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March's Shopping Plans

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Snow Peas and Radishes The Prudent Homemaker

March has several sales. It's frozen foods month in the U.S., which usually means a number of frozen foods go on sale. St. Patrick's Day on the 17th means sales on corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

Easter Rabbits The Prudent Homemaker

With Easter falling on April 1st this year, we will see Easter sales in late March. I plan on making Easter Rabbits again this year using chocolate candy melts and molds I have already (you can see the how-to here).  

Here's how I plan to spend my $200 budget this month for our family of 10:

 

Sam's Club:

 

Rice 25-pound bag

Tomato Sauce #10 cans

Diced Tomatoes #10 cans

POM Toilet Paper

 

Walmart:

Washing Soda

Equate hand-washing dish soap

 

Albertson's:

Store brand frozen sweet peas. I'll look for a sale on these at $1 a pound (usually when you buy 10). I would love to buy 20 or even 30 bags, but I often have trouble finding even 10 bags in the store. 

 

Winco:

Potatoes

Onions

Oil

Spreadable Margarine

Parmesan Cheese

Store brand spicy brown mustard

 

I'll look for sales on strawberries in late March. If I can find them for $1 a pound or less, I'll purchase them. I'll also look for sales on potatoes, cabbage, corned beef, whole chickens, and Easter candy (Starburst jelly beans and peanut M&M's for Easter eggs).

 Strawberry Jam The Prudent Homemaker

From the garden, I will harvest Swiss chard, Meyer lemons, spinach, lettuce, snow peas, green onions, leeks, radishes, and several herbs this month. My large Swiss chard plants bolt in April when it gets hot, so we'll be harvesting lots before they need to be pulled from the garden. I have new plants already up and growing for this year so we won't have too long of a lull in picking. 

We'll continue to eat lots of frozen fruit from the freezer in anticipation of this year's fruit from the garden. We'll also enjoy more squash, pumpkins, and pomegranates from the garden that I have been storing.

A friend has offered me eggs from her hens, who are currently laying much more than she can eat, so I'll bring her some lemons in exchange for eggs.

What items are you looking to purchase this month?

Tagged in: Grocery Shopping
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What You Really Need For a Baby The Prudent Homemaker

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

 

When I was pregnant with my first baby, money was super tight. I wondered what I really needed for the baby, and everyone would tell me the same thing, "You need everything." 

"But what about __________?" I would ask.

"Oh, yes, you have to have that," they would say.

It didn't seem possible to me that I had to have all of these many things for a baby, but no one could guide me to what a baby really needed, and what I could skip spending money on.

Eight babies later, I've found that a lot of those things people said I had to have (and that I thought I probably didn't) are things I didn't have to have, and even a lot of the things I thought I would need are things I have either done without or gotten rid of (because we rarely or never used them!)

I have received a lot of emails over the years from readers asking what items they have to have and what they can do without, because they have a small budget for their baby.

If you have a small budget and want to make sure you have the essentials, here's my list of what you really need--and remember, you can get almost all of these items used via yard sales, hand-me-downs, children's resale shops, thrift stores, Craig's List, and local Facebook garage sale pages.

 

1. A car seat

It needs to be rear-facing and up-to-date (not expired).  

In the U.S., you must have this in order to take your baby home from the hospital. Even if your children are all born at home, like mine have been, you still need a car seat. You'll also need an infant insert to hold a newborn's head.

 

Sleeping Baby The Prudent Homemaker

 

2. A place for the baby to sleep

More than likely, you'll need a crib of some kind. It can be a small crib, it can be a used crib (try Craig's List, garage sales, Facebook garage sales, and children's resale shops). You'll also need a crib mattress and bedding. For bedding, you need 2 bottom sheets, 2 mattress pads, and 2 blankets. I personally also like waterproof crib pads that go in between the waterproof mattress pad and the sheets; they save you from having to take off the mattress pad every time your child spits up or has a leaky diaper while sleeping.

What you don't need:

A bassinet, a cradle, or a matching bedding set with a quilt. The baby will quickly outgrow the first two, and the big fluffy quilts that come in the sets are too large and too thick. A crib bumper is no longer recommended in the U.S. (as it is considered a suffocation hazard) and is also difficult to tie on and off every time you change the sheets.

Gender-specific crib sheets. If you opt for neutral colors, you can feel good about using the same sheets for each baby (of course you can use pink sheets for a boy, but many people would prefer not to. If you start with a neutral color, you won't have to feel obligated to buy different sheets if you have a baby of the opposite sex later).

Note that many places recommend not using blankets but using sleeping sacks instead. Despite this recommendation, I have never known anyone who didn't use blankets with their baby at some point, whether in the crib, while sleeping elsewhere, while being held, while swaddled, to cover the car seat when the sun in shining in the baby's eyes, or to lay down on the floor for the baby to play on. Chances are good that you won't need to buy any baby blankets; they are a gift that everyone loves to give. I've received over 80 baby blankets with my 8 children!

Receiving blankets are too tiny to be of much use. Many parents prefer a larger muslin blanket like this.

 

3. A place for the crib

This can be in your room or in another room. 

What you don't need:

A decorated nursery. Yes, it's pretty. Your baby will still be just fine without it. Your baby will notice your love and affection more than anything on the walls, a mobile, a rug, or coordinating decorations.

 

4. A place to feed the baby

A chair with arms is the most comfortable option. A place to put your feet up is a bonus but not required. I've nursed most of my children at the computer sitting in the computer chair, because it has arms. This website was started while I fed my 5th baby!

What you don't need:

A glider rocker with matching gliding ottoman.

I really wanted one of these with my first baby. We had 7 chairs at our house when my first was born--4 metal folding chairs that we used as kitchen chairs, 2 computer chairs without arms, and one broken recliner with wood arms. I used the rather uncomfortable recliner with my first two babies, until we bought a computer chair with arms when I had my third. Some type of chair with arms is helpful for nursing or bottle feeding.

 

5. A way to feed the baby

 

If you nurse your baby, you'll need at least 2 to 3 nursing bras. I cannot recommend getting fitted for a nursing bra enough! Department stores have women trained to fit you for a bra, and even if you've been fitted for a regular bra, your size will change when you are nursing. A comfortable nursing bra is important, and a properly fitting bra will be much more comfortable than one that rides up or pinches you.

Nursing pads are essential to keep you from leaking milk through your shirt. I like these disposable ones and these washable ones.

A nursing cover is wonderful for discreetly nursing (and fastening your nursing bra and shirt after you're done nursing). I've used blankets before, but the cover doesn't slip when I'm buttoning my shirt or the baby decides to flail his arms. 

If you're formula feeding, you'll need formula (of course), bottles, nipples with different numbers of holes depending on the baby's age, and a bottle brush.

If you're planning on pumping your own milk, you'll also need those items (minus the formula). You'll need a breast pump. This may be covered by your health insurance.

If you don't know what brand of formula you want to use, you can sign up before your baby is born on different companies' websites, and they'll send you free samples and coupons.

Burp cloths. Babies spit up. Some babies barely spit up, and some babies spit up a lot. Prefold cloth diapers work as great burp cloths, or you can purchase or make some.

 

What you don't need: 

Special nursing clothing. A regular t-shirt and/or button-front shirts work fine. If you like to wear a dress, a button front bodice or a criss-crossing bodice (such as in a wrap or faux wrap dress) will work for nursing.

A nursing pillow. If you really want a pillow, try using a pillow you already have.

A bottle sterilizer. You can wash bottles in the dishwasher, and if you don't have one, you can dip them in boiling water in a pot on the stove--or simply wash them well.

Nursery water. As long as you have clean, safe drinking water where you live, you don't need to mix your formula with bottled water.

 

6. Diapers and Wipes

Cloth or disposable, you'll need something. Baby wipes (cloth or disposable) are also needed. You'll want a place to dispose of the diapers (if disposable) or a bucket to put cloth diapers and wipes in until you're ready to wash them. You'll also want something to put them in until you're ready to use them (a basket, a drawer, etc.) 

Both cloth and disposable diapers can be done on a low budget. I have done both and prefer disposable. I buy the Target brand diapers when they have sale and gift card offers. I use the Costco wipes (a box is $20 but it also goes on sale for $16 a few times a year). I find that one box of wipes lasts me 9 months. I usually spend around $250 a year for disposable diapers and wipes.

You'll likely also want to use a diaper rash ointment and some baby powder.

What you don't need:

A diaper pail. This is one of those items that we registered for, received as a gift, used for the first two children, and then we decided we didn't need it. We had a diaper pail that took regular trash bags. Starting with my third, the babies have all been changed in my room. We found it easy enough to put the diapers in the bathroom trash can (under the sink in a cabinet) and to empty that trash can every day. Emptying it every day is the best way to not have a stinky nursery. If you are changing a baby in a nursery, you may find a trash can with a lid (that you can line with plastic grocery sacks) to be the easiest option.

 

7. A place to change the baby

Somewhere to change diapers is important. If you have a two-story house, you'll want somewhere to change diapers on each level. 

This can be as simple as a waterproof pad. I use a waterproof crib pad with two cloth prefold diapers on top. If the baby spits up on the top or the diaper leaks while changing a diaper, I can replace that cloth diaper with another for the next time. You can also opt for changing the baby on a bath towel folded in half. Both of these options will can be done on a bed or on the floor; I change my babies at the foot of my bed.

A portable diaper changing pad is useful when you leave the house--and you can use in to change the baby on at home, too!

What you don't need:

A changing table. They're an expense that wasn't in our budget with our first, and we made it work without one. It worked fine, and so, 8 babies later, I've never used one. Are they nice? Sure! But if one isn't in your budget, you can put down a waterproof crib pad on your bed or on the floor and change a diaper there (and if you have a two-story home, you might not always change the baby in his room!) Don't stress over having one if it isn't in your budget. I did--but we made it work without, and once I realized we were fine without one, we never bought one, even when we had the money to do so.

 

8. A place to wash the baby

I had a baby bathtub that I used with each of my eight babies, and I gave it away after our eighth. I won't be getting another one for my ninth.

I only used the baby bathtub on occasion, when my babies were younger than four months. After that age, you can sit up (while you hold the child) a baby in the kitchen sink for a bath. 

Most of the time, however, we bathed the baby by having dad hold the baby in the shower while I washed the baby (standing right outside the shower). This was the simplest way for us and why we rarely used the baby bathtub.

Used baby bathtubs are usually free for the asking; people can't seem to give them away. If you want one, ask around, and the chances are pretty good that you can find one for a song or even for free.

You'll want some baby soap. I highly recommend smelling the different brands if you can before you commit to a brand; you may find that you like the scent of some and hate the scent of others. This is a gift that you may receive in a baby shower, too, giving you the chance to try out a couple of different brands in small bottles.

A couple of small, soft baby washcloths are nice, but you can also use a regular washcloth.

What you don't need:

Baby towels; they are rather small and thin. They never kept my babies warm when taking them from the bath (even when it's 78ºF in my house half the year) and my babies outgrew them in the first few months. A regular towel will do just fine, be large enough, and be thick enough to keep your baby warm between the bath and getting dressed (and not be too wet to dry your baby like the thin, tiny baby towels).

 

8. Clothes for the baby (and a place to put them)

There is a reason so many people say that their baby outgrew clothing before it was already worn. If you have more baby clothes than you need, this can easily be a problem.

If you have a baby shower and people know what sex the baby is, you will most likely receive a lot of clothing, and it will quite possibly all be in the 0-3 month size. Don't be afraid to exchange clothing for a larger size.

A new baby spends most of his time sleeping. When your baby is less than 3 months old, you can easily have the baby wear pajamas all day long.

How many clothes you need in each size depends on a couple of things: how often your baby spits up, how often your baby has a leaky diaper, how many times you want to change the baby's clothing, and how often you do laundry. How many layers you need will depend on the season, the climate you live in, how warm you keep your house, whether or not you keep your baby swaddled in a blanket, and if you take the baby outdoors often or keep the baby inside.

Baby clothes are often freely handed down; you can quickly end up with more than you will use. They are also a great buy at garage sales.

Any dresser will do for your baby; if your baby is in your room, one designated drawer will keep all of your baby clothes handy. Baby hangers are very helpful for hanging clothes in a baby's room (or in your own closet, if the baby is in your room) and you'll use the fo years until your children need adult-sized hangers.

What you don't need:

Baby shoes. Babies won't need shoes until they are walking, and even then, they will do best barefoot most of the time. My babies have almost all walked early (at 9 months) and I don't purchase shoes until they have been walking for a few months. 

12 of everything. 6-8 of most items of clothing per size is more than sufficient if you do laundry every couple of days. A couple of hats (or even just one) when your baby is brand-new to the world are useful, but you'll quickly no longer need them (and your baby will quickly outgrow them).

Special baby detergent. Babies clothing can be washed with your regular clothing. You will want stain removers.

 

9. A few hygiene items

Baby nail clippers are one of the best things ever.

A small comb with fine teeth works well for combing fine baby hair--but it doesn't have to be a special baby comb. 

A nasal aspirator (referred to as a "booger sucker" at my house) is extremely helpful in unclogging a stuffy baby's nose. The larger the aspirator, the better; tiny ones are not worth your money.

What you don't need:

Baby brushes. These usually come packaged with a baby comb and sometimes with nail clippers. If your baby has fine hair, a comb is more useful than a brush. 

Special wipes for the baby's nose.

 

10. Baby medicine

When your baby is fussy, crying, and won't sleep, it can be overwhelming. It's helpful to have a few items in the medicine cabinet before your baby is born.

Gas drops. The store brand of these works just fine, as this tiny bottle can be expensive. I always find I need these in the middle of the night the first couple of weeks after my babies are born, when they won't stop crying and arching their backs from stomach pain.

Baby acetaminophen. Babies can only have acetaminophen during the first six months to reduce fevers. You can add infant ibuprofen to your medicine cabinet after that.

Garlic Ear Drops. These are amazing. Everyone I've told about these (and loaned my bottle to) has ended up keeping the bottle and buying me a new one, because they loved the product so much! If your baby (or child, or YOU) has an earache, these drops get rid of it very quickly (only 4 times have I ever needed to administer a second round of drops), and save you a trip to the doctor for an earache (and ten days of antibiotics)!

Oral Relief Tablets. I found these easier to administer and more effective than teething ointment.

 

11.  A stroller

I thought I needed a large stroller that my car seat could clip into, with a big basket underneath and a place for me to put a drink.

By the time my third baby was born, I had used that stroller less than 10 times with my first 2.

When I went shopping, I would put the baby's carseat into the shopping cart. Once the baby was bigger, I would put the baby right in the child seat in the cart. Most places I shopped (grocery stores and big box stores) had carts, so this worked fine.

When we went places, I usually found it easiest to just carry the baby. I rarely needed the stroller.

Eventually, I bought a smaller umbrella stroller at a garage sale for $7 (after my 5th was born). We were going a few more places and I found the lightweight stroller to be so much easier to use. I sold the big stroller at a garage sale.

Whether or not you need a stroller (and what kind) really depends on your lifestyle. Realize, too, that you may decide to stay home more once you have a baby.

 

Ivory Baby Toys The Prudent Homemaker

 

12. A few baby toys

Babies are curious about new things. Once they've learned all about something, they often tire of it and want to learn about something new. Once they can crawl and walk, they no longer want baby toys--they want to play with everything else in the house (including everything in your kitchen cabinets).

Before our eighth was born, I narrowed down the baby toys to the toys my young babies liked the most, and I donated everything else. What we kept for our eighth baby included the following: Sophie the Giraffe, Oball shaker, and Links

 

What you don't need:

A bouncer, a swing, playmats, and large baby toys that take up huge amounts of space. 

None of these made my babies happy. The baby would constantly slide sideways in the bouncer and preferred just to be held, and once the baby was 4 months old, all of my babies preferred time on a blanket on the floor instead. The swing had similar issues, and once I had a couple of children, the swing became something that the toddler just want to push really high and really fast! Every mom told me these were necessary items, but we found that they weren't something we had to have at all.

 

13. A diaper bag--or something to carry your baby supplies in when you leave the house

You don't have to have an actual diaper bag with pockets for bottles inside. If you bottle feed, they are certainly helpful, but any bag will work to transport diapers, wipes, a baby blanket, a nursing cover, bottles and formula, burp cloths, a diaper changing pad,  and a change of baby clothing. You can use a large purse, a backpack, or a tote bag.

I found it heavy to carry around a large number of supplies in a diaper bag while also carrying a baby (or a sleeping baby in the carseat!). To make my life easier (and to relief the back pain) I started keeping a large container of wipes, several diapers, and an infant bodysuit in the car. In my bag I have 2 to 3 diapers and a small container of wipes (and when I am nursing, I have a nursing cover, 2 burp cloths, and a change of clothing for the baby). With a one-year-old currently in diapers, I can fit a couple of diapers and a small package of wipes in my vintage 1950's handbag, and I don't have to carry a large bag.

What you don't need:

A designer diaper bag.

 

14. A high chair and baby feeding supplies

You won't need this until your baby is able to sit up and eat food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting babies on solids at 6 months or slightly later.

Baby bibs are important for feeding to keep your baby from staining his clothes. The larger the bib, the more of the baby's clothing that is protected. I use homemade bibs in dark colors (so that I don't need to use stain remover) that are large enough to cover their entire outfit. In the beginning, at 6 months, I'll use a slightly smaller bib that covers their entire torso.

Two baby spoons is more than enough for a baby; you can quickly wash them by hand and have them ready to use.

You can mash up what you're having; steamed fruits and vegetables are easy items to give to your baby. A blender can be used to puree your food and you can freeze food in ice cube trays to use later to feed your baby if you're making a bunch at once.

What you don't need:

Baby cereal, individual baby food containers, teething cookies, Cheerios, veggie straws, and toddler food. These can quickly add up and make your grocery budget double, with half the budget going towards baby food!

Not convinced you can do without baby food? French Kids Eat Everything is a book I highly recommend getting from the library and reading at least once! I watched the truthfulness of this when a French friend of mine came to visit and gave his 8-month-old steamed broccoli from his own plate at dinner at our house. The baby loved it!

 

Every mother is different, and every mother has her own personal favorites that she has to have. You'll find favorite brands of baby products, favorite kinds of baby blankets, and favorite products. You may find you can't live without some of the items that I mentioned as not being needs, and that's okay! In the end, you are the parent, and you get to choose what you want for your babies.

 

Ivory Blessing Day The Prudent Homemaker

 

 You may also enjoy reading: Our Baby Naming Day Tradition

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Yellow Pansies The Prudent Homemaker

$0.56 worth of pansies cheer up this pot and I can see them from inside the house.

I began sewing a birthday gift for a daughter using fabric and a pattern I had on hand.

My dad had leftover scraps from his back patio/deck (which runs right into our matching stairs between our backyards) to redo our stairs. Last year, a leak developed in the water line underneath the stairs. The only way to get to it was to take the stairs apart (and redoing it would be difficult, as the screws strip the boards when being removed). My dad cut holes in the stairs and my husband repaired the leak. My dad will redo the stair treads using his scraps this week.

We celebrated a fun Valentine's Day at home. I used some mini heart-shaped cake pans that I inherited from my grandmother to bake lemon poppyseed muffins for breakfast.

I used a small amount Rit Dye I had to dye a table runner pink. The table runner was ordered online years ago and was supposed to be a cream color, but was more orange, and I never really liked it. Dying it pink made it perfect for Valentine's Day and upcoming daughters' birthdays. You can see a photo over on my Instagram feed.

I spent some time organizing things indoors. While I organizing, I was able to find a place for some things I had been keeping in a basket. I didn't want to buy another basket, but I also needed a place to put the items that were being stored in the basket. The basket will be repurposed to what I used to use it for (diapers for a newborn). 

I asked my 11-year-old to go through the baby girl socks that I have. I figured most of them (if not all) were too old and had the elastic shot, and that if I have a girl I would need new socks. She went through them all, threw out the ones that were no longer any good and any that didn't have matches, and I still had socks that were good left, so if I have a girl, I'm set for socks (plus, I gained some space in the drawer where the other socks were being kept).

I got rid of some things I no longer needed, which made my existing storage space in my closet more effective.

I was wondering if I could get rid of enough items for a garage sale. I decided to clean out several closets (with family help) and we reorganized the linen closet and the games/dress up closet. I went through the girls' clothing boxes from sizes 6 to 12, keeping only the nicest items that would fit in each box and that were liked by the girls (I had enough in some sizes for more than one box, so they needed to be narrowed down in order to fit in the storage space I have). We put several things aside for a garage sale in March.

I still don't have enough of my own things to sell, but my mom was going through her closets this week as well, and she has a ton of stuff she no longer wants, so we piled her items on a table in my entry (with my stuff filling in under the table) to prepare for a sale. This next week, we both plan on going through more closets and cupboards and getting rid of things we are no longer using. I plan on using whatever money I make from the sale to go to the community garage sales in April to get things we need. I recently updated my garage sale list, so I am ready to go shopping with specific needs and wants in mind.

We cleaned the inside of the dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner so that both will run more efficiently.

 Pansies in White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

 

$1.13 worth of pansies to fil in my urn.

I went to the local nursery to purchase some more drip line for the garden. While there, I noticed they were clearing out their pansies for $0.25 each (regular prices is $0.98 each). Pansies grow here from October through April/May. The manager came over to talk with me, and he told me I could have a flat of pansies for $3 (saving an additional $1). I purchased 16 pansy and viola plants for $3 ($0.1875 each), which will fill in a couple of spaces in my garden until warmer weather will permit me to plant something else in their place. I had specifically been looking for annuals (as well as the drip line) to go in the center urn for my white garden, but most of what I wanted would not be available until mid to late April. This filled in the spot nicely and gave me flowers for a couple more spaces in the garden. This was the only money I spent all week.

I harvested garlic chives and green onions from the garden.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

 

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Meyer Lemon Trees The Prudent Homemaker

We had beautiful, warmer than usual weather last week, and I took advantage of it, working in the garden every afternoon.

I planted seeds in the garden for poppies, dwarf hollyhocks, larkspur, Armenian cucumbers, lettuce,  and alpine strawberries. 

I mended drip irrigation lines that were broken.

I transplanted parsley seedlings into new spots in the garden where they can grow larger. I am completely out of dried parsley and I want to grow enough to dry enough parsley for our yearly use; we go through quite a bit and so I will need to grow it in several spots in the garden. Each year I grow enough parsley, oregano, basil, chives, thyme, and mint in the garden that I never have to purchase them dried or fresh.

I also harvested fresh parsley and used it in a dish.

The century plant I had purchased as a tiny plant at a garage sale a couple of years ago put forth two babies. I dug them up and transplanted them to two pots I already had.

I dug up a small mulberry tree that the birds had seeded in my garden and transplanted it to a pot I already had. 

I dug two boxleaf euyonomus starts and transplanted them to other places in the garden.

I transplanted nasturtiums that had self-seeded to another spot in the garden.

I pulled dandelions from the grass by hand (I never buy a pre-emergent weed killer; I just pull the weeds out of the lawn myself).

I took cuttings from my honeysuckle plants with hopes of starting some new plants to grow elsewhere in the garden.

Johnny JumpUps The Prudent Homemaker

I collected shower warm-up water in buckets and used it to water potted plants on my patio.

I harvested Swiss chard and green onions from the garden.

I picked up my hairspray at Walmart instead of Target. Both places seem to have trouble stocking it (I often have found an empty shelf) but I went to a different Walmart than usual and not only found it, but it was $1 cheaper than Target's price. Henceforth, I'll be buying my hairspray at Walmart.

I picked up the baby registry goodie bag from Target when I went to get the diaper deal, which included three diapers, some baby wash, and baby lotion that I'll use. 

We enjoyed watching the Thunderbirds flying overhead while they practiced. We saw them fly right over our backyard three times in formation; one time as we were watching they released and ended smoke trails all at the same time, which was pretty neat.

Leucojum Aestivum The Prudent Homemaker

Leucojum Aestivum (blooms in May/June in cooler climates)

I read two e-books from the library.

I mended a pillow.

 

What did you do to save money last week?

 

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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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Helping Grandpa The Prudent Homemaker

We had the most beautiful weather all week: temperatures of 70-75ºF/21-24ºC. I opened the windows and we enjoyed fresh air in the house all week.

We enjoyed lemons, Swiss chard, oregano and parsley from the garden.

I enjoyed working in the garden in the record highs for this time of year. Usually, I'm still sporting long sleeves and a jacket while I do the busy work of January and February in the garden, but this year I'm in a short-sleeved t-shirt.

I used stakes and concrete mesh wire that I already had to add another vertical growing space to the garden. I planted Armenian cucumber seeds under it.

I planted seeds for alpine strawberries and poppies.

I opened the house up to air it out for several hours each day.

I stocked up on pasta (I bought 96 pounds) at the lowest price it gets here ($0.49 a pound). This price only comes around 2-3 times a year. When I was leaving the store, I picked up a dime I found in the parking lot.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a Target gift card. I'll use this to reduce my out-of-pocket expenses for February's shopping trip.

I read two e-books from the library.

My two eldest downloaded a combined 12 free songs from the library through the Freegal program.

We enjoyed watching the last bits of the lunar eclipse early in the morning.

I gladly accepted a hand-me-down infant car seat and matching stroller from a reader who lives very close by.

Nap The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money last week?

 

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February's Shopping Plans

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Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

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I'm zesting and juicing lemons this month from the garden. I am freezing lemon juice and zest to use throughout the year. In order to have enough space in the freezer for so much juice, we're eating lots from the freezers. This time of year, we eat the frozen fruit from the garden that I froze over the last year. We're also eating meat from the freezers. 

The pantry is still plenty stocked, including canned fruits and vegetables, butternut squash, pumpkins, and onions.

I'm glad I was able to can so much applesauce from our tree last year, as due to massive borer damage on all but one branch, we had to pull the tree last month. I'm replacing it with another. It will be a few years before the new tree is large enough to start bearing.

Snow Pea Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

In the garden, (In addition to hundreds of lemons) we have green onions, oregano, nasturtiums, Swiss chard, New Zealand Spinach, and the first of the snow peas ripening this month.

I'm focusing on filling holes in the pantry. I've been asked before what percentage of the grocery budget I allot towards filling the pantry. Stocking up on pantry staples is my first priority, not my last, nor a tiny bit. I then look to purchase fresh items in addition to any pantry needs. I find that my money goes further this way (such as 25 pounds of oats for under $17 at Winco!) 

Each year I aim to increase the yield in my garden to allow for plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the year for my family. I succession sow seeds, I grow vertically, I've added additional fruit trees in pots (underplanted with flowers and herbs), I've planted more that grows well in my climate (especially more cut and come again vegetables like Swiss chard and green onions), I've covered the walls with berry bushes and grape vines, and I re-landscaped my small front yard to allow for 5 fruit trees in the ground and 3 in pots, in addition to herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Doing all these things not only helps us to have something always ripe in the garden to harvest, but it also allows me to be able to can and freeze fruit. I currently have a total of 29 fruit trees, including 3 nut trees and 8 potted fruit trees. Everything in the ground is watered by drip irrigation (and a few of my potted trees are also on drip irrigation).

I have a budget of $200 for February's purchases. Here's how I'll spend it:

 

Smith's:

Pasta. American Beauty brand pasta is on sale for $0.49 when you buy multiples of 6 (regular price is $1.25 a pound). This is the price I've been waiting to see; it's the lowest price I can find for pasta, and this sale only happens 2 to 3 times a year, so I'll stock up. Smith's is our Kroger affiliate, so you may have this sale price on pasta where you live, too! East of the Mississippi River, it's often the Creamette brand of pasta that goes on sale this low. (Note: One reader noted that her store has this sale for $0.38, but it's on 12-ounce packages pasta rather than 16-ounce.)

 

Target:

Diapers. There should be a spend so much get a gift card deal back on diapers this month. Every year, Target has a similar offer in January, but February's offer is usually a little better. Last year, it was spend $100 on diapers, get a $25 gift card. If I don't see this deal for some reason, I will hold off on buying more diapers. I still have plenty for my youngest and I don't need diapers for the baby yet. I will still have a 15% off coupon coming for one purchase from my registry to use on diapers if there isn't a great sale before the baby arrives. For the 15% off coupon, the item has to be on your registry. I created a registry just for this purpose, and I made sure I put diapers on the registry. (I will also pick up my registry freebies this month when I go to Target). (Update: It looks like it will be spend $100, get a $20 gift card starting next week. You'll need the coupon, which will be in the ad and also in the Target app, in order to get the $20 gift card).

Salon Graphix hairspray (unscented super hold)

 

Walmart:

Oxi-Clean spray in the refill bottle (I pour it into this pretty spray bottle to use for laundry)

Equate dandruff shampoo

 

Winco:

Oats (25-pound bag for a little over $16)

Potatoes

Vegetable Oil

 

Our last official frost date is February 15th, at which time our local nursery will have a large number of vegetable and herb plants available. I spoke with the manager, and because of our record heat this year (it's going to be 76ºF/24ºC on Monday), they are expecting these plants to come in earlier. (They had a few tomato and vegetable plants and a number of herb plants on January 26th when I went in; normally there are no tomato plants there until February 14th).  For those who are local, Star Nursery traditionally has a sale on tomato, vegetable, and herb plants on President's Day weekend. I plan on purchasing tomato plants and two fruit trees (to replace my dead ones) for the garden. I'll be watching for sale prices as well as coupons (usually there are coupons this month in the Val-Pak and/or in the ads that wrap around hte grocery ads in the mail) and I will be purchasing these items on sale. (My garden budget is not a set amount. I have spent as little as $150 a year on my garden up to $1500, not counting years where we landscaped the garden. Larger purchases include non-edible things like dirt, bushes, sprinkler and valve replacement parts, drip irrigation, etc. I take money for the garden from my miscellaneous budget, which includes clothing and household purchases for the family. That amount is generally equal to or less than my grocery budget for the month. This year, my miscellaneous budget for the garden, clothing, and household goods is $200 a month, but I will spend less if I don't need anything.)

I'll sow seeds for Armenian cucumbers, Red Noodle beans, lettuce, radishes, alpine strawberries, pumpkins and squash this month in the garden. I'll also sow flower seeds. I already have these seeds, purchased in past years and collected from my own garden.

I don't know if our record highs this month mean we'll see a longer spring or just an earlier summer. Either way, the ground is warm enough to plant now, so there's no point in waiting. Hopefully, everything will germinate well and my seedlings won't be eaten by bugs, and I'll have lots of fresh food and flowers to enjoy from the garden this year!

 

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