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Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

This month from my garden we'll harvest grapes, grape leaves, figs, Swiss chard, herbs, green onions, a few tomatoes, and a few peaches (from the tree in my white garden). 

I'm taking care of a friend's garden and chickens for two weeks this month, during which time we'll harvest cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few possible other items. We'll also 11-14 small eggs to bring home every day. 

I'm able to increase my budget for the month to $400, so I will stock up on some items.

I'm trying out Sprouts for the first time. They're a bit further than I normally drive to go shopping, as I usually stay within 1 to 2 miles of home to do my grocery shopping (except for one trip to Sam's Club, a whole 5 miles away).  They have cherries for the unbelievable price of $0.95 a pound; I've never seen cherries priced this low in my life, so I am definitely planning a trip.

Here are my planned sale purchases from the current ads, all of which are incredibly low prices right now:

 

Sprouts:

Cherries $0.95 a pound

Corn 6 for $1

 

Albertson's:

Whole chickens and chicken thighs $0.77 a pound

Boneless pork sirloin chops $1.47 a pound (I have never seen them this low)

Sour cream $1 a pound

Whipping cream $1 a half-pint

 

Target:

Diapers. There is a spend $100 on diapers get a $30 gift card deal this week. I buy the store brand in the bulk boxes. These will last me a few months.

 

And what I'm planning from Winco, Walmart, and Sam's Club:

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

Ground Almonds (a small amount for a dessert)

Onions

Bell Peppers

Spreadable margarine (3-pound tub for $2.27)

Milk

Lettuce

Carrots

Great Northern Beans

 

Walmart:

Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix

Spray oil (I use my refillable sprayer for most cooking, but I found it doesn't work well in the waffle iron)

BBQ sauce

 

Sam's Club:

Tomato sauce in a #10 can

Popcorn 50-pound bag

All-purpose flour 25-pound bag (I will buy 100 pounds)

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound block

Mozzarella cheese 5-pound grated

Goat Cheese

Feta Cheese

Toilet paper

Pinto beans 50-pound bag

 

I'll also look for a sale at Smith's on ice cream in the gallon-sized buckets.

 

Pickles in Process The Prudent Homemaker

I plan to make dill pickles and sweet pickle relish with the cucumbers we're picking from my friend's garden.

I'll make pasta salads, Caprese salad, corn and tomato salad, grape juice, smoothies, popsicles, rice and beans, tomato pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, pork chops with fig sauce, stuffed grape leaves, tomato and cucumber salads with Italian dressing, grits with fried eggs, fried potatoes with fried eggs, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, cherry clafoutis, Pavlova with cherries, brownies, and more this month.

 

What sales are you looking for this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden? Do you have any favorite frugal summer meals?

 

 

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Blackberries in bowl The Prudent Homemaker

This month in the garden, I'll harvest blackberries, Mission figs, and apricots.

I'll cut and pick Swiss chard, green onions, grape leaves, chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, elderberry flowers (and possibly elderberries, if I can beat the birds to them), New Zealand spinach, peppermint, and tomatoes.

Mission Figs in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I'll collect seeds from open-pollinated spinach, three kinds of lettuce, leeks, green onions, and nasturtiums to plant later--though most of the green onion seeds will be planted in the garden this month.

I'll sow seeds for zinnias, sunflowers, green onions, vincas, butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, marjoram, and thyme in the garden.

I'll buy a few staples this month, but the rest of my $200 budget will be spent on produce, eggs, and meat that I find on sale.

There should be several good sales on meat around Father's Day.

Corn on the cob should go on sale this month; I'll look for sales of six and possibly eight ears for a dollar.

June is a hot month here; most days, if not every day, will be over 100°F/ 38C° (Monday will be 105°). We plan on eating lots of bean burritos, pasta salads (using a combination of sale produce and garden produce; I like my pasta salads to be more vegetables than noodles), homemade yogurt with homemade cranberry almond granola

Summer Pasta Salad The Prudent Homemaker

You can see my summer menu here. I don't follow my menus exactly; instead, I use them to plan my meals based on what is ripe in my garden, what I have in my pantry and freezer, and what I can add that is on sale.

 

Winco:

Milk

Greek yogurt (small container to use as a starter to make yogurt)

Spreadable margarine (3-pound tub for $2.27)

Flour tortillas

Potatoes

Onions

 

Smith's:

Ice cream (I buy the big buckets labeled "Kroger party pail" when they go on sale for $4.99 or less; sometimes the sale price is $4.49 and sometimes it is $3.99!)

 

Costco:

Almonds (our Sam's club appears to have stopped carrying almonds, so I'll have my mom pick some up at Costco for me)

 

Walmart:

Oxiclean spray

 

Summer Pasta Salad 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 What seasonal recipes do you have planned for this month? What sales do you look for in June?

 

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May's Shopping Plans

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 Apricots in White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

 

I awoke shortly after 4 a.m. to the sound of pouring rain.

Rain is very rare here, and when it does rain, it is usually so gentle and short as to only last 30 seconds. Pouring rain is unusual, and even more so in May!

I got up and closed the windows, went outside and into the garage and turned the drip irrigation and sprinklers off.

It's a beautiful May Day here, with cooler weather than usual thanks to the rain and clouds. We'll be back to 95° and even 98°(37°C) next week, but for four days this week, we are enjoying cooler temperatures.

The apricots will be ripe in my garden soon. I have two kinds of apricots: Katy and Royal (a.k.a. Royal Blenheim). Katy is generally ripe 3-4 weeks sooner than Royal, but wind and cold made it so only a few branches ripened on the tree, and then the rest of the Katy tree bloomed a month later. Whether they all ripen at once is yet to be seen. Katy usually ripens at the beginning of May and Royal towards the end of the month.

Blackberries 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Our blackberries will also be ripe in the garden this month.

In years past, we have also harvested peaches in May. As our tree was dying last year, we took it out. It will be a few years before we have peaches ripe in May again.

I am harvesting oregano, parsley, garlic chives, and green onions from the garden this month. I am also harvesting lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard.

 

I plan on purchasing the following items this month:

 

Sam's Club:

Olive oil (3-liter bottle)

Mozzarella cheese (5-pound bag)

Powdered sugar (7-pound bag)

Brown sugar (7-pound bag)

Best Foods Mayonnaise (1-gallon)

Gatorade powder (We keep this on hand for when someone is sick, and as we had several people with flu earlier this year, it's time to replenish it).

Aveeno Body Lotion

 

Winco:

La Victoria salsa (using $1 off coupon) 

Flour tortillas

Sour cream

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

 

Target:

Suave shampoo (using 2 $1 off coupons)

 

I'll spend the rest of our $200 monthly budget on fresh produce and meat that I find on sale this month. 

 

Here is a month of typical spring meals in our house.

 

What are your grocery shopping plans this month?

 

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April's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Lemons on Cutting Board The Prudent Homemaker 

This post contains affiliate links.

As usual, this month I'm concentrating on filling holes in my pantry. We've continued to eat down the freezers, which has been fantastic, as I've found things that really need to be used up. This has given me the chance to clean out a couple of freezers before I start juicing lemons and adding lemon juice from our lemons to use throughout the year. My Meyer lemons can stay fresh on the tree from late November through April, but after that, it's too warm here, so they really have to be picked. Anything that we haven't already harvested will be picked and juiced this month. We'll freeze the juice and some zest as well. I plan on drying some zest to make my own lemon pepper seasoning.

Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

The Swiss chard in the garden goes to seed this month, so we've been eating loads of Swiss chard every week for the past month and will continue to do so this month. When it bolts this month, it grows 6 feet tall (2 meters) in a week! I plan on harvesting it before it bolts and then pulling the plants, except for one or two which I'll let bolt for collecting seeds to plant later.

Salad Produce The Prudent Homemaker

April is the best month for lettuce in my garden, so we'll have lots of salads. In April we usually have salad either with or for (as the main course) lunch or dinner every day, served with homemade salad dressing. A simple and very inexpensive meal we often have in April is black beans (seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, and lime juice), rice cooked with tomato bullion powder, and a salad. Bean burritos (made with pinto beans) are another favorite of ours in April. As the weather warms, homemade lemonade and salads with homemade bread are a meal we have often as well. Often, we'll have a homemade soup as well.

We'll harvest lots of snow peas and green onions this month. Most of them will be enjoyed in my Museum Pasta Salad.

Spinach, radishes, and leeks are ripe in the garden this month as well. 

I'll cut and dry parsley to add to my pantry. My parsley is starting to bolt in the garden, so it needs to be harvested before it all goes to seed. This is an item I no longer purchase dried, as I grow enough in my garden to use fresh and dried throughout the year.

 

I'm not sure when I'll be out and about shopping in May after our new baby is born, so for April, I am upping our budget from $200 to $400. May's shopping plans will depend on our income.

Here's how I plan to spend my $400 grocery budget for my family of 10 this month:

 

Sam's Club:

Raisins (60 oz.) $9.98

Chocolate chips (72 oz.) $9.98

Brown sugar (7lbs) $4.38

Granulated sugar (50 lbs) $23.88

Rice (25 lbs) $9.48

Tomato Sauce (5 #10 cans) $2.98 a can

Diced tomatoes (5 #10 cans) $2.98 a can

Feta cheese  (24 oz.) $7.38

Mozzarella cheese (5 lbs) $10.48

Ketchup (114 oz.) $3.83

POM toilet paper (4 boxes) $19.98 a box

Milk (4 gallons) $2.35 a gallon for whole milk

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Onions

Carrots

Limes

Great Northern Beans (25 lbs at $0.89 a pound)

Kidney Beans

Salsa

Milk

Sour Cream (unless I find a lower sale elsewhere)

Spreadable margarine (3 lb container for $2.28)

 

Walmart:

Equate hand dishwashing soap

Dental floss

 

Smith's:

I'll look for sales on strawberries for $1.00 a pound or less; I'll buy several to make jam and to freeze.

I'll look for sales on chicken under $0.99 a pound to put in the freezer. In years past, I have found whole chickens for $0.79 a pound in April, which is a rock bottom price where I live.

The case-lot sale takes place over two weeks this month. I'll look for case-lot sales on canned Mandarin oranges and canned green chiles. Chiles are not on the case-lot sale this time.

Update now that I have the ad:

Mandarin oranges case of 24 11-ounce cans $14.16 ($0.59 a can)

Tuna fish case of 48 5-ounce cans $28

Canned corn case of 12 $6 (2 cases)

 

 

Going through the grocery ads last month, I can see so many items that can quickly up one's budget--even on sale. For example, strawberries were on sale, but they were $2.50 a pound. I know that in April strawberries are at their lowest price for the year in April as they are in season here at that time, so that's when I stock up for the year. Many stores have a limit, so I'll look for a store that doesn't (usually Smith's--our Kroger affiliate--has them for under $1 a pound without a limit, though some years the lowest sales price has been $1.25 a pound). My goal is to always look for the lowest price and stock up then. I know that some items are only at that price once or twice a year, which is when I aim to stock up, and why the prices you see me paying are as low as they are. Regular prices and regular sales prices are not that low all the time on many items that I buy. By waiting to purchase items until they are at their lowest prices for the year and stocking up, I save a lot of money.

I'm cooking several pots of beans in my solar oven and freezing any we won't use right away. This gives me a head start to making several meals on other days, including after the baby is born.

 

What sales will you be looking for this month? Do you plan on harvesting anything from your garden?

 

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March's Shopping Plans

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Snow Peas and Radishes The Prudent Homemaker

March has several sales. It's frozen foods month in the U.S., which usually means a number of frozen foods go on sale. St. Patrick's Day on the 17th means sales on corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

Easter Rabbits The Prudent Homemaker

With Easter falling on April 1st this year, we will see Easter sales in late March. I plan on making Easter Rabbits again this year using chocolate candy melts and molds I have already (you can see the how-to here).  

Here's how I plan to spend my $200 budget this month for our family of 10:

 

Sam's Club:

 

Rice 25-pound bag

Tomato Sauce #10 cans

Diced Tomatoes #10 cans

POM Toilet Paper

 

Walmart:

Washing Soda

Equate hand-washing dish soap

 

Albertson's:

Store brand frozen sweet peas. I'll look for a sale on these at $1 a pound (usually when you buy 10). I would love to buy 20 or even 30 bags, but I often have trouble finding even 10 bags in the store. 

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Onions

Oil

Spreadable Margarine

Parmesan Cheese

Store brand spicy brown mustard

 

I'll look for sales on strawberries in late March. If I can find them for $1 a pound or less, I'll purchase them. I'll also look for sales on potatoes, cabbage, corned beef, whole chickens, and Easter candy (Starburst jelly beans and peanut M&M's for Easter eggs).

 Strawberry Jam The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden, I will harvest Swiss chard, Meyer lemons, spinach, lettuce, snow peas, green onions, leeks, radishes, and several herbs this month. My large Swiss chard plants bolt in April when it gets hot, so we'll be harvesting lots before they need to be pulled from the garden. I have new plants already up and growing for this year so we won't have too long of a lull in picking. 

We'll continue to eat lots of frozen fruit from the freezer in anticipation of this year's fruit from the garden. We'll also enjoy more squash, pumpkins, and pomegranates from the garden that I have been storing.

A friend has offered me eggs from her hens, who are currently laying much more than she can eat, so I'll bring her some lemons in exchange for eggs.

What items are you looking to purchase this month?

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February's Shopping Plans

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Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm zesting and juicing lemons this month from the garden. I am freezing lemon juice and zest to use throughout the year. In order to have enough space in the freezer for so much juice, we're eating lots from the freezers. This time of year, we eat the frozen fruit from the garden that I froze over the last year. We're also eating meat from the freezers. 

The pantry is still plenty stocked, including canned fruits and vegetables, butternut squash, pumpkins, and onions.

I'm glad I was able to can so much applesauce from our tree last year, as due to massive borer damage on all but one branch, we had to pull the tree last month. I'm replacing it with another. It will be a few years before the new tree is large enough to start bearing.

Snow Pea Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

In the garden, (In addition to hundreds of lemons) we have green onions, oregano, nasturtiums, Swiss chard, New Zealand Spinach, and the first of the snow peas ripening this month.

I'm focusing on filling holes in the pantry. I've been asked before what percentage of the grocery budget I allot towards filling the pantry. Stocking up on pantry staples is my first priority, not my last, nor a tiny bit. I then look to purchase fresh items in addition to any pantry needs. I find that my money goes further this way (such as 25 pounds of oats for under $17 at Winco!) 

Each year I aim to increase the yield in my garden to allow for plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the year for my family. I succession sow seeds, I grow vertically, I've added additional fruit trees in pots (underplanted with flowers and herbs), I've planted more that grows well in my climate (especially more cut and come again vegetables like Swiss chard and green onions), I've covered the walls with berry bushes and grape vines, and I re-landscaped my small front yard to allow for 5 fruit trees in the ground and 3 in pots, in addition to herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Doing all these things not only helps us to have something always ripe in the garden to harvest, but it also allows me to be able to can and freeze fruit. I currently have a total of 29 fruit trees, including 3 nut trees and 8 potted fruit trees. Everything in the ground is watered by drip irrigation (and a few of my potted trees are also on drip irrigation).

I have a budget of $200 for February's purchases. Here's how I'll spend it:

 

Smith's:

Pasta. American Beauty brand pasta is on sale for $0.49 when you buy multiples of 6 (regular price is $1.25 a pound). This is the price I've been waiting to see; it's the lowest price I can find for pasta, and this sale only happens 2 to 3 times a year, so I'll stock up. Smith's is our Kroger affiliate, so you may have this sale price on pasta where you live, too! East of the Mississippi River, it's often the Creamette brand of pasta that goes on sale this low. (Note: One reader noted that her store has this sale for $0.38, but it's on 12-ounce packages pasta rather than 16-ounce.)

 

Target:

Diapers. There should be a spend so much get a gift card deal back on diapers this month. Every year, Target has a similar offer in January, but February's offer is usually a little better. Last year, it was spend $100 on diapers, get a $25 gift card. If I don't see this deal for some reason, I will hold off on buying more diapers. I still have plenty for my youngest and I don't need diapers for the baby yet. I will still have a 15% off coupon coming for one purchase from my registry to use on diapers if there isn't a great sale before the baby arrives. For the 15% off coupon, the item has to be on your registry. I created a registry just for this purpose, and I made sure I put diapers on the registry. (I will also pick up my registry freebies this month when I go to Target). (Update: It looks like it will be spend $100, get a $20 gift card starting next week. You'll need the coupon, which will be in the ad and also in the Target app, in order to get the $20 gift card).

Salon Graphix hairspray (unscented super hold)

 

Walmart:

Oxi-Clean spray in the refill bottle (I pour it into this pretty spray bottle to use for laundry)

Equate dandruff shampoo

 

Winco:

Oats (25-pound bag for a little over $16)

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

 

Our last official frost date is February 15th, at which time our local nursery will have a large number of vegetable and herb plants available. I spoke with the manager, and because of our record heat this year (it's going to be 76ºF/24ºC on Monday), they are expecting these plants to come in earlier. (They had a few tomato and vegetable plants and a number of herb plants on January 26th when I went in; normally there are no tomato plants there until February 14th).  For those who are local, Star Nursery traditionally has a sale on tomato, vegetable, and herb plants on President's Day weekend. I plan on purchasing tomato plants and two fruit trees (to replace my dead ones) for the garden. I'll be watching for sale prices as well as coupons (usually there are coupons this month in the Val-Pak and/or in the ads that wrap around hte grocery ads in the mail) and I will be purchasing these items on sale. (My garden budget is not a set amount. I have spent as little as $150 a year on my garden up to $1500, not counting years where we landscaped the garden. Larger purchases include non-edible things like dirt, bushes, sprinkler and valve replacement parts, drip irrigation, etc. I take money for the garden from my miscellaneous budget, which includes clothing and household purchases for the family. That amount is generally equal to or less than my grocery budget for the month. This year, my miscellaneous budget for the garden, clothing, and household goods is $200 a month, but I will spend less if I don't need anything.)

I'll sow seeds for Armenian cucumbers, Red Noodle beans, lettuce, radishes, alpine strawberries, pumpkins and squash this month in the garden. I'll also sow flower seeds. I already have these seeds, purchased in past years and collected from my own garden.

I don't know if our record highs this month mean we'll see a longer spring or just an earlier summer. Either way, the ground is warm enough to plant now, so there's no point in waiting. Hopefully, everything will germinate well and my seedlings won't be eaten by bugs, and I'll have lots of fresh food and flowers to enjoy from the garden this year!

 

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