Blackberries and Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker

May is a wonderful month for harvesting from the garden.

Desert Gold Peaches The Prudent Homemaker

This month I’ll be picking blackberries, Swiss chard, beets, strawberries, chamomile, hibiscus flowers, lettuce, spinach, beets, turnips, Katy apricots (they didn’t ripen last month as I had expected, but should early this month),  Desert Gold peaches, artichokes, and even a few tomatoes. I also have leeks, oregano, parsley, mint, sage, rosemary and thyme fresh in the garden.

Chamomile The Prudent Homemaker

I’ve got a full pantry and some pretty full freezers.

Consequently, I don’t need to buy much. I’ve decided to make our grocery budget for this month $200. I may or may not use all of that.


To prepare for meals when the baby comes, I’ve been cooking and freezing large batches of beans (pintos, black beans, and white beans). 


Here are my shopping plans for this month:


Milk (currently $2.31 a gallon at Sam’s Club)

Eggs (Currently $4.98 for 5 dozen large eggs at Sam’s Club)

Flour tortillas


I’ll look at the ads for other great deals, and I may or not buy anything in addition to these items (in which case, I will end up spending much less for the month). In fact, I may not have to spend much of anything at all, since I redeemed some Swagbucks for a $25 Sam’s Club gift card (which at the current prices would cover 10 dozen eggs, 3 gallons of milk, and 80 flour tortillas, or some other combination, such as  5 dozen eggs, 5 gallons of milk, and 80 tortillas). 

I also recently found out about strawberry picking at a local small community garden. They ask for a donation of time or money for picking. We’re going to check it out this week (my children have already been there for a service project earlier this year) I’ve had little success with growing regular strawberries (the tiny white alpine ones do well for me, though) and I’m curious as to what I can do to see better results. I’m also looking forward to having some more strawberries, as I didn’t get a chance to get many from the store last month.

Normally, this would make this a great month for to me to stock up on pantry staples, but since I am working to cut our expenses significantly right now to pay for some unexpected medical bills, keeping the list to a few short items while eating from the pantry, garden, and freezers is a great way for me to have more money to put towards bills. 

For my American readers, you may want to save a portion of May’s budget for stocking up at the end of the month. Memorial Day sales will have barbeque savings, which usually includes sales on condiments as well as ground beef, hot dogs, watermelon, and corn on the cob. If you’re planning to host a Memorial Day barbeque, check out my Patriotic Decorating board on Pinterest for some fun ideas and free printables.


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  1. I got my milk this weekend at Walgreens. It was on sale here for $2.29 a gallon. I had some ‘extra care bucks’ to spend before they expired. I walked out with 3 gallons of milk and a bag of candy for my $10.00 in extra care bucks. Another surprise in the mail last week was a coupon from Khols for $10.00 off any sale of $10.00 or more. This is a mother’s day promotion. I plan to use my coupon to add some towels to my stock. My bathroom towels are almost 9 years old and getting thin. I can get 2 new towels for almost free. My sister in law works at Khols and she lets me know ahead of time about the big sales etc. A couple of times she has used her discount to help me make a big purchase. When we had to buy a new suit for our grandson for a funeral the discount was very helpful. Saved us about $12.00 on the suit.
    We will be out of town for the last 2 weeks of this month. So we are going to be extra thrifty at the grocery store to save the money because we will eat out a few times on vacation. I have meat and veggies in the freezer. I will buy some fruit and of coarse the milk. I need eggs too.
    I got a clearance sale king size sheet at Walmart last Saturday for just $7.00. It is a pretty yellow flower print. My plan is to make a new gown and robe for myself from this sheet. I am going to have a minor surgery in June that will require an over night stay in the hospital. My bathrobe is heavy fabric. I want one that is lighter weight and this fabric will be just right. That is my big job to do in the next week.

  2. I did two huge shoppings at Costco in April so I am stocked up on all the staples. In May I am hoping to spend half of what I spent last month.
    I have plenty of flour, sugar, quina, risotto rice, chicken broth, canned beans and tomatoes, butter, eggs, frozen fruit for smoothies, milk, yogurt. Now I just need to come up with some ideas for quick meals from all these items!

  3. I do not have a garden,but love fresh fruit. Aldi’s has strawberries for @1.29 this week. I bought 10 pounds. Used some to eat fresh,but most of them I have sliced and put in freezer bags for fall and winter smoothies. I do the same for blueberries. It is pretty cost effective as frozen fruit in small bags are running more than $3.

  4. That is a great price! We don’t have Aldi’s here or I would pick some up. Hopefully, someone else will read this who has that option near them and can get some too!

    I hope to see another sale on strawberries and if so I won’t hesitate to freeze them, but the season is passing here and they tend to be higher now. You’re right in that frozen fruit is often $3 a pound or more!

  5. Your strawberries intrigue me. I don’t live anywhere near Las Vegas but I can’t grow regular strawberries either! I have had TWO this year. I have been gardening for years and this is stumping me! What makes the Alpine ones different? Something keeps eating my berries. I purchased strawberries at Aldi too today along with pineapple for $1.19 (I found the biggest one), and bananas for .39/lb.

  6. I’m jealous–so far my garden contains chives, some parsley starting to come up from last year, and a few leaves of Swiss chard growing from last year’s plants. Except for the chives, we will wait for ANY harvest until the end of May. Actually, I’ve seen parsnips a couple places but not even local asparagus yet. It’s a high in the upper 50’s and we’ve just about finished with daffodils and started on early tulips blooming here. A discouraging wait for warmth when we had a mild winter. We saw way too much grey in April.

    I am also attempting to use up things from my freezers and pantry–refrigerator needs replacing soon so that freezer needs to be empty, and the big downstairs one I try to defrost in spring in anticipation of summer and fall harvests. The cupboards need their annual real cleaning too, although they are still pretty full. I did choose a few items for tonight’s dinner from there–part of a package of Shake and Bake—a rare purchase for me, a box of store brand stuffing mix (equally rare), and I think some frozen corn that was on sale for 88 cents last week and a can of chunky mixed fruit from some previous sale I don’t recall. That comprised some of the emergency foods I keep on hand over the winter but didn’t use for snowstorms this year. I will try to eat down those items and buy similar new things for next winter’s stock up.

  7. Alpine (also called Vesca) strawberries grow in the shade or dappled sun. They grow from seeds, not from runners, and they don’t make runners. They are TINY–like the size of your pinky nail–when ripe. You can see how much smaller they are than the blackberries in the photo. They won’t produce in our heat of summer, but in a cooler climate they will produce all summer long. Here the plants will burn and die if in direct sun all day (full sun in other places does not mean full sun here, which is always tricky). The berries can be red, white, or yellow when ripe. I bought my seeds from Outside Pride (they have red and white). They have a coupon going right now: use code MOTHER for 15% off your order through May 10th.

  8. I’m thinking that our grocery bill will be pretty small this month, as well. I started sorting my stockpile today for the move. I am packing things like gallon jars of dry beans, empty ice cream buckets re-filled with rice, etc. and canned items, such as mandarin oranges. I’ve left a small assortment on the shelf for the next 3 weeks. I’ve loaded a bin (and will have another one) of things I want access to–stuff I think I will get into before this is over and we are into our new house. The camper is packed with food. The freezers will be moved to people’s garages, probably next week, but I will be able to “shop” from my own freezers weekly. We will be living in the camper in less than 3 weeks so I don’t need to stock up anymore.

    I am growing a garden with my sister this year, at her house. We do have lettuce, spinach and boc choi that will be ready this month, I think. Carrots, cabbage, beet, broccoli, and onions are planted, but will take longer to mature. We have 4 tomatoes in walls of water, but they are a long ways off. On Saturday, my sister and I hope to plant a lot more things, including green beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc.

    Our budget is going to be extremely tight this summer, as my husband is not working, yet, and my job just ended last week. By being very careful, we will make it with the money we have saved, and by fall, we hope he will be working again. So, I know my stockpile and the garden will get us through for food, with just a few items that need to be purchased. I have tried to be extremely organized, but I’m sure there will be few “oops” moments where I find I haven’t saved out enough of something and the rest is buried in a storage unit. I have been saving money over the last few months to use when that time comes.

  9. So sorry to hear about your unexpected medical bills. I hope everyone is ok.

    We are moving in a few weeks, so we haven’t been able to start a garden this spring. We will be in an apartment, so our options will be limited to whatever we can plan in pots on our patio after we move. Trying to figure out what will grow well in pots and be the best bang for our buck.

  10. Carla,

    There are several things you can grow in pots. I’m trying some bush varieties of zucchini this year that are bred for growing in pots. Tomatoes would be another good choice, as would herbs, such as chives, basil, oregano, etc. Swiss chard, green onions, and lettuce do well in pots, too, and can be cut and harvested over and over.

  11. Cool, we just got an aldis. I probably won’t buy strawberries and this year they are the top fruit with pesticides on them.. so I’m just not sure yet! However I have heard aldis has other great buys, so I need to check them out!

  12. Hi Brandy and all from Australia 🙂 . We have just done our monthly shop for the month of May today as we only shop once a month now and we came in slightly under budget yay :D.

    We stocked ahead of time late last month for this month and increased our usual stock levels on –
    – Extra sausages.
    – Extra beef mince.
    – Extra mineral supplements for my husbands back on special.
    – Extra tubes of muscle and arthritis cream for my husbands back also on special.

    These purchases above came out of this month’s grocery budget.

    Grocery stock up and replacement of items used were –
    – 5 dishwashing liquids to replace those used from making our homemade clothing soaker.
    – 3 tins of champignons.
    – Sliced chicken sandwich meat.
    – 8 x 3 lt of full cream milk,
    – 3kg of full cream instant powdered milk.
    – 3 x 500 g butter.
    – 4 litres of vinegar.

    We dropped a few not needed now things off our grocery list and will carry those over to next month’s list so we can stay in budget. The added bonus I might say of having stocked most things grocery wise now 6 – 12 months in advance.

    On the gardening front I was wondering why I got the uneasy feeling and inspiration yet again to harvest most things in the garden and blanch and freeze them. That was until I heard from our next door neighbour that the long range weather forecast for our area is snow and an extra cold winter. I hope it doesn’t snow as there will go the rest of the vegetable gardens if that happens, but bonus is the freezers are almost full with blanched and frozen vegetables from the gardens and we have room for more, and I have cut and naturally dried most of the fresh herbs so have a stock of them too.

    This may be exciting as I have never seen snow falling, so this may be the first time ever 😀 . It is more common around 45 minutes drive south of us, but it has been known to snow here too.

    Saying that our priorities will be in the garden –
    – To pick, wash, blanch and freeze or harvest any herbs to dry before we can before the snow sets in.
    – We shall chance it and plant some more carrot seeds shortly just in case the forecast is incorrect, and shall hedge our non betting bets both ways.
    – Usual weeding and fertilising.

    Other preparing we have already done which is fortunate considering the snow forecast is –
    – Put our seasoned already picked pumpkins under the house for winter storage and use, I think we have around 15 and yet more to harvest shortly.
    – Cut and split firewood ahead of time and have a fair stock on the veranda already. We shall be cutting more shortly as well for storage.
    – Fuel we have stocked in the garage for around 4 months ahead for the car and garden machinery too.
    – Snow chains for the car tyres we don’t have, but if it snows for an extended period of time we have enough groceries to get us by.

    Hope everyone else has an organised and frugal month ahead 🙂 .

  13. Thx for the reminder on all the awesome sales coming up !! this is such a long month and you really have to do a song and dance to make the budget stretch those extra days.. On a sad note. My washing machine is making such a horrid noise. One load it was fine the next it was sounding just horrible. They can’t come out till next Monday to run a diagnostic on it 🙁 I have been buying certain things in larger quantities and writing dates on them to see how long they will last us. So right now I bought a giant container of TP and started using it in January. I have 3 rolls left. If we hadn’t been so sick in February and company in april it would have lasted us another month or so. I was guestimating 2 of those pkgs a year. but more like 2.5 not bad tho for just the 2 of us !!

  14. It depends on the seed company; I have seen several different ones out there. The ones I am trying this year are from Territorial Seed. I am trying two; one is called Patio Star and the other is called Astia.

    I like the smaller bush types even without pots, since they take up less space in my garden than a sprawling variety.

  15. Thank you! I’ll give them a try! I have runners in part sun and they just don’t produce. It gets swampy here during the summer but we have another run of strawberries in the fall. I’ll def add these to my list this year!

  16. Aldi’s – at least in Ohio – is featuring bags of organic sliced strawberries this week for I think $1.99. Still expensive, but not for organic and could be stretched to use in in small amounts in smoothies.

  17. I had organized my freezing space and rotated older stuff near the top. I made a Chicken Enchilada Casserole that was new to me. It was delicious, but made way too much. So, I was able to freeze two 9×9 pans of it for thawing when we need a quick meal this month or next. My daughter received a gift card for her 9th birthday for a local nursery from her grandparents. My daughter likes to plant spring flowers with us in the yard. So, we used it and added some extra money we saved from her other grandma and we had all the flowers for the yard. My hubby re-purposed an old bushel basket he found in the shed as a planter. So cute! The hubby and daughter also planted sunflower seeds and peas. The carrots we tried last year did not come up well. We had small little carrots and they were bitter. So we are trying peas this year. I have been doing well with meal planning as well as making meals with what I have on hand. It’s really saved quite a bit of money so I have been adding it to my savings account. I only work and get paid during the school year, so while I am off during the summer, it is without pay. But this year, I planned ahead and saved enough to “pay” myself the same amount I normally make twice a month. I have made friends with another parent that lives nearby us and she grows lots of tomatoes in raised planter beds and I told her I admire them every time I drive by and she said she always as too many when she harvests and would I like some. I told her yes and let me figure out some way to pay you back with something I can help you with. So great to build a new friendship. Excited to hear about the new arrival at your home. What a miracle a baby is!

  18. WOW! So jealous of the organic strawberries! That is one fruit i only buy organic (and apples). Our local store had a notice up on the door that said Ca. has experienced heavy rains that have impacted the organic strawberries. Ours were 3.99 last week. I didn’t even check this week.

  19. Thanks for the tip about the frozen organic berries at Aldi! A new store just opened near us and I haven’t had a chance to fully check it out. We buy very few fresh strawberries because of the pesticides.

  20. There are many different bed covers and ideas on Pinterest for keeping pests out of berry patches. If something is eating them, the first step is figuring out what animal or bird is the culprit.

  21. The biggest challenge I’ve had with zucchini/squash/cucumbers in pots is how much water they need. When temps are in the 80s, I usually have to water twice each day. Along with tomatoes, they are heavy feeders and will probably need fertilizers every month.

    In addition to the plants mentioned, radishes and nasturtiums do well in pots, too.

  22. Lorna–Your posts are always interesting and somewhat frustrating through our winter (Sept-April) her in Fairbanks Alaska. Now we are so ready to work the gardens. We have 2 community garden plots and 2 raised beds in our front yard. We still have potatoes from last year. We had garden carrots in the refrig. through January. All cole crops do well so we will use the raised beds for them this year because of a vole problem with the community gardens. We lost too many plants to voles last year. We especially love romanescu and kohlrabi, so they will be in our yard. It is nice to pull radishes each day too. We have 4 more raised beds purchased. Our front yard is perfect for them but our neighbor has a lab pup who does not like people in our yard. Not sure what we will do with that. Tomatoes seem to do well in pots. My grandchildren would eat them clean if I didn’t save some for us! When we have them in the summer days, we make many trips to the gardens. They can run and act like kids! They have grown up there so know they have to respect others plots.

    Brandy, my thoughts are with you as #8 approaches. Hope that all goes well and your whole family enjoys the new baby!

  23. I was so lucky to find organic strawberries at the 99cent store for .99 a pound. They were very sweet and fresh. I bought 39 lbs and froze a lot for smoothies this year. I made some into jam but it wasn’t a great batch, more like strawberry sauce but yummy anyways.

  24. Hi Alaska Gran and great to hear what is going on in other countries too. I must admit I had never heard of a vole so had to look up on google to see what this garden destroying little critter looked like, now I have a fair idea, part of the rodent family.

    Sorry to tell you of all the things we are harvesting when you were unable to, but good to hear that you are able to garden now. It does appear it might be us that may be battling the snow instead of you all there.

    So great you have community garden plots there and a shame that you are unable to garden in your own front yard too. Perhaps the Labrador pup might become socialised a bit better if you talk to it and it will get to know you and your visitors a bit better and stop barking. Perhaps you can work out with your neighbour what the dog’s favourite thing is to eat and occasionally give it treats, with the neighbours permission of course. They often become more socialised with food usually.

    Saying that we have a next door neighbour whose dog is around 2 years old, I love dogs but this animal is just plain vicious and bites everyone, even the mail man steers a wide berth putting mail in their letter box because it sticks it’s head through the wire on the fence.

    Are your community gardens outside or in a sheltered greenhouse set up ?, just curious as you have a lot of snow and cold there and thought the community may have a heated or climate controlled greenhouse to extend the time you could grow a vegetable garden.

  25. I inherited strawberry plants in my community garden bed. I carefully uprooted all the strawberry plants and added a lot of aged compost and soil. I then replanted the strawberry plants. They are in full sun all day long. The first year, I snipped off all the runners that I could find. I used a net to cover the plants. I had a great harvest. That was three years ago and I’ve had a decent harvest every year since.
    In subsequent years, I have added aged compost in early spring. I also side-dress the plants about mid-way through the summer with compost. Some times I’ll get ants in the bed and I will add used, dry coffee grounds to combat the ants.
    Once these plants start to produce, I get 1-2 servings of berries every day all summer. In order to make jam, I collect the berries in the freezer until I have enough fruit. Last summer, the production went down a little because I was letting the plants send runners. This year I will replace some of my older plants with the new plants produced from the runners.

  26. The front yard has perfect sun for gardening. Kind of funny here to think of that when we have over 18 hours of sun! If we garden in the front, the grandchildren will have to play in the back which means the pup will be loud. It appears he will be a small lab so he won’t be able to jump the fence. They have another slightly older dog who is better behaved. It was funny that the lab started the wolf howl yesterday and the other joined it. Thing is the other one is partly wolf. Our yards are small and houses are very close together. Just having children around seems to upset the lab, although there are children in the family.

    The community gardens are outdoor. A few hoop houses exist but they tend to be vandalized. We only lost one Romanescu to vandalism last year besides the voles. There would be no way to heat a greenhouse. Our first and biggest snow was last Sept. If you do get snow, the best thing to do is to stay put. It probably won’t last anyway. In a real snow, Fairbanks pretty well shuts down. It’s a great time for soup or stew!

    Our temps are between 50-60 F during the days but the soil isn’t warm enough to plant yet. We can have frost until the end of May.

  27. Yes, herbs are top of our list – especially basil. I hadn’t thought about zucchini, but we would love to have that fresh! I will definitely look into that.

  28. Hi Alaska Gran I would given your ideal front yard conditions for gardens put your garden beds in there anyway so you are not having to travel to the community gardens and then the grand children can play in the back yard. If the lab can’t jump the fence I think it would be fine. As he comes from a family of children might just simply get excited when he sees children and merely wants to run and play with them as pups do when they have copious amounts of energy, I might add as well as our grandchildren 🙂 .

    Yes your soil temperatures would not be warm enough to plant yet but it does sound like shortly it will which is fantastic.

    So sad that the hoop houses get vandalised and sometimes the garden produce too. Setting up climate controlled greenhouses is a hugely expensive exercise as well, but in larger communities who all chip in for costs along with local councils it may be financially beneficial. I wouldn’t do it if they are going to be vandalised by the sound of it.

    Agree that if we should see snow here we will be staying put as well and eating lots of hot yummy stews and soups and sitting beside the combustion wood stove for warmth as well. One of the many advantages of having stocked our supplies ahead of time.

  29. Happy Mothers Day to all the lovely ladies on here and of course yourself Brandy as well 🙂 .

    We hope you are being spoilt as you deserve it !.

  30. Our Aldi’s (Hanover, PA) had the same sale in strawberries; there was none to be found as they were all sold out. I bought blackberries instead for 99 cents per package.

  31. I love that your always learning Brandy, I guess that’s the key in gardening. I never heard of Alpine strawberries till I read your blog. Our strawberry plants are getting ready to bloom -I’ll have to watch out for late frosts now. I need to put netting on them also because the birds will eat them faster than I can pick them.

    Have a great Mother’s day

  32. Berries like a slightly acidic soil, so if you live where the soil tends to be alkaline, the berries might not thrive. Even though I live in a place where the soil tends to be slightly acidic, I give my strawberries a little bit of organic berry fertilizer each spring, along with compost.

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