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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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  • A lovely post, as always! I'm struck by how delicious yet extremely wholesome all your planned meals are!! :)

    My balcony garden is going well, so far, with the exception of lettuce. This month, I plan to harvest mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and parsley, and I think I should be able to eat my first crop of cherry tomatoes! I doubt my peas will be ready even in a month's time, and my zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, swiss chard, and radishes won't be ready to harvest. So, I shouldn't need to buy any herbs, but otherwise I'll need to buy milk and fresh produce each week: mostly lettuce, tomatoes, and tons of fruit. Unless I see sales on cheese, flour, onions, or carrots, I think I'm pretty well stocked for now. I'm hoping to be able to get to a garden centre to buy a blueberry bush and a couple of strawberry plants (my sister gave me a gift card that I can't wait to spend!); depending on how big the plants are, I may or may not get a crop from them within the month.

    I am frustrated by my inability to grow lettuce (so far) though, as it's a staple for me, and it would save me a bunch if I could grow it myself. I tried to grow it inside my condo but it didn't grow due to lack of light. I tried to grow it on my balcony (lots of light), but the rain coming of the top of the roof (my balcony is uncovered) pummeled and mostly killed it. I tried growing it on a covered shelving unit on my balcony and it just doesn't grow past an inch. The only variables that I can think of, is that the earth on the uncovered balcony was too wet (poor drainage on top of hard-hitting rain), and that the earth on the covered section is too peaty (I used different bags of organic dirt in different places, as it happens). I've used two different types of leaf lettuce, which I heard is easier to grow than head lettuce, so I don't think it's the seeds. Anyone have any insights? At this point, my husband just laughs when I talk about growing lettuce; he thinks it's hilarious. Of course, this makes me want to grow lettuce even more! Does anyone have any tried and true tips for growing lettuce? TIA!

  • Betsy July 03, 2017

    I grow mine hydroponically, maybe research an inexpensive system to make.
    I actually grow all my non root vegetables in the hydroponic system

  • Mable July 03, 2017

    I have had good luck with miniature romaine lettuce, both the red and green varieties. Withstands a lot of abuse and some shade.

  • Thanks, Mable and Betsy! :)

  • SJ in Vancouver BC July 04, 2017

    I grow a leaf lettuce from Territorial Seed. I only grow lettuce in the spring and again in the fall.

    I've found that I have to use newly purchased packages of seed - planting seeds from the previous year yields nothing.

    And lettuce for me can be very finicky. When you plant your seed - use a mister for a few days. The soil needs to be moist but not saturated for good germination. Also, using a watering can might make the seeds float away, so to speak. I probably made every mistake there was to make. Just keep at it, don't give up.
    I also learned that chard is a lot more forgiving and that I like the new leaves just as well in a salad.

  • Thanks, SJ!

  • Andrea Q July 04, 2017

    I'm growing lettuce from seeds dated 2012. Germination rate was over 75 percent! Should be ready to harvest later this week.

    I'd try to arrange your containers so they don't get caught under the deluge of the drip edge, or at least move them around based on the weather forecast.

  • Growing lettuce from seeds dated 2012 -- wow, you must have the biggest green thumb! Go, you!

    I'll keep trying with the different containers. One of these days, something has got to work! Thanks!

  • Andrea Q July 07, 2017

    Most of my vegetable seeds are several years old. I'm growing radishes from 2009 (heirloom seed that I saved and forgot about!); pole beans from 2011; many things from 2012 (all given to me free, so they are worth a shot) including tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and kohlrabi; plus peas, fennel, cucumbers and squash from 2015. The only new seeds I bought this year were white marigolds and pumpkins. They are sometimes slow to germinate and the germination rate decreases, but I haven't been disappointed yet. I have a small garden and like variety, so it takes me a while to get through a packet of seeds! I haven't had nearly as much luck with commercial flower seeds.

  • Jeannie July 05, 2017

    Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, tut, tut, tu, can't grow lettuce! I have never heard of such a thing! A husband who laughs at your harvest, that I CAN understand. I could not sleep last night for pondering this difficulty!

    So a few questions to see if we can figure out this mystery:
    1. Is your balcony facing south? Lettuce hates heat although it might not be that hot up north right now. I can't grow it in the summer either. (lower middle Tennessee)
    2. What variety of seeds are you growing. Forget head lettuce, it is not worth the effort.
    3. Perhaps the pot it is in is too shallow and it is heating up, or it is made from something that holds heat. I have plants on the front porch planted in an old crock pot. The heating element broke so I reused the pot. It really holds heat, way into the night.
    4. Maybe there are too many seedlings growing and they are fighting for space. Try thinning the small ones (and eat them, of course) to see if the others begin growing bigger.

    My suggestions would be to try the following, put seeds in the other pots where you have other things growing and see how they do there. Also, I would suggest purchasing seeds that have a bunch of types, a mixture of all types. Lastly, I have no idea as to how to handle a husband. Nothing seems to work there.


  • Ah, Jeannie! You always crack me up! I read out part of your comment to a colleague on lunch, and she also laughed. So funny! Also, good advice! I never thought to plant seeds in pots where other thing have grown; that would mean I already know that the earth in that pot is good for growing. Great idea!

    I'm currently trying 'Curly Leaf (Cutting) Lettuce' from Berton Seeds (a Canadian company) and I've also tried 'Grand Rapids (Leaf) Lettuce' (some $ store brand). I've tried growing in a mini plastic greenhouse (both indoors and outdoors -- nope and nope), in dollar store planters on one side of balcony on a shelf, to protect from the rain, and on the other side, on the ground, no covering (a slow death at 1 inch tall at one end of the balcony and death by deluge at the other end of the balcony). My balcony faces kind of south-ish, but there's no burning sun as there's another building in the vicinity that blocks the strongest of light (everything else is growing well, so it can't be too little sun). The temperatures here are somewhat moderate; summer is usually between 25-32 degrees Celsius. I don't think I'm overwatering or underwatering, but I suppose that's another variable. Darn it, I WILL grow lettuce, one way or another! I will feed my husband a homegrown salad by the end of the summer! (Hopefully one that includes lettuce.) Thanks, Jeannie!

  • Jeannie July 07, 2017

    I had to google celsius to fahrenheit 25c = 77f and 32c = 89.6f, hmmm (I can't do metric either, my boys can, I am old school). It might be warming up a bit too much during the hot part of the day, maybe? I don't know the varieties you are growing since they seem to be for your area and they might want it to be cooler. That is my guess. I will pat you on the head and say, "Keep trying Margaret!!! You can do it!!!!"

    One last suggestion, no one said how big a salad has to be, to be a salad. One leaf chopped in a bowl eaten with tweezers can be considered a salad and tell your husband if he complains about the size of his first course, there will be NO more courses for dinner.

    I do know how to threaten husbands.


  • I totally laughed out loud again! So funny! I WILL keep trying! Thanks for the support, Jeannie!
    I might try switching to New Zealand spinach, a la Brandy, next year, and see if I have more luck with a vine type green. But it really irks me that lettuce won't grow for me. Argggh! I refuse to be beaten by a plant! I WILL grow lettuce from seed! One day. One (possibly very distant) day.

  • Jeannie July 09, 2017

    You can do it! Keep trying!!!!

  • Andrea Q July 07, 2017

    Lettuce isn't a fan of heat over 80 F (in my experience), so it might just be too hot.

  • Sheila July 03, 2017

    Will your new regular expense be diapers? :)

  • Nope! I still have diapers from when I bought them earlier this year. And I still have wipes. AND I found half a box of diapers in the garage from the last child that I had forgotten we had put out there.

    The new expense is life insurance for my husband. I would have liked to have had it earlier, but it wasn't possible. So this will be a regular bill from now on. This means getting even more creative with frugality, but we feel it is important to have.

  • Sheila July 04, 2017

    We are in the process of replacing a life insurance policy for my husband that is expiring. I agree that it is so important!

  • Marybeth July 04, 2017

    I hope you never need it but it is worth having anyway. You should look for a small policy for yourself also because your husband would need to hire help if anything ever happened to you.

  • Death is a part of life, so at some point, I am sure I will need it; what is to be seen if it is during the time period of this policy or later in life. My husband is 13 years older than I am so in all likelihood he will go first--and women in my family tend to live between 88-95 years.

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