack up, coffee and hot cocoa, and pancakes for the more relaxed mornings. The lunch box is often filled with breads, peanut butter, chips,
apples & oranges, and trail mix. The dinner box has pasta, potatoes, corn, canned goods, etc. Then the cooler is your fridge: milk, butter, meats, chocolate, cheese, etc.

Here are our favorite dinners:

Night 1: fresh rotisserie chicken, wild rice, steamed broccoli

Night 2: fresh tortellini in alfredo sauce, frozen peas, French bread

Night 3: leftover chicken in quesadillas, canned corn and black beans

Night 4: foil packets of already cooked sausage, fresh corn, potatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Add a little butter and olive oil to help steam. Splurge for “heavy duty foil” to prevent disaster.

Night 5: hotdogs, baked beans, corn chips

Bring coupons if you want, but you’ll save more by buying less. Stick with stores that don’t require cards for savings or ask them to give you a card. Yes, that saved me $15. In Nevada and California, be prepared for higher prices than in Knoxville; I estimated 30-40% higher across the board except for alcohol. Avoid glass while camping; good wine can come in boxes these days and is sold in grocery stores. Your biggest savings will be sticking to your meal plans: eating breakfast at the campsite or for free in your hotel, packing lunches for hikes, and keeping snacks handy in the car for long drives. It adds up quickly.

And since some campsites don’t have showers, pick up a pack of baby wipes. They’ll get you through a few days. Also buy small Kleenex packs and a small bottle of hand sanitizer that you keep with you at all times. Hey, you never know!

If you missed Part 1- The Budget you can read it here or Part 2- Planning you can read it here.

Margaret is a freelance writer in Knoxville, TN. She writes and produces for HGTV and has been couponing since 2009.

The Picky Chick Fall Consignment Event: Win FREE VIP Early Shopping Pass & $25 Gift Card!

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The Picky Chick Consignment Sale is almost here!!

It is a three-day Fall/Winter pop-up children’s consignment sale event. Shop for baby equipment, cloth diapers, strollers and clothes, gently-worn kids’ clothing, toys and books for up to 50-90% off regular retail prices. All in one place, at one time. This season expect to find deals on winter outerwear, Halloween costumes, toys and video games for Christmas. Shop popular brands for picky teens in the Juniors’ boutique area.

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This is all happening from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. August 25 & 26 and  9 a.m.-3 p.m. August 27 (Half-price day) Admission and parking are free. All major credit and debit cards accepted (no AMEX or checks) and of course cash is accepted. Don’t forget your own shopping bags.

Presale: Pay $5 at the door and shop early between 6-8 p.m. August 24 during the Charity presale (Proceeds to benefit a local charity – Knox County Schools Clothing Center PTA). More infohttp://thepickychick.com/; follow on Instagram @thepickychick and on Facebook for regular updates.

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I am super excited to help spread the word about this sale AND give on lucky Coupon Katie reader a FREE  presale pass good for early admission from 3-8 p.m. on Wednesday August 24, 2016 AND a $25 gift certificate to spend at The Picky Chick Consignment Sale!!

This is a quick giveaway so let’s make it fun and a way for everyone to help each other.  Just leave a comment below telling us (1.) if you have attend the Picky Chick sale before and (2) any advice you have for first time shoppers! If you haven’t been tell us what deals you’re looking for!

That’s it. Comment below and we’ll pick a winner at random.

Open to US residents 18 or older. Coupon Katie was given a free pass and reader prize in consideration for this post. All opinions expressed are those of Coupon Katie, LLC. Winner will contacted via email address used to enter. If winner cannot make it to sale at specified time no replacement prize will be offered.  Coupon Katie LLC is not responsible for transportation. Giveaway ends August Tuesday, August 23rd at  3pm EST. 

FREE Sample of Scünci Braided 3X Stronger Elastic Hair Ties & Coupon (Facebook)

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Through August 31st (or while supplies last), hurry on over to the Scünci Hair Accessories Facebook page and fill out the form to request a FREE sample of Scünci Braided 3X Stronger Elastic Hair Ties and coupon! Keep in mind that you must confirm your subscription by clicking on the link sent to your inbox.

If you’re trying to request this sample on a mobile device, consider clicking on this link and filling out the form.

Camping Out West Part 2 : The Planning

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The key to a successful national park adventure is proper planning. With the centennial celebration of the National Park Service this year, they are more popular than ever. Every campsite we visited was full, and some filled up within seconds of booking windows being open; not exaggerating!

We started with mapping out what we wanted to see and how long we needed at each location. Our favorites made a nice loop starting and ending in Las Vegas. Since Allegiant only flies from Knoxville to Vegas on select days, we picked ideal flights and worked from there. Sign up for their emails so that you can be first to know when they run specials like we got.

Allegiant is super cheap, but the add-ons can add up quickly. I suggest you pay for your checked bags when you book because it’s cheaper. We checked five, but we could have used one more. Allegiant limits the weight to 40 pounds a bag vs the 50 pounds on most airlines. Weigh your bags ahead of time to avoid more fees! And make one of them a cooler. We all carried small backpacks that fit under the seat to avoid the “carry-on baggage” fees. Pack your own snacks and water bottles to avoid pricey in-flight snack charges. Unfortunately, even on a direct flight, Allegiant lost one of our bags—the cooler. Make a list of everything in each bag. We were able to replace its contents at Wal-mart and REI, but it did cost us time.

For rental cars, it pays to book well in advance. We reserved a car right after booking airfares in January. SUVs are almost always cheaper than mini-vans, but get what you need for your family. Just make sure you read the fine print to get “unlimited miles within the states you plan to visit.”

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Since setting up campsites can be time and energy consuming, I suggest staying at least two nights at every location. You’ll thank me later. We stayed two nights at Grand Canyon, three in Zion (with a day trip to Bryce), two in Kings Canyon (with a day trip through Sequoia), and four nights in Yosemite. Note: each site is limited to six people, but if you book with friends who have five in their family, you can space out a family of seven. Hint, hint: Coupon Katie.

Most national park campsites book six months in advance; Yosemite is four months. Check Recreation.gov for details of parks that interest you. All reservations are done online, often at 10am EST on the 15 th of the month. And when I say 10am, you better be Johnny on the spot, ready to hit that button at 10am. As three families planning a reunion in Yosemite, we had six adults with individual accounts trying to nab 12 specific sites (one each on computers and one on mobile). Out of 12 attempts, only three were successful in the first two seconds. Thankfully that’s all we needed, but if you want Yosemite during peak summer times, you have to be a shark! Check here for more tips

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Your last step before you go is packing clothes. Lay out what you think you need and then put half away. Not kidding. You’re camping without showers for possibly days. What difference does it make if you wear clothes more than once?! We packed one weeks’ worth and then washed them at a hotel before week two. We fit almost all our clothes in one suitcase and then separated them into mesh bags so that everyone could find their clothes easily in the tent.

I suggest two sets of pants that can zip off as shorts, leggings for girls, 5 t-shirts, 1 extra layer for cooler mornings, 1 bathing suit, 3 good hiking socks you can wash at the campsite, clean undies every day, a hat and sunglasses, and only 3 pairs of shoes per person: hiking boots, close toed water shoes, and flip flops / Chacos / Tevas.

If you’ve managed to get your flights, rental car, and campsites, the rest is cake. Relax and look forward to spontaneity when you arrive.

If you missed Part 1- The Budget you can read it here.

Margaret is a freelance writer in Knoxville, TN. She writes and produces for HGTV and has been couponing since 2009.

Tax Free Weekend Coupons & Deals: Coupon Katie & 10 News Mornings With Fox 43


A few words about Back to School shopping on Tax Free Weekend.  Be sure you know what qualifies as tax exempt and what does not.  The basic breakdown is clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less are tax free.  You should read over the list of tax exempt items before you head out shopping.

Go with a list and a plan. Don’t get caught up in the no tax frenzy, it is really less than a 10% savings. BUT, when you pair that with all the sale and the coupons that are out this weekend you can save a lot!  Buy what you need now, save the stocking up for clearance deals that will come in a few weeks!

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School Supply Deals

Staples

Friday & Saturday:
Staples® Translucent Pencil Boxes, Assorted Colors ($.50)
Pentel Hi-Polymer® Latex Free Eraser, 3/Pack ($.75)
Staples® Hype!™Pen-Style Highlighters, Yellow, 6/Pack ($.75)
BIC® Xtra Fun Pencil, #2 HB, Two-Toned Color Barrels, 8/Pack ($.75)
BIC Round Stic Ballpoint Pen, Black Ink, Medium Point, 10/Pack ($.75)

Sunday:

Staples Cap Erasers, Pink, Dozen ($.25)
Staples® Dual Dome Pencil Sharpener ($.25)
BIC® Soft Feel® Retractable Ball Pen, 1.0 mm, Black ($.50)
Paper Mate® Sharpwriter® Mechanical Pencils, 0.7mm, Yellow Barrel, 5/pk ($.50)
Crayola Markers (wide or fine line, 10 ct) and Colored Pencils (12ct)-$.97

Staples also offers 25% off School Supplies when you buy a backpack – Save instantly in store and online via coupon code. And there is the  Staples 110% Lowest Price GuaranteeStaples matches any competitors’ prices, plus gives customers an additional 10 percent of the difference between the Staples price and the competitor price at time of purchase.

Office Depot/Office Max-

1¢ Deals (when you spend $5,) Friday & Saturday
Office Depot Brand Index Cards 100-pack (limit 3)
Office Depot Brand Folder with and without Prongs, 2 pack (limit 10)
Office Depot Brand Mechanical Pencils (limit 3)
Pencil Boxes (limit 3)

25% off School Supplies when you buy a backpack with coupon code 65639 at Staples.com!

Other Good Deals
Stellar 1-Subject Durable Poly Notebook- 50¢ (limit 3)
Kids’ Scissors 2-packs (pointed and blunt)- 50¢ (limit 3)
Crayola Colored Pencils (12 count)- 50¢ (limit 3)
Office Depot Brand Plastic 12″ Ruler- 50¢
Sharpie Permanent Fine Point Markers (5 pack)- $1 (limit 3)

1¢ Deals (when you spend $5,limit 3) Sunday
Office Depot Erasers (3pk)
Elmer’s School Glue (4oz)
Office Depot Composition Book

Other Good Deals Sunday
Bic Round Stic Grip Pens (12 ct) 25¢
Crayola Broad Line Markers (10ct) 25¢
Ticonderoga Pencils (12pk)-$1

**Every store you shop will have school supply deals this weekend!  Be sure to look through all the ads and chose the store that has the best price on the stuff you need. Or, circle the best deals on all the supplies you need and take them to either Staples or Target and price match!

Dollar General- $5 off $20 school supply purchase with promo code SAVE4SCHOOL or in store with coupon thru 8/31/16. 

Kroger$5 off $25 School Supply purchase digital coupon.

Target also has a price matching policy!

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Clothing and Shoe Deals

Target

Friday July 29 & Saturday July 30: Spend $25 on Target’s new Cat and Jack line of kid’s clothes you get $5 off! Online shoppers save $5 on Cat & Jack purchases of $25 or more when you use promo code KIDS at checkout. If you want to shop in store, there is also a $5 off Cat & Jack kids apparel or shoe purchase of $25 or more in-store coupon available – clip this coupon right from the ad or text KIDS to 827438 to have it delivered to your smartphone.

Target.com is offering $10 off select Men’s Jeans & Women’s Jeans when you enter promo code TRYON10 at checkout. Or you can actually try them on in-store at get the same $10 off!

Sunday July 31-August 6: Target’s Kid’s Back to School sale means you save $10 when spend $50 on Clothes or Shoes.Kid’s uniforms will also be on sale Buy One Get One 60% off.

Kohl’s

Take an extra 20% off sitewide at Kohls.com + earn 3x Yes2You points with coupon code SUNNY. You can also print this Kohl’s coupon from 20% off in store.  Offer valid 7/28-7/31.

JCPenny’s

Take $10 off purchases of $25 more or more with promo code 2BIGSALE when you shop online or you can print this coupon and use it in-store. Valid 7/27 – 7/30 Sunday you can use the code GOSHOP27 to get 15% off your order.

The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place has 50% off everything, $3.99 graphic tees, $7.99 denim and 50% off backpacks! Plus FREE shipping and you will get $10 in Place Cash for every $20 you spend.

Old Navy

Today, 7/29 OldNavy.com is offering 25% purchases under $50, 30% Off purchase of $50 or more and 40% Off your Old Navy purchase of $75 or more. They are also offering 30% off Old Navy Clearance merchandise through 8/1/16. Shipping is Free on orders of $50 or more.

Macy’s

Save an extra 20% off at Macys.com when you use the coupon code WKND at checkout. Valid 7/27-7/31

Belk

Go to  Belk’s Facebook page to claim a 20% regular and sale price merchandise coupon. Valid through 7/30.

Gymboree

Gymboree is offering 40% off entire store plus free shipping! Be sure to check any Parents or Family Fun magazines you see for another 20% off coupon!

Stride Rite

Stride Rite is offering Buy One Get One 40% off on select styles when you use the coupon code BOGO40 at checkout. Valid 7/28 – 9/5

Your Sunday Knoxville News Sentinel will have even more coupons to use Sunday:

Belk- 20%
Sears -15% off
Rack Room Shoes -$10 off $65 or more
JCPenney -15% off

 

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Diapers

Remember, diapers are tax exempt this weekend as part of this weekend’s  Tennessee’s Tax Free Weekend! Go ahead and print these coupons now to save even more!
$2.00 off ONE Pampers Swaddlers Diapers
$2.00 off ONE Pampers Cruisers Diapers
$2.00 off ONE Pampers Baby Dry Diapers
$2.00 off ONE Luvs Diapers
$2.00 off any ONE package of HUGGIES Diapers
$2.00 off ONE Pampers Easy Ups Training Pants
$1.50 off ONE Pampers UnderJams Night Wear

 

If you want to be sure you save the most see my 8 shopping tips to maximize your savings on Tax Free Weekend!

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Tax Free Weekend: Eight Shopping Tips To Maximize Your Savings

Tax Free Weekend is almost here! Starting Friday , at 12:01 a.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m., you’ll save 9¾ percent on clothing, school supplies and computers!

You will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. Here are eight tips to help you maximize your Tax Free Weekend savings!

  1. Get organized before Friday. Take an inventory of what you have and what you need. Look through clothes, shoes and  school supplies. Make a list of what need and set a budget.
  2. Plan ahead for big purchases. If you are considering buying a computer or tablet, this is the time to do it since the tax savings can be more than $100 in some cases.  Items like computers  with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, including laptops and tablets (iPads, etc.) are tax free! Do your research ahead of time. Look through sale ads now and find the computer you want to purchase, then get to that store early.
  3. Make sure you look for coupons!  Stack coupons and in store promotions with tax  savings to get some great deals. Many retailers will put out coupons either online or in their print ad for this weekend.
  4. Online Retailers will participate in Tax Free Weekend too.  Historically several of them offer sales and free shipping deals.
  5. Do Not over buy.  This is especially true on school supplies. Buy what you need to take the first day but save the major stocking up until after schools starts. Stores will clearance all their supplies and you can get a better deal then.  Same goes for clothing. Buy what you know is a good deal or what you need, then watch for clearance.
  6. Families with young children not in school can save too!   Diapers are tax exempt this weekend. So grab you diaper coupons and look for a sale. Clothing and shoes for all ages  and things like art supplies are also tax exempt.
  7. Read over the list of tax exempt items.  You might be surprised what all you find included!  Also, it will help clear up any questions like: computers are included but smartphones are not. Backpacks are included but briefcases are not. Cowboy boots are exempt, but ski boots are not.
  8. If you want to save time and money- Price Match.  Staples has a 110% Lowest Price Guarantee They will matches any competitors’ prices, plus gives customers an additional 10 percent of the difference between the Staples price and the competitor price at time of purchase. Target will also price match items you find for a lower price in a competitor’s local print ad.   Look through your ads and find all the best deals on the items you need. Then head to a price matching store with your ads and get everything you need at the best possible price!

Whole30 on a Budget: 7 Ways I’m Saving Money And Doing Whole30

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I posted a pic of me trying to fall in love with La Croix water and asked for advice.  While I received tons of great ideas I also got a lot of questions about how to do Whole30 on a budget.

I am 15 days in and here is what I have learned about staying Whole30 compliant AND saving some money.

1.  I started shopping at  ALDI.  For produce, organic meats and organic nuts, spices, eggs etc. ALDI has had the best prices by far.  It is a little out of the way for me but I make it buy about once a week.  You could also price match ALDI at  Walmart.

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2.  I still use the Buy Ahead Principle. When something you know you will use is on a great sale or/and you have a coupon stock up!  I stocked up on olive and coconut oil from Vitacost.com  before starting. They have  great prices, frequent sales and usually Free shipping on their brand.   (By the way if you are new to Vitacost and click thru this link you’ll get a free $10 credit!)

RXBar3.  I have price alerts set up on Amazon. Compliant Larabars and RX bars are about the Only way I have survived thus far.  So I set up a price alert for when they go on any kind of sale.

4.  I menu plan like a crazy woman It is a major step up from my former minimalist planning. Now all the produce and meat that makes its way into our house is planned for, so it does not go bad before I use it.

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5. I have scored some surprisingly Great deals on organic and natural meats at Target.  Who knew?  If I hit my target at just the right time they have marked down meats considerably.  Like today for example, organic grass fed beef for $4.99/lb.  It was on sale for $7.99, then they had $3 off coupons attached.

6.  I don’t buy everything organic. I buy what I can and what is on sale or close in price to non organic. If the organic alternative is not on sale or just too much I buy the best I can and don’t worry about it. 🙂

7.  I buy a lot less “stuff”.  Shopping just the outside aisles you buy a lot less other stuff. No creamer, no chips, no crackers, no cheese sticks, no yogurt, no honey, no tortillas…. you get the point. 🙂  This diet cuts out a lot of our regular items and that frees up some room in the budget.

This is how I am making Whole30 happen in our house.  If you are or have been on it what are you best money saving ideas? I would love to hear them!