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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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  • Lindsey July 07, 2017

    Brandy, I don't know if this would work for you but in mid summer, when I start some seeds for fall crops even though it is hot out, I sow the seeds, water well and then cover with about 10 sheets of newspaper that has been wet thoroughly (I fill a 33 gallon bucket and dunk them in there and then wring them out). This keeps the ground cool and moist. I start checking for germination at day 3 and every day after, but I have found that this protects seeds from drying out long enough to sprout. I also soak the seeds in tepid water for about three hours before sowing, as that seems to get them germinating faster.

  • Thanks Lindsey. It probably won't work this time of year as we have 5% humidity and it was 116º yesterday. They would be dry in an hour even if I didn't wring them out :D I tried extra watering sessions with drip irrigation and three zinnias sprouted. I think the best plan at this point is to plant something else there today that gets planted deeper--squash or pumpkins. At least this way I will hopefully yield something from the space until fall when I can plant something else.

  • Sandra July 08, 2017

    Would it work to germinate them I n the house where you can keep them moist until the second set of leaves come on?

  • Not particularly--it's too hot to transplant (it's 90º at 6 a.m. and about 103º or more at sunset). Normally they come up in the white garden and I had other colors come up in the back that were planted at the same times. I also don't have a good spot to grow seeds indoors.

  • Cheryl July 05, 2017

    I love reading your posts, Brandy. We are in Texas and our tomatoes are still flowering and putting out lots of tomatoes. This is so unusual for us too, but I'm happy with the extra food!

  • Laurie in AZ July 05, 2017

    Because of how I shop, I only make my shopping plans weekly to take advantage of great sales. There are few fresh items I purchase weekly, such as milk and lettuce (no garden here, as we are renting temporarily.) When I do my weekly shopping, I always check the 4 clearance areas in our store. There is one in fresh meat, one in the lunch meat/breakfast sausage area, 1 in frozen and 1 for other grocery items. I don't buy meat unless I am getting it between 50% - 75% off. Usually on clearance, but occasionally a really good sale. Because I have a good stockpile of items, I typically only need to buy them when they are on clearance.

    This week's big sales were 6 oz. blueberries for 85cents, and 5 lb. bags of potatoes for 89 cents per bag. This store also doubles coupons and I had a 50 cent Colgate coupon. I hadn't seen it on sale in the circular, but I checked the aisle just in case. They had large tubes on clearance for $1.24, so I got 1 for a total of 24 cents.

    In the Phoenix and Tucson areas, there is an organization called P.O.W. W.O.W. (Produce on wheels, without waste that saves the produce that the grocery stores don't need from the growers in Mexico that would otherwise go into landfills. Different churches around the valley host volunteer to distribute it. They offer 60 lbs. of produce for $10. You don't never know what they are going to have until just a day before. It is mostly assorted varieties of tomatoes, peppers and squash. In the past, I have canned the tomatoes, frozen the peppers and cooked and frozen the squash. I've also given some away. I may go this week depending on the variety they will be distributing.

  • Laurie in AZ July 06, 2017

    Here is a perfect example of what I was talking about above in regards to shopping to take advantage of the clearance sales. I just ran into my local store today to pick up a bag of flour, which I am almost out of. This store is the one with the great clearance sections. I walked around and checked them out, as I do every time I am in there. I picked up 2 bone in NY Strip Steaks (hubby likes steak 1x per week, so I always get it on clearance when I see it.) They were regularly priced $11.99 and $13.75 each. I got them for $5.59 and $7.22. Much less than we would pay at a steakhouse. Then I went by the packaged meat section and scored my deal of the year. Smithfield Bacon, 1 lb. packages - normally $8.99 per package. On the 75% off clearance tag it was marked as "regular price $2.49", which made them 62 cents each - a 93% savings! I picked up 16, 8 for me and 8 for my daughter. We both now have bacon for the year. The sell by date was tomorrow, but I just put them straight into the freezer. I'm pretty happy right now!

  • Eve July 07, 2017

    Great shopping tips, Laurie. That's how I buy nearly everything - on sale. That's the best thing about having food storage, pantry, etc.; you can wait until the sales and save a ton of money.

  • Janet July 06, 2017

    For those who can not grow lettuce try purchasing some romaine at the store cut the bottom off make it about 3 inches high. Try burying this in the ground . You can google it on utube how to grow from your groceries. I can't grow anything and we have lettuce.

    I also have roses and I seem to be keeping an orchid alive .

    I am working on tomatoes and I think I have basil and some peas that I hope I have not killed.

  • Ooh, good idea re the lettuce, Janet! I've heard of that, but never tried it. I'll have to buy a single organic head and then plant it. Thanks again! I know it's possible to regrow celery, and I always regrow green onions. In fact I'm regrowing some right now, and once I reharvest them, I'll plant the root/bulbs/base in dirt to see if I can regrow a third time.

  • Eve July 07, 2017

    Last year the rage at the grocery store was a head of lettuce with the root left at the bottom of the plastic container. You were supposed to just tear off the leaves and keep the root watered and leave it in your fridge. I did that until it started looking peaked, then I planted it. It produced large, crisp leaves for weeks afterward.

    If you buy leeks and green onions with large numbrers of roots hanging out and plant the ends and roots, they should grow well for you. By doing this for a few years, this has given our leeks and onions a head start on a short growing season (we live in Alaska). Celery will grow as well, but I have found it will only grow a very short stalk. So we harvest it when the stalk is spindly and the leaves are full. Dry the leaves to use in soups, or use them in stir-fry.

    Off topic, but I had some applesauce in jars that were soon to be out of date. Nobody waned to eat the applesauce, so in order not to waste it (I'm the one who uses juice from canned fruit and even corn to make jelly), I made apple butter from it. Puree it to break up any little chunks and place in a crock pot for several hours with spices; cook down to the consistency you want your apple butter and water bath or steam can it as you would jelly. Yummy.

  • SJ in Vancouver BC Canada July 08, 2017

    I use applesauce and banana flavoring in place of bananas in muffins and quick breads.

  • Rhonda A. July 09, 2017

    Great idea on making apple butter, Eve. I like to look up healthy baking recipes on Pinterest that use applesauce in the recipes. It's another way to use up the applesauce and provides a special treat for the family. I often use the goodies in bagged lunches, but are great for quick snacks or a nice dessert, too. Here is a recipe that we particularly enjoyed:

  • Laurie Villotta July 06, 2017

    Brandy I love your blog.I have been reading for a few years. I have learned so much. I am a single mom to 2 girls. My grocery budget is about $200/mos. I do not need to stockpile as I shop at Aldi's and many of the staple items I buy are very cheap. Our milk is currently $1.35/gal, Eggs are 49cents. I try and shop every 2 weeks. I try and cook at home,but I also work FT. We used to eat out a lot,but now we are down to 3-4x mos. I also have a Sams card and do buy quite a bit there,but I find some things are cheaper and some things not so. I love your garden andflowers.

  • Lorna July 07, 2017

    Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :) .

    It is winter here at the moment and getting down to anywhere from 0 oc - -3 oc , cold at nights but warming up to 18 - 20's during the day.

    The garden is producing parsley, silverbeet, spinach, shelling peas, cherry tomatoes, turnips, some herbs being rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. Just about to pick is a large crop of sweet potatoes which will probably happen early next week and we will put them to cure in the shed on newspaper for a while so they can get nice and sweet.

    We are mainly living out of our freezer where we have blanched and frozen a lot of our excess vegetables in the main growing seasons to get us through the winter season and have pumpkins stored in our makeshift root cellar which we can pull from as well for soups and meals too.

    Plans for this month's grocery shopping (we only shop once every 6 weeks) are to just top up the necessities and only things we have used being -

    - 2 minute noodles.
    - 4.5kg of rolled oats.
    - powdered milk.
    - cocoa powder.
    - 8kg plain flour.
    - 3kg raw sugar.
    - Butter we intend to build our stocks up gradually to 36 x 500g blocks over the coming months.
    - Bacon.
    - Eggs.
    - Tinned mushrooms.
    - Tinned chicken.
    - Sultanas.
    - Macadamia nuts.
    - Crackers.
    - Laundry detergent.

  • Annie-Blake July 07, 2017

    Love your date night with each child. What a special & memorable experience.

    We are currently growing tomatoes, carrot, spring onion, riberries, basil and parsley. I am harvesting all except tomatoes at the moment.

    This month we are having lots of Popsicles with riberries, smoothies with banana and strawberries (both have been on deep discount), spaghetti and lasagne, eggs in all their disguises (scrambled on toast, boiled etc), cauliflower soup (I have been buying an entire whole cauliflower for $1.99), sandwiches, roast chicken, lots of grilled carrot, basil pesto pasta, burgers, lentil and pearl barley stews, pumpkin risotto and homemade pizza. I have made and will make more butter cake. Snacks are green apples, Popsicles, bananas & natural yoghurt with honey and cinnamon.

    For my family of four we have, for the past several months, been spending $55-$90 per week on food, toiletries & laundry/cleaning products. I do budget $120 a week though but due to constantly being under budget may be able to permanently lower this amount to $90. The extra money saved will go towards our mortgage. This is our priority.

    Your budget is very inspiring! You are so resourceful and creative, love reading how you make it work for your family of 10.

  • Janet July 07, 2017

    Question for readers. What is a great gift to get a baby girl who has everything turning two?

  • Cindy in the South July 07, 2017

    My standard gift is a baby doll or a

  • Rhonda A. July 08, 2017

    I once put together a lovely, fun gift of dress up clothes and accessories from dollar store and thrift store items for a little girl. Things like cute scarves, purses, jewelry, hats, pretty hair bands, etc. You could even make a no sew tutu skirt from tulle and a piece of elastic band (tutorial link: Brandy has some really great tutorials for making cute hair accessories as well. A handmade fairy wand would also make a great dress up accessory!

  • Chris M July 08, 2017

    I got my 2 year old grandchildren a small backpack that fit their frame and allowed them to carry a few things to church or in the car. I've also made "go-to-grandma's" cinch sacks to put jammies in, etc.

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