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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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  • Kim M July 05, 2017

    I have the sbtv and swagbucks apps on my cellphone and all the ipads. When I'm using wifi, I "watch it" and get points...(actually click on the button, turn volume down and let it run). When my total is finished I switch to perktv.

  • Lilllanna Pickles July 05, 2017

    It's summer time and the kids are bored. I spent 11.00 and did three different trials of gamefly, Hulu and a game app. I will cancel the subscribtions at the end of the trial period. That 11.00 spent earned me 80.00 for giftcards. I call that creative financing. I am very careful to write my deals down and to cancel them on time. I have used Starbucks for about ten years and have never had an issue using my bank cards on line with them.

  • Cindi July 04, 2017

    Thank you for the heads up about the American Beauty Pasta coupon. I just bought some on sale, but will go back and get some more with the coupons. Also, I have saved your recipe for Pavlovas. This morning I made a chocolate pie and saved the egg whites -- these will be a great way to put them to good use, and I have lots of frozen berries.

    As for what we will buy this month, local corn (Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn) should be coming in soon. City Market (Kroger affiliate) has a big sale the first week the corn is ripe. Last year was 6 ears for a dollar. The sale only runs one week, so I stock up. Twenty-four ears will take us through just about to corn season next year. (I used the last of the corn I froze last year this week). Peaches will be ripe soon, and we try to purchase a box to can. Our late snows hurt the local fruit crop. The roadside trees where I have harvested free apples and apricots have no fruit at all this year, so I don't know what that will mean in terms of the availability and price of fruit from local orchards.

    Our tomatoes should begin ripening in earnest in a week or two, and my green beans are doing well -- I hope I get enough to can some. Our raspberries are just beginning to blossom. Last year we got no berries, so I am really hoping for a good crop this year. Like you, I have only female blossoms on my zucchini -- I hope they will start producing zucchini soon. I will harvest garlic by the end of the month -- I have a big crop this year.

  • JENNIFER Brown July 08, 2017

    I've read several times that planting lemon balm is a great encouragement to the bees which would result in the pollination of your various squash plants. If you've tried everything else, this might help.

  • Jennifer, Even if you have bees, you have to have both male and female blossoms, and they must be open at the same time. The female blossoms will produce fruit but only if pollinated by male blossoms. Only male blossoms have pollen. So if the plants are only producing one or the other you won't have any fruit, or if they open on different days (they are only open for one day), or if you don't have enough blossoms it is a problem. I have zucchini plants with no flowers right now. Once in a while, a single flower will open, but that isn't enough by itself. I have cucumber vines with only male blossoms--plenty of pollen and lots of bees (despite the heat; they usually go into their hives to keep them cool above certain temperatures) but no female blossoms, so no cucumbers.

  • Amie July 18, 2017

    If you get male blooms...I would get a couple soft brushes and "load" up a brush w each male type plant(like one for cucumbers, one for zucchini,etc) in labeled Ziplocs for east storage. I haven't been able to try. But I remember someone who's mother had orange trees. Someone was pd to come out and clean the leaves(indoor dwarf tree in pots) and they would use a paint brush to pollinate the flowers. Worth a shot, if you see male flowers first. (I need to google, but what is difference between the flowers?)

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada July 04, 2017

    I just did my monthly stockup day today and yesterday. Our two local grocery stores offer 10%, one on the first Monday and one on the first Tuesday of the month. I was able to price match at the store on Monday as well. I found great deals on two kinds of vitamins, bandaids, and bath bar soap. Everything I bought was on sale except the milk. I knew I had done well yesterday when the cashier remarked how much I had saved on the order.

    The rest of the month I will watch for good sales on meat/chicken and restock on milk as needed.

    I will continue to harvest swiss chard, kale, and snow peas/shelling peas. So far, other gardeners have offered me carrots and baby broccoli. I've shared strawberry starts with one of them. Also from the community garden, I will harvest herbs, raspberries, blueberries, figs and apples from the communal plots. Love my community gardens!

    I hope to harvest cherry tomatoes, beets, green beans, eggplant, summer squash (pattipan and zucchini), onions and garlic. Also growing for much later harvest are parsnip and winter squash (butternut). Later in July, I will reseed for lettuce, radish, carrots, and more beets.

    I use shredded summer squash in place of cucumber for pickled relish. I like it just as well and most years cucumbers do not grow well for me.

    For fun, I planted 3 starter pots of peanuts that my garden center had for sale; I have no idea when or if those will produce.

    Thanks for the great meal ideas. I think I will make a pasta salad the next time I harvest my snow peas. I've found the best prices for pasta at WalMart and some times at the local chain drug store. Thanks as always for this blog.

  • Elizabeth July 04, 2017

    We buy sunflower seeds in bulk for our bird feeders and store it in a large rubbermaid garbage can in our garage. Several summers ago, it gets hot in Okllahoma, I opened it and found pantry moths in the can in large quantities. I emptied the can, washed it thoroughly. Before refilling it with the seeds I scattered several bay leaves on the bottom. I had an old bottle of bay leaves and used those. I have never had another pantry moth. I also place bay leaves on my pantry shelves in my kitchen and utility room. I also freeze flour, oatmeal, etc. when purchased for at least 6 weeks. Enjoy reading all the good ideas.

  • Elizabeth, I read about this, and cinnamon too, and was planning to do it---until I found them inside cinnamon and bay leaves. They got into anything and everything it was possible to get into. They ate all kinds of herbs and spices. They really liked my red raspberry leaves; those were a total loss.

    I did find that fly paper works and it is much cheaper than pantry moth traps. I ordered a bunch online as it seems to be a seasonal item (in the summer). It was a huge help after discarding and repackaging food.

  • Juls Owings July 04, 2017

    Hubby and I talk about your gardens all the time since we are house hunting and looking for home we own. He wants fruit trees and bushes etc. WiTH metal cages around them until he doesn't run over them with the mower (yeah even after HE PLANTED THEM in the fence line).
    We cut our electric bill again. Ate mostly from the pantry. Already paid most of next winter's propane bill.Saving a lot more than we have been able to since 2008. Good thing as I am having surgery( 4 tears in shoulder and bone spur) end of the month and will be limited for 4 mos before fully recovered. Workload jumped up and I am sorting out priorities along staying frugal due to medical bills that will be coming in and other needs of things bought I don't normally use or buy like some of the groceries that I won't be able to grow,take care of and process for pantry. PLUS what to do about Christmas as I make our gifts( I might have a good thought on that that Hubby can do ) and won't have a spare hand .... funny isn't it that parents seem to have 3-4 hands all the time until we need one of those spares and can't find it. I'm not sure of menu plan but I plan for it to be for 2 months and include bfast and lunch that I can fix on my own with one hand.
    What I am buying will be stuff I need while down on surgery examples :2nd mesh sling for shower, floss picks because I can pretty much say Hubby isn't flossing my teeth for me :) baby wipes that they tell me I will need to use to clean under the arm while the shoulder can't be moved and then I will look at things we need to finish stocking before Hubby retires in Jan and then fill in with what is needed for regular day to day. He cooks so that is a help and I have some precooked meats and such in the freezers.

    The tiller is still being repaired, fuel tank on back order and I still need to get my pressure canner tested and possible new seal with that. The truck's fuel line that is leaking (very small amt) is getting fixed tomorrow. Hubby got a LED ceiling light for the butler's pantry as I use that light daily and the landlord decided he would pay us for it since we were putting it up. He also deducted from our rent where we rented a 100 yard plumbing auger to clear tree roots out of the field tile.Plus he came over and washed the siding and the outside of the windows because we do so much to take care of what was his grandparents home.

    I know I will have onions from the garden, some lettuce and spinach. I am hoping tomatoes as I see a few green ones on them along with maybe a few bell peppers that actually turn orange or red before they fall off the plant. I saw the start of an eggplant. I have plenty of corn in the freezer from last year. I looking at peas this fall for the freezer as I use 10 lbs of peas and 10 lbs of peas and carrots blend during the winter for casseroles and fried rice.

    my head just keeps going back to surgery and finding ways to cope and be frugal.

  • Margie in Toronto July 04, 2017

    July is my first month on a pension so I decided to pay all the first of month bills, my two credit cards and then set aside a certain amount for transit, a small allowance and then $150 for food & household expenses:
    .$20 for laundry
    .$25 towards stockpile
    .$25 towards non-food items
    .$80 for food
    I know this is very low even for one person but my fridge and freezer (just the top of the fridge) are packed so I don't need any meat, poultry, fish or dairy this month. The $80 is for eggs, fruit & veg and a few odds & ends.
    I did get a good deal on small ham steaks. They are usually $3 each but were on sale for $1.50 - I bought 6 - each does me two meals, 3 if I'm using them as a breakfast meat. Another store had canned beans on for 2 for $.150 - and that is the cheapest I've seen in ages so stocked up. Also bought 4 bags of frozen fruit on for half price.
    I live in a small apt. with no balcony in the middle of the city so no gardening for me I'm afraid - I am envious of you all with your lovely gardens but I know how much work it is so I hope that all of them produce well for you.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada July 05, 2017

    Most of my gardening is done in community gardens. I had to wait to get my plots but it was worth it. I've worked my way up to 3 plots with three different societies. My fee for each plot also includes use of tools and hoses. Hopefully there's something like that near your in Toronto.

  • Amie July 18, 2017

    If you have space for some hanging could probably grow herbs, mixed lettuce, and even some types of tomatoes(like a cherry). There are types of tomatoes that ate in a hanging kit. You just need a sunny window. I'm attempting mixed lettuce in a screen top aquarium, but I have a cat that eats my plants. We have community garden plots and I'm in Dayton, Oh. Unfortunately, my schedule wouldn't give me enough time. Do you have any outside area? I know it depends on the type of apt. I've been in one w a small step/platform by front or back door. Would have been enough for one or two pots.

  • Elizabeth M. July 05, 2017

    The main thing I'll be keeping an eye out for is flats of blueberries. Last year, they came in very early, so I wasn't sure they were at their best price. Sadly, they were, but I had only bought one 5 lb flat. This year I'll buy two. I freeze them and use them through the winter. These aren't quite local - they come from the province next door. Local ones are a little later and pricier.

    I'll also be looking for local raspberries later in the month. I may get some extra free through my CSA if I go out and help with the picking.

    I got my first box of produce from my CSA (paid for months ago), which has given me plenty of vegetables, including asparagus, radishes, pea greens, kale, new potatoes and spring onions, along with a bunch of rhubarb. In two weeks' time, I'll start getting double boxes, since I am only picking up every two weeks. I need to plan some time to cook or preserve the day I pick up the box, because this may be more food than I can use right away.

    I've spent $34 on groceries so far this month, and I won't spend much more. I did get a large bottle of canola oil (3 litres, which is about the same as 3 quarts), which will last me into the fall. when my income goes up.

  • Jo July 05, 2017

    I joined PetSmart several years ago but hadn't shopped there in a while, since they didn't carry the type of food my dog needs. I recently got a coupon from them in the mail for a free small bag of dog food or cat food, which I used this weekend -- I got a 4.5 pound bag of Instinct Grain-Free cat food for my cats ($19.99) for free, with no other purchase. I'll take that! I still bought my dog food at the independent pet store, where I get every 12th bag free -- I'm halfway to my next free bag. I checked prices, and this independent store sells it as cheaply as I can find it online.
    Our temperatures have been high, too, and our tomatoes have stopped setting fruit. We had a bounty of green tomatoes almost ready to pick, and several days of unrelenting rain ruined them. It's such a disappointment to lose out on good food.
    We have baby cucumbers starting, if we can keep the beetles from giving them mosaic virus. They wiped out a crop last year. We are going to try dusting the plants with kaolin clay, which seems to deter them somewhat.
    We fueled the car at a station a few miles from us, but it's on our way to church in the next town, so no extra trip. Gas there was $2.07, while in our town, it's still $2.31. Since we drive right past this station every Sunday, we keep an eye on the prices.
    Our fountain pump in our brick pond quit working, back-flowed some oil into the pond, and the oil killed over a dozen of our biggest goldfish. Luckily, a few of the smaller fish survived somehow. We have ordered a different pump that has no oil in it, and is cheaper, to boot. We hope this one works well, because this last one didn't last nearly as long as expected based on our previous pumps, and the oil was a nasty surprise. The good news is that our other goldfish living in a tank-- actually a cattle trough dolled up with potted plants, a sand bottom and a floating planter -- on our open porch have had babies, so we can "re-stock" the larger fountain pond once the babies get bigger. My husband knows how to flush the fountain clean and install the new pump, so no extra money will be spent on that. We enjoy those fish, and our grandkids think feeding the fish is superior fun.
    We received a 10% coupon off everything from Tractor Supply that ended on July 4. We didn't get a chance to go until the 4th, when I convinced my husband to go, since they had a couple of things I knew I would need soon, usually at a good price. To our surprise when we got there, a sign told us that for the 4th only, all veterans got 15% off their entire purchase, including sale and clearance. We bought the items we needed plus a few more things that were already marked down or on clearance, which we had been saying we needed to get, but had put off till we found a good price. We got 15% off of everything, since my husband is a veteran and saved over $13.00 just on the discount, not counting the markdowns, all on stuff we actually needed to get.

  • Jessica July 05, 2017

    This month should be a busy one in the garden. I'll have green beans ready to can soon. My sweet corn is tasseling so it won't be long before I'll need to get to work on it. I have 36 tomato plants that are covered in tomatoes - so I'll be busy canning those, making salsa, making spaghetti sauce, and making pizza sauce. I picked my first cucumber today and noticed I have about 40 more coming along. That mean lots of pickles! I harvested over 200 cucumbers last year. I was giving them away like crazy! I should also have zucchini, peppers, and broccoli ready, too. My lettuce is also still producing nicely. I may get a few melons late in the month, but it will probably be early August.

    I need to stock up on stick butter, toothpaste, and mozzerella cheese. I also noticed some good deals on toilet paper coming up. A local grocery store is running a good deal on pasta, baby carrots, and crescents rolls. Next week, their ad has good deals on cottage cheese and whipped topping. I will buy some apples, milk, and bread throughout the month. Other than that, I will probably just be buying things that I can find a good deal on. We have plenty to eat in the pantry and freezer. In fact, I need to make some space!

  • K July 05, 2017

    Brandy, for your Sam's Club membership, you should keep an eye out on groupon/sam's website, as they routinely offer deals on the membership for "new" customers. So, if your husband signs up instead of you, you could get a membership for $45 plus get back a gift card and get some coupons for free/very cheap items. Last time I did this, I paid $45 for a plus membership and got back $20 on a gift card, plus got a free pizza, free bakery cookies, and $4 off their fresh spring mix (which normally costs $4.50). This works even if the person signing up had a courtesy card- the only limitation is that whoever had originally had the card in their name cannot take advantage of this deal for 6 months. We should be seeing a similar deal soon (based on how often the previous ones came up), so this might be perfect timing.

    Our shopping plans for this month are really just the basics- I'm using the little bit of food we have left in the freezer to make meals so that I don't need to buy as much. I need to pick up a few items from Sam's (cheese, deli meat), plus I'm taking advantage of a sale at Cub again to get another 6 lbs of ground beef for $1.88/lb. Total, I'll have 12 lbs in the freezer, which should equal about 24 meals. Since we have ground beef ~4 times per month, that will last us a while. I also need to stop by Aldi and get some usual purchases- eggs, dishwasher detergent, etc.

    Unfortunately, bad rain destroyed my seedlings- they weren't big enough to handle the downpour we got one night (and I wasn't expecting the rain, so I didn't cover them beforehand). My chive plant also didn't make it back this year (I'm thinking it had something to do with being kept in the garage overwinter instead of in a shed near a warm house). It's a bit too late to sow seeds now, as we have a short growing season, but I'm keeping this in mind for next year. Perhaps I'll get plants from a nursery next year- they're not cheap, but I don't want to keep wasting seeds and it's still cheaper than buying the produce from the store. I'm disappointed about this year's plants, but I'll make do, I guess.

  • I always see those deals, but both of our names are on the membership and we have a business membership already, so we haven't been able to get the coupons for new customers.

    Gardening is never the same--but we can all just keep trying! I have planted zinnias in the white garden 4 times now with no success--using different packets of seeds. I even put down some new dirt. I think they are drying out; I don't know. That part of the garden is looking sparse. I actually planted them in two places. I planted other colors in back and those came up, so it's a mystery. I'm having company in 9 days and should have had zinnias to cut by now.

  • K July 06, 2017

    That's too bad about the membership and the zinnias :( It sounds like either a soil issue or a sunlight issue, though I don't know enough about zinnias to offer more assistance than that. Maybe the pH of the soil's not right? It's hard to tell.

    In hindsight, I should have been more wary of rain, as my new apartment is on the top floor- great for sun, but no protection from the rain.

  • Most likely they are just drying out. It's 114º here and has been real hot for quite some time. It's hard to keep the soil moist for several days for them to germinate as they are planted so shallowly. I grow zinnias in the same spot every year; a few that self-seeded have come up there (albeit a few rows ahead). I planted some other seeds there too and they didn't come up there--but came up in other places. It's full sun and these plants will grow there if they don't dry out.

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