Meyer Lemons On Tree The Prudent Homemaker

For January, my grocery shopping budget is $0. We’ll be eating from what we have on hand.

There are lots of reasons for choosing to eat from what you have on hand for the month. January is a great month to do it: You can rotate through food you’ve put aside all year (break out the home-canned summer goodness!), eat the meat you’ve bought on sale, and enjoy warm soups from the pantry with homemade bread (and for my southern hemisphere readers, it can be a great month to enjoy the bounties of your summer garden!)

For those who have seasonal work,  January can be a low-income month. 

For many, it’s a high utility month, driven by the cost of keeping one’s house warm during the winter.

Winter weather may have you wishing to stay home more and make fewer trips out in the snow and ice.

You may want to start a garden this year, and cutting the food budget in January can be a place to find the money for seeds and plants.

Eating from the pantry may give you a chance to start or work to replenish an emergency fund.

If you’re having a tighter than usual month financially, consider making  January an eat from the pantry month.


In my garden, I have a few fresh additions to the pantry, fridge, and freezer’s offerings. I have a bevy of lemons hanging from the trees.

Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I have giant Swiss chard.

I have a few herbs that will make it through our short winter, including rosemary and parsley. Many herbs die back to the ground during winter and return in spring, including chives, oregano, and tarragon (tarragon only comes back if it is cloched all winter). 

I have seedlings coming up of snow peas, lettuce, and radishes. I should have radishes and lettuce ready to harvest by the end of the month.


Some of our meals this month will be:





Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Crepes with lemon juice and powdered sugar/homemade strawberry jam

Whole wheat waffles

Citrus fruit salad

Fruit smoothies with canned and frozen fruit from the garden

Homemade yogurt, granola, and frozen fruit with honey and/or home-canned jam

Cubed potatoes with onions

Eggs with toast 


Swiss chard soup The Prudent Homemaker



Swiss chard soup

Tomato Basil Soup

Rosemary White Bean Soup

Pasta e Fagioli

Taco Soup

Alphabet soup

Minestrone soup

Butternut squash soup

Black beans and rice with salad from the garden (lettuce, radishes, and the indoor-ripening tomatoes I picked in December from the garden)

White Bean Fettucini Alfredo sauce over pasta with garlic green beans


I’ll make Rosemary Olive Oil bread and French bread to go with our soups.


Afternoon Snacks:



French bread and/or biscuits with strawberry jam, fig jam, apple butter and apricot vanilla jam

Hot chocolate

Fruit Crumble

White bean dip with homemade pitas


Oatmeal cookies

Fruit Salad with home canned fruit

Banana bread




Black bean burgers with steak fries (we have a good number of potatoes in the pantry) and corn and tomato salad

Pork loin roast with fig sauce, mashed potatoes, applesauce, and Swiss chard

Tuscan Tomato bread soup with salad from the garden

Herb roasted chicken with Swiss chard and lemon parmesan pasta

Fish (that we were gifted last year) with roasted rosemary potatoes and Swiss chard

Chili with cornbread

Spaghetti with garlic green beans

Barbecue chicken with corn, baked potatoes,  and lemonade

Lemon chicken with garlic chicken rice, beets, petite peas, and lemonade


What are your meal plans for this month? Are you planing to stock up on any great sales this month, or will you be eating from what you have on hand?





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  1. I will be going through our fridge freezer and small chest freezer this week and making a menu around what is in them. I know there is cooked turkey and ham so most likely creamy turkey rice soup and ham and bean soup. Not sure what else yet. I love that you have a menu for all the seasons. I plan to work on that fir my family this year.

  2. For some reason the extra question mark made me laugh! Like you are super eager to find out what I am doing????

    I am moving, and will have no food at my new place. As a result, I am instead scanning for sales in the area to find good deals to build up a pantry. I am learning how to balance having a balanced diet for the time being, while still taking advantage of sales, and all within a budget. I’ll be glad when I am not starting the month out from zero.

    Since I am moving several states away, I am unaware of what prices are good so I am starting a price book to reflect the new costs.

  3. I am totally on board with a no-spend month! We are leaving at the end of the month for “vacation” for 10 weeks, so I’m hoping to clean out the fridge and freezer. (I say “vacation” because my husband has a couple rotations for vet school in another (warmer!) state and we’ll be going as a family. We’ll be able to stay with family members making it a very frugal and fun get away from the snow for two months!)

  4. Great post today! And it made me rethink my beliefs a bit. Could I really spend $0 on groceries? Over the last few years, I have reduced our average monthly grocery spending from $500-600 a month down to $350 in 2016. My goal in January was $200, but zero seems like a really good Challenge! Thank you for getting me thinking in a new way.

  5. Good Morning. Thank you for sharing your plans and encouragement. One of my goals is to attempt baking bread (the yeast intimidates me) as part of my routine. Do you recommend an easy recipe for beginners that could help me become acclimated to bread baking? I read your helpful instructions for rosemary bread, and realized I may need to start with something a bit less complex. Suggestions for a recipe? Thanks so much.

  6. While I am doing a ‘frugal January’ I am not implementing changes to my usual grocery budget. (Everything else is a ‘no’ this month)
    I am hoping to try out a few new recipes to bring some variety to our already very boring menu. I am trying to eat from our cupboards as well, while at it. I don’t keep a bit food storage at my apartment, basically lol storage I have is a regular size fridge and one kitchen cupboard.

  7. Great timing on this post. I’m beginning a no-spend January, eating from our freezer and pantry. As there is only my husband and I, and one adult son at home I figured we needed to stop stockpiling and start using things up. Plus we are anticipating a move this summer and want to pay off the last of some debt and have some money to accomplish the move. I actually enjoy getting creative with menus and seeing what I can put together from what I have. Yesterday I prepared a crock-pot full of white beans and ham bone soup. On a frosty Sunday after church it tasted really good. Plus there’s enough for a meal today (we still have a couple of children home from college with us for a bit longer) so I won’t have to cook anything new. Thanks for all your suggestions and encouragement. I appreciate the community of great women I find here.

  8. I’m planning on spending less than $100 for groceries and household goods for the month of January. We have a stocked freezer and pantry, so I will really only need to purchase a few things, like eggs, milk, and some fresh fruit. Ideally, I will only spend $50 this month, but we will see if I’m able to pull that off.

  9. I don’t have any specific sales I’m looking for, but I’m being mindful of trying to eat more out of the freezer, so there is room when the garden harvest begins to come in. I’m thinking about making your rosemary olive oil bread, and am curious if you or anyone has tried it in a bread machine? These days, I generally let my machine do the mixing and rising, then take it out to cook in the oven. Do you know if this recipe would work in a bread machine, or need some tweaking? Looking at all your meal ideas inspires me to try some new ones.

  10. We’re aiming to eat out of our pantry and freezer this month, too. I will probably have to buy eggs and maybe a few other things thsi month, but I am aiming to spend less than $50 all told. We have no garden at this time of year, but I have a lot of canned goods and stuff in the freezer. I will be trying some new recipes.

  11. Like everyone else, I will be actively using our food storage this month and supplement with a few things here and there from the grocery store (hopefully, on sale, too!). I have ordered 40 pounds of chicken which will be here in late February so I also need to make room in the freezer.

  12. I’m not convinced a no spend month will work for our family. There are too many “picky eaters” that wouldn’t make it through without some favourite ingredience. But I will be focusing on using our pantry for our meals as much as possible, as I always do. I also find that there are often some really great sales in January at the grocery stores. The stores know that people have less money to spend in January, so they temp them with great deals. I always shop the sales carefully, but enjoy seeing what they have to offer.

    I do have a plan to try some new main course recipes in January. My family is getting tired of the same old meals. So it’s time to look for new ones to add. I even have my daughter on the lookout for ones she would like to try (she just started a Pinterest account;)). We’ll see what we come up with! Thank you for posting your meal list, Brandy. I love reading what others are eating as I never know when inspiration will strike me.

  13. We do not have the stockpile/pantry space to do a no spending challenge, but we do need to spend as little as possible the month due to lose of most of dh’s income (major medical issues). Waiting on the V.A. to approve his new disability and his long term disability to kick in. So the challenge is healthy eating on a budget for the next several months.

    Breakfasts – since I work and dh is still in bed when I leave, he fixes his own
    breakfast sandwiches
    bacon on occasion


    Dinners (cleaning out the freezer)
    Last month we purchased groupons for a local butcher so will use those for our meat for the next month or 2.
    We also received a gift of an Omaha steak package, so will enjoy that as well, we also received several restaurant gift cards which will come in handy on the all day hospital/dr visits.
    On chemo weeks, dh isn’t very hungry so simple meals those days.

    Chili and rice
    Beef Stew
    Potato soup
    Creamy chicken soup
    Another “cream” (pureed) soup?
    Steak, potatoes and greens
    chicken, rice and green beans
    Beans and Rice/ Pumpkin black bean soup?
    fortified pasta sauce/pasta (hidden veggies)
    burgers/hot dogs (Omaha Steak treat)
    fish (using butcher shop groupon)
    fortified mac and cheese (with hidden veggies etc)

    Sides: collard greens, green beans, potatoes, rice, spinach, fruit (anything I can get dh to eat…)

    I am also making some freezer soups for dd as she is having her wisdom teeth out at the end of the month.

  14. Good Morning Brandy~
    I love your picture of lemons and I will also be spending very little of groceries this month as well. I plan to take inventory of our freezer and pantry to make a list of what we have for the month. I am sure we have enough for all meals except fresh lettuce and tomatoes for salads. It has been very frosty here in the NW so my garden is “sleeping” 🙂 I plant to put the food money aside to save as we will be going on a family vacation with my grown children .
    I was gifted with a Belgian waffle maker from friends and am so delighted since I did not have one. I found a FB you tube recipe on how to make quesadillas and pizza’s in a waffle maker as well so this will be fun to try.
    I love the list of meals that you plan to have this no spend month.. thank you for the ideas.
    Have a wonderful week~
    blessings~Patty from the NW

  15. Thanks for the post! I especially enjoy your menu ideas. Thinking of things to cook is always a challenge for me.

    My garden is put to bed. Unlike many winters, we have abundant snow on the ground this year. I, too, need to watch my grocery budget this month since my utility bill will be the highest of the year. My ground floor apartment only has electric heat. So January and February are my highest bills of the year.
    I’m planning to mostly eat from the pantry. I will be buying milk and eggs as needed. I will, however, keep an eye out for any great sales for my pantry.
    And to the person living in an apartment – that’s me too. I re-purposed what should have been my coat closet by the front door into a pantry. I found some over the door hooks for my day to day jackets and outerwear. It doesn’t look too bad – but I’m more into function then having a ‘magazine pretty’ house. The closet space had just enough room for a bookshelf that I already had. I have to work at keeping it tidy but that’s ok. It forces me to rotate and use my storage.

  16. I won’t be doing a no spend month although I would like to. There have been lots of household items we’ve been putting off purchasing for sometime and I will be working down that list a bit at a time. I do plan to reduce my grocery budget as much as I can this year. My goal is to shave about $125 a month from our current monthly budget. I hope to allocate that money towards paying off a credit card instead.

  17. Brandy, Your budget is $0 this month and I am wondering what you do about buying milk for the month? I noticed you have homemade yogurt on your menu plan and wondered how you make it if you aren’t buying any milk this month. Do you make your yogurt out of powdered milk?

  18. If you haven’t been there before, you should check out Budget Bytes! Beth has a bunch of different recipes- between Beth and Brandy, 85% of my favorite cheap and delicious recipes are covered :p

  19. Thanks so much for inspiring me! I just planned a menu from the pantry. I will still be grocery shopping to pick up some basics (we’re a little low on some things, as we’ve been eating mainly from the pantry for the past two weeks). But I shopped my freezer and pantry first, and I’ll need very little from the store! It will be good to use up some garden produce from the summer.

  20. Hi Brandy:

    Thank you for this post. I’m grateful for the meal plan ideas…I’ve been in a slump for the last couple of months and need to recover and get inspired. You have done that for me. Those lemons on your tree look absolutely lovely. I’ve never lived in a climate where you can grow citrus so I’m envious.

  21. I bought milk at the end of December and will use that to make yogurt this week.

    We drink water here for meals and occasionally milk. I LOVE milk (I can easily go through a gallon on my own in a couple of days, but that’s a lot of calories!) but we cut back our milk spending long ago. I haven’t bought cold cereal for over 10 years so we don’t use any for that.

    For baking, I use powdered milk. It’s a great way to rotate it.

    A quick Google search yielded me a great list of non-dairy foods high in calcium, and several of these are also on our menu this month:,,20845429,00.html/view-all

  22. I was thinking the same thing. I have a $200 budget for January, but now I am thinking of trying for $0. I have a cow in the freezer plus hams and three turkeys. We need to rotate can food as well so a win win

  23. An easy walk away method for making apple butter is using a crockpot. I’ve made applesauce in the crockpot and left to long. Oops …and that’s how you get apple butter.

  24. We are on another spend January. I do allow us $40 a week for groceries for milk,greens, eggs etc. We Include the milk and diapers for when the grand baby is here. Each year it helps us different ways. This year the money is to redo our bedroom. Its amazing how well it works for us! I know you will do well Brandy!

  25. If I had stocked more basic veggies and milk I would try the $0 for the month. As it is I am doing the pantry Challenge (goodcheapeats sponsor) and only buy certain things. I want to have both frigs’s freezers empty at the end of the month and a good part of Baby the 7 cf freezer pretty much emptied except of the corn. I have 52 meals of corn in there to last until the next harvest. We have 2 other deep freezers that we will be eating out of also.

    Menu is on my blog… I list proteins for dinner only as I fix what ever sides will fill in what vit etc I am lacking at dinner due to Crohn’s.

    Blessed Be

  26. For children two 8 ounce cups of milk is all they need. Which is equivalent to 300 mg of calcium per cup give or take.
    I was surprised to find this out from my granddaughters pediatrician. This knowledge is helpful when you have a kid who has no appetite or one that is on the chunky side. In our case our 2 1/2 year old is on the chunky side from us giving her milk on demand.

  27. I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t need to do a $0 food budget this month, but I do have some pantry supplies that I would like to use up, including a lot of potatoes. So I’ll be working on using those up, and supplementing with fresh veggies, fruit, and milk. I’m also going to try to start growing herbs indoors; I’d love to have a constant supply of fresh basil, cilantro, and parsley!

    I do plan to buy some grains such as faro and quinoa, to add to my lunch time salads, and want to work on adding in more protein to my diet (I’m a vegetarian with IBS issues) so I will likely buy some nuts as well, but I’ll keep an eye out for sales or for coupons to buy those. I’ve got a pea soup simmering on the stove right now (with some carrots that I bought on sale and froze in the fall, plus some inexpensive potatoes in there as well) — protein-rich but uber-frugal!

  28. Hi Brandy: I just went though my pantry and freezer this morning while making my meal plan and grocery list. I have plenty of meat/protein, pantry is well-stocked too…. just needed some cheese items, celery, tea (me) and coffee (for the hubby). We are not going to go $0, but we are being careful until March, building back up the emergency fund. I did want to share this recipe I found when I was looking for a different salad to make one night. This recipe just said “Brandy” to me:

  29. I won’t be joining in. I see hams are 99cents a lb. and whole chickens are 88cents a lb. I can’t pass those up. My husband eats ham sandwiches almost every day for lunch. I’ve already started to cut back, though. Since i’m leaving the first of Feb; i’ll be making extras and portioning it out so he doesn’t run to the store. I may even make a meal plan just for him while i’m gone. (Is that condescending? He’s not motivated to cook much after doing construction for 9 hours a day.) I do like your menu plan, Brandi. I haven’t done one in awhile. It does save money, that’s for sure.

  30. This month I’m stocking up on meat, I really need to stockup on Chicken (breast & thighs, whole chicken), Boneless pork loins. Eat constantly eat from the freezer and then rebuild as sales come along. This month though I must stockup on above during sales as the freezer is currently slim pickings.

  31. With the garden frozen and expecting a $200 month electric bill, plus January is my “last” month of my year (I budget from Feb 1 – Jan 31) this is my thrift month too! Thanks so much for the menu ideas Brandi, that was very helpful. I hope to clean out my freezer and older items in pantry. I will need to buy fresh veggies, eggs and milk, and cat food. Good quality cat food is expensive here, $2.49 per can (instinct, weruva) and dry is about $12 for 2 1/2 lb bag. (instinct) I’d like to reduce this but don’t want to give her garbage cat food either. Happy New Year everyone. Ann Lee S

  32. Although I will have to go to the store for some things, we are trying to not eat so much dairy and filling up more on vegetables, especially greens, fruit, whole grains, and meat. We have a whole turkey in the freezer and a large ham bone for bean soup. I will be making soup every week this month and probably next month, too. It is so warming in the cold weather and very frugal too.

  33. Hello Brandy and readers!
    I, too, have planned a No Spend January. This will be just for myself, my husband will not be participating. We have a pantry and freezers that need to be used up as well. I love your recipes, I have never made one that wasn’t delicious!
    Thank you!

  34. Thanks for the suggestion, K. I took a peak at the website, and it looks great! I’m going to spend more time looking through it for some recipe ideas I’d like to try.

  35. I don’t plan on doing any no spend thing or pantry challenge. I’m pretty much set with what I need, between the freezer, root cellar and canning cupboard, but I’ll buy fresh vegetables and dairy as needed. If I see a sale on something we need I’ll buy it.

    I do need to buy phyllo dough as my mother said she wants Greek food again this year for her birthday. I’ll also buy two blocks of frozen spinach. I don’t freeze a lot of spinach from the garden. I have feta cheese as when the 3.99 blocks were on sale for 3/6.00 I bought 9 of them and put in the freezer. I have plenty of brined grape leaves to make stuffed grape leaves. (We make them vegetarian so I don’t need lamb) This party will be my family and one brother’s family then my mother will go over to another of my brother’s house then another until she has made the rounds. She likes to celebrate all month. She is off to my sister’s tomorrow after the cousins Christmas party until she comes back here Sunday.

    I never make a meal plan. I don’t feel like I need that, other than when I am planning parties, get togethers etc for large groups. Or a wedding.

  36. Budget bytes is good. I’ve been using her naan recipe, thin crust pizza recipe, red enchilada sauce, among others.

    As Rhonda said there are some good sales in January. Here the Asian foods always go on sale so I stock up on cans of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn, rice paper to make fresh rolls, seaweed for sushi, chow mein noodles, tamari for example. I like to buy enough for the year. Also frozen food goes on sale and I replenish my supply of frozen peas. It’s one vegetable that no matter how much I put up we always need more.

  37. Brandy – can you tell me how you make your garlic green beans please? This is one veggie I live any which way, but all three of the guys in my home struggle to enjoy. Thanks!

  38. For the first week of January, my challenge is to feed two for$ 20. It’s not something I HAVE to do but something I am doing to practice my deeper frugal skills. I don’t have a garden and the budget will not allow for fruits or vegetables but if it works to plan it IS do-able, obviously meant to be a short term thing. I figure the savings of this one week will make the budget stronger and allow for some replenishing of the pantry in areas where it is low.

  39. Hi Robin,
    I started baking bread two years ago due to Brandy’s website. I am not a very good cook or very intuitive so I went to goodwill and bought a used (but in like new) bread machine for $8. It came with a recipe book in it. For the bread machine, you put everything in it, you don’t have to worry about yeast water temp or knowing how to knead. So that was where I started and I have been doing it for the past two years. I have tried 4-5 different recipes and found one we love. There are only two of us in our home, so I bake a loaf, then slice it, and put two slices each in freezer ziploc bags and freeze. When we want bread, I always have fresh bread in the freezer, takes 15 seconds to thaw in the microwave or a short time just sitting on the counter!

    Plan B might be to ask friends if they have a bread machine they aren’t using…you can borrow and see how it goes ;). Everyone I know has one…It is a bit having a treadmill in the house I think!

  40. It sounds like you’re doing the best with what you have on hand. That menu sounds amazing. 🙂

    We’ve found ourselves with a surplus of food, especially in our deep freezer, so we’re trying to eat more from our pantry to save our money. That’s especially important since we’re participating in the Frugalwoods’ Uber Frugal Month Challenge!

  41. What a great challenge, Brandy. I love your post where you are thinking about all of us and what it could mean to cut the January food spending.

    With the sales over the last few weeks, I’ve got plenty of chicken, fish sticks and soup on hand. I was able to buy these from my normal food budget for November and December because the prices were so good. I also have a grocery gift card. I’m going to keep to half my normal food budget for January and February. This covers cleaning products and cat food, as well as people food.

    I’ll supplement what I have with lentils and rice topped with vegetables and some kind of shepherd’s pie if I can find ground meat at a decent price.

    I’ll set the money aside and put it towards saving for my property tax, which is due in August.

    I also plan to do a price list for key groceries and cleaning products. Prices are really changing in January, so I want to see what different things cost at the grocery stores in my village and in the next town over.

  42. Apartment dweller here too! Part of a dresser drawer, – deep basket on a book shelf, even a copy paper box with a cover and a sheet or towel thrown over the top can be used for pantry purposes. Currently I am using an old wooden toy box with hinged lid that I got for $5 star yard sale and painted out with paint I had leftover from a project.

  43. Could you make your own cat food? We had a cat who had gotten ill and vet had us feeding her boiled chicken and veggies and it was actually not too expensive. Vet said it was much healthier than cat food.

  44. We found that the website Chewy has excellent prices on canned cat food. I actually ‘share’ a can (like the tuna can size) among five cats! It is their evening treat. We also do make dog ‘meatballs’ for our two little ones. That has turned out to be much cheaper than any wet dog food we’ve found. And no ‘additives’. Your prices for the brand names listed is about what we see here as well. I buy Iams for the cats.

  45. Please be careful with making your own cat food. There is a supplement that you must add to their diet (Taurine if I remember correctly, but please confirm this) as cats cannot make this naturally in their body on their own. Do some research and talk to your vet for information if you are considering making them a homemade diet. I wouldn’t want you to end up with a sick or dead cat because you didn’t know what they needed in their diet.

  46. I also have a little stash between the wall and my sofa-recliner. And a wicker basket under an armchair with some canned goods. The pantry doesn’t have to be in the kitchen.

  47. The menus plan shared by Brandy has challenged me! I think we will adjust our budget to a much smaller number for the month. Frankly, for two people, we have plenty of stockpile and freezer goods to enjoy.

    Love the comments, I am both educated and inspired by reading thru the posts! Looking forward to an amazing New Year!

  48. under furniture and bed, behind doors, cover and use as end tables and nightstands…been there and done that.IN fact I used 5 gal buckets to hold the twin matteress up when the kids were little instead of a bed frame.

  49. In our part of the country, it always seems to me that the best sales and coupons run from September, when school starts, until the end of the year. There certainly were few sales in this week’s paper, but I don’t care because my freezer is nearly full and my cupboards are over-flowing. I may take advantage of one or two specials, but only because they are good deals, not because I need them especially. I do stop at the store weekly because we use milk at the rate of a gallon and a half a week for two adults. It’s right near my gym anyhow.

    Tonight will be night #3 on Saturday’s whole roasted chicken–and I’m afraid there will also be a night #4. The chicken was nearly 5 lbs and there are only 2 of us. Saturday was roast chicken with mashed potatoes, etc, Sunday was chicken and biscuits with gravy and green beans, yesterday we had Mexican, and tonight it’s chicken soup with either bread and butter or cornbread–which ever husband favors for the meal. We have both. There are still slices of breast meat left and there may be more than enough soup for one night also. It’s is a very dreary, rainy day so soup is perfect!

    I don’t pre-plan meals on a regular basis because I have a pantry that is well supplied and the freezer full so there is lots of variety on hand. I do want to try your tomato-bread soup but we have actually had quite a bit of soup already in the past month. I have also been cooking for 60 years (married nearly 55 now) so I can pretty much come up with ideas quickly enough. And I have some “stand-by” menus for when we don’t feel like cooking or just want to eat something quick–breakfast sausage and pancakes or waffles are a winter treat and take little effort. We have cold cereal 6 mornings a week, so breakfast for dinner is quite acceptable around here. And right now we have Christmas cookies and chocolate in abundance, so dessert is only a problem in that we’re eating too many of them.

    I made about 3.5-4 quarts of broth from the carcass yesterday, so we will have soup for dinner AND enough broth to freeze for another night as well. Low on chicken broth but have lots of turkey broth on hand. I use interchangeably most of the time.

  50. I am also doing the pantry challenge over at Good Cheap Eats! I like the accountability and to see what everyone else is doing. You can get some wonderful ideas and encouragement. It’s just like the regular frugal posts here!!
    I am hoping to only spend $100 this month on dairy, bread and fruit. I am also going to need catfood and litter but have some returns for Walmart that should cover that expense
    Other than regular monthly expenses I do not plan to spend any more money this month!.

  51. I am planning a year with no clothing, make up or jewelry purchases for me. We want to pay off our mortgage this year before retirement, so we are putting extra effort into that. (The truth is I never spend more than $400 or $500 a year on all of those items, and often quite a bit less than that, but it is something of a symbolic challenge.)

    To prepare I looked to see what I need to have going into the year. My employer gave each employee a $50 bill at Christmas. (We work for a non-profit so I know this is a modest gift, but I appreciate it.) I used my $50 to buy make up, a new handbag (with a coupon and mark down from $60), a set of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, body wash, soap and scrubbie, 2 lipsticks and a compact mirror and 2 small tubes of lip stain/gloss. (I still have $7 left to spend.) Santa gave me mascara and face lotion. I also received cologne and more body lotion as a Christmas gift from a family member. So I am pretty prepared, I think, to spend little and move the money to the mortgage pay off. I counted more than 60 pairs of earrings in my jewelry armoire and more than 60 sweaters in my closet so it will be good for me to wear some items out.

    As far as food, I am eating lots of soup. We are having a record cold and snowy winter. Worst since 1949 (according to the historians)!

  52. Beyond weaning age, humans don’t actually need milk, though many choose to drink it. Calcium is present in a variety of sources (Brandy shared a link above). Vitamin D comes from the sun and some mushrooms, plus fortified products. My family of six uses about a 1/2 gallon of milk each week. We rarely drink it as a beverage. Some of us eat yogurt, everyone likes cheese, plus we eat a lot of broccoli and spinach.

  53. We tried to use the dry food the “Pet Pantry” here had available since hubby is unable to work right now (mostly what I call “playdough food” cause of the colorings) – I had projectile vomiting that was one of the worst things (besides the dogs vomit when we tried to change them as well) I have ever had to clean up – I don’t normally have a problem but I was dry heaving and hubby had to go to another area of the house. It took forever to get rid of the smell!! So, we have cut in other areas – turned the house down 1 more degree, didn’t put a heat lamp (even on a timer) in the chicken coop, cut down on dog treats and turned to a cheaper canned food (I will not buy any cat food that contains fish!) which they can tolerate. I also only feed them the canned every other day now and they have free choice of their high end dry foods. I figure it is cheaper than the vet bills that would eventually take place if I continued trying to feed them the crap food! OH, we are feeding 5 cats and 3 dogs (2 are Danes)
    I’m not sure where you are located but often has the high end foods in larger amounts or cases which makes it cheaper per pound or can and at $49, shipping becomes free (which for us is just one bag of dog food which lasts about 10 days)

  54. We will be eating down the freezer and then replenishing with things I can eat once I get it figured out. I am doing an elimination part of the FODMAP diet to find my IBS triggers. I already know anything containing gluten is out so I need to learn how to bake again because the gluten free stuff in the store is terribly expensive and most is very nasty tasting to my wheat loving taste buds!
    I know we need to stock up on canned Garbanzo/Chickpeas and lentils as these are okay on the diet but then I need to modify my bean recipes to work with these 2 ingredients.
    I have to find a reasonable source for garlic and onion infused oils to replace the onion and garlic in recipes – this is also going to be rather difficult to get used to since garlic and onion seems to be the base for almost all our home-cooked meals!
    Otherwise, we really don’t need much besides fresh veggies and cheese – we are very, very low on cheese (well for us we are anyways) and the milk hubby drinks alot of. Since our daughter moved out, I have noticed the milk is lasting alot longer as is the cold cereal she seemed to think was a food group 😉
    Basically, January is going to be my re-learning how to cook and bake month!

  55. This is too funny! Sounds like your hiding illegal substances. Please, don’t stop here…you’re on a roll!!!:D

  56. That is strange, I don’t know anyone with a bread machine. I wonder if more folks use them down by you because it is warmer/hotter and the machine doesn’t heat the house?

  57. I was trying to spend less, but I went to the store and they had great sales. Most were 50% or more off. They had organic produce and dogfood. I also got baking cocoa, cereal for $1.00. I use it for snacks or trail mix, nuts in shells for $1.00 a bag (a pound each), pasta for .49. I bought 6. I cook for my dog, so I find produce and meat sales too. I spent over $100.00. My cupboards are full, but I couldn’t resist. I am trying to stay out of the stores. I found a few Christmas presents for next year. They had great prices. I will make soups for me, salads and beans, I am a vegan but my husband is a meat and potatoes guy. My freezer is full, I am grateful for that, but I need to use up the food. I try to buy extra and store things. I feel that if the economy suffers I want to provide for my family. I grew up lower middle class and my parents lived through the depression. There are times during the year where I run short and I like having food when I need it. Anyway, I have found great deals lately. Aldi’s has great prices here. I run in to see if they have clearance items. Thanks to all who write. I learn something everyday. I am cooking more now trying to show my kids how healthy eating really pays off. God bless.

  58. Lack of taurine is a problem when trying to feed a cat a vegan diet free of animal products. Dogs can manage but cats are carnivores. Birds and rodents are high in taurine, what a cat would be eating in a more natural state. Taurine deficiency can cause blindness and heart problems. (Info from my Don in law the veterinarian)

  59. thanks for all your interest in high cost of pet food, I am in Canada so Chewys won’t work for me, I have an appt. with vet soon for check up and will discuss the making of home food for cats. good ideas all, I appreciate it. Today made delicious red beans and rice in attempt to use up canned goods …. ann lee s Vancouver island, bc Canada

  60. RE gluten-free baking, here are a few great resources: The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal, Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg & Francois, and the blog of Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef by Shauna James Ahern. Once you find a GF flour blend you like, you can pretty much sub it one-for-one with AP flour. The difficult thing is making up for the lack of gluten. Most GF recipes still call for gums like xanthan gum to help stick stuff together. We don’t like the gums (for various reasons) and stopped using them as did Gluten-Free Girl. Generally speaking, recipes will call for ~1 tsp xanthan per 2 cups of flour. We use 1 Tablespoon potato FLOUR (not starch) per 2 cups of flour and it works well. If you can use eggs, you’re set because they add stickiness AND help things rise. I have a kid with anaphylactic allergies to several grains including wheat, barley & rye and I’ve been refining my baking for almost 15 years. Once you get the hang of it, it’s just as easy as “regular” baking.

  61. I bought a bread machine at a rummage sale for $5.00 and I prefer to use it (I live in northern Ohio). Any time I work with flour I make a complete mess and the bread comes out heavy. It comes out perfect in the machine and no mess!

  62. I do not have a bread machine nor a treadmill….lol. Seriously, my house is small, I do not have any kitchen cabinets (long story), and I have a very tiny kitchen, so I do not have many appliances other folks have. Plus, my kids are grown. I do not have a washer, dryer, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner (I have all tile and hardwoods for flooring) , food processor, treadmill, crockpot, tv, computer (I type on my “dumb” smart phone ($38)…lol, or go to the library. I do have a frig, an electric stove, an electric hot water heater, the old fashioned kind, a regular radio I plug in when I want to listen to music or weather, a combined window unit (under $500 at Lowes purchased five years ago) air conditioner and heater. I do have an oil coiled plug in electric heater if the window unit is not doing the job. Our power is expensive, even though we are in a warm state (go figure) and I have found having less appliances forces me to use less electricity. Brandy, after reading yoru post, I have reconsidered my earlier statement on one of your threads that I was gonna spend $40 on groceries this month. I am going to try to spend nothing on me. I usually spend about a $100 a month on me. I thought $40 was an improvement, but I think I can go to 0. We shall see…

  63. A -0- spend for January is a great idea, I’m in. It is just my husband and I. We have a large freezer, two above the refrigerator freezers and a smaller freezer. That is ridiculous for two people. We also have a pantry which is overstocked and right now a mess. Maybe I will put off organizing the pantry and start cooking from it regularly instead. Not as much time spent organizing and cleaning out then. Unfortunately we end up throwing out some canned and boxed items that are way past best use date. I know you can use items past the best use date but when it gets to be a year or more it is way too long and they get pitched which is such a waste of money.

  64. We have a bread machine. I just use the dough cycle to mix the dough, take it out, shape the dough, let it rise one more time, then finish it off in the oven. I have made bread by hand, when I was younger, and it was quite a time consuming process…mix ingredients, then wait a certain time, then do something else, then wait again. It is much easier with a bread machine and tastes just as good. In all honesty, I’m more likely to make homemade bread and homemade pizza dough with the machine than I am without, so I consider it a good investment.

    My brother decided he wanted a bread machine a while ago. He was able to find one for a good price at the thrift store. There were plenty to choose from, but some were is rough condition. The one he chose didn’t have the manual with it, so we looked it up on line and printed it off (a lot of pages) since he doesn’t have a computer to view it on at home. We cleaned it all up and it worked great!

  65. I make our dog homemade food but also buy a bag about every 3 months. She gets a little of the store bought and mostly homemade. I have been doing it for the last 4 years. She was overweight when we started. The vet said she is very healthy and a great weight. When I dog sit for my sister she always has trouble the day after she gets home. Her dog loves our food and she buys very expensive dog food that he doesn’t care about. I make big batches and put it in the freezer.

  66. Hi Brandi and everyone from Northwest Louisiana. I plan on eating from pantry and freezer this month also.

    However, I’m raising my 3-year-old granddaughter and as I am low-income due to disability, we receive about $100 in SNAP benefits, and she gets WIC as well, so that is pretty much my food budget each month. (I hope no one here judges me for that.) I’m going to watch the sales closely this month and replenish the gaps in my food storage as much as possible – chicken, dry/canned milk, some spices, dry beans — within that amount. I don’t buy junk with the SNAP, just staples and low-cost meats and dairy.

    I’ve committed myself to an additional $20-30 per month to stock up on food storage basics. So far in January I have bought 10 pounds of rice, some spices and cream of mushroom/chicken soups that was on clearance at Kroger for 69 cents each (Campbell’s brand – usually not priced that low here). I know how to make bechamel and veloute sauces 😉 but some recipes just aren’t the same without the canned soups and sometimes the convenience is good too.

    My other food-related goals for 2017 are to grow more vegetables, bake more breads, cherry-pick my groceries even more and plan my meals weekly.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

  67. I live in a small (paid for) 🙂 mobile home, have a decent-sized pantry but I also store bags of flour, sugar, rice, etc in under bed storage boxes. This frees up my pantry for canned goods, etc. I also have one sliding basket in my chest freezer with zipper bags of bits and dabs of things like tomato paste, green chiles, chipotle chilies, canned mushrooms, basically any can or jar I open and don’t use all of the contents. I label and date and go there for these type ingredients when I’m cooking.

  68. Hi Lachellie!

    I know at least a couple of readers who have told me in emails that they receive SNAP benefits. Both have been able to use that amount to also build up a food storage by eating less expensive meals, by buying in bulk, and by using coupons.

    You probably know, but just in case you don’t, SNAP benefits can also be used to purchase garden seeds, fruit trees, grape vines, and berry bushes. If you’ve been able to build up a storage with your benefits, you can then use your benefits use in this way as well to further your garden. One of my readers has half of everyone’s plates filled with garden vegetables from the abundance of food that she has grown in her garden using SNAP benefits.

    I wish you the best of luck with your garden and your goals! They sound like wonderful ways to cut expenses!

  69. Cindy, is that a mineral oil filled heater? We have one of those for the corner bedroom that faces NW. Sometimes it is just too cold and windy and that room needs a little extra help. Even with the 2 dogs sleeping in there.

    I hope you reach your goal of 0 expenditure.

  70. We use 2 gallons of milk a week for the 3 of us (though a couple times a week we feed more, as in an extended family meal) most of which goes into cooking. My bread recipe uses milk, I make yogurt and pudding every week. We make our oatmeal with milk. I make a cream soup every week or so and make my own white/cheese sauce for casseroles or macaroni and cheese, scalloped corn or potatoes. Then there is milk in miscellaneous recipes like corn bread or coffeecake or biscuits. We eat some cold cereal but that is more common in the warm months than the cold. I never drink milk; my husband and daughter are most likely to have a glass of milk with sandwiches or cookies. Normally we have iced tea (unsweetened) or ice water or hot tea with meals. We do drink our homemade cider and grape juice. I suppose I could use powdered milk in all that cooking but I don’t need too. I only use as a back up.

  71. I cannot imagine trying to balance out the needs of our three dogs and it being cheaper than the high end food they are on. We are feeding a 15 month old 130# (still growing) Dane, a 2.5 year old 100# Dane and a 11.5 year old beagle (who is not keeping weight on as well as she used to). We go thru approx 13-14 cups of food PER DAY. I cannot afford much meat for ourselves, I don’t think there is anyway we could afford what they would need. If we’d known we were going to be dealing with a cancer diagnosis leading to such a huge loss of income (and so far, no disability coverage in sight), we would not have added a third dog last fall but we did, so we are doing everything we can to keep them fed and vetted and pray (alot) that nothing major comes up since we do not have an emergency fund any longer for them (that went to keeping their flea and heartworm meds paid for) and we do not have any credit cards (not even an emergency one). Re-homing one (which some callous people have suggested) is not an option – they and the cats are what is keeping me sane(ish)!

  72. Lachellie, I think it would be incredibly insulting if someone judged you for using food programs to help feed your family. No one should be hungry in a country with such overabundance. That’s what those programs are there for….to ensure no one goes hungry! I hope you find some great ideas here on how to feed your family with good quality food on such a tight budget. I know that can be very hard and even overwhelming task at times. Glad you’ve joined this supportive community. Sending love from Canada!

  73. Gluten-Free Girl is out of business according to their site. Do you have any idea of what her bread flour ingredients were? I can’t seem to find it anywhere on the site since alot of it is shut down. I would love to get away from using the gums!

  74. Also – check and see if your state has the “double up bucks” program. Here in MI, we can go to a farm market and use our EBT card for a certain amount and they give you “coins” for that amount but do not remove that amount from the card (clear as mud?) We have been able to purchase say $20 worth of veggies for $10 🙂 I haven’t figured out how to use them for seeds or plants yet since most of my stuff is done by mail order – I only buy from non GMO seed companies and only heritage, open pollinated varieties (so I can save seeds).

  75. Welcome from another person in NW Louisiana! This is a fantastic resource and a very encouraging place.

  76. My oldest daughter works as a bank vault teller gets SNAP and my son who is in the military tells me several of his soldiers get SNAP also…you pay taxes you deserve the help.

  77. I will have to add that Hubby suggested we stop tomorrow at Sam’s club since we would be in that area for what I have on that list. I vetoed it. I feel we would be better waiting until next month AFTER I have finished the Christmas candy and cookies that I didn’t get done due to being in the hospital and then I will know exactly what I need to replace in the baking supplies. The look on his face was priceless. I did tell him we need to get milk, heavy cream , half and half and buttermilk. I use dairy for my protein when the Crohn’s flares up.

  78. It is a $69 dollar oil coiled heater (I do not know what kind of oil) that plugs into the wall (runs on electricity) and I bought it at Lowes. I had a similar, cheaper one ($40) that I got at Walmart several years ago. I t had been plugged in for an hour or so in my bedroom and all of a sudden started sparking and caught fire!!!!! I managed to get it unplugged and threw it out in the yard!!! I was moving on autopilot and just so shocked. So, I hope that this one (it is an Italian Company but it is manufactured in China, just like the Walmart one) has tighter factory controls on manufacturing at its China factory. It does have a year warranty, and I did something I have never done, I bought a warranty for two years after that. I usually do not spend much on any type of appliances/electronic devices. I do enjoy the additional heat from this type of heater so we shall see if it was a good investment or not. My friends have the same kind and say that it has outlasted the other similar cheaper heaters so we shall see. Thank you!

  79. Happy New Year! I think you have a great stocking up plan, and I think Brandy’s suggestions are wonderful also!

  80. We kept one in our rabbit barn in the winter to keep the water bottles from freezing otherwise we would have had to buy another set of bottles for each cage at $8 a bottle x 30 cages…..and then hope they don’t break. They are much less likely to catch fire if say a curtain gets pushed against one or in our case, hay or shavings on them. That thing lasted for 8 years of at least 3 months of constant running each winter. You should have seen the drop in our electric bill when we got out of raising that many rabbits!!! I went to heated water bottles and dog bowls when we had 4 rabbits left which sucked ALOT less power. Our ducks and chickens we have always used heated dog bowls or buckets for which since I am down to only one bowl now (2 hens), it barely moved the usage this year when I plugged that in 🙂 I also stopped any type of light on them as well and just keep them closed in on really cold days.

  81. I’ve got to organize my pantry also. You could try working on a small section each day. Or at least a couple times a week. I try to write down what I have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry.

  82. I’m a single mom w an 8yr old. We get SNAP, and she got WIC until she was 5. On WIC, I would get oatmeal for cereal or grains.(interestingly it’s considered either) I would check size options of bread loaves. Quite a few had sizes, that I could get 2 small loaves. I’m in SW Ohio. I’ve also used my SNAP to get some seeds, herbs are included(I get chamomile and basil). Still learning gardening. But working on it. I’ve got my pantry setup that I mostly buy sales to fill my stock as needed.

  83. I agree with not needed milk after being weaned. Other cultures don’t drink milk beyond 2 years old. I quit drinking milk years ago. I do use some coconut or almond milk when I need it for cooking. I drink a lot of water and with lemon too.

  84. I have been making most of my dog’s food for the last 2 years. I usually have meat, potatoes, brown rice, carrots, or any other vegetable, some fruits, spinach or other greens. I also give her apple cores,tomato tops or any other produce that I am cleaning. Do you have any other advice on homecooking for dogs? She is worth it. A beautiful soul.

  85. I have to say that I make my own dog cookies with oat flour (whole oats put thru the blender), pumpkin puree & peanut butter. You roll into balls and smash down & bake. He LOVES them!

  86. I just made Rosemary White Bean Soup from Brandi’s recipes for the first time and found it very good, quite filling with more flavor than I expected !! Just the thing for a snowy cold noon hour. I’m into Day 9 of no shopping (had to buy 1 doz. eggs and a bag of onions) and doing well. Ann Lee S

  87. Lachelle, you sound like a good grandma, and I wish you all success in raising your grandchild. SNAP benefits can be used at our farmers market.

  88. Do a search for “Rubie Stewbie” and you’ll find a great recipe for dog food. It’s technically for a diabetic dog but it’s vet approved. I was feeding this to my two english labs and it wasn’t expensive and they loved it.

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