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July Shopping Plans, Meal Plans, and Garden Harvest

Pavlova For the Fourth The Prudent Homemaker 

My budget for food and toiletries for our family of 10 for this month is $200.

July is one of our highest utility months, as we are using more water in the garden and using the air conditioners (our house has 2 units, plus a window unit in our pantry) and ceiling fans all the time, as our highs between 105 and 118ºF. Normally summer bills are matched by an increase in income (and lower utilities in the winter for us are matched with a lower income, as fewer people move during the winter), but not this year. Consequently, I'm lowering the budget this month. I am also considering keeping it at the same amount in future months, as we will have a new regular expense starting in August.

With an irregular income, I pay my bills in this order: mortgage, then utilities and other bills (like insurance; we have no consumer debt), then food, and lastly anything else (clothing, schoolbooks, etc.). If our income doesn't cover everything, then we can eat from the pantry, freezers, and garden. 

The grapes and peaches are ready in the garden. I'll be picking 3 kinds of grapes (Red Flame, Thompson's seedless and a non-named seeded grape) as well as Early Elberta peaches. We're also still picking apples from our Dorsett Golden tree.

Red and Yellow Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

There should be a few tomatoes ripe. Usually, once it heats up they stop flowering and don't flower again until mid-October, but for some reason, there are flowers on several of my plants right now. We love tomatoes, so I'm very grateful! We've been picking about two colanders full a week for the last 3 weeks.

I have some Swiss chard ready in the garden, as well as several herbs, including basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

I am hoping for some zucchini--but will have to see if they flower much, due to the heat. One of my plants looks promising with plenty of female blooms ready to open in the next month, but there are no male flowers, so it may go unpollinated. Another plant has no flowers whatsoever. I had several other plants die, so I replanted and am currently waiting for them to get larger. Usually, they won't set flowers during the summer, though mid-July, should the monsoon season come upon us with a few overcast days and one day with a few hours of rain, the temperatures may drop enough for flowers. (Last year this mid-July rain never happened and the temperatures kept rising--and my garden burned worse than normal).

I'm hoping, too, to see some pollination on my Armenian cucumbers, which I haven't seen yet. I've not seen any female flowers yet. I have several more seedlings that are up but still small; hopefully, they will grow large enough to flower and produce in October when the temperatures drop (like the zucchini and tomatoes)  and if they decided to produce before that I will be delighted. I'm really hoping for some cucumbers now, but so far I haven't seen any. I've realized that in this heat about all I want to eat are cucumbers and tomatoes every day. With this in mind, I planted several more seeds for Armenian cucumbers during the month of June. It will be a few months before I see anything from those, but hopefully, we'll have enough to eat every day and also use to can pickles and relish.

I have a bit of lettuce in the garden still, surprisingly. It is bolted lettuce (it's gone to seed) and usually turns bitter, but in a sandwich, it is just fine. I also have a bit of arugula; mine bolted and self-seeded, and I'll be able to harvest it this month.

Ice cream is at the top of everyone's wish for just about every meal, but isn't exactly practical! Nevertheless, I will be looking for sales on the large gallon store-brand containers of ice cream at Smith's and Albertson's. At the lowest price, I can buy a full gallon for $3.99 on sale at Smith's (and Albertson's has in that size container, with sale prices at $4.49 a gallon; they carry mint chocolate chip in that size and Smith's does not; we usually buy fudge swirl and cookies & cream on sale at Smith's). 

I started having a date night at home with each child last month that included ice cream and three games of Sequence after their siblings were in bed. I haven't had a date with all of the children yet, so I'll make sure to get ice cream to continue that this month.

I'll look for sales on pasta. We've been eating ours down in an effort to rotate through all of it. I'm down to only angel hair pasta in the pantry. I'd ideally like to purchase fettucini, rotini, macaroni, and shells on sale. In the past, Smith's has had a $0.49 pasta sale on American Beauty pasta in the past (some areas of the country get the same sale on Ronzoni), but they have been slowly getting rid of that brand on the shelf and now mostly carry it only in a few shapes at the nearby stores (shells and rotini are no longer ones they carry for this brand). This means I'll have to pay more; I've seen sales for other brands (like Barilla) in these shapes at the lowest prices of $0.69 and $0.75 a pound. If I don't find a good sale on this, I'll wait. If I do, pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing and fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden is sure to be on the list. I can add green onions, New Zealand Spinach, basil, and tomatoes from the garden right now, and if I get cucumbers, I'll add those too. There is a coupon on right now for $1.00 off two bags of American Beauty pasta. I printed two this week (the limit) and then the coupons reset and I printed two more. If the sale comes, I should be able to get 8 bags of pasta for free.

I'll cook some chicken (more of the legs I bought on sale for $0.44 a pound a few months back) and cook a turkey from the freezer to use in several meals, including some turkey salad (with grapes and apples from the garden), some enchiladas, in sandwiches, and to serve over rice with a lemon dill sauce.

July Fruit Salad The Prudent Homemaker

My meals will be simple this month.

I'll make Greek yogurt in the crockpot and granola for breakfasts (and we'll add homemade jam and/or fresh fruit and leave out the cranberries).  I'll make smoothies, eggs, and toast. Eggs have been wonderfully low-priced and I stocked up last month.

Lunches will be pasta salads, turkey salad, green salads (with tomatoes from the garden and sometimes hard-boiled eggs), sandwiches, quesadillas, tomato cheddar cracker sandwiches, and leftovers.

I'll make lots of smoothies and popsicles using frozen fruit and peaches from the garden for snacks.  We'll also enjoy fresh fruit from the garden and make a few batches of popcorn. 

Dinners will include at least bean burritos (I bought tortillas last month), barbecue chicken, beans and rice with tomatoes, homemade pizza, turkey enchiladas, lemon dill turkey, and some more ideas from my summer menu.

Desserts will be ice cream, tarts, fruit crumble, and individual pavlovas.


Here are the items that are for certain on my list this month:



Potatoes ($0.25 a pound )


La Victoria Salsa (I have coupons)

La Victoria green enchilada sauce (I have coupons)



Ice Cream (mint chocolate chip at $4.99)

Frozen Petite Peas (16-ounce bags are on sale for $1 each through Tuesday)

Corn on the Cob (on sale for 8 for $1, limit 8, through Tuesday)

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)


Smith's :

Ice Cream (on sale through Tuesday for $3.99)

Blueberries (on sale through Tuesday for the unbelievably low price of $0.88 for a 6-ounce container--that's crazy low-priced for here. NO LIMIT. )

Whipping cream

Lettuce (Red leaf on sale for $0.99 a head)



Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)



Sweet cherries (on sale for $1.47 a pound. This price is so low my jaw dropped when I saw the ad. Sale through Tuesday. Normal sales prices are $2.99 (lowest) or more usually $3.99 a pound. For this price, I am buying cherries!)



Salon Graphix Unscented Extra Super Hold hairspray

Playtex Sport Tampons (there are $1.50 off coupons on right now and like the pasta, I printed 2 before and 2 after the month changed over, so I can buy 4 boxes for my eldest. This should last her quite some time as she normally uses these washable pads normally but wants to have something for when she is swimming).


Sam's Club:

Toilet paper


Mozzarella cheese

Cheddar cheese


I let my Sam's Club card expire last month. Rather than renewing it right away, I always try to put off renewing it by several weeks. The new membership starts from the time I pay, so this buys me a few weeks each year.  I'll wait until a bit later in the month to renew my card.


What are you planning on purchasing this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden?


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  • C July 03, 2017

    Been cooking and eating at home more often and I am seeing just how much costs have been cut. Another day, husband and I decided to go hiking as a date at a nearby free park. It was fun, frugal (only gas money), and also had the bonus of keeping us healthy!

    Brandy, I wanted to ask how you save money on toiletries like toothpaste and toilet paper. I imagine with a family as big as yours, you can get through a lot rather quickly! I don't know if I should coupon or just buy in bulk.

  • Toilet paper--look for the price per LENGTH. All rolls are not the same length, so I don't compare by roll. We buy the POM brand at Sam's Club as it is the lowest price per length that I can find anywhere including the store brand on sale atother stores. It's just under $20 for a huge box. Even if you don't have a big family, it's still a lower cost--it will just last you longer. My husband says he bought a box 6 years ago for his office and he is just now down to the last 10 rolls. Most everyone works from home most of the time (including him) so it just lasts a lot longer!

    For toothpaste I buy Colgate on sale at the grocery store (Smith's) for $1 a tube. They are usually the huge tubes at that price. It never seems to be in the ad but when they are having their "buy 10 of the same items get so much off" deals, it seems to be on sale 10 for $10. I buy it then. I just look at the store when I see that sale come around; I don't buy it often enough to have the when of that sale memorized yet. They have that sale a lot more often than when I need to stock up though; I see it fairly often. Deodorant seems to be the same way and they have the lowest prices on that Buy 10 sale. If I'm lucky I'll have a coupon or two to stack on top of that. I buy a bunch and I've just given our two eldest the same brands my husband and I use. I try to keep pretty stocked up on toiletries--but I also feel like I keep my product usage to a minimum too.

  • Terri July 08, 2017

    I would like to recommend baking soda. It is the most wonderful, natural toothpaste and deodorant. It is non-toxic and cheap. For use as a toothpaste you simply dip your toothbrush and brush. For use as a deodorant, there are 2 options: one way is to sprinkle a small amount onto your hand, moisten it, and apply to underarms. Another option is to mix a tablespoon in a quart of water, put in a spray bottle, and apply that way. If you detect odor, spray some and the odor will be gone. On a more personal note, a sprinkle in the underpants is the very best feminine odor product I have ever tried.

  • Sue July 09, 2017

    I think cornstarch is far better suited to moisture absorption and odor prevention than baking soda! Baking soda is rather abrasive--folks use it to scrub pots and pans, after all. Baking soda has a million uses, but applying it to one's nether regions is definitely not one of them!

  • Pam July 05, 2017

    What do people do with yogurt whey? Does it really work on plants? I make yogurt then add 2 cups milk and make ricotta. Still end up with a lot of whey....

  • Mable July 07, 2017

    I use it in bread making, as a substitute for water or milk.

  • PJGT July 07, 2017

    I use it in smoothies and cooking. I'd love to hear about its possible use in plants. Interesting!

  • piggykr July 14, 2017

    I use it to make bread, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc or in soups. I have about 1.5 liters left over after making ricotta and I freeze it for future use. You can also drink it :o but the whey from ricotta is salty and weird tasting. My dogs loved it but they can have only 1/2 cup or they may get sick. Plus they'll pee alot. Chickens like it too. I have friends who lift weights and they like to mix it with protein powder for the extra boost.

  • mable July 03, 2017

    I had to laugh---I thought I was the only one who let my Sam's card expire for a few months before renewing, just to extend how often we renew it!

    We continue to eat out of the garden for lunch and dinner. I am lucky enough to have a friend with chickens who travels once a month for work and asks me to care for her hens while she is gone. It takes about half an hour each day and in return I get to keep all the eggs produced during her week of travel, which is about six and some times eight a day! So, we eat eggs for breakfast and sometimes for dinner, too. In a week we get enough eggs to last us a month, almost always until she travels next.

    The biggest food blessing/savings is that my husband has a birthday this month and his family sent him a $200 gift card to Omaha meats. By going through Swagbucks to order, I made some points, and I found a coupon for free shipping (even to Alaska, which is very rare), and used an Omaha sale for certain packages of meats, so turned the $200 into about $250 of meats. Omaha is more expensive than I would buy, but that is what the family member felt like giving and I am truly thankful since we are short of money this month.

    Other than that, we are purchasing only milk this month.

  • Lisa July 04, 2017

    That is so great about the eggs! What type of meals do you make?

  • Mable July 04, 2017

    I bake bread and saved any stale ends. Most often I put them in a casserole dish, throw in cheese and/or vegetable bits, any leftover cooked sausage or ham. Mix it up, pour over some beaten eggs and bake. We also eat a lot of crepes, mostly savory but sometimes sweet for dessert. And crustless quiches are popular with the husband.

  • Kerri July 03, 2017

    If your squash doesn't get any male blooms to pollinate, you can eat the blooms you do have. Here in Texas they are called fried squash blooms. If you do get the male blooms, you can eat them after pollination. Cooks up almost like a fried green tomato.

  • I only get about one bloom at a time right now--and maybe only every 10-14 days. So they're not really worth frying up. I have had them that way before (with cheese inside) and they were delicious.

  • Cindy Brick July 04, 2017

    I was thinking the same thing about squash blooms -- they're good chopped up in stirfry, too. So are daylily buds and blooms.

    You are so good at other dishes -- why not make your own ice cream, as well? This version is good:

    We also got $1.49 cherries -- which I have not seen for ages. Our fridge nearly froze them, which made them extra tasty just to pull off the stem and pop like candy. I feel guilty griping about our Colorado heat, when I see your temperatures. My beautiful raised bed of greens, peas and radishes didn't produce a thing because of the sudden heat -- the radishes went woody, the greens bolted and the peas died with blooms still in place. (Sigh) I am going to try again with cherry tomato plants -- but honestly, after putting that energy into it, and getting just a few leaves of greens...

  • Pam July 06, 2017

    You can stuff squash blossoms as well.

  • Amanda July 03, 2017

    Just an idea... there is deal right now: $10 off a femmycycle cup. They are good for years (usually 5-10). They are fantastic for swimming.

  • She has a Lunette but prefers the washable pads. She doesn't go swimming often but I will use the coupons to have something for her just in case she is invited when she needs something. I expect these will last her several years since they won't be used very often.

  • J July 03, 2017

    My garden has been having a rough go this year. I had to replant some, but am looking forward to harvesting zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, yellow beans, and loads of beets.

    I also hope to get sweet cherries and peaches on sale.

  • Molly Moody July 03, 2017

    My local grocery store sells a Cranberry Turkey salad sandwich on their 12 grain bread that I absolutely love. I look for the one with the most turkey salad when I buy as that way I can use one sandwich for two meals. I thought about buying just the Cranberry Turkey salad but it's $7.99 a pound and I would then have to buy bread so I don't think it's worth it since I live alone and don't eat a lot of bread.

  • Rhonda July 06, 2017

    Our Aldi's sells a cranberry chicken salad for about $3 per container. I'm not sure how many ounces the container is, but we can eat sandwiches for lunch the entire week (two of us). It's delicious!

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