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My post, What I'll Spend for Food, has been one of my most popular posts. Several readers have asked for an updated version that includes current prices, as prices have risen since I have written that post.

At the time I wrote that (3 years ago this month) sales for both us and our agents were far and few between, and my grocery budget was $100 a month for our family of 9. A year later, were were able to increase our budget to $200 a month, and two years later (last January), as sales had begun to increase in our city, for both us and our agents, I increased our budget to $300 a month. (Note: For those who don't know, my husband is the broker and owner of a real estate company, and we have around 40 agents at our company).

This didn't mean I greatly increased our price points on most items, however. I still aim to find the lowest possible prices and buy items at that price.

With growing children whose appetites are increasing, I an serving larger portions than I did in 2013. I currently have a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, as well as 5 younger children. My son has the typical appetite for a growing boy his age, and my husband tells me I haven't seen anything yet when it comes to how his appetite will increase even more over the next few years! 

And so, I expect that the need to increase our budget will continue to grow, as our children continue to grow.

For now, I am keeping my budget at $300 a month for our family of 9. This includes both food, toiletries, and cleaning items. I have been asked if it includes "paper items", which I believe means disposable items used with food. I don't buy a lot of items in that category, but I do buy Ziploc freezer bags, toilet paper, and paper towels. We don't use paper towels for cleaning or for drying our hands; we use paper towels for draining oil or grease from foods that need it. (Some people have suggested using newspaper or paper bags for this, but we don't get the newspaper, and I take reusable cloth bags with me when I shop).

Keeping my purchases within my price points means I won't buy items if they go above that price. We will choose something else (see my post "Comparing Apples to Oranges"). It also means waiting to purchase items when they get this low.

I have had some readers tell me my prices are low, and some tell me they are high. My readers are from around the globe, and prices vary a lot depending on where you live. Our "local" produce in the grocery store (and yes, the ads mark it that way) is from the next state over, because I live in one of the driest deserts in the world, and food is not being produced here. What might be the lowest price for me may be vastly different for someone on the other side of the country. When making a price book for yourself, study the ads for 12 weeks (the typical grocery cycle) and sometime in that 12 week time period, you will see the lowest prices on most items come around. 

There are exceptions, of course. Some items go on sale 1-2 times a year at their lowest price. This is always the case with in-season produce, and also the case with a few holiday special items. I wait to purchase these items all year at their lowest price.

Where a range of prices is listed, that is the typical lowest price sales range in my area.

Note: For my readers outside the U.S., 1 pound equals 0.453592 kg.1 pound is 16 ounces.

Berries in Colander The Prudent Homemaker 


I keep my produce price to $1 a pound or less, with an exception noted below. Several items that used to be on my produce purchase list are now no longer on my list, since I grow them instead.

Russet Potatoes: $0.10 to $0.25 a pound, always purchased in a 10 pound bag. I still occasionally find them for $0.10 a pound, but there is a usually a limit of one bag at this price now. I generally find them on sale in season (fall-winter) on sale for $0.20 a pound.

Apples: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. Again, I find the best prices in fall and winter. I also grow apples in my garden; my best producing tree is a Dorsett Golden, that is ripe in June.

Oranges: With the razing of so many orange groves in California in 2015 due to drought, as well as several store closings in our area that used to have cheap oranges, this price has changed. The lowest I found this year was $0.68 a pound, with typical sales prices going to $0.99 a pound this winter. I currently have two small orange trees planted in pots, but they are young and not yet producing.

Limes: I buy a bag of 12 from the .99 store, or else I use powdered lime juice (which tastes as good as fresh) from San Francisco Herb Company.

Broccoli: This is in season in winter, and I pay $.99 a pound for crowns at Winco, and blanche and freeze it when it is on sale. I also grow a bit in my garden. If I can find it for less, I'll buy even more at once.

Petite Peas: $1.00 a pound, frozen, bought on sale at Alberston's a few times a year.

Asparagus: $0.99 a pound in season in spring, but I also grow some in my garden.

Corn: Canned corn comes in a 15 ounce can (16 ounces equals one pound). I'll pay $0.33 to $0.45 on sale a couple of times a year. For fresh ears, I'll pay $0.20 to $0.25 each. I do not grow corn, as our extreme heat means it rarely tassels and the plants burn in the harsh sunshine.

Green Beans: Canned green beans comes in a 15 ounce can (16 ounces equals one pound). I'll pay $0.33 to $0.45 on sale a couple of times a year. The only beans that grow here in our heat are the yard-long beans, and they usually need some afternoon shade to keep them from cooking and burning on the vines. I grow them, but not enough for our family. Most of the year it is too hot for even this type to flower.

Bananas: $0.59 to $.79 is the typical price here.

Carrots: $0.40 a pound in a 10-pound bag at Winco

Onions: $0.38 to $0.48 a pound

Clementines: $1.00 a pound in season in winter

Strawberries: $1.25 a pound in season. I grow both red strawberries and white, miniature alpine strawberries (shown in the picture above with blackberries from my garden) but not enough for my family. When they are in season in the spring (typically March/April here) I buy a lot on sale to make jam, to freeze, to make popsicles, to make shortcakes, and to eat fresh.

Milk and Eggs The Prudent Homemaker 


Milk: $2.59 to $3.15 a gallon for whole milk are the lowest sales prices in my area. I also use milk to make yogurt.

Sour Cream: $1.00 to $1.25 a pound on sale.

Butter: $2.00  to $2.40 a pound. This is a seasonal deal at this price. I freeze butter to use thoughout the year in baking and occasional sauteeing.

Spreadable Margarine: $2.54 to $2.79 for a three-pound tub of Gold N Soft Light. I use this on toast, baked potatoes, etc.

Eggs: Egg prices in the U.S. doubled last year.  I now occasionally can find them on sale for $1.25 a dozen, but it's a rare price. I buy a lot at that price. (typically 15 dozen at a time). The American Egg Board says that eggs are good for 4-6 weeks past their sell-by date, so keep that in mind when stocking up on eggs.

Mozarella Cheese: $2.17 to $2.5 a pound, bought shredded in a 5 pound bag at Sam's Club. (In summer I sometimes will also buy a 5 pound block).

Cheddar Cheese: $2.39 to $2.79 a pound, bought in a 5 pound block at Sam's Club

Parmesan cheese:  $1.32 a pound, sold ina 24 ounce container at Winco (shelf-stable Winco brand)

Feta cheese: $4.66 a pound sold in a 24 ounce pound container at Costco ($6.99) or Sam's Club (Sam's price is $8.48, or $5.65 a pound)

Cream Cheese: $1.00 for a half pound block, on sale usually November-December. It lasts all year in the fridge in the cheese drawer, so I buy a bunch when it goes on sale. I don't freeze it, as it changes texture, and we generally use it on bagels.



My rule is still nothing over $2 a pound, with one exception (noted below). That hasn't changed. Since beef prices doubled, however, it cut beef off our menu. I've read rumors of it coming down in 2016, but we'll have to see if that actually happens.

When I see meat on sale at these prices, I stock up and put it in my freezer. We have two fridge/freezers, plus a stand-alone large freezer.

Chicken, whole: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. I look for chickens that are 4 to 5 pounds.

Chicken, thighs/legs, bone-in: $0.69 to $.0.89 a pound. This usually comes in a 10 pound bag at this price.

Chicken, boneless skinless breasts: $1.99 a pound. I don't buy this cut real often.

Turkey: $0.79 to $0.99 a pound. I buy the largest birds I can find. Turkey prices have increased greatly, as have required sales amounts to purchase turkeys at holidays.

Hams: $0.99 to $1.69 a pound, on sale at the holidays

Pork Roasts, boneless: $1.89 to $1.99 is a typical sales price that we see a few times a year.

Pepperoni: This is exception to the $2 a pound or under rule. I buy pepperoni a few times a year for putting on our homemade pizzas, and it is $2.96 a pound at Sam's Club, sold in a 3 pound bag. It doesn't take much to cover a pizza, so I don't use much in a meal.


Pantry/Bulk items:

Pasta: 3 times a year I can buy pasta on sale for $0.49 a pound, so I stock up then. The exception is farfalle, which we like in some dishes. I buy that on sale for $0.75 to $0.79 a pound.

Pinto beans: $0.53 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Winco

Black beans: I stocked up on these last year at $0.68 a pound, but that source no longer carries them in bulk, so when I buy more I'll need to pay $0.99 a pound at Winco.

White beans: I stocked up on these last year at $0.68 a pound, but that source no longer carries them in bulk, so when I buy more I'll need to pay $0.81 a pound at Winco.

Kidney Beans: $1.04 a pound

Brown Lentils: $0.97 a pound

Long-Grain White Rice: $0.34 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club.

Basmati Rice: $0.80 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club

Oats (Old-fashioned, also called Rolled Oats): $0.65 a pound, sold for $16.15 for a 25 pound bag at Winco

Wheat: $0.28 a pound for white wheat, and $0.24 a pound for red wheat, bought in a 25 pound bag at the LDS Cannery

All-Purpose Flour: $0.31 a pound, bought in a 25 pound bag at Sam's Club

Yeast: $2.39 a pound, sold in a 2 pound pack at Sam's Club

Baking Soda: $0.423 a pound, sold in a 13.5 pound container at Sam's Club ($5.72)

Baking Powder: $0.096 an ounce, sold in a 60 ounce container at Sam's Club ($5.78)

Cornstarch: $0.093 an ounce,  sold in a 35 ounce container for $3.28 at Sam's Club

White Vinegar: $1.99 a gallon, sold in a 2 gallon package at Sam's Club

Balsamic Vinegar: $10.99 a liter at Costco. (This is the biggest price increase I have; I paid about 40% less at Sam's Club, but our store no longer carries this item.)

Salt, Iodized: $0.32 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Sam's Club

Salt, Kosher: $0.74 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Winco

Salt, Canning/Pickling: $0.32 a pound, sold in a 4 pound box at Winco

Sugar, Granulated: $0.398 a pound, sold in a 10 pound bag at Sam's Club

Sugar, Brown: $0.698 a pound, sold in a 4 pound bag at Sam's Club (I don't make my own, as molasses is fairly pricey and we go through a fair amount of brown sugar).

Sugar, Powdered: $0.68 a pound, sold in a 4 pound bag at Sam's Club. I don't make my own, as my blender has never turned sugar into powder with any success. I only occasionally use powdered sugar.

Vanilla Extract: $8.98 a pound. I'm considering making this but not I'm not sure if the price will be much lower. However, this has gone up a lot.

Chocolate Chips: $1.99 a pound, bought in a 4.5 pound bag at Sam's Club

Almonds: $5.99 a pound, bought in a 48 ounce bag at Sam's Club

Popcorn: $0.48 a pound, bought in a 50 pound bag at Sam's Club. We pop this on the stove with a little vegetable oil.

Vegetable Oil: $4.98 for a gallon at Winco

Olive Oil, extra-virgin: $5.99 a liter, bought in a 3-liter container at Sam's Club

Knorr Chicken Bullion: $4.44 for a 2.2 pound container at Sam's Club

Knorr Tomato Bullion: $4.8 for a 2.2 pound container at Walmart

Canned Tomato Sauce: $2.89 for a #10 can (6 pounds 10 ounces; 106 ounces) at Costco

Canned Tomatoes: $3.28 for a #10 can (102 ounces) at Sam's Club

Cranberries, Dried: $2.66 a pound, bought in a 48 ounce bag at Sam's Club

Raisins: $2.12 a pound, bought in a 2 30-ounce bags at Sam's Club

Poppy Seeds, mustard seeds, cream of tartar: Under $2.50 a pound at San Francisco Herb Company. I also buy other herbs there, such as cinnamon.


Meyer Lemons in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

Items I don't buy because I grow them in the garden:

I have a .24 acre lot in the desert, with over 40 fruit trees, most of which are semi-dwarf trees. My garden is watered with drip irrigation. We have 6 months of above 90º temperatures, running April through October, and summer days in my part of the city are typically 110º to 113º. We have sunshine almost every day of the year.

I aim to always have something ripe in the garden. You can see my garden calendar here. I live in a U.S. zone 9a.

I grow almost all open-pollinated seeds. By so doing, I am able to collect my own seeds to replant each year, saving me the need to purchase seeds for everything every year. There are a few seeds and plants that I still need to purchase each year, but that number is becoming fewer each year as I see success with collecting my own seeds.

Lemons: We have 6 lemons trees, with 2 large enough to produce. I dry and freeze zests, plus freeze juice to use throughout the year. We make our own lemonade with these.

Peaches: We have three peach trees-two in back and one in front of the house (with the two in back large enough to produce). The two  producing ones are Desert Gold, a semi-freestone that ripens in May, and Early Elberta, a freestone peach that ripens in July, and typically givens me enough peaches to can a dozen jars, plus all of the peaches I eat fresh.

Apricots: I have three apricot trees, with one large enough for good-sized crop. The producing one is a Royal Blenheim, and it is ripe in June. The other two trees are Katy apricots, and one of them (in the front yard) gives us a few apricots at the end of April/beginning of May.

Figs: I have a Mission Fig tree. Mission figs are unusual in that they double crop. I get a crop in June and again in August.

Blackberries: I harvest these in May. The heat and sunshine make them small (they need to be grown here with afternoon shade so as not to burn on the vine).

Grapes: I grow Thompson's Seedless, Red Flame Seedless, some seeded large green grapes that were all marked Red Flame (but aren't!) and I have a Concord vine, though it rarely produces more than a handful of grapes. My grapes ripen from late June to early August.

Pears: I have a small espaliered 20th Century Asian pear, as well as 2 Bartlett pear trees that have never grown very large.

Pomegranates: I have 2 potted pomegranate trees.

Green Onions: These reseed themselves in the garden each year, and are a cut and come again vegetable. I grow and harvest these year-round. To read more about green onions, read my post "How to Grow Green Onions and Collect Your Own Seeds." I bought green onion plants 9 years ago, and I haven't had to buy any since, as they reseed themselves.

Snow Peas: I plant these in fall for an April harvest.

Swiss Chard (silverbeet): I grow Fordhook Giant chard. This is an open-pollinated type that self-seeds. I also collect seeds from this. It grows year-round in my garden.

Beets: I grow these in the garden fall-spring. I grow open-pollinated types and allow some to go to seed each year. We eat the greens as well as the beets.

Turnips: These grow fall-early spring.

Lettuce: I harvest lettuce in the early spring. Last year I collected quite a few lettuce seeds from one variety.

Radishes: I grow these fall-early spring.

Artichokes in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Artichokes: I harvest these in April. Artichokes are a pernnial plant, that may or may not return each year. I planted some new plants last fall.

Armenian Cucumbers on Scale The Prudent Homemaker

Cucumbers: The only cucumbers that don't go bitter and still produce female flowers in our heat are Armenian cucumbers. These can grow to arm's length without becoming bitter. I use these to can pickles.

Tomatoes: I buy plants at the nursery to set out in February. Our last frost date is February 15th, and come April/May, we'll see temperatures of 100º, which stops my tomatoes from flowering until the last week of October. Consequently, I am unable to grow enough to can, so I buy canned sauce and canned tomatoes, but fresh ones come from the garden.

Herb Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

Herbs: I grow enough of the following herbs that I don't need to purchase them: Basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, garlic chives, onion chives, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint and thyme. I make my own herbal tea from some of these.

Larkspur and Rose arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

Flowers: I grow my own flowers in the garden from bulbs, seeds, perennial plants, and the occasional annuals. One flower I like to buy is orchids. You can see why I think orchids are a frugal flower choice in my post here. I like to have enough flowers to make arrangments all year long. Here are my tips for growing more flowers for less.


There are, of course, other items that I will buy on occasion, but these are the typical items I buy on a regular basis.

I'm sure you're wondering why some items aren't on this list, such as cold cereal, bread or salad dressing. I don't buy these items. For my list of more items I don't buy, see here. For bread and cracker recipes, click here, and for salad dressing recipes, click here.


I've also had questions about what stores I have available in my area. We're blessed to have several stores not far from here, which leads to better competition and lower sales prices. Within a mile and a half, I have access to Walmart, Target, Winco, Costco, and Walgreens. Within five miles I have two Smith's (a Kroger affiliate), Vons, two CVS, another Target, another Walmart, and two Albertson's stores, as well as Sam's Club.  I rarely visit the drug stores (CVS and Walgreen's), and I don't have a Costco card (but my parents do, so if I need something from there, I'll go with them). This leaves me with a lot of choices and options for sales. In adition, the LDS cannery is not far from here (where I purchase bulk wheat berries). I order spices online from San Francisco Herb Company.

Our grocery ads (for Smith's, Vons, and Albertson's) come in the mail on Tuesdays, and our sales here run Wednesdays through Tuesdays. (Drug store ads come in the mail on Thursdays for sales running Sunday through Saturday).  I don't subscribe to the newspaper, but a free local section comes with a smaller number of Smart Source coupons on Thursday (compared to what subscribers get). I print coupons online from Coupons.com, Red Plum, and Target, as well as the Target Cartwheel offers. 

I'm sure I've left a few items out, so if you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I'll update the post with any missing items.

Lastly, I'd like to encourage you to make your own price book with the lowest sales prices for items in your area, wherever you are in the world. This will help you to know when to stock up on items, making your money go further on the things you already buy!









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A Few Black Friday Deals to Share

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Thanksgiving Pecan Pie The Prudent Homemaker 

Amazon has 30% off any book this weekend using code HOLIDAY30. Expires 11/30.

Amazon has 30% off select clothing, shoes, and more using code 30BLACKFRI. Ends 11/27 at midnight PST.

Walgreen's has a free 8 x 10 photo offer. Use code 1FREE8X10 at checkout. Note that you can choose for a friend to pick this up--so if you want to give it to a relative across the country, they can pick it up if you choose their nearest location as the place for printing. Don't have a photo you want but want something fun to decorate for Christmas? Download a free Christmas printable from Pinterest, or a free image from The Graphics Fairy to decorate your house. Expires 11/28. Order this week and you can pick it up next week if you like.

Ebates has double cash back going today and Friday. Their double is not always double--for some places, it's much more; for example, what is normally 2% cash back is 8% cash back. Check out the stores they have listed if you're planning to shop anywhere online, and make sure to look for any additional coupon codes they have that you can combine on top of the Black Friday deals (such as free shippping, and extra 30% off, etc.) 

Swagbucks has Ebay gift cards 20% off and Bass Pro Shops gift cards 20% off, so if you are looking to get an e-gift card for someone (or for your own shopping), you'll need fewer points to get one. Do note that it takes a few days before gift cards are processed. Expires 11/30. 

Joann fabric stores have huge Black Friday sales going both in-store and online, including flannel 75% off and fleece 75% off (fleece is an online only deal). If shopping online, go through Ebates for 2% cash back. If you're going to the store and are planning on buying fabric, I suggest getting your cutting counter number when you get there and then getting your fabric. Flannel prints are are $1.79 a yard ($2.29 online) and solids are $1.49 a yard. They also have interfacing on sale by the bolt (I use this in collars), among other great deals. Don't forget to take your in-ad coupon for an addition percentage off your purchases (excludes doorbusters).

Kroger and affiliate grocery stores have 5 gift cards on sale right now for 20% off. Check their coupon section on your local store's site and upload the coupons online to your shopping card. The savings will come off at check out. Expires 12/01. 

Thanksgiving table detail The Prudent Homemaker

A note on combining a few of these deals: Old Navy gift cards are 20% off at Kroger stores. You could head to the grocery store before heading to Old Navy, where everything is 50% off in store. If you're shopping online, you could go through Ebates for 8% back, pay with your grocery store purchased Old Navy gift card (you'll still need to get that one in person), and then shop their online deals (40-60% off).

There are other possibilities like that one to stack to make your money go further, so take a moment to check what possibilities you have before heading out the door or making a purchase online.

My plan for Black Friday is to decorate the house for Christmas! I may do a little online shopping as well (certainly that Amazon book deal!) 

Be safe while shopping, and obey the speed limit. I speak on both from experience. . . I'm glad to be staying home this Black Friday!

I'm writing a Frugal Accomplishments post again this week, so plan on sharing your deals Sunday night!

Tagged in: Know Your Prices
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A Few Great Deals

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This post contains affiliate links.

When I was at the Dollar Tree last week, I noticed a few things that I thought I should share. They had seed packets for both vegetables and flowers for four for a dollar. They also had seed starting materials (containers--both plastic and biodegradable ones that you plant right in the garden--as well as seed starting mix in a 2 quart bag, which is the same price per quart as our local nursery, but at the local nursery they only have a 8 quart bag, so if you need just a little, this would save you $3).

They had 60 sheet dotted-lined paper pads (the kind you use for teaching preschool and kindergarteners to write). That's the same number of pages as I see on the ones anywhere else that are usually $3.59 at Target and Walmart.
They also had Valentine's scarves with hearts on them that Elsa just loved. I think they could be worn year-round. Elsa bought herself one.

Amazon has a few polka dot scarves in different colors for $2.59 with free shipping (shipping is about a month out) so you could order yourself two scarves using a $5 Amazon gift card that you've earned through Swagbucks, and be out 18 cents. (Or just order one and wait until you have another gift card to order the next one). They also have a few others for $2.19 with free shipping (also about a month).

If you're wanting some red and white baker's twine for Valentine's Day (or any other gift giving, storing your linens, etc.), Amazon has been lowering the price lately down in the $8 range. I've seen it as high as $12 for a huge spool. (You may want to add it to your wish list and then watch the price; it seems to be changing every few days and it changed again this morning closer to $10).

However, if you want an even better deal, you can buy 2 spools (same size and brand) for $15 from One Kings Lane in their Give a Homemade Treat sale (ends on Saturday the 25th). That sale is pretty amazing; they have Kilner hexagonal jars, and a few Weck jars, and a great set of three white porcelain mixing bowls (I bought these from them before and I love them; I use them almost every day).  Also, if you're new to One Kings Lane and you go through my link, you should receive a $15 off credit to use on any order of $30 or more (under My Account, click credits). If you place more than one order in the month of January, any orders after your first order will ship for free.

If you're thinking about Valentine's Day, you may want to check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest board. You'll see a few more uses for that red and white twine and also some ideas you can make with heart-shaped doilies (the Dollar Tree had red, white, and pink in different sizes).

Have a wonderful day! I'm off to work in the garden this afternoon.

Tagged in: Know Your Prices
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Keeping Homeschool Costs Down

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The lava lamp experiment is from the chemistry set I have listed on my 5th grade page from Home Science Tools. I combined a 10% off sale with a $40 credit that they offered during a bonus Christmas sale on a microscope. My grandmother paid for the children's microscope as a Christmas gift and had me order it; I used the credit later to order the chemistry kit.

Homeschooling, by its very nature, has some costs savings. By teaching children at home, I don't spend money on:

Gas (and wear and tear on the car) to drive the children to school and back (it also makes it easier to be a one-car family!)


School lunches, including lunch boxes, sandwich bags, individually packaged treats, or the high cost of purchasing lunch at school. (Our meals at home are usually soup and homemade bread, or leftovers, but sometimes sandwiches, salad from the garden, or bean burritos. Lunch for the family usually costs me $.50 to $1.00 for all seven of the children and myself.)

Classroom supplies

School fundraisers

School uniforms (many of the public schools in my area require uniforms)


The latest fashion trends (my children don't know what those are, so there are no requests for a "certain" pair of shoes or a "certain" pair of jeans).

I do, however, buy curriculum.

When people find out I homeschool, the first question they always ask is, "What curriculum do you use?"

I don't believe in buying a "boxed" curriculum for many reasons. One, you're paying for someone else to pick your books, when you can just as easily pick them yourself. Two, you're paying full price for every book. Three, the boxed purchase means that you are buying some books again and again, each time another child in your family reaches that grade. I don't need a new math book, a new English book, a new science book, new reading books,  etc. for every child for every grade; I can pass books down, and they only have to be purchased once. This is a huge cost savings.


Some ways that I have saved money in purchasing our curriculum:

1. Buy used

 There are many ways to do this. Homeschool forums usually have a place where people can buy and sell their used books. Amazon sells used copies of many of the books that we use; I can usually buy a used hardcover or library binding copy of a book for less than a new paperback edition of a book. The hardcover book will last longer, which is better for passing down to the subsequent children. Alibris  is another source for used books. You can sometimes pick up books at garage sales and thrift stores as well.

2. Buy on sale

Most homeschool suppliers have regular sales on certain products throughout the year, but especially in spring (when many people are looking to purchase for the following year) and again in August. Some retailers always have certain books at discounted prices throughout the year. In addition, many retailers offer free shipping or additional discounts (usually these come in their catalogs, but some will also let you know of a deal if you receive their emails).

Amazon's regular prices for many books are a lot lower than full price, which saves me a lot. They often have a buy 4 for the price of 3 deal going on paperback literature, on top of their lower prices, and when you are spending $25 or more, you can get free shipping on most items. In addition, you can use Swagbucks and Recyclebank to earn Amazon gift cards to help pay for your purchases.

Some regular sales that I have seen: Christian Book usually has sales on different publishers on a regular basis (they also have Black Friday sales). Home Science Tools has sales on a regular basis, on top of their low prices. Their service has been phenomenal and they have flat rate shipping of $6.95. They have great sales at Christmas time, too. Scholastic's Teacher Express site has a $1 sale a few times a year, where a large portion of their downloadable books are $1 each (this is when I purchased my activity books from them that you see listed on my fourth grade page, as well as the geography books from them for several grades). Because they are printable, once you download them, you can use them for every child quite easily.

This is Liberty two years ago doing her kindergarten math, which I printed from The Math Worksheet Site.

3. Don't buy it at all

The library may have many of the books you need, especially literature and science books. You may find the exact books you want, or you may be able to find others that will work just fine (our library has a lot of science books that include experiments). If your library doesn't have the books you want, you may be able to request them through interlibrary loan.

Hand-me-downs can work for books as well as clothing! If you have friends who are teaching children older than yours at home, they might offer you their old books. We have received several books this way.

Swapping books that you no longer need is another way to get books. You can do it locally, or online (in which case you would need to pay book rate shipping).

There are also vast resources for school that you can access online for free. I mentioned recently that we found a free online typing class. I have a list of several free sources for all sorts of subjects (including math, English, science, spelling, art, penmanship, music and more) on my website's Homeschool Sources page. Some sites are always free. For some, you will need to print pages for your child. Some sites have a limited number of free pages, but have more available for a subscription fee (which can be month or a year, so you can try it out for a month to see if it is worth it or not to you).

A note on printing: I print quite a few pages each day. My printer is a laser printer, and it only prints black. Using a laser printer instead of an ink jet printer saves me a lot, as does using a black and white printer over a color printer. The cartridges that I buy are labeled for 7000 sheets per cartridge, and I usually can get 10,000 sheets per cartridge by cleaning the wire, shaking the cartridge, and covering the reader hole on the cartridge with masking tape. I watch for sales on Amazon to replace my cartridge when it starts to get low. I have been using my printer for many years; they have newer models now that also take the same cartridge.

Paper sales are best at back to school time. This week Office Max has a box of 10 reams (500 sheets each) of paper on sale for $25. (Regular price is $35). We use computer paper for painting, drawing, and origami,  as well as for printing.

This week I updated our curriculum lists to reflect what we are using for each grade. You can find those on my website. For simplicity's sake I am listing the links to each grade here:


First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade

Seventh Grade

Homeschool Resources

A little homeschool encouragement

We homeschool year-round. If you don't homeschool year-round, when do you start school?

This post contains affiliate links. A big thank you to those of you who have made purchases through my links; the credit I earn helps me to pay for schoolbooks!

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One of the most frequently asked questions in my inbox is, "What do you use for sandwich bread?"

The answer is simple: I use French bread.

I sometimes will make baguettes and have sandwiches like I did in France: ham, cheese, and mustard on bread. More often, though, I'll slice the bread, and just use it that way.

For meats, I'll cook a bone-in ham, or a whole turkey. I use an electric knife to cut the ham from the bone in several large chunks. I then use my meat slicer to cut in into deli-thin meat. I was using a $5 meat slicer that I picked up used from a garage sale, until the motor burned out. We decided to replace it with a nicer slicer this time (with a stronger motor). I saved up my Amazon credit (thank you dear readers for purchasing through my links!) and I bought this one. I use it to slice bread as well. I can slice bread thinner on the slicer than by hand.

Turkey sandwiches on French bread with mayonnaise, tomatoes, basil, and Italian dressing

I will sometimes shred the cooked turkey and mix it with barbecue sauce, and add tomatoes from the garden (in summer).

I purchase ham and turkey on sale for under $1 a pound at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (usually $0.75 a pound and under). I freeze them to use throughout the year.

When I have lettuce or arugula from the garden in spring and fall, I'll use that on my sandwiches. In summer (when it's too hot for lettuce to grow here), we'll often have tomatoes and basil on our sandwiches, (or just tomato basil sandwiches!) We love Italian dressing on our sandwiches.

We'll also have Thanksgiving style sandwiches, with mayonnaise, turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing.

I've planted a lot of basil up the walkway in front of our house so that I'll be able to make pesto, which is delicious on a turkey or chicken sandwich with cheese. I plan on making these this fall when we have lots of basil.

Tuna melts are another favorite at our house, made with tuna fish, pepper, mayonnaise, homemade sweet pickle relish, and topped with cheese. We make those on our griddle. We also make grilled cheese sandwiches.

To go with our sandwiches, we'll have homemade pickles, or giardiniera. We also always have some type of fruit with our sandwiches, depending on what is in season. Last week I cooked a ham and we had apples, peaches, and grapes from our garden with our sandwiches. I've also served carrots and dip made with homemade yogurt alongside our sandwiches.

What is your favorite kind of sandwich? What inexpensive sides do you serve with your sandwiches?

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Encouraging Frugality Through Conversation

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After church today, a woman I didn't know came up to me by my car as we were leaving. She had been waiting for me.

She said to me that she had been a visitor today, and that when she was talking with my son, he mentioned my website. She wanted to know what it was.

I told her, and then on the way home I asked my son about their conversation.

He told me that she was sitting in his class today, and that each student had been asked to name his or her favorite breakfast cereal. (I have no idea what this had to do with the lesson).

He replied that his mom didn't buy breakfast cereal, because it was too expensive. He was asked what was his favorite thing for breakfast, then?

"Yogurt and granola," was his reply. Then he added that his mom makes it and that it is on her website.

I'll be making a batch of granola tomorrow morning for breakfast!

My cranberry almond granola recipe is here.

I make Greek yogurt following the directions here.
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