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July Shopping Plans, Meal Plans, and Garden Harvest

Pavlova For the Fourth The Prudent Homemaker 

My budget for food and toiletries for our family of 10 for this month is $200.

July is one of our highest utility months, as we are using more water in the garden and using the air conditioners (our house has 2 units, plus a window unit in our pantry) and ceiling fans all the time, as our highs between 105 and 118ºF. Normally summer bills are matched by an increase in income (and lower utilities in the winter for us are matched with a lower income, as fewer people move during the winter), but not this year. Consequently, I'm lowering the budget this month. I am also considering keeping it at the same amount in future months, as we will have a new regular expense starting in August.

With an irregular income, I pay my bills in this order: mortgage, then utilities and other bills (like insurance; we have no consumer debt), then food, and lastly anything else (clothing, schoolbooks, etc.). If our income doesn't cover everything, then we can eat from the pantry, freezers, and garden. 

The grapes and peaches are ready in the garden. I'll be picking 3 kinds of grapes (Red Flame, Thompson's seedless and a non-named seeded grape) as well as Early Elberta peaches. We're also still picking apples from our Dorsett Golden tree.

Red and Yellow Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

There should be a few tomatoes ripe. Usually, once it heats up they stop flowering and don't flower again until mid-October, but for some reason, there are flowers on several of my plants right now. We love tomatoes, so I'm very grateful! We've been picking about two colanders full a week for the last 3 weeks.

I have some Swiss chard ready in the garden, as well as several herbs, including basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

I am hoping for some zucchini--but will have to see if they flower much, due to the heat. One of my plants looks promising with plenty of female blooms ready to open in the next month, but there are no male flowers, so it may go unpollinated. Another plant has no flowers whatsoever. I had several other plants die, so I replanted and am currently waiting for them to get larger. Usually, they won't set flowers during the summer, though mid-July, should the monsoon season come upon us with a few overcast days and one day with a few hours of rain, the temperatures may drop enough for flowers. (Last year this mid-July rain never happened and the temperatures kept rising--and my garden burned worse than normal).

I'm hoping, too, to see some pollination on my Armenian cucumbers, which I haven't seen yet. I've not seen any female flowers yet. I have several more seedlings that are up but still small; hopefully, they will grow large enough to flower and produce in October when the temperatures drop (like the zucchini and tomatoes)  and if they decided to produce before that I will be delighted. I'm really hoping for some cucumbers now, but so far I haven't seen any. I've realized that in this heat about all I want to eat are cucumbers and tomatoes every day. With this in mind, I planted several more seeds for Armenian cucumbers during the month of June. It will be a few months before I see anything from those, but hopefully, we'll have enough to eat every day and also use to can pickles and relish.

I have a bit of lettuce in the garden still, surprisingly. It is bolted lettuce (it's gone to seed) and usually turns bitter, but in a sandwich, it is just fine. I also have a bit of arugula; mine bolted and self-seeded, and I'll be able to harvest it this month.

Ice cream is at the top of everyone's wish for just about every meal, but isn't exactly practical! Nevertheless, I will be looking for sales on the large gallon store-brand containers of ice cream at Smith's and Albertson's. At the lowest price, I can buy a full gallon for $3.99 on sale at Smith's (and Albertson's has in that size container, with sale prices at $4.49 a gallon; they carry mint chocolate chip in that size and Smith's does not; we usually buy fudge swirl and cookies & cream on sale at Smith's). 

I started having a date night at home with each child last month that included ice cream and three games of Sequence after their siblings were in bed. I haven't had a date with all of the children yet, so I'll make sure to get ice cream to continue that this month.

I'll look for sales on pasta. We've been eating ours down in an effort to rotate through all of it. I'm down to only angel hair pasta in the pantry. I'd ideally like to purchase fettucini, rotini, macaroni, and shells on sale. In the past, Smith's has had a $0.49 pasta sale on American Beauty pasta in the past (some areas of the country get the same sale on Ronzoni), but they have been slowly getting rid of that brand on the shelf and now mostly carry it only in a few shapes at the nearby stores (shells and rotini are no longer ones they carry for this brand). This means I'll have to pay more; I've seen sales for other brands (like Barilla) in these shapes at the lowest prices of $0.69 and $0.75 a pound. If I don't find a good sale on this, I'll wait. If I do, pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing and fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden is sure to be on the list. I can add green onions, New Zealand Spinach, basil, and tomatoes from the garden right now, and if I get cucumbers, I'll add those too. There is a coupon on right now for $1.00 off two bags of American Beauty pasta. I printed two this week (the limit) and then the coupons reset and I printed two more. If the sale comes, I should be able to get 8 bags of pasta for free.

I'll cook some chicken (more of the legs I bought on sale for $0.44 a pound a few months back) and cook a turkey from the freezer to use in several meals, including some turkey salad (with grapes and apples from the garden), some enchiladas, in sandwiches, and to serve over rice with a lemon dill sauce.

July Fruit Salad The Prudent Homemaker

My meals will be simple this month.

I'll make Greek yogurt in the crockpot and granola for breakfasts (and we'll add homemade jam and/or fresh fruit and leave out the cranberries).  I'll make smoothies, eggs, and toast. Eggs have been wonderfully low-priced and I stocked up last month.

Lunches will be pasta salads, turkey salad, green salads (with tomatoes from the garden and sometimes hard-boiled eggs), sandwiches, quesadillas, tomato cheddar cracker sandwiches, and leftovers.

I'll make lots of smoothies and popsicles using frozen fruit and peaches from the garden for snacks.  We'll also enjoy fresh fruit from the garden and make a few batches of popcorn. 

Dinners will include at least bean burritos (I bought tortillas last month), barbecue chicken, beans and rice with tomatoes, homemade pizza, turkey enchiladas, lemon dill turkey, and some more ideas from my summer menu.

Desserts will be ice cream, tarts, fruit crumble, and individual pavlovas.


Here are the items that are for certain on my list this month:



Potatoes ($0.25 a pound )


La Victoria Salsa (I have coupons)

La Victoria green enchilada sauce (I have coupons)



Ice Cream (mint chocolate chip at $4.99)

Frozen Petite Peas (16-ounce bags are on sale for $1 each through Tuesday)

Corn on the Cob (on sale for 8 for $1, limit 8, through Tuesday)

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)


Smith's :

Ice Cream (on sale through Tuesday for $3.99)

Blueberries (on sale through Tuesday for the unbelievably low price of $0.88 for a 6-ounce container--that's crazy low-priced for here. NO LIMIT. )

Whipping cream

Lettuce (Red leaf on sale for $0.99 a head)



Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)



Sweet cherries (on sale for $1.47 a pound. This price is so low my jaw dropped when I saw the ad. Sale through Tuesday. Normal sales prices are $2.99 (lowest) or more usually $3.99 a pound. For this price, I am buying cherries!)



Salon Graphix Unscented Extra Super Hold hairspray

Playtex Sport Tampons (there are $1.50 off coupons on right now and like the pasta, I printed 2 before and 2 after the month changed over, so I can buy 4 boxes for my eldest. This should last her quite some time as she normally uses these washable pads normally but wants to have something for when she is swimming).


Sam's Club:

Toilet paper


Mozzarella cheese

Cheddar cheese


I let my Sam's Club card expire last month. Rather than renewing it right away, I always try to put off renewing it by several weeks. The new membership starts from the time I pay, so this buys me a few weeks each year.  I'll wait until a bit later in the month to renew my card.


What are you planning on purchasing this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden?


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  • Cindy in the South July 05, 2017

    I have mostly canned goods and dried beans. I do keep a lot of rice, in plastic containers, and some pasta, but not a lot. I usually only keep one bag of corn meal and one bag of flour. I also do not keep much frozen food. I have lost food because of power outages before. I only use the little freezer on top of my refrigerator, and use it mostly for frozen figs and mulberries, both of which are free from my yard or my late mother's yard. I do store a little bit of chicken, or meat, but not much. Canned fruit, canned vegetables, and canned meat, such as chicken or tuna, comprise the bulk of my food storage.

  • Allyson F July 05, 2017

    Cindy, I too am in the south (New Orleans) and don't keep a lot of frozen foods, especially during the summer and hurricane season. We lost a lot of shrimp and meats from Katrina so now we eat up a lot of our freezer contents before hurricane season starts each year.

  • Cindy in the SOuth July 06, 2017

    I lost food from tornadoes in Alabama. Katrina was terrible. My daughter started going to LSU the year after Katrina, and I remember the tarps on the houses all the way up to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is about 70 miles from the was unreal. She was also in Baton Rouge when it flooded from one of the later hurricanes and/or tropical storms. She ended up leaving the dorms and staying at a professor's house! I also keep cans of beans because I am not sure how much water I would have available to soak dried beans to eat. I do have a solar cooker because of the tornado issue. I keep two weeks worth (a gallon a day) for just me. I also keep a little food fifty miles away from me because if a tornado hit my house, it would be all gone.

  • Darcy July 04, 2017

    Brandy, your pictures look delicious :) So beautiful, in fact, that I showed them to my husband. He finds it amazing what you grow where you live (we are in Indiana), and he has become so inspired to grow more in our small patch of yard. Right now we have green tomatoes on our plants. A co-worker planted his tomato plants 2 weeks before we did and is harvesting his so we are hoping in another couple of weeks to be eating some delicious tomato and mayo sandwiches! Our lettuce is still growing, as is our basil, stevia plant, cilantro, and mint. Oh, and the green beans are coming right along too. I also planted some flower seeds last week. We will see if they come up.

    I don't have definite plans on what we will be buying this month other than to only buy what we NEED and any fresh produce or meat on sale at really, really great prices. I am buying less and less these days because I have been grocery shopping by this method. Eggs have been at such great prices and so has milk.

    I'll be making yogurt, smoothies, eggs, and muffins for breakfasts.

    We will also have salads, green and pasta, for our lunches, and wraps,as well as any leftovers lurking in the fridge.

    For dinners, we will have tacos, chicken on the grill, spaghetti, beans and rice with salad on top, and eggs.

    I usually make a large batch of either brown or white rice for the week. Whatever doesn't get eaten goes into the freezer. I will be soaking and cooking batches of different kinds of beans, too.

  • I am glad he is wanting to grow more! I am always learning how to make more use of my space and happy when I can figure out how to squeeze something else in the garden!

  • Holly July 04, 2017

    I always freeze our flour for several days now before putting it in the cupboard. We haven't had a problem with the pantry moths lately. But when we did, these were wonderful to reduce the number of pests:

  • Lorne July 04, 2017

    Hi Brandy,
    I am interested to know what you know to be New Zealand spinach. Yes, I am from New Zealand

  • The technical name is tetragonia. Here is a link to the seeds I have: It grows on long stems like a vine and then you just take the leaves off the vine. In the U.S. it is called New Zealand Spinach.

    Another fun one is Swiss chard, which the rest of the English-speaking world calls silverbeet. I never heard of it when I lived in Switzerland :D and didn't eat it until I moved to Nevada. Swiss chard is the U.S. term for silverbeet.

    We also call aubergines eggplant in the U.S.

    I would love to find out what you call tetragonia there!

  • Jenny July 05, 2017

    I didn't know swiss chard was silverbeet. I thought it was some fancy american plant.

  • Nothing fancy about it!

    Years ago I was telling a friend of mine from Hull, England, that I didn't care for eggplant. She asked, "What's eggplant?" I used the French word aubergine, and she said, well, we just call it aubergine!

    Learn something new every day :D

  • Jenny July 07, 2017

    Thanks for the comment. ;) I'm going to start checking the plant names I don't know.

  • Jenny July 05, 2017

    Just looked Tetragonia up we call it warrigal greens in Australia. I have it on my list to plant because its a perennial vegetable.

  • It took me a few times to sprout. It has a HUGE seed but unlike other seeds is not planted the same depth in relation to its size. It is actually planted rather shallowly. I love that it will grow in shady areas.

  • Anne Chronican July 05, 2017

    Hi Brandy

    I'm a long time reader, first time poster from New Zealand. I have been fascinated by your references to nz spinach as well but have found this link . It's not something I have ever come across as when I buy spinach at the supermarket it is just plain old spinach !

    Love your blog and am inspired by your taste and style. But we are not that frugal although we are trying !


  • Florrie July 05, 2017

    I grow New Zealand spinach. Actually, it reseeds itself every spring. I clear the area where the main stem begins, and I water only that part as opposed to the whole big clump. When lacking water, the leaves begin to curl and then not taste as good. My crop seems to thrive in a semi shady area. The seeds are the size of capers. This spinach was a huge source of greens in my family's diet while growing up.

    I enjoy New Zealand spinach steamed, soaked in cold water a few days, and then eaten with Brandy''s orange viinaiigrette dressing. I also love this spinach in a soup made with chicken broth, a few pork pieces, salt, black pepper and scrambled eggs dropped in at the end. I have eaten this soup cold on hot days.

  • Marybeth July 04, 2017

    I don't need much this month except milk, eggs, fruit and juice. Trying to eat out of the freezer to make room for everything that will be coming from the garden. I will stock up on good sales of course. I had $100 extra at the end of June so I bought a lot of toilet paper and some other items that were great prices. I even had money left over.

  • Mary July 04, 2017

    Since we just moved to a new home, we do not have a garden yet. We have a raised area bed where we will garden.
    Money will be tight with our daughter going away for college. We are working on getting all of her supplies. We also have a bunch of medical appts to take care of in July. Both dogs need to go to vet.
    My list of things to buy will probably be from Sam's Club - coffee, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and dust mop.
    I have a bunch of gift cards that I will check amounts and use on little things we need.
    Also, my husband and daughter are flying to Ohio to help my father in law with packing his house and deciding what we be moved here in a few weeks.
    I just earned at $25 Lowes card thru Swagbucks that we will use on drawer handles and knobs (we have MANY drawers and cabinets .... right now we only have 1 handle and 1 knob so working on more gift cards.

  • I am SO glad you mentioned using Swagbucks for Lowe's cards. I have seen that option but I had forgotten it was there. There are some things I have been wanting from Lowe's and that would be a great way for me to pay for them.

  • Mary July 04, 2017

    I was planning to get a Bed, Bath and Beyond card to use for my daughters school supplies, but I didn't see it offered, so I thought Lowes is good since we are needing things for our house.

  • Marie July 05, 2017

    Brandy, I just started using Swagbucks, ibotta, and ebates. I'm slowly getting the gist, but it seems like it will take a looong time to earn a 25.00 gift card on swagbucks. I doubt that you have all day to take surveys, so how do you get the most swagbucks? I did switch to the SW toolbar even though I don't care for it and I take the daily poll and play videos in the background if I"m on my computer....but you seem to earn a lot of them and I'm wondering what your technique for maximizing them is.

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