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February's Shopping Plans

Meyer Lemon Tree The Prudent Homemaker

This post contains affiliate links.

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:



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.)



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)



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

Equate dandruff shampoo



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


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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Tagged in: Grocery Shopping


  • Amy February 02, 2018

    Love to hear all your garden plans. It is amazing what you are able to do where you live. Where I live is still the dead of winter.

    My shopping plans are to fill the holes in my pantry as well. I saw the pasta deal at Smiths and will stocking up on that today. Also need to find some green chiles. My meat supply is still good so I will only buy something if it is a rock bottom price. We like to have a good variety of fresh veggies and fruit on hand, but I keep a good supply of canned things as well.

    Thanks for this blog post - it gets me inspired!!!!!

  • Mari in MD February 02, 2018

    I get paid every two weeks and so spent money last weekend on the normal grocery items. I won't be spending much more this month since the repair man told me yesterday that my 5-6 year old washing machine cannot be repaired and I need to buy a new one. I found one at Home Depot for $570 total (washer, lines between faucets and washer, tax, and hauling the old one away). I used $50 in gift cards earned from credit card points and charged the remaining $520, which I'll pay from my emergency fund. Since I want to put that money back as quickly as possible, I'll be cutting back where I can, including groceries and miscellaneous. That means that I plan to limit my shopping to milk, eggs, and fresh produce and fruit (mostly berries). Most items will be purchased at Aldi's. If I see meat on a good sale, usually because it's close to expiring, I may buy that. I eat organic meat, often purchased at Wegman's, and that usually is not on sale and usually sold before it gets close to expiring, but every once in a while, I stumble on such a sale. All shopping for the next 2-3 months will be done using a gift card received from work because I completed my biometrics (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, etc. testing). That card has $475 left on it now.

    I'm thankful that I have a well-stocked pantry and freezer. I'm also thankful that I have a savings account. I mentioned the new washer and paying for it with savings to a co-worker yesterday. She said she wished she had one. It turns out that after re-financing their house about 3 years ago and paying off all the credit cards, her husband has now run up $38,000 on his cards again. She is blaming him for all of it, but they use his cards for groceries and eating out as a family, as well as his daily lunches out, gas, and whatever he wants to buy. I gently suggested using cash for groceries and not eating out but she told me she can't cook 7 days a week and when they spend $80-100 for lunch on Saturday and Sundays for their family of 4, they have leftovers for dinner that night. I tried. She doesn't get it and would rather blame her husband than work on the problem together. I don't see how they can possibly retire in 12-14 years as she is planning to do with this debt level, which increases each month. I am planning on retiring in two years and am seriously devoted to this. All I can say to everyone is to keep saving and controlling your spending. I am so happy there are like-minded people here.

  • Sandra February 02, 2018

    Mari, I see the same behavior in my own children. They all know how to shop carefully, do their own repairs, and buy second hand, but they are prone to treating themselves to frivolous meals and snacks every week, too. We have always saved meals out for special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries and even those are often made at home and enjoyed with friends or family. I am sure they will become more careful as they get older, but they are wasting precious resources now that could be going towards their savings.

    Thank you Brandi for providing a forum to encourage the frugal lifestyle with your glowing example. It is so helpful for others to read and share their stories.

  • Jennifer O February 05, 2018

    We set our budget to include regular meals out and fundraiser events, but still save more than 25% of our income for retirement. Those outings are special to us - not frivolous - because it is time we spend just us without thinking we need to go do some chore or take of some "pressing thing". Oddly - "special" meals and desserts are generally done at home.

  • Marybeth February 03, 2018

    You tried. That is all you can do. I have tried and sometimes I am successful sometimes I'm not. I bring my lunch with me everyday. Sometimes we are treated to lunch so I then save it for the next day. Some of my co-workers eat out everyday. We would like to retire someday and are trying to put our kids though college debt free. I think that is more important then eating out constantly. We do enjoy eating out but I think its because we don't do it weekly.

  • http://thejewishlady.com February 04, 2018

    You are right; it's all about mindset. I once met someone that was single, unemployed, and childless who told me that she had no time to look for deals or use coupons, even though she had 19K in student loan debt. There is so much info available for anyone who wants to budget, but the motivation has to be there as well.

  • Mari in MD February 04, 2018

    Sandra, Marybeth, and Jewish Lady,

    Yes, I agree with all of you. You can tell people until you are blue in the face and if they are not committed to changing so they can be financially responsible, you are just wasting your time.

    I was talking to my daughter yesterday and we were discussing this. She remembers when my co-worker went through the refinancing because we discussed then what the chances of them not getting into debt again. At the time, we didn't think they were good and now we know. She and I also talked about her finances, which are not great since she doesn't earn much. However, she has no debt and pays off her credit card every month after using it for gas and a couple other things, simply to build up a credit history. We both sacrificed fancy vacations and a number of other things so she could finish college without student loans and she has thanked me any number of times for that. A bunch of her friends have loans and some of them are buying new cars - and by new, I mean NEW, not new to them - and she has no idea how they ae doing it. She still eats out more frequently than she should - so do I, especially in the summer - but she's also cooking more at home so she's getting there. I'm really proud that what I've tried to teach her over the years has sunk in and, although she's not perfect in following those teachings (who is?), she is self-supporting.

  • Rhonda A. February 02, 2018

    I agree with you on stocking the pantry first, Brandy. Now that I have built up my pantry & freezer stock, most of my shopping it restocking what is low, not buying things to eat for that week. I'm still working on trying to stock enough fruit & veggies in the summer to last all winter, but I'm getting closer each year. I hope to get a garden set up again this year.

    This month I have a few items that need restocking in our pantry. I am reducing my grocery budget by $100 this month, so I need to be a bit more careful with my spending. Here's what I know I will be purchasing or watching for sales on:
    *Margarine (I need block margarine to use for baking, and soft spread margarine for every day needs. I have butter, but it is extremely expensive. So, I reserve it's use it to special occasions only)
    *Taco Seasoning (I buy in bulk. We recently ran out)
    *Mayo (been watching for a sale at Costco with no luck yet. Will need to buy some soon, though)
    *Parmesan Cheese (we're low, hoping for a sale soon at Costco)
    *Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts (again watching for a good $ off per pack sale at Costco to restock freezer)
    *Ground Beef (we still have some in the freezer, but will most likely need more before end of month)
    *Breakfast Sausage (will buy several packages for freezer if they go on sale)
    *Rice (possibly, if I find a really good sale price. Still seeing Chinese New Year sales, but they haven't been as good this year. We still have some rice, so no panic on this one)
    *Shampoo & Conditioner (watching for sale at Costco)
    *Parchment Paper (no rush on this, but if it goes on sale at COstco I will pick it up)

    Of course, I will continue to watch sales and clearance sections closely and stock up on pantry items my family enjoys as I find a good price.

  • Libby February 03, 2018

    Chinese New Year is later this year - 16 February - than years in the past. It could be the sales for CNY haven't happened yet.

  • PJGT February 03, 2018

    If you have a dollar tree around, I buy parchment paper there.

  • Rhonda A. February 03, 2018

    I bought parchment paper from Costco the last time (I think it was on sale when I bought it) and it lasted a few years! It was worth the initial investment.

  • Susan February 05, 2018

    Hello Rhonda,
    Have you or anyone else tried Zaycon Fresh? I ordered 40lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts at 99 cents a pound. If you are new to the site you can receive 25% off your entire order using the code GET25. You do have to wait until the product is sent to a pick up zone but I can do that for that great price.:) You could also share an order if the quantities are too much for your freezer.

  • Stac February 02, 2018

    Brandy, the paragraph about how many trees you have is missing the initital number. Only pointing it out because I am curious. Thanks!

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    I fixed it. It's 29 (once I replace the two dead trees, that is).

  • Stacy February 02, 2018

    Thank you!

  • Marymac February 05, 2018

    how do you freeze lemon zest? Do you do it in individual sizes or a big chunk? Do you freeze in bags or ice cube trays. Thanks

  • LynnDinKY February 02, 2018

    Although my pantry is not quite stocked like your pantry is. I'm thankful for what we do have and that I won't have to shop this week except for milk and eggs.

  • Roxie February 02, 2018

    How old is your lemon tree that is producing so many lemons. Mine are three years old and not giving me nearly as many lemons. I am jealous of that beautiful tree. I want to get another tree soon.

    We have 3 birthdays this month. I have gifts already. My plan this month is to not buy anything but some milk and fresh fruit. I have plenty of food in the pantry. Other that normal bills we are doing a no spend month.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker February 02, 2018

    A three-year-old tree will not give you many. I started with trees that were already a couple of years old, and these large trees have been in the ground for 9 years. I have smaller, younger lemon trees in the white garden (2-year-old trees planted 4 years back) and they are only giving me a few lemons each so far.

  • Roxie February 02, 2018

    Thank you for the information. I have not grown lemon or lime trees before and did not know how long it would take to produce a lot of lemons. So far we have used the ones we produce and I have not had extra to freeze.

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