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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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  • Athanasia July 11, 2017

    I prefer to give books, classic books with beautiful illustrations would be nice. Or the Berenstain Bears books has a newer series out called Living Lights. They are very very popular in our library and appeal to toddler up to early readers. I think new they are only 3.99 each.

    If you don't want to do books and you sew then I would do something for a doll, like an outfit or two to fit the doll she has, I your know it. Or a quilt for the baby doll or a nap quilt. You could do a quick machine quilted or tied one without any piecing, just a couple pretty pieces of fabric and some fluffy filling.

  • Christine July 08, 2017

    Hi Brandy,
    Do you and any of your readers have any trouble with rats and mice digging up your seeds just as they are sprouting? We live in Phillip Island which is at the bottom of Australia. Actually at the moment we are freezing as it's a particularly cold winter so I am jealous of your hot temperatures.
    We have baited the rodents but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Perhaps Phillip Island's rats are hardy?
    Cheers, Christine

  • tammy July 08, 2017

    My husband and I have 7 kids at home, 17 years down to 7 months. 2 years ago we moved into a 3 bedroom chalet in the woods in 16 acres. He just had a full cornea transplant so no work for him, so I'm working as much as I can so we don't get too far behind. We talked about starting a garden but neither one of us are farmiliar with gardening ,,, also I don't know how I would keep the wild life out. We have about 14 Apple trees scattered throughout the field. . . .I would guess they're not too healthy and probably need to be tended too, we also have 1 pear tree but again Idk if that's healthy, when the pears fell off the tree last year there was a whole lot but they were hard. And then over by the pond there are thorn bushes and these red berries that grow off them and some black berries, , we want to use what's on the land but we are completley lost on where to begin ,,,, any ideas?

  • Tammy, it sounds like your land has some great starts. Make sure to find out what the red berries are and that they are edible and not deadly before you harvest them. Take photos if need be and compare how they grow with other berries; a local nursery can help you identify them too.

    Pears ripen off the tree. So, they are picked hard and they soften within a week if they are picked ripe. Figure out when they fell last year and try to pick about a week or two before that and that is when they are ripe. Then let them sit somewhere cool in the house and they will soften up.

    I would start with what you have first and work on harvesting what you have. Apples can be made into sauce and canned, sliced and dried, eaten fresh, and kept for a while if kept in the fridge (depending on type; some last a month and some types last several months if kept at 34º).

    Does your pond have fish? That could also be a help to the budget as well/

  • Rhonda A. July 09, 2017

    Tammy, many of pioneers that came here had to learn how to live off the land. It was new to them, too. Learning new things starts with asking questions. Perhaps doing some research on-line or on Pinterest will help you with answers. There are lots of tutorials that might be helpful with getting you started.

    I'm sure it is overwhelming for you right now. Try starting with one thing, like the apple trees or the pear trees, and learning more about when to tell they are ready for harvest. Then look into the best way to preserve the harvest. Just because the apples don't look like the perfect ones in the stores, doesn't mean they are not good for eating. You can still use them by cutting out the bad spots. Cut the good parts into slices for eating fresh, drying, putting into baked goods or cooking them into a wonderful applesauce. Same goes with the pears. If you work at learning answers to your questions in stages, it won't be quite as overwhelming. Perhaps some of your children might take an interest in helping you with this challenge, too. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!

  • Athanasia July 11, 2017

    Tammy, please call your county extension agency and ask for a visit from an agent. They can help you identify the bush with the red berries. Are the "black berries" you mentioned actually blackberries? You could get those identified too, if not. If they do not make house calls, though I would think that odd, then clip a branch with the berries and stop in at their office. Also pick up any free literature they have to offer.

    A good thing to do with apple trees is to keep them pruned. You want to remove anything that grows straight up, some people call them watershoots. They are non productive. A book on pruning will give you the correct times for pruning, the proper cuts, to seal or not, also proper tools. Apple trees seldom get too old, but uncared for they may slow down a bit. We have 10 apple trees and the oldest was planted in 1945 and it is still producing well. We have plenty for our use plus extra to sell and share. You could sell extras also for some income.

    Oh another thing, keep fruit picked up off the ground. It is a favorite of yellow jackets.

    Do you know what kind of fish are in your pond? I would think they would have told you when you bought it as that would certainly be a selling point. My husband fishes almost daily in our pond. If you have no information about your pond I would contact your Department of Natural Resources and have an agent visit.

    I would deal with those things first as they are already there...the pond and the fruit trees. Then begin planning a garden. Look and watch for areas that do not drain well after a rainfall as you would want to avoid that. Do you have adequate rainfall or will you be using the pond as source of irrigation? If you are depending on a well for water that is iffy. A well that can handle home usage is one thing, but adding heavy garden/yard usage is another.

    Best of wishes for all success for you and your family.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada July 08, 2017

    I am out of money and not sure how I'll pay for my referral to an oral surgeon (it's not an urgent thing anyway) so I'll probably wait. I didn't have money for ice cream so bought a dozen over-ripe bananas, peeled them, and put them in a freezer on a cookie sheet. Then, when they are frozen, I put them into a zip-lock bag. Take them out but don't let them thaw much as they'll become mush. Eat while still mostly frozen — a dozen cost me $1.25 total and they were organic. A relatively low calorie substitute for ice cream and if one wants to dip them in melted chocolate, bonus!

  • Eve July 09, 2017

    We freeze bananas, too. We make smoothies with them, and by only adding one half banana to less than one cup milk, it makes a very thick, frosty drink much like a milkshake. My son adds strawerry syrup or frozen strawberries, and I like mine with chocolate syrup. We like them better than ice cream or milkshakes.

  • Ellie's friend July 09, 2017

    Thanks for tip about adding frozen strawberries. I'm going to try it and your smoothies, too. So far I've just been
    eating like popsicles. Thanks, Eve

  • Janet July 19, 2017

    If the variety of tomatoes you planted was not a hybrid, you might consider saving the seeds on the ones that are still flowering. You may be able to develop a variety that will work better for your high heat area.

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