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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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  • Juls Owings July 04, 2017

    my late husband didn't have ins... nothing, not life,not health and no money AND NO WILL...
    spend the money to get this dealt with Brandy. It's a living Hades to go through court and spend money for that court because there was no will. Hospital bills, funeral bills etc... I barely held on to the house with the kids under it with me. Also check your utilities of their policy of transferring bills to the living spouse. One company wanted to charge me over $300 even though the bill was current just to put it in my name. Even when I remarried, my new hubby (now over 20yrs) refused to pay to have it put in his name because of their attitude with me. It took 3 months to get survivor benefits. I didn't qualify for any help, WIC, welfare, food pantry because they kept basing everything on what I WOULD get when the SS started. I sold most of the furniture to pay bills.
    It's worth the peace of mind.

  • Lisa July 04, 2017

    We just evaluated our life insurance and even though the cost per month doubled, I feel so much more at peace knowing we have that security in place!

  • Melissa V July 05, 2017

    I wish we could afford it but we are both considered high risk (he just had cancer and is diabetic and I have multiple mental health diagnosis' as well as digestive disease) so the rates are incredibly high. I was hoping we could figure out a way to at least get the bare minimum to pay for cremation expenses (hubby want no funeral or anything) but there just is no way we can afford it. We've sold just about everything that has value already.

  • Melissa,

    I would do whatever you can, when you are able, to work on having a savings. It would allow you to pay for cremation, which is definitely the least expensive option. I know it's hard to imagine putting anything in savings right now and it may be impossible, but if you are able to do so, even a small amount, it would be a start for you. If you've been selling everything you can to make ends meet then it's not something you can do now, and I know that feeling very well. Just keep going as you are and keep looking for ways to cut expenses and increase income in all kinds of little ways, as they all add up and help.

  • Cindy in the South July 05, 2017

    When my son became ill, and his chronic, lifelong, health expenses, even with insurance, amounted to thousands of dollars, I, sadly, made the decision to cancel my life insurance and my disability insurance, and use that money to pay on his medical bills, and still it is not enough.

  • Juhli July 05, 2017

    So important when you have minor children and/or it would greatly affect your retirement financial stability. We have kept my husband's life insurance even with grown children because if he died before retiring I would get nothing from his pension. When he retires at the end of Sept and that guarantees me 50% of his pension for life, then we will cancel it. He would be fine financially since I only have Social Security and IRAs.

  • Alexa-asimplelife July 03, 2017

    Wow, what an amazing price for chicken legs. I bought some reduced price ones last week for about $3 kg. Not very cheap but I needed a quick easy put in the oven whilst I'm out snack for the grandsons after swimming. I have sometimes snared 2kg for $3.

    Was going to go shopping yesterday, then again today but have decided I still have enough frozen vegetables and meat for meals...a saver of time which I can then use in the garden chopping up some branches whilst the Winter weather is clear.

    I do need bread but there is always pita bread to use up...I'm in time and money saving mode today.

    Daughter rang to say they were coming past for lunch but bringing their own...need some milk for her coffee so will quickly make up some powdered milk.

    ...and so...when. I think about it there are many ways we automatically do to save money. the four punnets of Heartsease seedlings I scored for 50c each instead of near $5. I needed some potting mix bags but always check around if there's any great bargains that I can incorporate into our garden. Same in food shops.

    Love your white garden Brandy with the day I will plant some seeds :)

  • The butcher at Winco (who used to be the produce manager!) saw me and pointed out the sale to me. He saw my cart and said, "Don't you ever buy meat?" I said not much as it is expensive, and then he told me about the new markdown, so I stocked up. That was an unbelieveable price!

  • Lilllanna Pickles July 03, 2017

    This is also a slim month for us. Thankfully my freezer and pantry overfloweth. I honestly believe that we can get by with not buying anything this month. My family does not drink much milk so my canned milk should cover any cooking needs. We might possibly pick up more eggs at Aldis depending on our menu. I strive each week to stock up on anything free or nearly free with coupons. It is tough times like the moment that I am grateful for all my learned frugality. I stocked up on cat litter and 45 lbs of cat food today with swagbucks gift cards. 40.00 worth of recycled ink cartridges at Staples just replenished my Scott TP and kitchen trash bags. This month should be fairly smooth even with my ridiculously tight budget. I will keep an eye out for great loss leaders and freebies. I still have 14 free Catalina coupons for free Halo ice cream and picked up free Gatorade Catalinas from the trash at Kroger today. My son will appreciate than and I am not ashamed of picking them out of the trash can. Nothing in there anyway but crumpled receipts. 50.00 should cover us for the month. I also have some more swagbucks coming in that I will use.

  • That's so awesome on the ice cream and Gatorade! I saw that ice cream at the store and it was $5 a pint! I am so glad that you get to have ice cream!

  • Marie July 05, 2017

    I found several of those catalina Halo coupons AND I was able to enter one on ibotta, so I made two dollars on that free ice-cream. (which isn't the best on the planet, but fantastic for my dieting daughter).

  • Jennifer July 03, 2017

    Very encouraging! Have you tried a DIVA cup instead of pads/tampons? I switched over ten years ago (using a reusable pad at the same time if required) and highly recommend giving them a try. One will last for years.

  • My daughter wasn't a fan but I have one (a Lunette). I bought it and then became pregnant with my 8th, so I haven't used mine yet! But my daughter likes the reusable pads--she says they're softer and more absorbent than the disposable kind.

  • Lisa July 04, 2017

    I've been *not* pregnant or breastfeeding for only about 18 months of our 6-year marriage and I dont ovulate during those times so I just laugh and tell my husband I'm just so naturally frugal. I still have some pads left over from my single days. I have a 7-month old baby now, so won't even use those for another year!

  • Lori @ MyVintageWhimsy July 03, 2017

    Brandy and others, do you have picky eaters in your family, and if so, how do you deal with it? I'm a new stepmom to 3 kids, and 2 are pretty picky. Given the option, they'd survive off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and pizza. None of those are things I regularly eat or even make. They are 6 & 3, if it matters!! Still trying to navigate the whole dinner time thing, and it's pretty frustrating, as I love to cook but I'm definitely not going to be some short order cook who is making 3 meals for 3 different people every night! Thanks in advance for ideas, suggestions, etc.

    This month I need to stock up on the shampoo and conditioner that I prefer. I ordered coupons from for $2/off, which brings the price down to $5.97 per bottle. I ordered 12 coupons, and they expire the end of August. I stocked up on this deal last autumn and I'm using up the last of the bottles now, so I've been waiting to see the coupons again. It's pricey for shampoo but this is the only stuff I've found outside of Devacurl that I love and works well on my curly, unruly hair in this ridiculous SC humidity.

    I need to stock up on pasta and pasta sauce, grated cheese, cereal, eggs, ground meats, chicken, cream cheese, butter, and the ingredients to make laundry detergent.

    I was able to get a Sam's Club card through my dad's work, so it was free for me. I haven't had a card there in years, and just went with my mom when I needed something. It's only ever been me or me plus 1, so stocking up in bulk wasn't really necessary or helpful, but now that I'm feeding 6 on a daily basis, there are things I can get there that just make sense -- like the 5 pound bags of shredded cheese, and the 3 pack of Cinnamon Toast Crunch which is evidently the only cereal these picky eaters like. I tried the Aldi version, and they liked it equally, but the Aldi version is a small box and I need larger quantities and don't want to buy 15 boxes from there.

    Meals this month will depend on who will eat what but I've discovered they love cheese quesadillas, so I'll make those a few times. They also love my mac and cheese, so that'll make an appearance or 2. One eats most meats, one barely eats any meats, the baby isn't picky and eats everything! I will make spaghetti with choice of meat sauce or butter noddles at least twice. We'll grill out hamburgers, turkey burgers, and hot dogs a couple of times. Breakfast will be cereal or scrambled eggs, unless it's the weekend, then maybe french toast sticks or the like. I don't allow syrupy things during the week when everyone is trying to eat, get dressed, and out the door on time.

    I love reading everyone's ideas and tips. This place is so helpful for those of us trying to live frugally. Thanks so much, Brandy, and readers, for always sharing such great ideas and motivation.

  • Lori, they have two choices for every meal: Take it or leave it. Eventually, they will learn to eat what they are given. It may take a couple of years.

    Not everyone likes everything. Still, they need to eat what is put before them. They can choose to go without, but don't offer another option unless you want to be a short-order cook the rest of your life. They will learn to appreciate a wide variety of food if that is what they are given. I HIGHLY recommend reading the book French Kids Eat Everything.

    For a less expensive option that cold cereal, try buying oatmeal in bulk. I buy a 25-pound bag of rolled oats at Winco for around $16.

    They are young and they can (and will!) adapt to your menus. Give it time--a couple of years--and they will get used to whatever you serve, be it soups, certain vegetables, etc. Everyone has favorites and not everyone likes everything, and that's okay--but they can eat it if they don't want to go hungry. If they choose not to eat something, don't give in before the next meal. Serve food at mealtimes and one afternoon snack and they will get less picky than if they are able to eat more often.

  • momsav July 04, 2017

    We used to have breakfast arguments when my kids were in elementary school. One child in particular went to school in tears many times. I did what Brandi suggests. He was offered what everyone else ate or went without. One day later, he ate what was put before him and the arguments ended. He now cooks every day for his own children. I would say, he cooks better then me!

  • Mary July 04, 2017

    I second what Brandy says. That is how meals were as a child. The picky one could live on hot dogs and beans! He now is adventurous with food.
    Also, they learn quickly - if you give them the choice that it or leave it.
    Depending on age, maybe they can help prepare foods and get them involved in the process, that helped with my daughter.
    Good luck!

  • Marybeth July 04, 2017

    My oldest daughter hated pork chops which is one of my husband's favorites. When she was young she was allowed to eat just sides that night if she had one mouthful of the pork chops. She now eats pork chops. When my kids got older they were allowed to make themselves something different as long as they did it and cleaned it up. My youngest has stomach issues and I sometimes make her something different because I know she will have a problem like when we have chili. My nephews on the other hand are very picky eaters. I cook what I'm cooking. If they don't like it, there is always fruit. Some of my kids friends are very picky. I tell them what I am making. If they don't want it feel free to eat else where.

  • Lori @ MyVintageWhimsy July 04, 2017

    Thanks, everyone. I'm definitely of the mindset of take it or leave it. I even have a giant fork and spoon shaped chalkboard in my kitchen that I wrote upon years ago "Today's Menu: Eat it or Starve", so I live by that motto, especially when I take time out of my busy day to prepare a home cooked meal. Their dad is similar to me, but would likely cave and give them pb&j every meal if it was solely up to him. I don't want to set that precedent that if they whine/throw a big enough tantrum, that we'll give in and they can have their way, but it's not really up to me to make the final call.

    I try to cook a variety of things that everyone will enjoy but it's difficult!! We only have them full-time through the middle of August, then it will be back to every other weekend, so my nightly ordeal is only for another 6 weeks. Still, I want it to be known that when you are here, you eat what we're eating. I don't think going to bed hungry a night or two will kill anyone, and it may just get the message across that I am cooking one meal, and that's it.

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