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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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  • Becky February 02, 2018

    The end of January ended up being a blur of sick people around here. We were on survival mode, and ended up spending a little bit more than I anticipated. But, thanks to a large, deep pantry, it wasn't very much over, and was well within our usual budget. I had just hoped to be way below budget with a lot left to save, as I am well-stocked. We were able to make the small Costco run that we wanted to do, and thanks to my husband's strick adherence to the list, he stayed within $5 of the budgeted amount, and the extra $5 was for a rotisserie chicken to just eat with no prep work. The truth is...there was never a lack of food, just a lack of manpower and energy to make that food. He is the biggest help I have around here, and when he went down flat for over a week, I just couldn't keep up. (One of the big girls had a very hard time with wisdom teeth removal, and the other one got the awful flu as well--high fever for almost a week, then recovery). That left me and one daughter to cook, clean and care for my autistic nice and special needs nephew all last weekend. I was very thankful for that chicken. I did do a lot of cooking, though, and my daughter tried 2 new recipes this week from storage.

    So, I will buy produce this month, as needed. I will continue emptying out freezers and canning jars and pantry shelves. I can see some spaces emerging in the freezers from my efforts last month, and see some small gaps on the pantry shelves. I have a basket I put empty, washed canning jars in and count it a good week when I fill it more than once. (I then take the empties out to the shop where they live on the shelves and bring in new full ones to use). I did several bean meals last month, and already have some kidney beans soaking for chili for Sunday, as a good start for February. I am sprouting some very old bean sprouts that were on the pantry shelf. I've eaten the first batch, and have another one going. They are so old, many are not sprouting, but I'm still getting a bunch, and just pulled out the good ones for my stir fry and threw out the ones that didn't grow.

    I was able to get 5 dozen eggs from Costco for $4.20, so am stocked up now on those, but we may run out by the end of the month--they are good, cheap protein and we eat a lot of them. Also, most gluten-free baked goods take more eggs than the wheat kind. I keep egg cartons on hand, transfer them out of the big package into the cartons, and store them in the camper fridge, leaving only 2 dozen in the house fridge. I was able to get 2 lbs of butter at $1.99/lb at Safeway, and my husband got the 4 lb pack while he was at Costco, so I'm good on butter for now. I will get sour cream, milk and 1/2 and 1/2 as needed. When it comes on sale, I buy a lot, such as a couple of weeks ago, when I bought 6--1/2 gallons one day, and 3-4 more a few days later, while the sale was still on.

    I was able to get a 4-lb bag of Pamela's gluten-free pancake/baking mix for around $13.50. Being so impacted by wheat that I can't have even one grain of it is expensive, but that is a good price for what I got.

    I was given 8 lbs of oranges today, along with a large, flat loaf of wheat-raisin bread that the rest of the family can eat. The garden has some chard, 2 cabbages, boc choi, and kale still standing. I was given several bags of dry beans from the bulk section, assorted kinds, that the giver was not using. I was also given a bag of creamy rice cereal (like Cream of Wheat, but rice, and from the bulk section) that they were not going to eat. We've had that twice already, and I've started in on the beans, too.

    There is a new store opening near where I work. So, Safeway sent all the people in the area coupons to use, as their effort to get their customers to keep coming there. My aunt gave me hers. So, tomorrow, I will pick up my $5/Tillamook cheese (2 lb), 18 eggs for 99c, and 39c/lb bananas. Then there is a new batch of coupons for next week, the week after, etc. There is also a $10/50 coupon on my phone for Safeway, but I will see if I need that many groceries before I use it.

    The only meat I may have to buy is chicken, and I will only get it if it's a super sale, as I still have some bought on the last great sale. However, we are getting low, so I will keep my eyes open.

    It worked well to not shop every single week, so I'll aim for that again this month--hopefully, I can skip a week at least once.

  • Libby February 03, 2018

    A coupon for $20 off a $100 spend arrived in my email box yesterday. It is only good for three days, so I'm planning out meals for the entire month of February and seeing what is needed. Replenishing citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes) is definitely on the list as well as broccoli and zucchini. There is enough protein in the freezers. I will only use the coupon on items which are on sale or the same price as other grocery stores otherwise the $20 savings is wasted.

    In January I started keeping track of the coupon promotions from my favorite grocery store. It will be interesting to see how often they have these $20 coupons as it is at least a few times a year. If I know when they might be coming, I can do a better job of planning my shopping around them.

    I'm hoping that the warmer weather will turn into a longer spring and not a longer summer for you. The lemon and pea photos are gorgeous APU (as per usual!):)

  • PJGT February 03, 2018

    This month is a good month to fill in pantry gaps...no birthdays or expensive holidays and I'll be staying home more. I want to work on being more frugal with my time as well. Making an exercise plan and sticking with it. When I moved here because I had to and we put in this cabin (under a great deal of financial and emotional distress on my part), I just seemed to have misplaced my umph to consistently use my time well. With success enough, I am looking at where I am.

    Spring is right around the corner and I am excited to put a garden plan into place that will eventually provide food for my family. Thank you, Brandy, for the inspirational photos...even though I'll never grow citrus, there are many fruit and nut trees I can grow!

  • I February 03, 2018

    This month I will just buy what is needed/on sale for groceries. I received a $25 credit at Save on Foods( even though they were not involved in the bread price fixing scheme), have $40 in pts to cash in for free groceries with PC optimum who just combined pts from two stores, and I am waiting for 2, $25 grocery gift cards to arrive by mail for the bread price fixing. That will be plenty to restock my husband and I-my daughter is not coming home from uni for reading week as she has a friend coming to visit( which also saves us the airfare which we had budgeted for). I am flying to Toronto to visit my elderly Mum-got a seat sale of under $200 which is unheard of-that is usually a good price for a one way ticket. My DH is usually pretty good about cleaning out odds and ends from the freezer while I am gone. I have also taken on an extra 6 hrs work per week until the end of June-this money goes into our travel fund as we are both semi-retired and day to day expenses are covered by our pensions and investments.

  • K February 03, 2018

    Our food budget for February is up in the air at the moment- Normally, it would be about $200, but because of some potential dietary changes I may need to make if I end up on a certain medication, it could potentially need to go up to $250 or $300. However, I was able to get a grocery run in on the 31st of January which will cover the first few weeks of February, so we may get away with a smaller budget for February. Though, this means that January's food budget was about $250, instead of the $100-$160 I had planned for.

    In my latest trip, I stocked up on ground beef, and in the mid-January run, I stocked up on chicken breast, so I should be covered for meat options for a long while. I also still have a few whole chickens in the freezer as well as a bit of lunch meat, some Italian sausage, and a bit of bacon, which will allow me to have some variety in our meals for meat options.

    Our pantry is decently well stocked, though I may need to purchase another large bag of both pinto beans and black beans from Sam's club. We'll see if I can make a trip out there- if I do, I'll buy the beans, string cheese, and maybe some mozzarella. That being said, we still have a couple pounds of each, which should last us until March (since there's only two of us in the house), so I may delay going to Sam's until next month.

  • Terri February 03, 2018

    Brandy, how do you freeze your lemon zest? Our last frost date isn't until March 10th, so we have another month before I can plant anything. It's time to start thinking about starting my seeds indoors. We live in a condo with very little outdoor space, so I'm very limited on what I can grow, mostly herbs. I bought herb seeds at the Dollar Tree recently, they were 5 packs for $1.


  • momsav February 03, 2018

    Since my husband is still officially laid off, buying is at a minimum. In the near future, i’ll need to purchase long grain rice, whole oats, black beans, lentils, the cheddar cheese is running down, butter, (always), elbow macaroni if I can find it below 1.00. Looking at this written out, it looks like I need a LOT! The freezers are still pretty full. I did notice yesterday that we’re on the last of our frozen peas, spinach and broccoli. So, that will need to be addressed at some point. We still have quite a bit of canned vegetables.
    Beautiful picture of the lemon trees! We’re buried under several feet of snow with more to come. (yippee...) I wanted to mention that the Dollar Tree has dandruff shampoo that works well for me. I use herbal essence shampoo and add the dandruff shampoo and water to make my own. I haven’t had any problems with their brand. Their sensitive toothpaste works well, too. Sensodyne is close to 5.00 here. Who can afford to spit that in the sink every day? eeschhh....

  • Lilli February 03, 2018

    Oh my what a horrible month it has turned out to be. The light bill came in and was triple. We had snow twice in this billing cycle and although we kept the thermostat down to 65, I am doomed. The worse part about the bill being so high is that we froze all month. I wouldn't mind paying 300.00 if we had been snuggly and warm. I can cover it but we will have nothing left after paying the immediate basic bills and none of these bills are luxury items. If we have any upsets this month, I will have to turn to my father and at my age that is ridiculous. Sugar cookie has a birthday very soon and I have that covered. Meanwhile we were notified that she will continue to receive 60.00 a month on SNAP as she is disabled. I can certainly do wonders with that each month. My tax refund will take care of my 0 bank balance so I am patiently waiting. We have everything we need to get by this rough month. I panic over having so little money as I have never been quite this low.I realize that it is a temporary situation and it will resolve itself in a couple of weeks. I have taken a hard look at our budget and there is nothing we can cut. I will use the tax refund to replenish the emergency fund and pay the taxes on my home due at the end of the year. It is scary but it is all ok.

  • Rhonda A. February 04, 2018

    Lilli, I know that feeling of panic and I'm sorry you are going through this rough patch. First, remember to breath! Whenever you feel that panic coming on, just take a moment, sit quiet and concentrate on just breathing...it does help. You are focusing so hard on the 0 bank budget, that you are forgetting how prepared you are and what you do have.

    One of the things that helped me during my time of financial stress was to find something that made me feel like I was being productive. Bake some frugal muffins to enjoy for breakfast or snacks or soak some beans to have ready for a delicious frugal meal. Research some frugal recipe ideas and find something new to try using pantry ingredients you already have. Clean up a closet or area of the house that needs decluttering. Repair or paint something from supplies you already have in your home, to give it new life. Rearrange the furniture to change and refresh the look of your home a bit. Find some free activities to do in your community. Check out your library..it's free, it gets you out of the house, and you can look at recipe books, craft books, magazines or various reading material and/or see what movies they have. Do a craft project from supplies you already have in the house and/or can up-cycle (e.g. make something new from old bed sheets or clothing, or make some cute garden lanterns from cleaned tin cans and a nail to punch designs in the side, cut old greeting cards into bookmarks and add a handmade tassel) that can be useful to you or can be added to your gift stash. Look up craft ideas on line and learn a new skill using things you have (YouTube is amazing for this as you can watch it, pause it when needed and re-watch it as needed until you learn the skill). If you can find things that make you feel like you are propelling yourself forward despite your lack of $, it will help you feel better about your situation.

  • Yvonne February 04, 2018

    Rhonda A. You have some really good ideas! Thanks for posting them. I want to try a few of these.

  • Tammy February 05, 2018

    What good ideas!

  • Ellie's friend from Canada February 04, 2018

    Lilli, If you really need to, you could call your utilities company and ask them if you could split the bill between this month and next month. They are usually glad to make an arrangement. It sounds though as if you'll just manage without it and I agree with Rhonda A.'s comments. Don't concentrate on how little you have but on finding things to keep you busy. Soon enough the problem will be over. I am dreading my utilities bill because we are now having extremely cold temperatures again and the furnace is running constantly. Spring isn't that far away, although it certainly feels like it here today. Bon courage! Ann

  • Allyson February 05, 2018

    Thoughts and prayers are with you! I understand how tough that can be. Our power bill was also really high this past month. We try to get through by sharing meals with family and friends, and using the food pantry when needed. We also try to research frugal living ideas, like Rhonda said. Simple things like keeping the curtains closed and using every part of food (save carrot peels for stock, reuse tea bags twice, etc. ) really does help in the long run.

    Our power company is also very willing to work with customers and called ahead to notify customers that the bills would be higher than usual due to the cold. I know they offered payment plans. I wonder if yours might do something similar if you called?

  • PennyP February 03, 2018

    Hi Brandy
    Last night I watched an interesting programme on television called Nigel Slater in the Middle East - Nigel Slater is a British chef. He was in the mountainous region of the Lebanon learning about the local cuisine and the women he spoke to said if they didn't preserve summers bounty they would starve in the winter when they are snowed in for months with impassable roads. It reminded me of your gardening, preserving and feeding the family from long term stored goods. I know many of your readers keep very well stocked larders too.These women preserved many different fruits in syrups and made jam including a rose petal jam, they dried and ground up herbs to make many different herb/ spice flavourings - Nigel Slater said a type of oregano was a staple of their cuisine and they kept big sacks of dried goods such as dried chickpeas, bulgar wheat etc. Many rural families keep a house cow and use the milk for yoghurt and labneh a type of cheese similar to ricotta. One of the women showed three huge glass containers of tomato puree she makes for which she needs 50 kilos of tomatoes.
    It was fascinating to see the storage and cuisine without supermarkets to restock from. I don't know if you can access British TV but for those of us interested in gardening, cooking and preserving it was really interesting. Sorry this is a bit of a ramble!

  • Sara February 03, 2018

    Pray tell, how large is your backyard?
    You are an inspiration and I’m grateful for your sharing of your passion for living a frugal life. It motivates me to do better

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 03, 2018

    Sara, our entire lot is .24 acres. We have a 1-story house, the front is mostly driveway and then the white garden that I have shared pictures of. A third of the area behind the house is a patio; there is very little side yard on each side. I believe our backyard is 75 feet across.

  • Marybeth February 03, 2018

    I am so jealous of your lemon trees. They are beautiful. Your peas look wonderful. I usually plant my in March. Can't wait!
    We did a pantry challenge for January($100) and I came in under with the help of a gift card I received. I am out of chicken and ground beef. Still have plenty of ham and turkey. I went shopping yesterday for mostly dairy and fresh fruit/veggies as we were pretty much out. I also had to go to Whole Foods to get a few dairy free items that my husband can eat. I spent a good amount there but they last a while as he is the only one that eats these items. Our budget is $400 for the month so I will be able to stock up on what I need.

  • Elizabeth M. February 04, 2018

    I'll be looking for rolled oats, dishwashing liquid (the eco version is on sale this week), baking powder, and brown sugar. Rice and pasta, if they can be found at the right price. I need fruit, either fresh or frozen, since the berries I froze last summer are almost all gone now.

    I'll buy some pork if the prices are good this month.

    I also need dish towels and new winter mittens! I'm still a six-year-old when it comes to keeping track of two mittens.

  • Lynn from NC Outer Banks February 07, 2018

    LOL Elizabeth! I'm the same way with gloves!

  • Tammy February 05, 2018

    I really enjoy your gardening pictures. I am looking forward to gardening in the spring. I would like to plant some fruit trees also.
    Purchases this month will definitely include fresh fruits and vegetables as frugally as I can buy them. I will probably shop at Aldi. We are running low on everything as I have been sick this month and have not done much shopping. I am feeling better now. I always comparison shop online. I have a Sam's club card now and will take a look there.
    I am going to be on the lookout for meat and poultry sales. We have used just about everything in our freezer.
    We will have to buy things to build our house. So I am being frugal so we have money to do that. I hope to be in our little farmhouse in a month or two. Glad we didn't have to move in when it wasn't done.

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