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January's Shopping Plans and Meal Plans

Meyer Lemons On Tree The Prudent Homemaker

For January, my grocery shopping budget is $0. We'll be eating from what we have on hand.

There are lots of reasons for choosing to eat from what you have on hand for the month. January is a great month to do it: You can rotate through food you've put aside all year (break out the home-canned summer goodness!), eat the meat you've bought on sale, and enjoy warm soups from the pantry with homemade bread (and for my southern hemisphere readers, it can be a great month to enjoy the bounties of your summer garden!)

For those who have seasonal work,  January can be a low-income month. 

For many, it's a high utility month, driven by the cost of keeping one's house warm during the winter.

Winter weather may have you wishing to stay home more and make fewer trips out in the snow and ice.

You may want to start a garden this year, and cutting the food budget in January can be a place to find the money for seeds and plants.

Eating from the pantry may give you a chance to start or work to replenish an emergency fund.

If you're having a tighter than usual month financially, consider making  January an eat from the pantry month.


In my garden, I have a few fresh additions to the pantry, fridge, and freezer's offerings. I have a bevy of lemons hanging from the trees.

Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I have giant Swiss chard.

I have a few herbs that will make it through our short winter, including rosemary and parsley. Many herbs die back to the ground during winter and return in spring, including chives, oregano, and tarragon (tarragon only comes back if it is cloched all winter). 

I have seedlings coming up of snow peas, lettuce, and radishes. I should have radishes and lettuce ready to harvest by the end of the month.


Some of our meals this month will be:





Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Crepes with lemon juice and powdered sugar/homemade strawberry jam

Whole wheat waffles

Citrus fruit salad

Fruit smoothies with canned and frozen fruit from the garden

Homemade yogurt, granola, and frozen fruit with honey and/or home-canned jam

Cubed potatoes with onions

Eggs with toast 


Swiss chard soup The Prudent Homemaker



Swiss chard soup

Tomato Basil Soup

Rosemary White Bean Soup

Pasta e Fagioli

Taco Soup

Alphabet soup

Minestrone soup

Butternut squash soup

Black beans and rice with salad from the garden (lettuce, radishes, and the indoor-ripening tomatoes I picked in December from the garden)

White Bean Fettucini Alfredo sauce over pasta with garlic green beans


I'll make Rosemary Olive Oil bread and French bread to go with our soups.


Afternoon Snacks:



French bread and/or biscuits with strawberry jam, fig jam, apple butter and apricot vanilla jam

Hot chocolate

Fruit Crumble

White bean dip with homemade pitas


Oatmeal cookies

Fruit Salad with home canned fruit

Banana bread




Black bean burgers with steak fries (we have a good number of potatoes in the pantry) and corn and tomato salad

Pork loin roast with fig sauce, mashed potatoes, applesauce, and Swiss chard

Tuscan Tomato bread soup with salad from the garden

Herb roasted chicken with Swiss chard and lemon parmesan pasta

Fish (that we were gifted last year) with roasted rosemary potatoes and Swiss chard

Chili with cornbread

Spaghetti with garlic green beans

Barbecue chicken with corn, baked potatoes,  and lemonade

Lemon chicken with garlic chicken rice, beets, petite peas, and lemonade


What are your meal plans for this month? Are you planing to stock up on any great sales this month, or will you be eating from what you have on hand?





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Tagged in: Grocery Shopping


  • Ann Lee S January 03, 2017

    thanks for all your interest in high cost of pet food, I am in Canada so Chewys won't work for me, I have an appt. with vet soon for check up and will discuss the making of home food for cats. good ideas all, I appreciate it. Today made delicious red beans and rice in attempt to use up canned goods .... ann lee s Vancouver island, bc Canada

  • Melissa V January 03, 2017

    We tried to use the dry food the "Pet Pantry" here had available since hubby is unable to work right now (mostly what I call "playdough food" cause of the colorings) - I had projectile vomiting that was one of the worst things (besides the dogs vomit when we tried to change them as well) I have ever had to clean up - I don't normally have a problem but I was dry heaving and hubby had to go to another area of the house. It took forever to get rid of the smell!! So, we have cut in other areas - turned the house down 1 more degree, didn't put a heat lamp (even on a timer) in the chicken coop, cut down on dog treats and turned to a cheaper canned food (I will not buy any cat food that contains fish!) which they can tolerate. I also only feed them the canned every other day now and they have free choice of their high end dry foods. I figure it is cheaper than the vet bills that would eventually take place if I continued trying to feed them the crap food! OH, we are feeding 5 cats and 3 dogs (2 are Danes)
    I'm not sure where you are located but often has the high end foods in larger amounts or cases which makes it cheaper per pound or can and at $49, shipping becomes free (which for us is just one bag of dog food which lasts about 10 days)

  • Marybeth January 04, 2017

    I make our dog homemade food but also buy a bag about every 3 months. She gets a little of the store bought and mostly homemade. I have been doing it for the last 4 years. She was overweight when we started. The vet said she is very healthy and a great weight. When I dog sit for my sister she always has trouble the day after she gets home. Her dog loves our food and she buys very expensive dog food that he doesn't care about. I make big batches and put it in the freezer.

  • Melissa V January 04, 2017

    I cannot imagine trying to balance out the needs of our three dogs and it being cheaper than the high end food they are on. We are feeding a 15 month old 130# (still growing) Dane, a 2.5 year old 100# Dane and a 11.5 year old beagle (who is not keeping weight on as well as she used to). We go thru approx 13-14 cups of food PER DAY. I cannot afford much meat for ourselves, I don't think there is anyway we could afford what they would need. If we'd known we were going to be dealing with a cancer diagnosis leading to such a huge loss of income (and so far, no disability coverage in sight), we would not have added a third dog last fall but we did, so we are doing everything we can to keep them fed and vetted and pray (alot) that nothing major comes up since we do not have an emergency fund any longer for them (that went to keeping their flea and heartworm meds paid for) and we do not have any credit cards (not even an emergency one). Re-homing one (which some callous people have suggested) is not an option - they and the cats are what is keeping me sane(ish)!

  • Darcy January 02, 2017

    Although I will have to go to the store for some things, we are trying to not eat so much dairy and filling up more on vegetables, especially greens, fruit, whole grains, and meat. We have a whole turkey in the freezer and a large ham bone for bean soup. I will be making soup every week this month and probably next month, too. It is so warming in the cold weather and very frugal too.

  • Mandy January 02, 2017

    Hello Brandy and readers!
    I, too, have planned a No Spend January. This will be just for myself, my husband will not be participating. We have a pantry and freezers that need to be used up as well. I love your recipes, I have never made one that wasn't delicious!
    Thank you!

  • Laurie in central NC January 07, 2017

    I have to second that, Mandy. Every recipe of Brandy's I've tried has been delicious! I'll add my thanks too!

  • Athanasia January 02, 2017

    I don't plan on doing any no spend thing or pantry challenge. I'm pretty much set with what I need, between the freezer, root cellar and canning cupboard, but I'll buy fresh vegetables and dairy as needed. If I see a sale on something we need I'll buy it.

    I do need to buy phyllo dough as my mother said she wants Greek food again this year for her birthday. I'll also buy two blocks of frozen spinach. I don't freeze a lot of spinach from the garden. I have feta cheese as when the 3.99 blocks were on sale for 3/6.00 I bought 9 of them and put in the freezer. I have plenty of brined grape leaves to make stuffed grape leaves. (We make them vegetarian so I don't need lamb) This party will be my family and one brother's family then my mother will go over to another of my brother's house then another until she has made the rounds. She likes to celebrate all month. She is off to my sister's tomorrow after the cousins Christmas party until she comes back here Sunday.

    I never make a meal plan. I don't feel like I need that, other than when I am planning parties, get togethers etc for large groups. Or a wedding.

  • Meredith January 02, 2017

    Brandy - can you tell me how you make your garlic green beans please? This is one veggie I live any which way, but all three of the guys in my home struggle to enjoy. Thanks!

  • Andrea Q January 03, 2017

    Yes, please share your recipe! They sound delicious!

  • TerriC January 03, 2017

    For the first week of January, my challenge is to feed two for$ 20. It's not something I HAVE to do but something I am doing to practice my deeper frugal skills. I don't have a garden and the budget will not allow for fruits or vegetables but if it works to plan it IS do-able, obviously meant to be a short term thing. I figure the savings of this one week will make the budget stronger and allow for some replenishing of the pantry in areas where it is low.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher January 03, 2017

    It sounds like you're doing the best with what you have on hand. That menu sounds amazing. :)

    We've found ourselves with a surplus of food, especially in our deep freezer, so we're trying to eat more from our pantry to save our money. That's especially important since we're participating in the Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal Month Challenge!

  • Elizabeth M. January 03, 2017

    What a great challenge, Brandy. I love your post where you are thinking about all of us and what it could mean to cut the January food spending.

    With the sales over the last few weeks, I've got plenty of chicken, fish sticks and soup on hand. I was able to buy these from my normal food budget for November and December because the prices were so good. I also have a grocery gift card. I'm going to keep to half my normal food budget for January and February. This covers cleaning products and cat food, as well as people food.

    I'll supplement what I have with lentils and rice topped with vegetables and some kind of shepherd's pie if I can find ground meat at a decent price.

    I'll set the money aside and put it towards saving for my property tax, which is due in August.

    I also plan to do a price list for key groceries and cleaning products. Prices are really changing in January, so I want to see what different things cost at the grocery stores in my village and in the next town over.

  • Anne January 03, 2017

    The menus plan shared by Brandy has challenged me! I think we will adjust our budget to a much smaller number for the month. Frankly, for two people, we have plenty of stockpile and freezer goods to enjoy.

    Love the comments, I am both educated and inspired by reading thru the posts! Looking forward to an amazing New Year!

  • Marcia January 03, 2017

    In our part of the country, it always seems to me that the best sales and coupons run from September, when school starts, until the end of the year. There certainly were few sales in this week's paper, but I don't care because my freezer is nearly full and my cupboards are over-flowing. I may take advantage of one or two specials, but only because they are good deals, not because I need them especially. I do stop at the store weekly because we use milk at the rate of a gallon and a half a week for two adults. It's right near my gym anyhow.

    Tonight will be night #3 on Saturday's whole roasted chicken--and I'm afraid there will also be a night #4. The chicken was nearly 5 lbs and there are only 2 of us. Saturday was roast chicken with mashed potatoes, etc, Sunday was chicken and biscuits with gravy and green beans, yesterday we had Mexican, and tonight it's chicken soup with either bread and butter or cornbread--which ever husband favors for the meal. We have both. There are still slices of breast meat left and there may be more than enough soup for one night also. It's is a very dreary, rainy day so soup is perfect!

    I don't pre-plan meals on a regular basis because I have a pantry that is well supplied and the freezer full so there is lots of variety on hand. I do want to try your tomato-bread soup but we have actually had quite a bit of soup already in the past month. I have also been cooking for 60 years (married nearly 55 now) so I can pretty much come up with ideas quickly enough. And I have some "stand-by" menus for when we don't feel like cooking or just want to eat something quick--breakfast sausage and pancakes or waffles are a winter treat and take little effort. We have cold cereal 6 mornings a week, so breakfast for dinner is quite acceptable around here. And right now we have Christmas cookies and chocolate in abundance, so dessert is only a problem in that we're eating too many of them.

    I made about 3.5-4 quarts of broth from the carcass yesterday, so we will have soup for dinner AND enough broth to freeze for another night as well. Low on chicken broth but have lots of turkey broth on hand. I use interchangeably most of the time.

  • Pat January 03, 2017

    I am also doing the pantry challenge over at Good Cheap Eats! I like the accountability and to see what everyone else is doing. You can get some wonderful ideas and encouragement. It's just like the regular frugal posts here!!
    I am hoping to only spend $100 this month on dairy, bread and fruit. I am also going to need catfood and litter but have some returns for Walmart that should cover that expense
    Other than regular monthly expenses I do not plan to spend any more money this month!.

  • Wyoming Gal January 03, 2017

    I am planning a year with no clothing, make up or jewelry purchases for me. We want to pay off our mortgage this year before retirement, so we are putting extra effort into that. (The truth is I never spend more than $400 or $500 a year on all of those items, and often quite a bit less than that, but it is something of a symbolic challenge.)

    To prepare I looked to see what I need to have going into the year. My employer gave each employee a $50 bill at Christmas. (We work for a non-profit so I know this is a modest gift, but I appreciate it.) I used my $50 to buy make up, a new handbag (with a coupon and mark down from $60), a set of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, body wash, soap and scrubbie, 2 lipsticks and a compact mirror and 2 small tubes of lip stain/gloss. (I still have $7 left to spend.) Santa gave me mascara and face lotion. I also received cologne and more body lotion as a Christmas gift from a family member. So I am pretty prepared, I think, to spend little and move the money to the mortgage pay off. I counted more than 60 pairs of earrings in my jewelry armoire and more than 60 sweaters in my closet so it will be good for me to wear some items out.

    As far as food, I am eating lots of soup. We are having a record cold and snowy winter. Worst since 1949 (according to the historians)!

  • Melissa V January 03, 2017

    We will be eating down the freezer and then replenishing with things I can eat once I get it figured out. I am doing an elimination part of the FODMAP diet to find my IBS triggers. I already know anything containing gluten is out so I need to learn how to bake again because the gluten free stuff in the store is terribly expensive and most is very nasty tasting to my wheat loving taste buds!
    I know we need to stock up on canned Garbanzo/Chickpeas and lentils as these are okay on the diet but then I need to modify my bean recipes to work with these 2 ingredients.
    I have to find a reasonable source for garlic and onion infused oils to replace the onion and garlic in recipes - this is also going to be rather difficult to get used to since garlic and onion seems to be the base for almost all our home-cooked meals!
    Otherwise, we really don't need much besides fresh veggies and cheese - we are very, very low on cheese (well for us we are anyways) and the milk hubby drinks alot of. Since our daughter moved out, I have noticed the milk is lasting alot longer as is the cold cereal she seemed to think was a food group ;)
    Basically, January is going to be my re-learning how to cook and bake month!

  • cathy January 03, 2017

    RE gluten-free baking, here are a few great resources: The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal, Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg & Francois, and the blog of Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef by Shauna James Ahern. Once you find a GF flour blend you like, you can pretty much sub it one-for-one with AP flour. The difficult thing is making up for the lack of gluten. Most GF recipes still call for gums like xanthan gum to help stick stuff together. We don't like the gums (for various reasons) and stopped using them as did Gluten-Free Girl. Generally speaking, recipes will call for ~1 tsp xanthan per 2 cups of flour. We use 1 Tablespoon potato FLOUR (not starch) per 2 cups of flour and it works well. If you can use eggs, you're set because they add stickiness AND help things rise. I have a kid with anaphylactic allergies to several grains including wheat, barley & rye and I've been refining my baking for almost 15 years. Once you get the hang of it, it's just as easy as "regular" baking.

  • Melissa V January 05, 2017

    Gluten-Free Girl is out of business according to their site. Do you have any idea of what her bread flour ingredients were? I can't seem to find it anywhere on the site since alot of it is shut down. I would love to get away from using the gums!

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