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February's Shopping Plans

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:



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.)



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)



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

Equate dandruff shampoo



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


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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Tagged in: Grocery Shopping


  • Charlie February 04, 2018

    We live in a high desert, but I grew up with lemon tree groves near us and miss the fragrance of the flowers. I had a Meyer in a container, but lost it due to forgetting to cover it one night that had a freeze. Do you have to cover your lemon trees there?

  • Luba @ Healthy with Luba February 02, 2018

    I'm happy for you and your warm weather, Brandy. 95% of my balcony door is frozen over.

    How exciting to read of your garden plans!

    I would like to transition to shopping once a month for most our needs, except for fresh vegetables and such.

    Another idea I would like to implement is having cooked meat in the freezer. It makes cooking ten times easier.

    This month I'll be purchasing a couple of chickens, some squash, and frozen fruits and veggies--if they are on sale.

    Has anyone frozen bananas themselves? Is it better to freeze or to dehydrate them for adding to breakfasts?

  • Melissa VanFosse February 02, 2018

    I freeze them when they are about to go bad, for use in banana bread - they thaw out very mushy so I would think dehydrated would work better for adding them to oatmeal or cereal. Just make sure to add enough liquid to account for them rehydrating.

  • Allyson February 02, 2018

    I freeze bananas often, as we get them from gleaning at the food pantry at the close of their week. I peel them and store them in freezer gallon bags. Peeling them saves freezer space and makes it quicker to use them for baking, smoothies, etc. They are also a favorite treat for my boys, and nice to have on hand when we're low on other fruit.

  • Tina February 02, 2018

    You can put chopped frozen bananas in a food processor and blend until smooth for a healthy frozen treat or dip in melted chocolate, roll in nuts,sprinkles, etc then freeze for a fruit pop.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 02, 2018

    I have often frozen bananas and I eat them when still frozen. Almost like ice cream. When i see them on sale,I pick upas many as possible then freeze them in freezer bags. It saves trips to the store and with apples and oranges, I am hlfway to the number of fruits and vegetables we''re supposed to have each day.

  • Becky February 02, 2018

    I freeze bananas all the time. Since they are usually used for smoothies (still frozen), I cut them in chunks. I put the chunks into a ziplock bag and squirt in a little bit of lemon or lime juice--whatever I have in the fridge since we can't grow those things here. I then gently roll the banana pieces around in the bag so they are coated with the juice then pop into the freezer over my fridge so they are handy. That keeps them from browning so much. If I decided to make banana bread instead, it's very easy to mash the pieces up.

  • Marybeth February 03, 2018

    I use mine for smoothies, banana bread, muffins, pancakes and pudding. I always freeze them. Also when it is hot in the summer I coat them in chocolate and nuts and freeze for a refreshing snack. I can usually get ones that are turning brown on the produce clearance rack very cheap. My dog also loves to chew on a frozen piece.

  • Charlie February 04, 2018

    We love frozen chocolate covered bananas during the summer. I peel, freeze the bananas with a Popsicle stick till very cold/frozen, then dip in candy chocolate or use magic shell, then lay one side in chopped peanuts (I buy the ice cream topping nuts usually) then freeze again, once frozen I put them in a gallon freezer bag. We decided these are one of our healthy snacks/desserts during the summer.

  • Jennifer O February 05, 2018

    i freeze them whole for smoothies and banana bread. I dehydrate them for snacks.
    And i also slice them into small chunks and drizzle chocolate over and freeze them for chocolate covered banana dessert/snacks.

  • Isabella February 02, 2018

    You are indeed frugal, but the diaper budgets of today always just blow my mind! I am of your mother's generation and , of course, we all used cloth diapers. I certainly do understand the convenience of it, as my children have all used disposables for my grandchildren. (And working moms with children in daycare really have no choice.) That said, there simply was no way I could ever have fit this in my budget. When I look at the cost of disposables multiplied by a year....well, it is mind boggling. With washing my own and mostly line drying (we lived in Texas when our children were small), I saved a fortune with four babies. I know you have addressed this before, but I am sure there must be mothers today on tight budgets who cloth diaper. I also understand that the cloth diaper, covers etc. have come a long way since my day, and it is easier to use.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    It usually costs me around $250 a year per child for diapers and wipes, not $2500 like I see people saying it costs. Then again, I don't buy brand-name diapers and wipes. I buy store-brand on sale and with coupons when they offer them.

    I tried cloth diapers more than once, and I hated it so very much.

  • Heather February 02, 2018

    I tried cloth with all four of mine as well and if it had been a situation where we were between food or diapers we'd have stuck it out with cloth. Thankfully we have managed to do disposable in much the same way as you Brandy, with sales and coupons. I'm so glad that is an option for us and sold all our cloth diapers last year. I'm glad that cloth diapers have come so far with the new modern ones but will stick with disposables!

  • Mariana February 03, 2018

    Having had a baby just a month ago, I hopped on the disposable diapers wagon as well. I started stocking up since I was theee months pregnant. In between coupons, % off emails and extra bucks I managed to pay between $2.5 - $3.5 per jumbo pack at CVS. By the time Franco was born I had almost 1,000 diapers stockpile (in different sizes) I spent a fraction of what they normally cost. But then again, it took some planning.
    I never even looked into cloth diapering. I will be going back to work in April and the baby will be in a nursery so that’s reason number one. And reason number two, living in NYC, we don’t have a washer / dryer in our apartment! Can’t imagine how I would manage poopy diapers ;)

  • Isabella February 02, 2018

    That is quite reasonable. It still would have been beyond me, financially (we were very poor students on a poverty level budget!) but I can see why people enjoy disposables. And no, for us, even weighing all the costs of detergent, water etc. we still came out way ahead with cloth diapers.

  • K!~ February 02, 2018

    I totally respect that each family needs to make the choice that is right for them so this is not to say that anyone needs to make the same choice that we did, but I have cloth diapered all of my children (and am still cloth diapering the youngest now). I have had as many as 3 in cloth at once. With that many it is work but I have enjoyed the financial savings, the joy of knowing that running out of diapers did not necessitate a trip to the store, but a trip to the washing machine, and most of all knowing that I am not exposing my babies to the toxins that are in disposable diapers. There are currently studies that point to the growing epidemic of infertility that could possibly be linked back to the chemicals in diapers and to the heat that is held against the genitals (especially males) while wearing a diaper. For those reasons I am thankful for cloth diapers. :)

  • Susan February 02, 2018

    Interesting subject. When my children were babies we were on a very, very tight budget. I started out with disposables when they were born. Both children ended up being allergic to one or several chemicals in the disposable diapers. They're poor little bottoms were fushia pink from them! I reluctantly switched to cloth. At first I hated it, but after a couple of weeks I found it was really no bother at all. My bank account was happier and so were my babies bottoms. LOL

  • Becky Pratt February 02, 2018

    Isabella, my late husband addressed the cloth diapers verses disposables when we had babies (my oldest is 50). He said the difference in price was not there when you took into account the time a mother took to wash and take care of the cloth diapers. Adding in the cost of water, electric, detergent, etc. also made the cloth diapers as expensive as the disposables.

  • Allyson February 02, 2018

    We've used cloth diapers for our boys and have loved them. It really only works because we have a stay at home parent who can manage it. Daycares wouldn't allow them, as you say. We do use disposable ones at night, just because we found they wake up less. We've also discovered our local children's council has a diaper bank that's free to anyone in the county, though they do have a monthly limit. Between this and using coupons, we probably spend $30/year on disposable ones. Our washing cloth ones costs less than some areas because we're on a well. It might not be as smart financially if we had to pay higher water rates.

  • Sandra February 02, 2018

    It seems to me that babies using disposable diapers don't get the terrible rashes that can come with cloth diapers. That is a blessing beyond price.

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