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Christmas Spritz Cookies The Prudent Homemaker 

 Spritz Cookies made with my grandmother's vintage cookie press. These are the fastest and simplest Christmas cookies I've ever made.

 

Can you imagine a December without shopping?

No food to buy.

No gifts to purchase.

 

The chance to stay home: making cookies and treats from items in your pantry, making meals from a well-stocked pantry and freezers, making gifts from items you already have on hand, making memories as a family as you sing Christmas carols together before bed every night of the month, playing board and card games as a family in the evenings instead of being out shopping (and picking up takeout because you don't have time to cook after work and shopping), watching Christmas movies as a family, etc.

 

BUT . . .

Maybe you still have presents left to buy.

Maybe you have groceries to purchase.

Christmas Bedpost The Prudent Homemaker

 

Could it be simpler, though? Could you avoid the time you spend shopping, standing in line, etc.? 

 

You could decide to shorten your Christmas list to what you've already purchased (and/or make any remaining gifts using what you have on hand in your kitchen or with any supplies you have).

You could order the last gifts on your list online and have them shipped to your door. (Amazon has a free trial of Prime if you want two-day shipping for free for the month, plus you can watch movies from home with it).

You could order groceries and have them delivered. (I've never tried this option, but many stores have free and/or discounted delivery options for the first time you place an order. I can see an extra appeal in this if you don't want to leave the house in inclement weather). 

You could limit your grocery shopping to just two stores for the month.

You could decide to eat what you have in the pantry and freezer and not go shopping.

 

I've decided to keep my December shopping as simple as possible. I still have many gifts to make and I am wanting to bake often, both of which require me to be at home.

 

I'm limiting my December grocery shopping to $40 at Sam's Club, which comes from a $25 gift card I earned on Swagbucks and a $15 gift card I received as a gift, and $25 out of pocket.

I looked through Sam's sales flyer and am purchasing two things that will each be $2.50 off in December. One is balsamic vinegar, a regular staple in my pantry. The other is Nutella, which I only buy in December when it goes on sale at Sam's Club. It's a large jar (26.5 ounces/751.26g) that comes in a two-pack, on sale $6.48 (that makes each jar $3.24, or $0.122 an ounce/$0.0043 gram.)

I'm planning on saving the time of walking around the store and standing in the checkout line by ordering everything online and having it ready for pickup. I've never done it before, but this service is free, so why not have a bit more time in my life? It certainly doesn't take very long to add it to my cart online. I'll have my husband pick it up on his way home from work, and he can fill up on gas (which is cheaper there) at the same time.

 

Sam's Club:

corn tortillas (110 count)

milk (1 gallon)

salted peanuts (52 ounces)

mozzarella cheese (5 pounds shredded)

balsamic vinegar (1 liter)

brown sugar (7-pound bag)

Nutella (2 26.5 o./75126g jars)

 

I'd like to purchase some clementines for both fresh eating and Christmas stockings, but that will depend on what sales are out there. I'm allotting $15 out of pocket towards clementines, if I find a sale right before Christmas of $1 a pound or less (there are sometimes coupons available for these, so I'll keep an eye out). If I don't see that price close to Christmas, I'll pass on purchasing these.

I'll spend $10 on dish soap for hand washing. I usually buy this at Walmart, but since I am planning to go to Target anyway this week to pick up a few small items for Christmas gifts, I will purchase this there. I want to keep my shopping trips (and standing-in-line-time) to a minimum.

Christmas Table Runner Detail The Prudent Homemaker

 

A few ideas to make your December a bit more peaceful:

 

Advent calendar activity ideas Simple things you can do this month to keep the spirit of Christmas.

Rethinking Christmas Stockings. A simpler, less expensive approach to filling stockings.

Seven Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

A Gift a Day. My current and past year's simple, inexpensive gifts, often made from repurposed materials, that you can make in a day. I'll be sharing more gifts this month as I complete them.

My Food Gifts board on Pinterest

My Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest

Ten Ways to Add Joy to Your Life When You Don't Have a Penny to Spare. Don't let a super-tight financial month keep you from finding joy.

Gifts You Can Make Right Now in Five Minutes or Less

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

 

 Deciding to keep things as simple as possible is helping me to stay more peaceful this month.

 

What are you doing to keep things simpler this month?

 

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Grocery Shopping Plans for November

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Thanksgiving table The Prudent Homemaker

 

November in the U.S. is a great month to stock up on so many items on sale for holiday cooking. Canned goods and baking supplies are on sale. Meats are on great sales, with turkey for Thanksgiving being the main feature. Squash, potatoes, onions, apples, celery, clementines, and cranberries go on sale.

Some items (such as canned vegetables) have a limit of the number you can purchase on sale. I'm looking for canned corn and canned green beans on sale for under $0.49 a can. There are likely to be coupons online that I can print for these as well to bring the price even lower. In years past, I have been able to pick up these two items as low as $0.20 a can on sale in November with coupons.

I'm not sure who will have the best prices for several seasonal sale items, so I'll look at the ads each week. The grocery ads come in the mail here. There are a number of stores within 2 miles from my house, so I expect good competition. My budget for our family of 10 for the month is $300. I also have $30 worth of Target gift cards that I earned last month, which I may or may not use for groceries, depending on the deals I see.

 

Produce:

potatoes

clementines

lettuce

carrots

celery

frozen petite peas

squash

apples

cranberries

onions

 

Canned goods:

corn

green beans

pumpkin

evaporated milk

cream of mushroom soup

enchilada sauce (Note: I'm buying green enchilada sauce).

 

Meat:

whole chickens

turkey (I'll buy several if the price per pound is low enough)

pork roast

 

Baking items:

flour (I'll get this at Sam's Club.)

sugar (also Sam's Club)

Ghiradelli white and dark chocolate melting chips (Sam's Club has these on sale this month for an incredible price.)

chocolate chips (also Sam's Club)

Butter, if I see a low enough price. The lowest I've seen so far is $2.49 a pound. I'm not sure if this is the best price yet or not.

marshmallows

eggs

whipping cream

 

Other items:

salsa

ketchup (at Sam's Club)

milk

spreadable margarine

mozzarella cheese

toilet paper

 

Thanksgiving Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

 

What are you planning to stock up on this month?

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October's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Autumn Pears The Prudent Homemaker

Hooray for a sale! I'm happy to be able to do some stocking up this month. I've had a chance to organize what we have and really evaluate what we need, which is quite a lot. 

Consequently, I'll be spending a lot more this month than usual ($500) but many items I buy will last us for many months.

I have already gone to Winco, Target, and Sam's Club, and I'll make my online purchase this week as well. Then I won't head back to the store until the last week of the month for a second trip to Winco. Staying out of the store reduces the temptation to buy things that aren't on the list, and I'll have more time at home to get things accomplished.

 

Winco: ($82.39)

 

potatoes (20 pounds)

onions (50 pounds)

Great Northern beans 

brown sugar (only because I forgot to buy it at Sam's Club; it is 6 cents more per ounce at Winco; I bought 6.28 pounds)

tomatoes

spreadable margarine (2)

milk (3 gallons)

eggs

sour cream (10)

parmesan cheese (I plan on making and freezing a simple pesto with cheese, olive oil, and basil from the garden. I bought 5 containers of the shelf-stable store brand for this.)

La Victoria salsa (2)

corn tortillas

pumpkin

 

I'll go back the last week of the month for the following: (approx. $44)

Halloween Candy (their lowest-priced bulk candy, on sale the last week of the month, always ends up being lower than I can get on anything else even with a sale and a coupon. I'll buy extra of a few kinds to use for Christmas stockings.)

milk

potatoes (30 pounds)

apples

 

 

Sam's Club: ($159.57)

 

POM toilet paper  (3 boxes)

ketchup (1 114 oz. container)

vegetable oil (2 3-quart bottles)

vinegar (2-gallon package)

tomato sauce (3 #10 cans)

flour tortillas

mozzarella cheese (10 pounds)

lettuce

1 box  (of 4 boxes) of gallon-sized  Ziploc freezer bags

1 box  (of 4 boxes) of quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags

pumpkin

 

Target: ( $166.93, and I got a $20 gift card and a $5 gift card to use next month. If you don't get the ads-and I don't--you can download the Target app, click the barcode symbol at the bottom, and there are two coupons for gift cards that come up. One is a $25 gift card when you spend $100 on baby items, and the second is a $5 gift card when you spend $20 on beauty items. Both are good through Saturday the 7th.)

 

Salon Graphix Unscented hairspray (4)

borax (4 boxes)

bleach (the store brand)

Neutrogena acne toner

Up and Up diapers ( I bought 5 boxes of size 4 diapers, which should last me 6 months.)

 

San Fransisco Herb Company: ($47.47 including shipping) 

 

red raspberry leaves

lemon verbena 

poppy seeds

cocoa powder

 

The garden is producing lots of basil, some oregano, a bit of chard, and I still have a few lingering pears that we are slowly harvesting.  There isn't much ripe now, but I hope that come December we'll have quite a bit to harvest. The weather is cooling a bit and the tomato plants have started to flower again. I'm planting my fall garden this month.

 

What are you stocking up on this month?

Canadian readers, please share your Thanksgiving deals!

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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September's Grocery Shopping Plans

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September Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

September 2016 Garden Harvest

After a month of no shopping, I'm planning to continue to live mostly from our pantry, freezers, and garden, with a few purchases. Our income is still rather limited. In 2012 and 2013, we had a budget of $100 a month for food and $65 a month for non-food items. Our income is now even less than it each of those years; those years were also considerably less than we made in 2007, the year we had no income for 8 months and began living exclusively from our pantry for over a year. I am grateful for the increase that we had in income the second half of last year (and the savings it allowed us to have that helped us this year). For now, I will continue to take each month as it comes.

I'm budgeting $100 this month to buy things.

This month's budget is very unusual in that I have some gift cards and freebie coupons to use towards purchases in addition to the $100. 

 

Target:

I will redeem 2200 Swagbucks on September first to get a $25 Target gift card. You can redeem one $25 gift card a month for 2200 points; after that, they are 2500 points. It usually takes me 2-3 months to get 2200 points, but this month I spent some more time earning points so that I would have this.

Diapers (1 large box that will last the month)

Children's chewable multi-vitamins (150 count bottle)

 

Winco:

Potatoes. I'll buy 50 pounds; the russets are currently higher than I like to spend (at $2.98 for a ten-pound bag) but I will be going above my price point on them this month (normally $2.25 a bag)  and hope that when I make it over there, the price has come down.

Gold N'Soft Light spreadable margarine in a 3-pound tub, which is usually around $2.24. (I use this on baked potatoes, to cook with, and on toast; it has 0 trans-fats). I'll pick up 3.

Carrots (10 pounds for $3.88)

Milk

Apples. I'm hoping to see sales between $0.79 and $0.99 a pound when the new crop of apples comes in.

 

Smith's:

Corn on the cob: 6 ears for $1 (no limit; I'll buy 24).

Chicken (a reader sent me some manufacturer's coupons for free chicken for a certain brand of fresh chicken that she can't get in her area; I'll pick these up and add them to my freezer).

American Beauty pasta. It looks like the new sales price is $0.69 ($0.49 looks like a price I won't see anymore). I printed several coupons for $1 off 2 packages from coupons.com and I will pick up pasta. I'll only buy the 16-ounce bags (rather than the 12-ounce bags) so that I can get the most food for my money. I'll buy 50 pounds of pasta. (I also added the Smith's digital coupon to my card for another $1 off coupon).

Friday freebie. I loaded the Friday freebie to my card and I'll pick it up when I'm there; it's a candy bar and I can give it as a gift to a child.

 

Albertson's:

Sour cream 10 for $10; I'll have my husband pick up 10  (which will save on gas as there is a store in the shopping center where his office is) and we'll enjoy them on potatoes as well as rice and beans. 

 

Sam's Club:

I still have a $25 Sam's Club gift card that I got from Swagbucks earlier this year. I kept meaning to use it every time I went but I kept forgetting it was in my purse! I plan on using the gift card to get the following:

25 pounds of Long grain rice ($8.34)

Ketchup ($3.83 for 114 ounces; we use it to refill 3 large bottles)

Oxi-Clean powdered stain remover (10.1 pound box), on sale through the 17th for $12.48

Pears in Silver Bowl The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden this month, I will harvest Bartlett pears, Swiss chard, oregano, basil, a few handfuls of red noodle beans, a few Armenian cucumbers (several of my vines died and bugs got to the zucchini plants last month; a couple are left but I never harvested any zucchini last month as the heat caused the flowers to wither and die before they ever opened), a few tiny tomatoes, green onions, chives, rosemary, and some other herbs as I need them for meals.

 

What are you planning to stock up on this month?

 

 

 

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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 Cucumbers and Basil The Prudent Homemaker

My freezers are packed full of frozen fruit from both our garden and from deals I found earlier this year. There's some meat in there, somewhere behind all the peaches, blackberries, figs, strawberries, and blueberries. There's lemon juice from our lemon trees too.

The garden has started producing Armenian cucumbers. I'm hoping for enough to can pickles this year. I planted loads of them in several places in the garden and the vines have reached the tops of my five-foot trellises and started producing female flowers.

We have Swiss chard, red noodle beans, and green onions in the garden.

Yellow Pear Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The tomato plants are still producing (especially the Yellow Pear tomatoes), though they are winding down because of the heat (they are not longer producing flowers).

I've got butternut squash growing and will have a few to pick this month.

I have 5 zucchini plants. None are producing for me at the moment, but the overcast days in July led to cooler temperatures and I can see a combination of male and female flowers at the base of them. Hopefully, they'll be open on the same days to be pollinated and we'll have some zucchini too!

Bartlett Pears on Tree The Prudent Homemaker 

The Bartlett pears are ripe this month. There aren't many, as the trees have never grown very large in 10 years, but we'll still have a decent number.

The table grapes are ripe (the birds have gotten a number of them though). We'll have some to eat (they have seeds) and some to juice. When they're all done, I'll pick the leaves to cook. They have a lemony flavor and are delicious in all sorts of recipes. I'll stuff some this month too.

Bucket of Zinnias and Sunflowers

The zinnias I planted in the backyard are opening! I know they're late but I'm happy to have them! I have a few small sunflowers too (about the same size as the zinnias).

I've got a decently stocked pantry

And I'm not planning to go shopping at all during the month of August for food or toiletries.

We're having a lower income month along with increased expenses. We're adding life insurance to our bills this month and in September we hope to add some online college classes for my eldest, which will mean tuition and book expenses. These will mean increased expenses every month, so hopefully, our income will increase to cover the difference. 

With an irregular income, I never know what our income will be. I try to plan a month ahead for expenses whenever possible, but that isn't always possible. This month, I'm waiting to see what else will come in. Our first priorities are our mortgage, utilities, and insurance. Should anything come in past that, I'll save it to put toward's September's bills.

Whether or not I'll go shopping in September is yet to be seen. If I do, it is certainly to be a reduced amount. We were very blessed last year to make more money and be able to increase our grocery budget. This year, our income has been lower, and if it continues as it has been, we will make 1/3 of what we made last year (Last year was a blessing! We were able to repair several things and purchase some needed furniture. Before that, things had been much lower, like this year, for the 8 previous years). Consequently, it's possible that I'll go back to a $100 a month budget. I know we can do it, as we have in past years where we've made this amount, and we managed to build our food storage while doing so. It's been nice to have had the money to buy other things we like to eat, including more meat and cheese, but we can certainly eat more soups, oats, rice, and beans going forward. I'm collecting lettuce seeds from the garden this week and I look forward to planting them in my fall garden along with other seeds I have on hand. I'm feeling really grateful that when our income was higher last year, I bought a couple of years' worth of seeds, and that I'm growing almost all open-pollinated seeds, which allows me to collect seeds from my garden to plant every year.

Here's some of what I'll have on the menu this month:

 

Breakfasts:

 

Oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins, and almonds

Crepes (I still have some eggs and I'll use powdered milk)

Whole wheat waffles with fruit from the freezer

Smoothies and toast with cinnamon sugar 

Bread and jam (I've got homemade strawberry, apricot, and fig jams, plus apple butter on my pantry shelves)

 

Summer Pasta Salad The Prudent Homemaker

Lunches:

 

Black beans and rice with tomatoes and corn

White bean dip with pita bread, cucumbers, and tomatoes (produce from the garden)

Macaroni and cheese with sliced tomatoes (on the side!) and cucumbers in vinegar

Tomato Basil Sandwiches

Pasta Salad

Leftovers

Fig Tarts The Prudent Homemaker

 

Snacks:

 

Fig Tarts

Cookies

Peach Pie Popsicles

Popcorn

Grapes

Smoothies

 

Dinners:

 

Black Bean Burgers with Steak Sauce and tomatoes from the garden

Turkey Curry over basmati rice with peas and chapatis

Pork Roast with fig sauce and mashed potatoes, Swiss chard, and butternut squash

Baked Potatoes with a corn and tomato salad

Stir fry with pork or turkey and vegetables from the garden and bean sprouts

Pinto beans and rice with onions and tomatoes

Spaghetti with red noodle beans

Stuffed grape leaves with homemade pita bread

Ham with Rosemary potatoes and red noodle beans

Ham sandwiches with tomatoes from the garden and home-canned dill pickles

 

 

If you're living from your pantry this month, check out my two weeks' worth of pantry meals here.

If you need more bean recipes, check out my post on How to Eat Beans Every Night.

If you're looking for a frugal summer menu, check out a month's worth of summer meals here.

 

Are you planning to go shopping in August? What deals will you be looking to purchase?

 

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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My Grocery Shopping Plans for June

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Mission Figs in basketThe Prudent Homemaker

This month in the garden, we're picking blackberries, Mission figs and Dorsett Golden apples. The blackberries and figs will finish up within a week and then the apples will be ready. 

I've amazingly still got lettuce, thanks to a much cooler than normal May, which I should be able to pick for at least a week or two before it has all bolted. 

The first cherry tomatoes (Sun Gold and Yellow Pear) are ripening, just a handful or two at a time. I shared pictures a few days ago of both lettuce and tomatoes over on Instagram). 

My red seedless grapes should be ready this month. I'll cover them with paper bags to keep the birds from eating them while they finish ripening.

I froze many peaches last month from the garden, so of which will come out for peach pie popsicles this month. I'll be making lots of popsicles for snacks, as temperatures in June will be well over 100º F.

I plan to make yogurt and granola several times for breakfast, so I'll buy milk for making yogurt as well as for drinking. I also plan to make crepes often, as well as breakfast burritos. I'll make a frittata at least once.

We're craving cold, light meals this month. Pasta salads, salads, and potato salad alongside sandwiches will be on our menu frequently, as well as bean burritos. I'll cook beans in the crockpot or the solar oven, depending on how windy the day is. I'll make white bean dip and pita bread to eat for lunches with figs or apples). I'll cook a turkey from the freezer (they've been in there since November 2015 ) and slice it to make sandwich meat with our meat slicer. I'll make rosemary olive oil bread and French bread for sandwiches.

I'll purchase some cucumbers and tomatoes as our garden is not yet producing cucumbers and is only making a few tomatoes.

I plan on making some herbal sun teas (which I'll then refrigerate) with peppermint, chamomile, and lemon verbena from the garden.

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Milk

Margarine

Cucumbers

Tomatoes

Celery 

Carrots

Limes

Salsa

 

Sam's Club:

Mozzarella cheese

Cheddar cheese

Flour tortillas

Corn tortillas

#10 cans of tomato sauce

 

I've been experimenting with homemade barbecue sauce recipes.  I am no longer able to find the sauce my family prefers anywhere, and it is much less money for me to make my own, so some of these cans of tomato sauce will be turned into batches of barbecue sauce.

Past these specific items, I'll look for sales throughout the month that fit within my budget. This week's ad for Smith's include eggs for $0.77 a dozen (limit 4) and boneless pork loin for $1.59 a pound (an amazing price!) I'll pick up both of these (several pork roasts to freeze and 4 dozen eggs). I'll look for sales on the large party pails of ice cream at Smith's later in the month.

I'll be watching Totally Target's page for any great sales on toiletries at Target.

My budget for this month is $300 for our family of 10 for food and toiletries.  

 

What are you planning to purchase this month? Do you have special celebratory meals planned for graduations or Father's Day? Is your garden producing anything that you can add to your meals?

 

 

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