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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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  • Stephanie N. February 02, 2018

    I love your lemon photos. They are such a nice injection of cheer in my winter days.

    We closed out January in our house with a round of colds for all of the adults and the children. For February we will need to restock our supply of Kleenex, cold meds, and chapstick. Most of us are still sick and last night finished off the last of the Kleenex at home.

    I'm having eye muscle surgery in the middle of February and we also have a couple of birthdays so it's important that I plan ahead this month and accurately project our needs as I'll be feeling less than my best for a week or so. I've been craving soups lately and will plan on making an assortment this month and storing left overs in the freezer for easy meals. This includes French onion, tomato basil, and chicken tortilla. All will be served with either grilled cheese sandwiches or homemade french bread. Staple items that need replenishing include peanut butter, all purpose flour, salt, onion powder, and canned tomato paste.

  • Allyson February 02, 2018

    We've been using handkerchiefs in our home for years to alleviate the trash and expense that tissues create. We just throw them in the wash with towels, so they get cleaned regularly. Each family member has their own color, so we don't get confused. While this might not work for everyone, it works well for us and makes for one thing less I have to purchase or think about keeping in stock.

  • Juls Owings February 02, 2018

    It's below freezing as I sit here watching a beautiful sunset... winds are blowing around 20 mph plus we have 2 different winter storms coming through with in the next 5 days.

    I have set Feb food budget for $250 for us (3 adults). It was $420 but I am taking the difference to pay for the items needed for the house. We spend 3 hrs with the contractor today who is willing to help us cut costs but willing to step in and say when we get a bit too cheap (like the wheelchair shower I picked out, he flat out side it wouldn't last a year of daily use or the door that is known for a seal leak that I didn't see in reviews). With the keeping track of what I bought I broke down what I bought by % to see what I was buying.. We also set a budget for the items we still need for the house we are buying to get it done so we can move in by Sept. http://chefowings.blogspot.com/2018/02/jan-grocery-budget-results.html

  • Roberta in So. Cal. February 02, 2018


    How will you use your lemon juice/zest? You have a LOT to go through, even with your large family. I need some more ideas for ways to use up our lemons with our small family. (I make lemonade, lemon-pepper marinade, put lemons in water, etc., and we give a lot of lemons away, but some still end up in the compost pile.)

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    Roberta, the reason I now have six lemon trees, rather than just these two large ones, is so that we can have more juice. I have to make two pitchers of lemonade for everyone to have a glass, and that's 3 cups of lemon juice right there. We'd really like to have lemonade more often. I put a list of lemon recipes on the bottom of the previous post. You can also access them quickly in y recipe index page, under the "Cook" tab. We do go through a lot. We use it on Swiss chard and artichokes in addition to the recipes I listed, plus several of my other recipes call for lemon juice as well (like white bean dip and salad dressings).

  • Roberta in So. Cal. February 03, 2018

    Ha ha! Of course I noticed your lemon recipes on the previous post and in the recipe index right after I posted my question. :p Thanks for taking the time to answer anyway.

    I find it just amazing how much food/drinks large families consume. There were five of us in the family I grew up in, but my brothers are 11 and 13 years older than I am, so for most of my growing up years it was really only three of us. Hubs was an only child. Hubs and I were blessed with only one child (for whom we are extremely grateful!). Our challenges are probably the inverse of yours: we have a hard time consuming all of the produce Hubs grows. (We do share with others, can, dehydrate, freeze, etc.)

    I'm also incredibly amazed by how you are able to feed your growing family such wonderful meals on such a small budget. I learn new things from you and this site nearly every day. Thanks again for hosting this.

  • Libby February 03, 2018

    I've not tried it, but have seen recipes for lemon marmalade.

  • Marybeth February 03, 2018

    We use our smoker in the nice weather and lots of the brines call for lemons. I just made lemon bars last week. Many of our homemade dressings call for it. I use it on fish and chicken. We use it for water, tea and lemonade. I have made a lemon sorbet that my husband loves. I wish I could grow a tree like Brandy's. Aldi had a five pound bag on sale yesterday for $3.49.

  • Lorna February 02, 2018

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) . Brandy I will say you do a marvellous job in supplying your family with fruit and vegetables mostly from your own yard and you should be congratulated on your achievements. I appreciate and know how much work goes into the gardening and preserving of produce as we supply all of our own vegetable, herbs and berries from our own gardens and by preserving each year for the two of us.

    We are still building up our food storage pantry on tinned fruits (we don't grow as we are in a rental), vegetables, tinned meats and tinned long life meats and vegetables to a 12 month level.

    Currently we have been working on at the moment stocking our staples being honey (we did a trade for labour and obtained 2 years worth of honey from an apiarist to help him move and do a final clean on his rental home), flour (8mths), rolled oats (6mths), raw sugar (now 12 months worth), white sugar (6mths) and powdered milk now at a 6 month level.

    Februaries focus for us on food storage will be in addition to maintaining current stock levels -
    - An extra months worth of flour.
    - An additional 2 weeks worth of tinned lychees that we have seen advertised on special for over $1 less per tin than we usually pay.
    - On the maybe list will be if it is in the budget another 3 months worth of rolled oats.

    Apart from the list above it will be just topping up the usual things we have used during the past 6 weeks as we only shop once every 6 weeks.

    We face an additional challenge as we are also whilst increasing our food storage are saving a good deposit to buy our own home. Our aim is to have 12 months worth of all our food and other needed household items before we borrow around 50% from the banks for having our home built.

    Wishing everyone the best to be able to increase your food storage in your homes and hope that you too find some great specials to help you with this.

  • Marybeth February 03, 2018

    The honey trade is amazing. Great job.

  • Lorna February 03, 2018

    Thank you Marybeth for your encouragement :) .

    We are quite chuffed with the deal too which was 30kg of honey. I will say though it was a huge job for both DH and I to help him as he was somewhat of a hoarder so we definitely earned our keep :D . Such a good way to build up food storage and offer service to a friend in need too and trading is good too.

  • Mari at the Jersey Shore February 02, 2018

    Brandy, your lemon trees look stunning. As do the snow peas. I'm so impressed by the variety & quantity of fruit trees, veggies & flowers you grow in the desert. It's 40F here at the Jersey Shore today and my daffodils & Star of Bethlehem are peeking out from the ground - to me the first signs of spring. I would love to grow peas & strawberries but we have Eastern cottontail rabbits & they feast on these & other plants; fences don't stop them. Are you about 7 months along now? I'm sure you're super careful in not over exerting yourself with all the garden work you do (plus everything else you accomplish).

    For February, I've trimmed the grocery budget (which includes paper goods & toiletries) to $250 from $400 (for 2 adults & my weekly cat/dog food & other items they need contributions to our local animal shelter) since I stocked up on staples, canned items, chicken, some beef, herbal teas and coffee in January (my local grocery chain runs mega sales in January & Sept). In February I will only need to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish & bread. The $250 may seem high but we live in a high cost area where vegetables & fruit are expensive year-round. I also mostly buy only organic fruit (especially apples, berries, stone fruits & grapes) & vegetables (especially salad greens) due to so much pesticide used on these. I will also be able to buy any good deals that will come up for fresh salmon & chicken/beef in the next few weeks.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    Mari, I'm not that far along yet. And I work in the garden until I can't anymore :) My third baby was 3 weeks late (all of my children are born between 42 and 44 weeks). I had 500 bulbs to plant in the ground and they had to be pre-chilled in the fridge for 10 weeks because our climate isn't cold enough (this was at my old house). I was glad he was late as it took longer than I expected to get all of those bulbs in the ground. When I stopped being up to working in the garden 2 days before he was born, my husband knew it was close to time :)

    Gardening is my exercise :D

  • Mari at the Jersey Shore February 02, 2018

    Brandy, I have a big smile on my face reading your reply. I can just picture you nine+ months pregnant planting all those bulbs!
    Gardening and walking on the beach are my favorite exercises :) Be well.

  • cathy February 05, 2018

    I'm with you on the gardening. With my youngest, I went into labor on Labor Day, he was born the next day. I spent part of Labor Day buying plants at the nursery, then going home and quickly getting them into the ground. The only thing that slowed me down was not being able to bend over very far!

  • Krissy in Sacramento February 02, 2018

    Brandy, I don't recall you having mentioned you had nut trees before. What kind? We have a very, very mature pecan tree in our yard (branches are probably 20 feet off the ground) so we get very few nuts as they aren't possible us to pick. The squirrels love our yard though! :)

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    I didn't have nut trees before. I now have two self-fertile almond trees that only get 15 feet tall. I also have a male and a female pistachio. My nut trees are new (the pistachios and one almond went in last year; the other almond was purchased last year and I put it in the ground yesterday) so they are not producing yet. I've made a lot of changes to the garden in the last two years as trees have died or been pulled out for not producing, and I decided that we should have some nut trees as a source of protein. I would love to grow hazelnuts as well (another short tree option that gets about 15 feet tall) but I can't find any conclusive evidence on whether or not they will grow in our climate. Some say zone 8, a few say zone 9, but I can only find them online as bareroots, and no one wants to ship until April (when it's 100º here; bareroot plants have to go in by Valentine's Day).

    Pecan and walnut trees get HUGE. My grandpa grew them, but he lived in a zone 6 and had 2 acres for his trees.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 02, 2018

    I too was curious about what nut trees you are growing. I'm thinking of growing hazelnuts. I think (but am not sure) that they would grow where you are. There is a kind that will grow here in a cold climate. It is very tempting!

    I have really overspent on groceries this month. I ordered meat delivered and it cost more than I planned, although 10 cans of beans were included. My friend also bought groceries for me and I paid her back. As mentioned before, I can't be vaccinated against flu (or measles, either) and so I am hibernating and my wonderful friends have stepped up and are picking up the groceries for me. This week, I got 10 pounds of beets for $9.99 which, for here is a great price. My friend and I split the bag. Cheese was on sale so I am putting some in the freezer. Most of the meat will go in the freezer, too and I am hoping that I have at least a month's worth of meat for dinners. The beans were a little expensive but if I use the pasta I bought on sale, then dinner costs 0.25 cents for pasta, $1.25 for beans, or less for broccoli a little more for the tablespoon of olive oil. For lunch, a salad or an apple and for breakfast an orange, oatmeal and sometimes yogourt. I still have plums in the freezer and some sour cherries that I will be eating for variety. I will try to make borscht for the freezer. I want to be well-stocked in case my friends come down with the flu and cannot buy groceries for me for awhile. Now I am well-stocked on apples, oranges, beets, broccoli, beans, (canned), dried beans, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. I may freeze some of the fresh veggies if I can't use them all quickly enough. I should have enough for about a month and a half. I am slowly building up a pantry, too and emergency supplies. I have 10 cans of beans and 30 cans of fruit. I will make a lasagne tomorrow and freeze some of it. I found a hand cranked radio and will have to see if it works. I want to get a Swedish firestick.

    I ordered lingerie from Marks and Spencer from England. I ordered it on Wednesday (two days ago). Shipping was free (and customs and taxes paid) with a minimum order, it was 3 pairs for the price of 2 (panties), and I bought a bra. It was 15% off. (This is probably too much information). I couldn't believe that it went via the States but was still here today (2 days!) and everything fit and was quite nice. Historically the English Marks and Spencer stores sold beautiful lingerie at reasonable prices and it lived up to its reputation today. There are no more M&S stores here as they closed in 1999. It was not a great bargain but it would have cost me as much as the purchase price of the items to take a cab to and from the store to buy them and since I am hibernating (flu and now measles avoidance), it was really good to do it this way.

    Our church had a diaper collection and 1360 diapers were donated and then given to a charity that provides them to low income people. Having read about diapers on this blog, I realize they are really expensive and I am glad you can use specials and coupons.

    I spent some time taking bird photos two days ago. I was about to call it quits when the prettiest little Downy Woodpecker
    came along. My fingers were so cold but I toughed it out a little longer and was rewarded with a couple of lovely photos. I saw a huge bobcat in my neighbour's yard that night. I would really like to get a photo of him but bobcats are mostly nocturnal (although occasionally one sees them in the day). Still, except for the initial outlay, photography when done modestly (one does not need much equipment) is almost free.

  • Margie from Toronto February 03, 2018

    I'm chuckling about your M&S order. Whenever I go to the UK friends always ask me to pick up knickers from M&S for them. Even after the stores closed here in Canada we would get relatives to send them to us here!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 03, 2018

    Hi Margie!

    It was inspired to order from M&S. They are closing several of their U.K. stores so reading that made me go to their online site. I couldn't believe how quickly the order came and it's really lovely. I highly recommend their on-line service. I may order some more. It is good the DHL truck came yesterday as it was a heavy snowstorm today, although DHL once delivered a parcel to me in the very worst weather (to my utter amazement). M&S had very nice part linen dresses on their website. It is highly tempting but more problematic about sizes... Your comment gave me a smile –– bringing knickers back for friends! Ann. I shovelled down to the street where my neighbour who loves his snowblower had cleared my city sidewalk. By the time I turned around to come back up the snow had totally filled in what I had shovelled.

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