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Grocery Shopping Plans for December

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Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Last month I ended up straying from my planned list a little. I know there was a possibility of a .49 cent pasta sale, and I didn't put it on my list, but when it did end up happening, we bought quite a bit. I also stocked up a fair amount on some items from my list, which meant I had to pass on other items. And some things, like oranges and onions, never did come down to the prices I was hoping to see. I'm hoping oranges and onions will come down this month, especially the week before Christmas.

December is a great month for holiday sales: baking items, hams, and citrus fruits.

Oranges. I'm looking for a price under .33 a pound. Normally they are .97 a pound here, but a sale close to Christmas can bring them down, sometimes as low as .20 a pound. We've had a lot of grocery stores closings in this area, so I don't know if we'll see prices this low or not, but if we do, I'll buy half a cart's worth of oranges. They last several months in the refrigerator (or in a cold, above freezing garage) so we can eat them next month, too.

Onions. I am hoping for under .25 a pound, and then I will buy 50 pounds. So far the lowest price I have seen on yellow onions (yellow are usually the lowest priced option) is .48 a pound. I'm hoping for lower before I stock up.

Clementines The Prudent Homemaker

Clementines and/or mandarins. I buy these on sale for $1.00 a pound. There are occasional coupons for these as well; I used one last month for $0.50 off. They come bagged in 2, 3, and 5 pound bags, and this is the season for them. These are one of my favorites, and my family's favorites, too. All nine of us can easily eat a 3 pound bag's worth at the end of a meal, so I'll buy a fair amount of these.

Potatoes. We bought less than 100 pounds last month--a big change from our usual November purchase of several hundred pounds. My family can easily go through 40-50 pounds a week in the colder months when potatoes are on sale. I'm looking for $0.10 to $0.20 a pound for russets. My plans to dry some have been halted at this point; I'd still like to do it, but physically that is too much for me right now.

Apples. I'll look for sales at .79 a pound or lower on Galas and/or Fujis. Both are good keepers and will last a long time in the fridge drawers (or even in the cool garage; they store well at 34ºF.

Frozen sweet peas. I thought I would see a sale on this, but I never did. The price I was looking for was $1.00 a pound or lower. Most places sell 10-12 ounce bags. Albertson's has their brand (which we prefer) in a 16 ounce bag, and it occasionally goes on sale for $1 a bag. These are specifically marked "sweet peas" or "petite peas" and are sweeter and more pleasant than the regular peas. I go through 1 1/2 pounds at a meal, so if I find this price, I'll buy a large quantity for the freezer.

Pork roasts. Several cuts of pork roasts should be on sale this month. I saw great sales last month on boneless pork loin roast, but I didn't buy any, since I had spent my money on other items. I'll look to purchase some this month on sale, including pork shoulder roasts.

Hams. I bought two hams last month and we ate one. I'll look for another one on sale this month.

Milk. I plan on buying lots of milk this month, both to drink and to make yogurt. Prices have been a bit lower lately; I've been paying $2.57 a gallon for whole milk.

Cream cheese. I bought some on sale last month (they were $1 a package when you buy 10). If I see that sale price again, I'll buy at least another 10 packages, if not more, to last us through next year. Expiration dates are 6 months out, but unopened they will last at least twice as long as that with no change in quality.

Orchids. I didn't find any great prices on orchids last month, though a reader did mention some prices to me that she saw at Home Depot. I know Trader Joe's typically has small ones for $8. Grocery stores have great prices on orchids during the winter. Sam's Club has also had them before.

Marshmallows. Sales should have these at .99 a bag.

Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

We're harvesting lots of Meyer lemons from the garden now. We also have Swiss chard, beet greens, beets, green onions, and herbs. A warmer than usual December and January are predicted, which should mean faster growth of our winter seedlings, including beets, lettuce, radishes, turnips, and more.


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November's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Thanksgiving The Prudent Homemaker

November is the month of Thanksgiving in the U.S., and a lot of food sales revolve around this, starting at the beginning of the month and increasing as we get closer to the fourth Thursday of the month.

Sales tend to revolve around holiday items: turkey; stuffing (and all ingredients, including canned creamed soups, chicken broth,  mushrooms, celery, etc.); cranberry sauce (both canned as well as fresh cranberries), potatoes; yams; sweet potatoes; marshmallows; pie ingredients and toppings (canned pumpkin, pecans, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, spices, pie crusts, flour, butter, whipping cream, cream cheese); green beans (canned, frozen, and fresh) and toppings; canned corn; and frozen vegetables.

Butternut Squash Soup ingredients

Seasonal items tend to go on sale as well, including squash and apples (as well as the above-mentioned vegetables).

Sales on meat are plentiful: chicken, pork roasts, and beef roasts are usually on sale this month.

Meyer Lemons 2014 

In my garden this month, I have lemons ripening. These are about 6 weeks early this year, so I'll be making lots of things with them, as well as putting a lot of them in the refrigerator drawers, where they will last for months. I have fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, basil, Thai basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, and several mints), Swiss chard, beet greens, grape leaves, long beans, Thai peppers, pomegranates, and green onions. I should have some alpine strawberries later this month; the cooler weather has them flowering again.

White Alpine Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker 

My lettuce is coming up. The lettuce that self-seeded earlier didn't like our return to temperatures in the 90's and decided to bolt. I've planted some 29-day varities as well as 52 days types, so I'll be harvesting next month.


Unlike other months, I don't have a plan on where I'll be shopping. I'll be following the sales flyers to decide the best deals.

We've had a change in stores in our area (a few have closed down and others have opened) in the last few years, and some have dramatically changed their policies on minimum purchases required for a discounted price on turkey. How many turkeys I buy will depend on minimum purchase requirements and the price per pound. I am also limited on freezer space this year, as we lost our garage fridge/freezer earlier this year. This will mean that I will be buying fewer turkeys.



Cranberries (I will look for sales and freeze them to can cranberry juice in December)

Whipping cream

Cream cheese

Sour cream


Frozen sweet peas

Canned green beans (there should be coupons to combine with sales on canned goods; in years past I have been able to buy them for as low as $0.20 a can).

Canned corn

Pork roasts


Evaporated Milk (if I find a good sale and coupons on this)

Potatoes (several hundred pounds worth, if I can find a good deal and good quality; you can read how I store and use potatoes here)



Onions (I'll be looking to buy 50 pounds if I find a great price. I'm hoping for $0.20 to $0.25 a pound. So far the lowest price I have seen is $.49 a pound).

Canned olives (these usually start going on sale in November and stay on sale for the next couple of months. I expect to see a few coupons as well) On another note: I was unable to find more than a handful of olives to pick this year, unfortunately, so I will have to wait until next year to post how I make olives.

Canned pineapple (last year these were on sale for two months)

Hot cocoa mix (sales and coupons are to be expected over the next two months)





Orchids. You can read more in my post about orchids. My mom buys orchids for $8 each at Trader Joe's. I'll have her pick some up for me if she goes this month.


Since I'm not able to physically go to the store this month, I'll be making lists and printing coupons, and sending my husband to pick up items.



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October's Grocery Shopping Plans

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Elsa and Armenian Cucumber The Prudent Homemaker

An Armenian cucumber from last year

I've been writing this series on my blog for a just over a year now. Here is last October's post. As you may have noticed, I shop first to fill gaps in my pantry and secondly for fresh items that the garden cannot provide.

In October our temperatures start to drop into the 90's and 80's. It's a busy month in the garden where I will be planting a lot for my fall garden. I have a lot of seeds to plant, both collected from the garden earlier this year as well as those leftover from spring planting.

We've already seen russet potatoes at .20 a pound at Winco (last month). That is as low as they went last year, so I'll be buying potatoes this month if they go that low again and if they look good. My large purchase of potatoes is usually in November, when it is cooler and they will last longer. This year we want to try doing something different. We like to eat potatoes all year, but of course they are on sale at the lowest price in the fall. We are going to try drying some in our dehydrator to see how they turn out. I've read some tutorials on the process. Our November purchase of 300-400 pounds usually lasts until sometime in February. If I can find them for .20 a pound or less, I'll buy more to dry during this month and next month to last us further into next year. If they're .25 a pound, I may not buy as many this month (which is where they are currently priced). How many I purchase will also depend on the quality of the potatoes that I find. I won't buy wet, green, or moldy potatoes (and sometimes that is what the stores have!)

I'll be watching for sales on onions over the next three months as well. Last year I did this same thing with onions, buying a 50-pound bag for $8. We ate many fresh and then dried the rest in the dehydrator to last us when prices were higher. This year I'd like to get 100 pounds if I can get them for that price, so that we can dry more, as we can easily go through 100 pounds in a year. So far the lowest price I am seeing is .48 a pound, but if I can find them for .20 to .25 a pound, that's when I'll stock up.

Apples are a seasonal stock-up item for us, too. I can usually find them on sale for .98 a pound for Galas. If I can find a much lower price (.50 to .78 a pound) I'll buy between 40 and 80 pounds and put them in the refrigerator, where they will last several months. Jonagolds are our favorites, but they are not a good storage apple, so if I find any on a good sale, we will eat them right away.

I'd like to buy some pumpkins and butternut squash this month as well. I'll be looking for the lowest prices (under $1 a pound, and hopefully $0.68 to $0.78 a pound on sale for the squash). For the pumpkins, I'd like something to decorate the house for a while that can be eaten sometime next month. I think the lowest priced option may be to purchase a pumpkin that isn't priced by the pound. If this proves too expensive, however, I'll pass on the pumpkins.

Armenian Cucumbers The Prudent Homemaker

I'm hoping that as the temperatures start to fall, the Armenian cucumber vines will start to send forth female flowers in abundance. They are already starting to set some fruit as the temperatures have dropped below 100º (the ones in the shade; those in full sun are still only putting forth male flowers). I currently have 9 cucumbers growing, and I'm letting them get nice and big so that we will have more to eat (they can get as long as my arm and twice as wide without becoming bitter). I'm letting one grow big and yellow-orange so that I can collect seeds from it. Since Armenian cucmbers are technically melons, rather than turning bitter as they grow, they actually turn sweet when they turn colors, and they taste like a melon rather than a cucumber at that point.

The garden is full of herbs right now (the most prolific being basil and thyme). I will be collecting and drying them to use throughout the rest of the year. I will also be making pesto with the basil from the garden and freezing it.

As the weather cools, the beans should start to produce again.

Swiss Chard in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

The self-seeded Swiss chard (it is Swiss chard, after all, and not beets) is growing rather abundantly. Since Swiss chard is a cut-and-come-again vegetable, I can harvest it and have it grow back in 10 days.

I also have a few heads of lettuce that somehow managed to self-seed in the garden, despite the heat (they are growing in almost complete shade). I'll be planting lots of lettuce seeds this month, but we may also have some ripe in the garden as well by the end of the month. 

I'm cutting grape leaves from the garden. They have a wonderful lemony flavor and are great in soups or on chicken. We are still eating chicken from the freezer and are working to eat down the meat in the freezer to make room for stocking up when the sales come.

On Labor Day, my mom served corn on the cob with a delicious chili-lime seasoning that we sprinkled on top. I love limes, and I was impressed with the way the powdered lime in the seasoning tasted like fresh lime juice. I decided to see if I could buy powdered lime juice in bulk.

Rice and Beans

Here's how I use limes: Years ago, I first learned to eat rice and beans from a Brazilian woman who served it to me in Geneva, Switzerland. As a college student, I was making this recipe one day when my Mexican roommate's mother was visiting. She was watching me cook, and then she piped up and said, "That would be even better if you added lime juice." I bought limes the next time to try it and I loved it like that! Bottled lime juice does not taste the same, but the powdered lime juice does! Limes are not always on sale (and I lost my lime tree to frost last year), so having some lime juice powder on hand would be good. I looked and found that San Franciso Herb Company carries it, so I am ordering some. They have a $35 minimum order, so I will add some other things to my order as well.

For Halloween candy, I've already decided to purchase it from the lowest priced Winco bulk candy section. Last year this was the cheapest option, even after all coupon and sale combinations. Winco puts this candy on sale a week or two before Halloween just for this purpose, so I'll purchase it then. I won't need much; last year we only had 5 children come!  

I didn't find any deals in the store at Target last month for children's vitamins. I'm going to look again for sales this month, as well as on individual vitamins.

I increased our grocery budget from July to September from $300 to $400 a month. This month I return to our $300 a month budget.



(I made one trip already for the first three items and will go back later in the month for the other items, as well as to check prices on apples and onions. Winco doesn't send out ads.)

 Sour cream (currently marked on sale at $1.05 a pound)

Parmesan cheese (important in making pesto for the freezer)

Flour tortillas ( I normally get these at Sam's Club but Winco is closer and I wanted some sooner)

Potatoes (unless I find a better deal elsewhere)

Spreadable margarine (I buy Gold N Soft lowfat in a 3 pound tub for under $3; we use this for toast and on potatoes)





San Francisco Herb Company:

Lime Juice Powder



Cream of Tartar



Tomato Sauce

Balsamic vinegar




Washing Soda



Dental floss (Sam's Club quit carrying this in bulk; if anyone knows a better price, please share!)

Antibiotic ointment (there is currently a 25% off Target Cartwheel offer on this)


Not sure where yet:







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Bulk Foods Smaller Bulk The Prudent Homemaker

What are the holes in your pantry? If your circumstances were to change so that starting in October you would need to live on only what you had stored for the next 12-18 months, what items would you run out of?

This month I would encourage you to strongly consider this question and figure out what is missing in your storage.

For my own family, having lived from our pantry for over a year before, I have a pretty good idea of what I need. I also see gaps where we have eaten items and not replaced them in the amounts we would need if we needed to live from our pantry again.

My priorities this month are those "holes" where I have items, but not enough. I've been working on filling those holes most of this year, but of course, we continue to eat what we have stored. 

My priorities this month are powdered mik, rice, vitamins, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. 

I prefer instant powdered milk in my storage; you can read my thoughts on powdered milk here

My husband had to make a trip to Chandler, Arizona today (not a normal thing at all for us), and just yesterday I heard about an AMAZING price on powdered milk in Tempe, Arizona, which is very close to Chandler. It is $49 for a 50 pound bag (makes 62 1/2 gallons at a cost of $0.78 a gallon).  I had him purchase 4 bags for us. The store is called Milk N' More; here is the address and store hours. They make the milk powder there! 

For vitamins, I am looking to purchase more children's multi-vitamins, I buy the store brand of children's chewables at Target ($7.79 for 150, which is less than a month's worth for my family).  I often find these on sale for $1 off, and then sometimes find additional $0.75 or $1 off Target coupons, and sometimes an additonal 10-15% off on top of that as a Target Cartwheel offer (I add these to my Cartwheel account and then print the paper to be scanned, since I don't have a cell phone, and it works without any problems). Hopefully I'll find some of these items to lower the price this month. (Update: These are on sale for even less online this month--see link above--so I will see if I can get the same price at the store).

I'll purchase everything else at Sam's Club.

Later this week we'll finally see temperatures drop below 100ºF. This is a great blessing for the garden. As the weeks go by and temperatures continue to drop this month, my cucumbers should start producing female flowers (unfortunately, they only produced male flowers last month, as it was around 107º).

I should also (hopefully!) start harvesting more red noodle beans. As the temperatures drop, they also flower more. 

By the last week of the month, temperatures will hopefully drop below 90º, and I'll be able to plant lettuce seeds in the garden. Be watching for a post on fall gardening very soon! I've been collecting lettuce seeds from the garden, and so I won't have to purchase any lettuce seeds for fall planting, and I have lots of other seeds left from last fall and this spring for fall planting.

I am currently picking pears, apples, beet greens, chard, green onions, basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs as needed from the garden.

Olives 2 The Prudent Homemaker

September is the month where I pick olives. I should be able to go olive picking around the end of the month. A lot of people asked me about instructions for olives last time. I was new to doing them and they take a very long time (weeks, depending on how you do them!) and not all of mine were okay at the end of that time. I learned a lot about what works and also learned that there is going to be some loss.  There are a lot of ways to process olives. Our favorite way was the freshest way, which doesn't last long. I'll make sure to put that recipe up, as it is very simple.  I recommend reading this for complete olive instructions. It's long--26 pages--and I suggest printing it and stapling it to refer to while you're processing olives. For most ways of processing olives, you're going to need lye, and you'll want to make sure it is pure lye with no additives. I ended up buying my lye from Amazon.

I've had some questions about starting to stock a pantry. If you're just starting out, my first two choices in items would be bulk rice and beans. Then, should something happen to you financially, you at least have something to eat. The second items I would add would be bulk flour, yeast, and salt, so that you can make bread. Third, I would buy oats in bulk (which can be used for breakfast as well as for dinner).

After that, look at what you eat for a week. How often do you eat spaghetti? Take the number of times you have that per week times 52 to know what you need for a year. If you only have it every other week, take .5 times 52, and if you eat a pound each time, you'll need 26 packages for the year. Now you'll know, when a great pasta sale comes by, how much you'll need. Pasta sales, of course, include other shapes, so think of how many times you make pasta salad, chicken noodle soup, or other pasta dishes, and stock up on each of those at the sale as well.

Do the same with other items that you purchase, and you'll know how much your family needs of an item, so that when sales come, you can stock up.

For my pantry list, click here.

I wish you all the best in filling the holes in your pantry this month!





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August's Shopping Plans

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Armenian Cucumbers on Scale The Prudent Homemaker

Last year's Armenian cucumbers


It's the 11th of August and I still haven't been to the grocery store.

I have, however, finally written down my priorities for the month, which are all long-term pantry items. 

I never did make it to Walmart last month, instead choosing to buy multiples of some items at Sam's Club while I was there, so all of last month's Walmart items are on my list, plus a few more. I also didn't make it to Winco, but my husband ran in to get margarine and potatoes, so I have the other Winco items on my list as well. I also somehow forgot to purchase some things on my Sam's Club list! Those are back on my list for this month.

The garden is full of herbs (basil, mints, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives).

My red noodle beans are coming in. I have more vines that are growing, too, which should increase my yield.

The first two of my Armenian cucumbers are starting to ripen on the vine, and I think we'll get quite a few this month. If you recall from photos I've posted in the past, these can easily get two feet long without being bitter. Also, as they are technically a melon, they can be left on the vine longer to turn into a large, peach colored, sweet melon. I love that they serve a double duty in the garden. 

My Asian pears are ripe this month, and my Bartletts may be ripe this month as well.

My Jonagold apples are ripe this month.

We're still cutting green onions (we harvest those all year long).

I plan on harvesting a good number of grape leaves this month.

I expect some other things will be ripe as well, including Thai peppers, and hopefully a few more tomatoes. 

We were also blessed this month with zucchini from friends' gardens and peaches from my father-in-law's tree. I'm hoping my own zucchini plants produce, but they are not flowering yet.



Brown lentils

Pink Beans

Old-Fashioned Oats

Non-iodized salt (for canning pickles)

Couscous (I haven't bought this from here before, but I haven't bought any in a long time and I know they sell it in bulk)




Knorr Tomato Bullion powder

Vegetable Oil

Powdered milk


Sam's Club:

POM toilet paper


Knorr Chicken Bullion powder

White vinegar (I'll need several gallons for the pickles I will can from our cucumbers this year)

Mozzarella cheese



All-Pupose flour




My mom has a card, so I'll go with her for some things.


Balsamic vinegar

Tomato Sauce


.99 Store:

My mom usually goes to this store once a month, so I'll either go with her or ask her to pick these up for me.

Cotton Swabs (1000 in a package)



I did run to Target earlier this month to purchase a couple of clothing items for my daughter that she needed for camp. I will be watcing Totally Target blog for any deals on items that we can use that are worth a trip. I am grateful for this blogger who helps me match up the coupons, Target Cartwheel, and sales at Target.

Eye drops (store brand)

Antibiotic ointment (store brand)

Zest soap


In addition, I'll watch for great sales on items I need. In years past, I have purchased peaches and pears on sale to can in August.  I may or may not purchase either of these, depending on prices this year.


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July's Shopping Plans

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Early Elberta Peaches 2 The Prudent Homemaker 

I skipped my trip to Sam's Club last month, since there was a  .49 a pound pasta sale at Smith's. That is a price that only comes around a couple of times a year, so I went there to buy that, milk (which was on sale for lower than Sam's price), men's deodorant, and more ice cream.

This means I have all of last month's items to buy, as well as a few more items to buy, (including some that are on sale) at Sam's Club right now. I'll go to Sam's Club right at the beginning of the month. I'm also going to buy a larger quantity of some of these items.

I'm placing an online order from San Francisco Herb Company as part of this month's shopping.

I feel that right now it is essential to stock our pantries. If your pantry is low on anything, I highly recommend that you take the time this summer to fill in any gaps. Do not delay this. If you have the space for a fall garden, please plant one. Purchase open-pollinated seeds in large quantities. (Outside Pride has a July sale for 15% off any orders through July 5th; use code JULY. Territorial Seed Company has released their fall catalog and you can find a fall planting chart here).

I will be focusing the bulk of my purchases on pantry items over the next several months.

The garden provides lots of fresh items this month. I am picking peaches, grapes, and red noodle beans. I will harvest and dry sage, oregano, spearmint, hot peppers, passionflower leaves, blackberry leaves and basil. I also have green onions, leeks, Swiss chard, a few strawberries, and more herbs that I will harvest from the garden.  

My cucumber and zucchini plants are alive, but small. I don't expect to get anything from them yet, but I am grateful to have some plants that have finally not been eaten by bugs!

A note for those who are in the northern hemisphere in a cooler climate than I am: July is a great month to start seeds for a fall harvest. This is a helpful chart for fall planting.


Sam's Club:

Rice ($8.64 for 25 pounds)

Worcestershire sauce (this is on sale)

Knorr Chicken Bullion powder (this is now .40 less at Sam's Club than Walmart)

Black pepper


Powdered sugar

Brown sugar

All-purpose flour


Chocolate Chips (By the time Sam's Club opens in the morning, it is 105º, and the car is much hotter inside. I'll take ice in an insulated bag to the store so that I can bring these home unmelted.)




K.C. Masterpiece BBQ sauce

Pancake Syrup After reading how many of you make your own I will be trying that instead.

White Vinegar

Oxi-Clean Powder

POM Toilet paper

Cheddar Cheese (5 pound block for $11.66)

Mozarella cheese (5 pounds shredded for $10.66)

Pepperoni (the only exception to my $2 price per pound limit--it's $10.52 for 3 pounds--but we only use a tiny amount at a time when we make pizza)

Gatorade powder (I have never bought this, but after reading the comments here and researching prices, this looks like a great way to store an electrolyte solution for when people are sick, and it looks to be lower cost than other options).



Pink beans


Potatoes (if I can find them for .20 a pound or less)

Carrots (I am drying some each month in my dehydrator)





Knorr Tomato Bullion powder

Vegetable Oil


San Franciso Herb Company:


Cheddar cheese powder

Lemon juice powder

Cream of Tartar

Cocoa powder (Dutch process is $5.72 a pound if you buy 5 or more pounds, otherwise it is $6.35 a pound)


Parsley powder

Hibiscus flowers


Orange peel granules 



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