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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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  • Melissa V February 02, 2018

    My babes were the opposite - they reacted to almost all brand or off brands of disposables but had no problems with cloth (mine are 20 and 22 now)

  • Roxie February 02, 2018

    My oldest son was allergic to every kind of disposable diaper around in 1973. I tried them all. Lucky for me I got 3 dozen cloth diapers from my mother. I used those on Jimmy. I did not have a rash on him. I changed him very often and we were living in Cal. by then and the weather was good. We lived in base housing and water, power, etc. were covered in the military housing. So I washed a load of diapers every single night. I hung them to dry and folded them as I used them most of the time. These were the OLD diapers too where I had to use pins on his diapers. (I still have a couple of the pins I used on his diapers) I won't lie, it was not fun. But he was our only child at the time and I did not work. So we got by just fine.

  • Maxine February 03, 2018

    The old wives' remedy for diaper rash (and I'm an old wife...youngest kid is 39)...cornstarch. Keep it in a salt shaker (I used one of the big metal ones with a handle) and sprinkle it on baby's bottom EVERY TIME you change a diaper. Easy, VERY cheap, and very effective. (More effective than any other powder or cream). My oldest (41) only had a diaper rash once, and then I discovered this. The youngest was very prone to rashes, and this kept them at bay. Both of my kids were in cloth diapers, and I didn't find it much of a hardship because I had a washer and dryer. (Poopy ones got dipped into the toilet before going into the diaper pail). If I would have had to use a coin-op, those kids would have been in disposables.

    As a side note, both of my children were adopted, and it was $$$$. I knew if we were going to have more than one child, I would have to $ave in every way possible. At that time, there were only two brands of disposables, Pampers and Huggies, and both were pricey for the economy of the late '70s. I never saw a store brand or anything cheaper. Our adoptions were two years apart. In that time, I saved about $1,000 by using disposables.

  • Florrie February 02, 2018

    Brandy, I read somewhere that borers do not like the smell of nicotine. I had 2 cherry tries (Bing and a pollinator) that became infested with borers. I was able to save the second tree with nicotine. My neighbor's gardener threw his cigarette butts in the street in front of our house. I swept up those butts and buried them around the tree. I even placed some butts where the bark had separated from the tree. I also bury the butts around my plum and apricot trees for preventive measures, as borers do spread from tree to tree if in close proximity. My brother, who is a bonsai master, also mentored me to make sure a new tree does not branch out too close to the ground. He suggested 18 inches from ground for first branch for a non-dwarf tree. He said a low branched tree is more prone to disease. Hope this bit of info is helpful to someone!

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    I spray Neem oil every year for borers, but I think I will need to up it to twice a year. In my extension classes, we learned that stone fruits usually only last 10 years here, so I wasn't surprised to lose the peaches. The apple tree was a surprise. However, our winters are getting milder every year, so the bug problem is increasing also. I had one year that I missed spraying (I was pregnant and ill as well) and that seems to have let in the chance for bugs and disease in my garden.

    I don't let my dwarf trees have branches that low, so I know low branches aren't a problem.

    Making sure any fruit that falls is picked up and not left to rot is also helpful to keeping away bugs.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 02, 2018

    Brandy, do the borers leave their larvae in the soil? If so, you might use food grade diatomaceous earth around the base.
    Just a guess but it might break the cycle.

  • Cindy in the South February 02, 2018

    Brandy: I wanted to let you know that last night I did your lemon pasta recipe with regular spaghetti noodles, plain yogurt instead of sour cream, and bottled lemon juice (these were the ingredients I had on hand), and it was great! I ate it with canned green beans, and I put some of the sauce on the beans and they were delicious! Thank you! As far as groceries, I had a $5 off $25 coupon at Dollar General and bought more pasta, canned evaporated milk, DG cat food, canned sweetened condensed milk, and other items I was low on in my food storage. I also bought cat food. All my neighbors have a terrible rat/mouse problem in their houses but I do not because I feed all the stray neighborhood cats outside my house, and the mice stay away.....lol. Dollar General gave me a coupon for $5 off $25 for tomorrow so I will probably stock up on my dog food for my large dog, who barked the other night at prowler broke into my neighbor's place, but not mine! We have had the coldest winter in 20 years down here, but it is back in the 60's this week so, hopefully, we have turned the corner.

  • Lilli February 03, 2018

    Cindy, we also are in the rural South and the rats and mice are horrible here. I have been feeding a stray cat for four years and she had become quite tame. The rodent problem was eliminated and it wasn't expensive to feed her. Last week, she disappeared. I imagine the neighbor had her trapped and sent to animal control. I explained to him what her purpose was and when the neighborhood was overrun again, he would know why. With spring right around the corner, it won't be long. Their nests reek of urine and they chew through wiring like crazy. Houses get infested and they love car engines. Ight !

  • Cindy in the South February 05, 2018

    True, my part of the deep South has a very bad problem with rats and mice also.

  • Cindy in the South February 02, 2018

    Uhmmm I mentioned cat food twice, but I only bought one bag....lol:p

  • Carissa February 02, 2018

    I must have somehow missed that you are expecting again! Congratulations!

  • Margie from Toronto February 02, 2018

    I love hearing about your wonderful garden - and your warm weather! It is Minus 9C again here and we're back into the deep freeze!
    I have come down with the flu/cold bug that is making the rounds so won't be going out for at least the next few days. I made a quick trip out yesterday to take care of some errands, do some banking, and pick up a few groceries but that will be it until next Tuesday or Wednesday.
    I've budgeted $125 for groceries and a further $25 for non-food items in February. I need paper towels, kleenex and laundry detergent - nothing more and will only buy them on sale.
    I don't have a big appetite at the moment with this cold so it will mainly be soup and yogurt & fruit. When the appetite returns I'm concentrating on using up meat in the freezer and from the pantry. Lent starts on Feb. 14th and I'm giving up meat - but will eat poultry and fish/seafood. I've got a few things in the freezer and cans in the pantry so $25 should cover what I'll need to buy for the last two weeks of February. Fish & Seafood (even frozen) is very expensive here so March will be tricky - it's going to take some major meal planning. Of course there will also be a lot of vegetarian meals to help out!
    I'm also hoping that this will be a bit quieter month when it comes to social commitments - January was a much busier month than I'd anticipated. It will also lower what I spend on transit fares if I stay home a bit more!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 02, 2018

    Oh sorry to hear about the cold/flu. Everyone has it. It is epidemic in Canada and the States.

  • Margie from Toronto February 03, 2018

    Thank you - my ribcage feels as though I've been in a boxing match as they are so sore from coughing. I;m enjoying the rest!

  • Jennifer O February 05, 2018

    Drink 8 oz of pineapple juice every 4 hours for the coughing.

  • Gardenpat February 02, 2018

    We just ordered Zaycon BLSL chicken breast - 99 cents a pound in a 40 pound box (with 4- ten pound bags inside box for easy dividing with friends) - promo code (is only good through today -Friday Feb 2) JOINED99 and here's a link: https://zayconfresh.com/refer/zf182397. Pick up is in mid-March so that gives us time to make room I our freezer!

    I need to find a good price on potatoes so that I can dehydrate them into cubes and make up quart jars of beef and barley stew out of dry ingredientsformypantry shelves. A friend gave me a jar and I put it in the crockpot and it was wonderful!!!

    I am also running low on coconut. Other than that, I'll see what bargains my produce market may have. Last week I got 20 pounds of big tomatoes for $2. We enjoyed eating several and then I canned 2 quarts using my steam canner!i am regularly using my canned tomatoes in so many recipes!! My husband jokes that our empty jars don't have time to get dusty on the shelf before they are refilled and back to work holding more fruits or veggies or meat!! Lol!!

    Lasagna noodles are really the only variety that I am running low on and those are never included in the pasta sales!

  • Melissa V February 02, 2018

    What recipe do you use for the beef and barley stew? My goal is to get more freeze dried meats to make emergency meals out of and am always looking for good recipes!

  • Gardenpat February 02, 2018

    Here is the link to the recipe my friend gave me for the beef and barley stew. You put it in the crockpot along with 8 cups of water and either ground beef or beef chunks and although my friend crossed out the Worcestershire sauce, I added it as the original recipe called for. The handwritten part on the right margin is how to pack it into a quart Mason jar for gift giving!

  • Kathryn February 02, 2018

    It is so nice to see pictures of green grass and trees and flowers. Here in Canada it's -2 F and snowy. Your lemon tree is astounding! I was going to buy some lemons this week but when I saw the price I changed my mind. 95 cents - Each! I guess I'll be using the bottled lemon juice for a bit longer. Still your lovely pictures make me think of what's to come and warm spring days will be here before you know it.

  • Pat February 02, 2018

    That tree is beautiful!
    My grocery shopping plans have changed. I am allowing myself $40 a month for restocking. That will include foods that will last a month or more. If I don't spend it all, it will go to savings. I am going to track my spending for a couple of months for perishables (fresh fruit and salad stuff mostly) to see what that amount should be. There are 2 of us now on a regular basis so we don't need much. We don't drink milk and can't eat salads everyday. My chest and upright freezers are full of meat and veggies for meals and the stuff is going to get used up so I can fill it up again from our garden and great sales.

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