campfire, cooking

Turning into the crazy coupon lady

(Originally posted on my personal LJ, but because it's very relevant to getting camping stuff squirreled away, I figured I'd crosspost. Also includes my thoughts on starting a Pagan food pantry.)

Ever since that Extreme Couponing show came on, Ron has been having me go nuts on clipping coupons and looking for sales. My purse is already about to EXPLODE with coupons, since there are so many ways to get them; it's not just through the Sunday paper anymore. (I got a subscription for the Sunday paper for 50c a copy instead of $1.75; might as well use a coupon to start couponing.) Besides coupons.com, I've found http://www.jillcataldo.com/ and http://www.mashupmom.com/ for local and national stores, plus the Jill site has links to other sites like Avenu which link eCoupons to my Preferred card. (I tried using it yesterday, and it let me use the Avenu discount combined with my Preferred Card discount, making my deodorant nearly free.)

Target has a ridiculous amount of coupons, which can be printed twice on one computer. Most of the coupons on their site are Target coupons, but I have seen a few that are manufacturer coupons, which mean they can be used at different stores. Wal*Mart does that too, but we don't shop there very often, as the nearest one is ghetto as hell and the other one in Niles is kind of a drive. With printing coupons, I figured out I need to surf those sites on IE, as Firefox doesn't work right with their software. Also, the printer needs to be on, because they print immediately - no saving them as PDFs for later or anything like that.

We don't have any stores that do double coupons, but unlike people who live in the boonies, we have A LOT of stores to choose from. As some of yas know, I already shop at four to six stores a week, mostly while doing other things, so it's not like I'm wasting gas. However, I doubt we'll ever get the 90+% off deals like the people on TV ($2k in a haul and paying $25 for it), because:

1) I believe in product loyalty, but I'm willing to give new products a try. Some of these people will buy whatever they get the deal on, even if they don't particularly like what they bought. That seems foolish to me, because if we don't like something, we won't eat it, which ends up being a waste of money, as minuscule as that may be.

2) I don't stockpile due to space. My pantry shares apace with the furnace, and we live in an apartment, so we don't exactly have basements and garages to buy up 60 bottles of mustard. Nor would we want to anyway, unless we were buying for a charity that was picking it up at the store, since we have a little car.

I have been thinking this would be a great way for a Pagan group to get a food pantry going, since one with dedicated space would have the capacity to stock up like these folks. People could donate coupons to them to use (stuff they don't want), as well as do their own couponing, and the stockpile would build up rather quickly! If everyone in the community met up once a month to drop off just the web coupons they didn't want (but were eligible to print), imagine what we could do! (Now I wonder if a 501[c] status can use coupons, which I don't see why not. They'd be out of paying taxes, which would be *crazy* savings - close to free for sure!)

Just my mind thinking...
campfire, cooking

Zipped baggies

Recycle Bank: Zip-Lock brand

Since I've been preaching the values of using baggies while camping, especially for food, I know some folks weren't all that keen to using that plastic. But, you can recycle them where grocery stores take plastic grocery bags and through these guys, you can get savings points for doing so. I do believe this counts as a Win-Win! :)
campfire, cooking

Greatest deals?

Have you seen the new show "Extreme Couponing"? These families were getting $2000 groceries and sundries hauls for anywhere from >$2 to ~$50, like 94-99% off retail! Whoa!

Now I'm a smart shopper, and swear by getting everything at a discount, used or made myself, but that blows me away for sure! It has me asking:
What deals have YOU scored you're very proud of?
campfire, cooking

Food storage: favorite method?

Next month is Mother's Day, so I'm a-hinting to the guys I want one of three items as my gift:

- Canning system
- Food dehydrator
- Food vacuum sealer

Which is your favorite method? I like all three for different reasons, and with festival season right around the corner, I know I'm going to be doing a lot of prep work just for that alone. I've used these systems in the past at other peoples' homes, but I do not have them for myself.

So do tell: If you had none of these and could only choose one item, which would you go with and why?
campfire, cooking

Most useful gear?

So, do tell: What items do you feel are the most useful/biggest bang for your buck camping items you own? I obviously have an extensive list, but I'm really curious what it is you have you absolutely will not do without.

I'll get the ball rolling with a gimme - my tent.

Tents come and go, so I won't list a particular name brand, but for me, it has to fit these requirements when it comes to anything more than a couple nights:

- Adult can stand upright inside (minimum 6'/72" center height)
- Sleeps a minimum 5-6, which = 2-3 adults comfortably (always divide by 2!)
- Comprised of nylon (canvas tents are sturdier but more expensive, and they require more care and tend to end up smelling musty anyway)
- Has at least two rooms, with separate doors and a divider
- Isn't an eyesore (primarily due to a clashing color scheme)
- Is relatively easy for even a novice to construct the first time (meaning I can set it up quickly, even in the dark and during a downpour)
- Not camouflaged (I like to be able to find it at night, even at the risk of others finding me)
campfire, cooking

Bright colors for small stuff

Show of hands: How many of you do some gardening? Then you folks know all too well when I say green is a terrible choice for your tools. The rest of you are scratching your heads. Huh? What's wrong with that? If the handle is green, then it must be for the back yard, right? Yes, true, but toss your green-handled trowel in the grass and see how long it takes you to find it. Go ahead - I'll wait.

Don't you wish the handle was lemon yellow, or construction cone orange, or white, or... When it comes to camping gear, almost everything seems to be olive green, or ebony black, or forest brown, or... In my book, I mention jazzing up your campsite with fun colors and patterns, tying everything together to not only make things stylish but also spiritually uplifting.

I too mention practical reasons for using color, designs and lighting, especially so folks don't trip! And here, I stress this so you can actually find what you're looking for and not to lose your tools. Efficient, yes?

So now that it's warming up, it's time to start looking at the gear you already have. I recently spent quite a few hours going through my closets and putting everything together. I repacked quite a bit, since I'm planning on pulling a nearby weekend excursion as soon as the weather is cooperative and will need to get to my stuff. And while I was doing that, quite a few ideas popped into my head, including (bright) color coding. The nearby JoAnn and Staples both sell colored duct tape for a mere pittance, certainly much cheaper than replacing lost items or paying a doctor to fix a broken ankle!

So have fun with your campsite Covenstead planning instead of being grumpy about cleaning out the closets. Don't be afraid to slowly consider each and every item you have needs a little color added to it, your coven's symbol/talisman/logo (or your name) adhered to it, if it needs batteries (and which kind) and of course, if what you have is truly needed or needs to be replaced.