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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 coupons.com 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:

 

Winco:

Potatoes ($0.25 a pound )

Milk

La Victoria Salsa (I have coupons)

La Victoria green enchilada sauce (I have coupons)

 

Albertson's:

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)

Milk

Celery

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)

 

Vons:

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!)

 

Target:

Salon Graphix Unscented Extra Super Hold hairspray

Playtex Sport Tampons (there are $1.50 off coupons on coupons.com 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

Milk

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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Comments

  • Lori @ Myvintagewhims July 04, 2017

    Also, I want to add that I'm not going to force the kids to eat a plate full of food they hate. We are encouraging them to try new things - like green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, chicken (not nuggets!), general things like that. And we ask them to eat like a teaspoon size of whatever, but even that is met with complete meltdowns. Dad has told them if they don't eat what we're eating, then there is no dessert and no after dinner snack, so that's working somewhat. I try to make enough variety that everyone will have something they like. I think they've been allowed to utter "Ewww I don't like xxxx" so much, that they think that will be acceptable here. Most of the time, whatever they claim they don't like, is stuff they've never even tried!!

  • Jen July 03, 2017

    New blended families need time to mesh. I would not try to fix their eating habits. Just offer love and healthy food. In the end it won't matter if they ate too much pb&j . What works for one family may not work for every family. Lead by love and example. Home is a refuge. ❤️

  • Jaymi July 04, 2017

    Love this. I don't enjoy cooking 18 meals, but there are definitely bigger things to fry when it comes to families. When I had a very picky eating stepson I would casually mention the menu for the day and let him know that's what we are eating and he was welcomed to join us. He would sometimes go a day and a half of not eating much, but he knew what was expected and I did it from love.

  • Andrea Q July 04, 2017

    I very much agree with this. They are not your children and at least for now, it is really up to their father. Additionally, letting them go hungry could lead to significant issues with the other biological parent if they complain, plus the possibility of hard feelings and resentment from the children toward you, which will make developing a strong bond with them much more difficult. I'd get them involved in food shopping and preparation...make food choices exciting, interesting and empowering.

  • Kimberly Mozdzen July 05, 2017

    I kind of agree with Andrea on this one. I5 years ago I was a new stepmonster. I understand about not wanting to cook 3 different meals....but what about having 3 options, 1 what you are cooking, 2 peanut butter and jelly or 3 nothing?

  • JENNIFER Brown July 08, 2017

    This has always been our menu, and even though we only have 5 children, it remains a steadfast rule.

  • Amie July 18, 2017

    My parents did something like this. Tell them they have to try 2 bites of everything to get a pb sandwich. They just can't have any junk w it. And my family never had desserts every dinner. I had an ex who did. My dad was T1 diabetic and we were not raised eating a lot of sweets.

  • Rhonda A. July 04, 2017

    Lori, my brother, daughter and I are all very picky eaters, so I have a lot of experience with this. My daughter is on the Autism spectrum, so there are sensory issues at work for her as well. First, I just want to say that most people, even those who claim they are not picky, have likes and dislikes when it comes to food. For some of us, there are just more things we don't like or the things we don't like are common food items most recipes include (like onions and tomatoes). Since these children are young, their taste buds may change over time (mine did, especially as an adult). Be patient, offer variety, encourage tasting, but don't push or force as this would turn anyone off.

    Second, I get the short order cook issue. I have the same issue in our house. One of the things that helps is to make meals where everyone can choose what topping they put on their meal. Examples are tacos, wraps, pasta with different sauce & add in options, baked potato bars, salad bars, and/or make your own pizzas. It will allow everyone to pick what they want, but still expose them to other options without pushing. Honestly, this has been a huge help in our family.

    Another option is to take into consideration what you are having, realize this is not something that the picky eaters are going to enjoy and make one item that they will eat. The rest of their meal will be what everyone else is having. For instance, if you are making a stir-fry with rice, and you know the picky eaters will not eat this, then make them chicken fingers, but have them eat some of the veggies from the stir-fry that you know they like and rice as a side dish. This way it is not a completely separate meal, just the meat is different. It still encourages them to eat the meal you prepared, allows them some comfort of food they prefer, and you are not putting great efforts into a second meal.

    I hope these suggestions help you find a way to make meal time better for everyone!

  • Lilllanna Pickles July 04, 2017

    This was an extreme and complicated problem during my blended family time. The step children were catered to with any meal demands they had by their mother. Dad was so use to it that he found it acceptable. The problem was that he did none of the meal preparations. If the children complained to their mother that I refused to cater to their whims, she complained to dad. Dad then complained to me. Blending a family can be difficult without dealing with nonsense issues. I prepared meals and served them. If you ate, that was great and if you didnt, fine! If you don't eat, there is no dessert. Dad finally got on board after the family therapist suggested that I should not be a short order cook. The children did not starve and could always eat at school or at mom's house. It took a while but the children eventually learned that there were different rules at different places. Being consistent is the only thing that helped. It took a year to adjust. I swear that one child ate a 32 ounce container of yogurt With cocoa pebbles on it everyday for 6 years. The other one only ate buttered bread and the princess only ate buttered noodles. grrrrrrr. Be blessed

  • Stacy July 04, 2017

    What I do with my nephews is let them help with the meal planning. I give them two options and let them pick from those two. I also think its important to meal plan with their tastes in mind. I meam, if you are in charge of planning meals, are you going to choose a bunch of things you wouldn't eat? Probably not. Just don't be like my stepmother. Our food preferences bothered her, so she made stuff we didn't like on purpose on the nights we spent over. (And I promise I was not just mad at her for making food I didn't like - she was very vocal about doing it on purpose.)

  • Juls Owings July 04, 2017

    As a step parent who had picky stepchildren.FIRST..the parent needs to set the rules to the kids after you set the rules to the parent (Tongue in cheek there). If can be more of what they are used to rather than preference at 6 and 3. As a personal chef I always asked for the menu of what the preschool/daycare/school was having because I know they were eating that. For bfast... limit the cold cereal to once a week. Like Monday....something to look forward to.I actually got my grandson (Age 6 at the time) when he first moved in with us (after 2 yrs of pop tarts and cold cereal ,made me wonder where my own child had went to Just FYI she's been clean and sober for 3 yrs now today and no bipolar either) and offered him grilled cheese (cheese quesadilla), veggie pizza,overnight no cook oatmeal cups, microwave omelet (Conelle salad plate works great) and Homemade egg Mc Muffin (also made in Corelle small bowl) or scrambled eggs. When my step kids were picky about not eating certain foods I found my darling new hubby had backed the kid instead of his ex about that and it got dealt clearly that if he didn't want to make it clear then he could do ALL the cooking and CLEANING.
    Have the kids help prep the food... have them watch shows about cooking. BUT KEEP HUMOR not anger or frustration at the front of all talks

  • Debby in Kansas July 04, 2017

    THough I have no kids, I wanted to offer a food suggestion anyway! I know that Brandy already posted something similar about the beans in her burritos.

    My mom fed us canned spinach as a kid and I gagged through it every time. To this day, the sight gags me. Flash forward to my late teens and I go to a restaurant called The Good Earth and order a side salad. I tell my friend that I never had this type of lettuce before & it's delicious....what is it? And she tells me it's not lettuce, it's spinach. :::thud::: My mom could've been feeding me raw spinach my whole life without an issue. I had the same issue with pumpkin pie. I hated it. I later discovered it was the texture that I didn't like. I still don't like the pie, but I love pumpkin everything else. Sometimes it's the way something is prepared, not the food itself. As a grown up, my husband has learned the same thing about foods he hated as a kid.
    IT's worth a try!

  • Amie July 18, 2017

    Yes...definitely a texture thing. My 8yr does not like peas or beans. She'll eat raw sugar snap peas. She loves bean burritos. I finally got her to eat bean soup. Told her it's the same beans in the burritos. Just added some cheese and tortilla chips and she ate a small bowl. Yay I'm a very plain eater(mom was too). I just don't like most sauces. I ate salad dry for yrs. People cringe when they find out I'm a plain eater, but they usually realize I can eat most things. Especially build your own dishes. I just don't add a ton of extras or salt. Everyone's taste buds change over time too.

  • Judy July 06, 2017

    Lori,

    I don't know if this will help or not. But Katie Kimball at www.kitchenstewardship.com has an excellent course for teaching children to cook. I've seen a few of her modules. She teaches simple skills. She's a teacher and they are very well done.

    I know this is a new situation as their stepmother. But it might be something to look at in the future.

    I have celiac disease and I'm also dairy-free and sadly react to a lot of healthy foods. Both of my children are gluten free as well as my grandchildren. So I've worked with tricky food situations for other reasons.

    Good luck to you.

    Judy

  • Rhonda A. July 03, 2017

    I was reading your list of meals with great interest, Brandy. I'm sure it can be a challenge to feed so many hungry, growing children on such a tight budget. Yet you always do such an amazing job with healthy choices on your menu. I've been reading a lot about what to buy with a tight grocery budget, lately, as I'm trying to glean ideas of cheap, simple meals (I like the idea of creating a variety of tasty meals with simple, limited ingredients). I was wondering if you ever make rice pudding topped with fruit for desserts or snacks in the summer? Perhaps your family isn't a big fan of rice pudding or do you see it as more of a winter food. Just curious, really, so please don't take this question as a judgement!

    This month I will be looking into buying some seasonal produce and fruit as they become available. Lettuce was cheap at $1/head of Romaine, so we bought 4 this weekend. I'd like to buy a bushel or half bushel of beans (green and/or yellow waxed) from the farmer's market to blanch and freeze for winter this year. Normally I buy some to add to what I grow. However, this year we don't have a garden. I will also watch for excellent sales on broccoli (usually $1/bunch), and possibly cauliflower (the closer to $1 the better, but it's gone up in price the last few years), to blanch and freeze for winter as well. I've been craving broccoli salad lately, so hoping for cheap and fresh soon. I will try to get some fresh tomatoes from work for my mom and hubby to enjoy (DD & I don't like them...yes we're weird).

    We bought 3 flats of strawberries just this weekend as they were very late this year due to rain. We also bought 8 pineapples on sale for $1.50 each. I canned 7 pineapples into 13 pints of pineapple chunks for the pantry and cut up one for fresh eating. I will be watching for raspberries this month and will probably purchase at least 1 flat. These are far more expensive than strawberries usually, but my family (especially my mom) loves raspberry jam.

    As always, I will watch the fliers for great sales and stock up as I find things my family will eat. My list includes eggs, tortilla wraps, nachos, yogurt and sweet potato fries so far. I'm sure more will be added as time goes on.

  • You know, I DO think of rice pudding as a winter food! I never really thought about that. I have not put fresh fruit on it before--only raisins! I wonder how my family would like that with peaches in the summer. I will have to try it! Thanks Rhonda for the idea!

  • Melissa V July 05, 2017

    Indian Kheer is a dessert which I LOVE as long as it doesn't have the wheat in it (gluten intolerant) I have had it both hot and cold and actually prefer it cold. The also have a mango "icecream" type of dessert that is very refreshing as well ( I can't remember the name for it though) The Kheer doesn't have to have any of the expensive nuts in it but topped with some berries it would be divine! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kheer

  • Bobbie July 03, 2017

    I find these posts such an inspiration for improving our household's frugality and appreciate you sharing. I'm curious if your oldest has considered a menstrual cup? I use a diva cup and it is one one the best purchases I have ever made. It can also be used while swimming. The investment over time such a cost and environmental saver. Cannot recommend it enough.

  • We both have one--but she prefers the washable pads for normal use (still a savings, though not as much as the cup) and tampons for swimming. Since she rarely needs the tampons, they'll be fine for a long time!

  • Lisa in Georgia, USA July 03, 2017

    I went to Publix tonight because Barilla pasta was on sale...Buy One, Get One Free. I would have saved more money if I had coupons (Publix in GA still doubles coupons that do not exceed 50 cents in value), but there are currently none to be found. At least the Barilla pasta still come in a 16 ounce box, unlike many other brands that have reduced the amount. I was able to purchase two boxes for the price of one....$1.47, which comes out to 73 and 74 cents per box. I restocked my pantry with 6 boxes of whole wheat spaghetti and 2 boxes of whole wheat rotini...8 boxes, 16 ounces each for a total price of $5.88. *Hint: for those of us who live in the southeast and want to protect boxed pasta from humidity and little pests, I wrap each box in plastic wrap before storing them in my pantry.

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