Pavlova For the Fourth The Prudent Homemaker 

My budget for food and toiletries for our family of 10 for this month is $200.

July is one of our highest utility months, as we are using more water in the garden and using the air conditioners (our house has 2 units, plus a window unit in our pantry) and ceiling fans all the time, as our highs between 105 and 118ºF. Normally summer bills are matched by an increase in income (and lower utilities in the winter for us are matched with a lower income, as fewer people move during the winter), but not this year. Consequently, I’m lowering the budget this month. I am also considering keeping it at the same amount in future months, as we will have a new regular expense starting in August.

With an irregular income, I pay my bills in this order: mortgage, then utilities and other bills (like insurance; we have no consumer debt), then food, and lastly anything else (clothing, schoolbooks, etc.). If our income doesn’t cover everything, then we can eat from the pantry, freezers, and garden. 

The grapes and peaches are ready in the garden. I’ll be picking 3 kinds of grapes (Red Flame, Thompson’s seedless and a non-named seeded grape) as well as Early Elberta peaches. We’re also still picking apples from our Dorsett Golden tree.

Red and Yellow Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

There should be a few tomatoes ripe. Usually, once it heats up they stop flowering and don’t flower again until mid-October, but for some reason, there are flowers on several of my plants right now. We love tomatoes, so I’m very grateful! We’ve been picking about two colanders full a week for the last 3 weeks.

I have some Swiss chard ready in the garden, as well as several herbs, including basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

I am hoping for some zucchini–but will have to see if they flower much, due to the heat. One of my plants looks promising with plenty of female blooms ready to open in the next month, but there are no male flowers, so it may go unpollinated. Another plant has no flowers whatsoever. I had several other plants die, so I replanted and am currently waiting for them to get larger. Usually, they won’t set flowers during the summer, though mid-July, should the monsoon season come upon us with a few overcast days and one day with a few hours of rain, the temperatures may drop enough for flowers. (Last year this mid-July rain never happened and the temperatures kept rising–and my garden burned worse than normal).

I’m hoping, too, to see some pollination on my Armenian cucumbers, which I haven’t seen yet. I’ve not seen any female flowers yet. I have several more seedlings that are up but still small; hopefully, they will grow large enough to flower and produce in October when the temperatures drop (like the zucchini and tomatoes)  and if they decided to produce before that I will be delighted. I’m really hoping for some cucumbers now, but so far I haven’t seen any. I’ve realized that in this heat about all I want to eat are cucumbers and tomatoes every day. With this in mind, I planted several more seeds for Armenian cucumbers during the month of June. It will be a few months before I see anything from those, but hopefully, we’ll have enough to eat every day and also use to can pickles and relish.

I have a bit of lettuce in the garden still, surprisingly. It is bolted lettuce (it’s gone to seed) and usually turns bitter, but in a sandwich, it is just fine. I also have a bit of arugula; mine bolted and self-seeded, and I’ll be able to harvest it this month.

Ice cream is at the top of everyone’s wish for just about every meal, but isn’t exactly practical! Nevertheless, I will be looking for sales on the large gallon store-brand containers of ice cream at Smith’s and Albertson’s. At the lowest price, I can buy a full gallon for $3.99 on sale at Smith’s (and Albertson’s has in that size container, with sale prices at $4.49 a gallon; they carry mint chocolate chip in that size and Smith’s does not; we usually buy fudge swirl and cookies & cream on sale at Smith’s). 

I started having a date night at home with each child last month that included ice cream and three games of Sequence after their siblings were in bed. I haven’t had a date with all of the children yet, so I’ll make sure to get ice cream to continue that this month.

I’ll look for sales on pasta. We’ve been eating ours down in an effort to rotate through all of it. I’m down to only angel hair pasta in the pantry. I’d ideally like to purchase fettucini, rotini, macaroni, and shells on sale. In the past, Smith’s has had a $0.49 pasta sale on American Beauty pasta in the past (some areas of the country get the same sale on Ronzoni), but they have been slowly getting rid of that brand on the shelf and now mostly carry it only in a few shapes at the nearby stores (shells and rotini are no longer ones they carry for this brand). This means I’ll have to pay more; I’ve seen sales for other brands (like Barilla) in these shapes at the lowest prices of $0.69 and $0.75 a pound. If I don’t find a good sale on this, I’ll wait. If I do, pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing and fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden is sure to be on the list. I can add green onions, New Zealand Spinach, basil, and tomatoes from the garden right now, and if I get cucumbers, I’ll add those too. There is a coupon on right now for $1.00 off two bags of American Beauty pasta. I printed two this week (the limit) and then the coupons reset and I printed two more. If the sale comes, I should be able to get 8 bags of pasta for free.

I’ll cook some chicken (more of the legs I bought on sale for $0.44 a pound a few months back) and cook a turkey from the freezer to use in several meals, including some turkey salad (with grapes and apples from the garden), some enchiladas, in sandwiches, and to serve over rice with a lemon dill sauce.

July Fruit Salad The Prudent Homemaker

My meals will be simple this month.

I’ll make Greek yogurt in the crockpot and granola for breakfasts (and we’ll add homemade jam and/or fresh fruit and leave out the cranberries).  I’ll make smoothies, eggs, and toast. Eggs have been wonderfully low-priced and I stocked up last month.

Lunches will be pasta salads, turkey salad, green salads (with tomatoes from the garden and sometimes hard-boiled eggs), sandwiches, quesadillas, tomato cheddar cracker sandwiches, and leftovers.

I’ll make lots of smoothies and popsicles using frozen fruit and peaches from the garden for snacks.  We’ll also enjoy fresh fruit from the garden and make a few batches of popcorn. 

Dinners will include at least bean burritos (I bought tortillas last month), barbecue chicken, beans and rice with tomatoes, homemade pizza, turkey enchiladas, lemon dill turkey, and some more ideas from my summer menu.

Desserts will be ice cream, tarts, fruit crumble, and individual pavlovas.


Here are the items that are for certain on my list this month:



Potatoes ($0.25 a pound )


La Victoria Salsa (I have coupons)

La Victoria green enchilada sauce (I have coupons)



Ice Cream (mint chocolate chip at $4.99)

Frozen Petite Peas (16-ounce bags are on sale for $1 each through Tuesday)

Corn on the Cob (on sale for 8 for $1, limit 8, through Tuesday)

Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)


Smith’s :

Ice Cream (on sale through Tuesday for $3.99)

Blueberries (on sale through Tuesday for the unbelievably low price of $0.88 for a 6-ounce container–that’s crazy low-priced for here. NO LIMIT. )

Whipping cream

Lettuce (Red leaf on sale for $0.99 a head)



Pasta (if on a good sale later this month)



Sweet cherries (on sale for $1.47 a pound. This price is so low my jaw dropped when I saw the ad. Sale through Tuesday. Normal sales prices are $2.99 (lowest) or more usually $3.99 a pound. For this price, I am buying cherries!)



Salon Graphix Unscented Extra Super Hold hairspray

Playtex Sport Tampons (there are $1.50 off coupons on right now and like the pasta, I printed 2 before and 2 after the month changed over, so I can buy 4 boxes for my eldest. This should last her quite some time as she normally uses these washable pads normally but wants to have something for when she is swimming).


Sam’s Club:

Toilet paper


Mozzarella cheese

Cheddar cheese


I let my Sam’s Club card expire last month. Rather than renewing it right away, I always try to put off renewing it by several weeks. The new membership starts from the time I pay, so this buys me a few weeks each year.  I’ll wait until a bit later in the month to renew my card.


What are you planning on purchasing this month? What do you hope to harvest from your garden?


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  1. Been cooking and eating at home more often and I am seeing just how much costs have been cut. Another day, husband and I decided to go hiking as a date at a nearby free park. It was fun, frugal (only gas money), and also had the bonus of keeping us healthy!

    Brandy, I wanted to ask how you save money on toiletries like toothpaste and toilet paper. I imagine with a family as big as yours, you can get through a lot rather quickly! I don’t know if I should coupon or just buy in bulk.

  2. I had to laugh—I thought I was the only one who let my Sam’s card expire for a few months before renewing, just to extend how often we renew it!

    We continue to eat out of the garden for lunch and dinner. I am lucky enough to have a friend with chickens who travels once a month for work and asks me to care for her hens while she is gone. It takes about half an hour each day and in return I get to keep all the eggs produced during her week of travel, which is about six and some times eight a day! So, we eat eggs for breakfast and sometimes for dinner, too. In a week we get enough eggs to last us a month, almost always until she travels next.

    The biggest food blessing/savings is that my husband has a birthday this month and his family sent him a $200 gift card to Omaha meats. By going through Swagbucks to order, I made some points, and I found a coupon for free shipping (even to Alaska, which is very rare), and used an Omaha sale for certain packages of meats, so turned the $200 into about $250 of meats. Omaha is more expensive than I would buy, but that is what the family member felt like giving and I am truly thankful since we are short of money this month.

    Other than that, we are purchasing only milk this month.

  3. If your squash doesn’t get any male blooms to pollinate, you can eat the blooms you do have. Here in Texas they are called fried squash blooms. If you do get the male blooms, you can eat them after pollination. Cooks up almost like a fried green tomato.

  4. Just an idea… there is deal right now: $10 off a femmycycle cup. They are good for years (usually 5-10). They are fantastic for swimming.

  5. My garden has been having a rough go this year. I had to replant some, but am looking forward to harvesting zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, yellow beans, and loads of beets.

    I also hope to get sweet cherries and peaches on sale.

  6. My local grocery store sells a Cranberry Turkey salad sandwich on their 12 grain bread that I absolutely love. I look for the one with the most turkey salad when I buy as that way I can use one sandwich for two meals. I thought about buying just the Cranberry Turkey salad but it’s $7.99 a pound and I would then have to buy bread so I don’t think it’s worth it since I live alone and don’t eat a lot of bread.

  7. A lovely post, as always! I’m struck by how delicious yet extremely wholesome all your planned meals are! Mmm…food! 🙂

    My balcony garden is going well, so far, with the exception of lettuce. This month, I plan to harvest mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and parsley, and I think I should be able to eat my first crop of cherry tomatoes! I doubt my peas will be ready even in a month’s time, and my zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, swiss chard, and radishes won’t be ready to harvest. So, I shouldn’t need to buy any herbs, but otherwise I’ll need to buy milk and fresh produce each week: mostly lettuce, tomatoes, and tons of fruit. Unless I see sales on cheese, flour, onions, or carrots, I think I’m pretty well stocked for now. I’m hoping to be able to get to a garden centre to buy a blueberry bush and a couple of strawberry plants (my sister gave me a gift card that I can’t wait to spend!); depending on how big the plants are, I may or may not get a crop from them within the month.

    I am frustrated by my inability to grow lettuce (so far) though, as it’s a staple for me, and it would save me a bunch if I could grow it myself. I tried to grow it inside my condo but it didn’t grow due to lack of light. I tried to grow it on my balcony (lots of light), but the rain coming of the top of the roof (my balcony is uncovered) pummeled and mostly killed it. I tried growing it on a covered shelving unit on my balcony and it just doesn’t grow past an inch. The only variables that I can think of, is that the earth on the uncovered balcony was too wet (poor drainage on top of hard-hitting rain), and that the earth on the covered section is too peaty (I used different bags of organic dirt in different places, as it happens). I’ve used two different types of leaf lettuce, which I heard is easier to grow than head lettuce, so I don’t think it’s the seeds. Anyone have any insights? At this point, my husband just laughs when I talk about growing lettuce; he thinks it’s hilarious. Of course, this makes me want to grow lettuce even more! Does anyone have any tried and true tips for growing lettuce? TIA!

  8. Wow, what an amazing price for chicken legs. I bought some reduced price ones last week for about $3 kg. Not very cheap but I needed a quick easy put in the oven whilst I’m out snack for the grandsons after swimming. I have sometimes snared 2kg for $3.

    Was going to go shopping yesterday, then again today but have decided I still have enough frozen vegetables and meat for meals…a saver of time which I can then use in the garden chopping up some branches whilst the Winter weather is clear.

    I do need bread but there is always pita bread to use up…I’m in time and money saving mode today.

    Daughter rang to say they were coming past for lunch but bringing their own…need some milk for her coffee so will quickly make up some powdered milk.

    …and so…when. I think about it there are many ways we automatically do to save money. the four punnets of Heartsease seedlings I scored for 50c each instead of near $5. I needed some potting mix bags but always check around if there’s any great bargains that I can incorporate into our garden. Same in food shops.

    Love your white garden Brandy with the Zinnias…one day I will plant some seeds 🙂

  9. This is also a slim month for us. Thankfully my freezer and pantry overfloweth. I honestly believe that we can get by with not buying anything this month. My family does not drink much milk so my canned milk should cover any cooking needs. We might possibly pick up more eggs at Aldis depending on our menu. I strive each week to stock up on anything free or nearly free with coupons. It is tough times like the moment that I am grateful for all my learned frugality. I stocked up on cat litter and 45 lbs of cat food today with swagbucks gift cards. 40.00 worth of recycled ink cartridges at Staples just replenished my Scott TP and kitchen trash bags. This month should be fairly smooth even with my ridiculously tight budget. I will keep an eye out for great loss leaders and freebies. I still have 14 free Catalina coupons for free Halo ice cream and picked up free Gatorade Catalinas from the trash at Kroger today. My son will appreciate than and I am not ashamed of picking them out of the trash can. Nothing in there anyway but crumpled receipts. 50.00 should cover us for the month. I also have some more swagbucks coming in that I will use.

  10. Very encouraging! Have you tried a DIVA cup instead of pads/tampons? I switched over ten years ago (using a reusable pad at the same time if required) and highly recommend giving them a try. One will last for years.

  11. Brandy and others, do you have picky eaters in your family, and if so, how do you deal with it? I’m a new stepmom to 3 kids, and 2 are pretty picky. Given the option, they’d survive off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and pizza. None of those are things I regularly eat or even make. They are 6 & 3, if it matters!! Still trying to navigate the whole dinner time thing, and it’s pretty frustrating, as I love to cook but I’m definitely not going to be some short order cook who is making 3 meals for 3 different people every night! Thanks in advance for ideas, suggestions, etc.

    This month I need to stock up on the shampoo and conditioner that I prefer. I ordered coupons from for $2/off, which brings the price down to $5.97 per bottle. I ordered 12 coupons, and they expire the end of August. I stocked up on this deal last autumn and I’m using up the last of the bottles now, so I’ve been waiting to see the coupons again. It’s pricey for shampoo but this is the only stuff I’ve found outside of Devacurl that I love and works well on my curly, unruly hair in this ridiculous SC humidity.

    I need to stock up on pasta and pasta sauce, grated cheese, cereal, eggs, ground meats, chicken, cream cheese, butter, and the ingredients to make laundry detergent.

    I was able to get a Sam’s Club card through my dad’s work, so it was free for me. I haven’t had a card there in years, and just went with my mom when I needed something. It’s only ever been me or me plus 1, so stocking up in bulk wasn’t really necessary or helpful, but now that I’m feeding 6 on a daily basis, there are things I can get there that just make sense — like the 5 pound bags of shredded cheese, and the 3 pack of Cinnamon Toast Crunch which is evidently the only cereal these picky eaters like. I tried the Aldi version, and they liked it equally, but the Aldi version is a small box and I need larger quantities and don’t want to buy 15 boxes from there.

    Meals this month will depend on who will eat what but I’ve discovered they love cheese quesadillas, so I’ll make those a few times. They also love my mac and cheese, so that’ll make an appearance or 2. One eats most meats, one barely eats any meats, the baby isn’t picky and eats everything! I will make spaghetti with choice of meat sauce or butter noddles at least twice. We’ll grill out hamburgers, turkey burgers, and hot dogs a couple of times. Breakfast will be cereal or scrambled eggs, unless it’s the weekend, then maybe french toast sticks or the like. I don’t allow syrupy things during the week when everyone is trying to eat, get dressed, and out the door on time.

    I love reading everyone’s ideas and tips. This place is so helpful for those of us trying to live frugally. Thanks so much, Brandy, and readers, for always sharing such great ideas and motivation.

  12. I was reading your list of meals with great interest, Brandy. I’m sure it can be a challenge to feed so many hungry, growing children on such a tight budget. Yet you always do such an amazing job with healthy choices on your menu. I’ve been reading a lot about what to buy with a tight grocery budget, lately, as I’m trying to glean ideas of cheap, simple meals (I like the idea of creating a variety of tasty meals with simple, limited ingredients). I was wondering if you ever make rice pudding topped with fruit for desserts or snacks in the summer? Perhaps your family isn’t a big fan of rice pudding or do you see it as more of a winter food. Just curious, really, so please don’t take this question as a judgement!

    This month I will be looking into buying some seasonal produce and fruit as they become available. Lettuce was cheap at $1/head of Romaine, so we bought 4 this weekend. I’d like to buy a bushel or half bushel of beans (green and/or yellow waxed) from the farmer’s market to blanch and freeze for winter this year. Normally I buy some to add to what I grow. However, this year we don’t have a garden. I will also watch for excellent sales on broccoli (usually $1/bunch), and possibly cauliflower (the closer to $1 the better, but it’s gone up in price the last few years), to blanch and freeze for winter as well. I’ve been craving broccoli salad lately, so hoping for cheap and fresh soon. I will try to get some fresh tomatoes from work for my mom and hubby to enjoy (DD & I don’t like them…yes we’re weird).

    We bought 3 flats of strawberries just this weekend as they were very late this year due to rain. We also bought 8 pineapples on sale for $1.50 each. I canned 7 pineapples into 13 pints of pineapple chunks for the pantry and cut up one for fresh eating. I will be watching for raspberries this month and will probably purchase at least 1 flat. These are far more expensive than strawberries usually, but my family (especially my mom) loves raspberry jam.

    As always, I will watch the fliers for great sales and stock up as I find things my family will eat. My list includes eggs, tortilla wraps, nachos, yogurt and sweet potato fries so far. I’m sure more will be added as time goes on.

  13. I find these posts such an inspiration for improving our household’s frugality and appreciate you sharing. I’m curious if your oldest has considered a menstrual cup? I use a diva cup and it is one one the best purchases I have ever made. It can also be used while swimming. The investment over time such a cost and environmental saver. Cannot recommend it enough.

  14. My daughter wasn’t a fan but I have one (a Lunette). I bought it and then became pregnant with my 8th, so I haven’t used mine yet! But my daughter likes the reusable pads–she says they’re softer and more absorbent than the disposable kind.

  15. I grow mine hydroponically, maybe research an inexpensive system to make.
    I actually grow all my non root vegetables in the hydroponic system

  16. Nope! I still have diapers from when I bought them earlier this year. And I still have wipes. AND I found half a box of diapers in the garage from the last child that I had forgotten we had put out there.

    The new expense is life insurance for my husband. I would have liked to have had it earlier, but it wasn’t possible. So this will be a regular bill from now on. This means getting even more creative with frugality, but we feel it is important to have.

  17. You know, I DO think of rice pudding as a winter food! I never really thought about that. I have not put fresh fruit on it before–only raisins! I wonder how my family would like that with peaches in the summer. I will have to try it! Thanks Rhonda for the idea!

  18. She has a Lunette but prefers the washable pads. She doesn’t go swimming often but I will use the coupons to have something for her just in case she is invited when she needs something. I expect these will last her several years since they won’t be used very often.

  19. I went to Publix tonight because Barilla pasta was on sale…Buy One, Get One Free. I would have saved more money if I had coupons (Publix in GA still doubles coupons that do not exceed 50 cents in value), but there are currently none to be found. At least the Barilla pasta still come in a 16 ounce box, unlike many other brands that have reduced the amount. I was able to purchase two boxes for the price of one….$1.47, which comes out to 73 and 74 cents per box. I restocked my pantry with 6 boxes of whole wheat spaghetti and 2 boxes of whole wheat rotini…8 boxes, 16 ounces each for a total price of $5.88. *Hint: for those of us who live in the southeast and want to protect boxed pasta from humidity and little pests, I wrap each box in plastic wrap before storing them in my pantry.

  20. Toilet paper–look for the price per LENGTH. All rolls are not the same length, so I don’t compare by roll. We buy the POM brand at Sam’s Club as it is the lowest price per length that I can find anywhere including the store brand on sale atother stores. It’s just under $20 for a huge box. Even if you don’t have a big family, it’s still a lower cost–it will just last you longer. My husband says he bought a box 6 years ago for his office and he is just now down to the last 10 rolls. Most everyone works from home most of the time (including him) so it just lasts a lot longer!

    For toothpaste I buy Colgate on sale at the grocery store (Smith’s) for $1 a tube. They are usually the huge tubes at that price. It never seems to be in the ad but when they are having their “buy 10 of the same items get so much off” deals, it seems to be on sale 10 for $10. I buy it then. I just look at the store when I see that sale come around; I don’t buy it often enough to have the when of that sale memorized yet. They have that sale a lot more often than when I need to stock up though; I see it fairly often. Deodorant seems to be the same way and they have the lowest prices on that Buy 10 sale. If I’m lucky I’ll have a coupon or two to stack on top of that. I buy a bunch and I’ve just given our two eldest the same brands my husband and I use. I try to keep pretty stocked up on toiletries–but I also feel like I keep my product usage to a minimum too.

  21. Lisa,

    You should know that pantry moths have no trouble eating plastic. In fact, they seem to enjoy it. They will eat right through heavy duty freezer plastic bags–even double layered plastic bags–to get to your yummy food inside. Afterwards your package will have more holes than package. Plastic wrap is even thinner and they will have no trouble with that. We are seriously considering bucketing all of our pasta in the future. I didn’t know they existed here until last summer, when something we bought must have had them.

  22. Lori, they have two choices for every meal: Take it or leave it. Eventually, they will learn to eat what they are given. It may take a couple of years.

    Not everyone likes everything. Still, they need to eat what is put before them. They can choose to go without, but don’t offer another option unless you want to be a short-order cook the rest of your life. They will learn to appreciate a wide variety of food if that is what they are given. I HIGHLY recommend reading the book [i]French Kids Eat Everything[/i].

    For a less expensive option that cold cereal, try buying oatmeal in bulk. I buy a 25-pound bag of rolled oats at Winco for around $16.

    They are young and they can (and will!) adapt to your menus. Give it time–a couple of years–and they will get used to whatever you serve, be it soups, certain vegetables, etc. Everyone has favorites and not everyone likes everything, and that’s okay–but they can eat it if they don’t want to go hungry. If they choose not to eat something, don’t give in before the next meal. Serve food at mealtimes and one afternoon snack and they will get less picky than if they are able to eat more often.

  23. I have had good luck with miniature romaine lettuce, both the red and green varieties. Withstands a lot of abuse and some shade.

  24. New blended families need time to mesh. I would not try to fix their eating habits. Just offer love and healthy food. In the end it won’t matter if they ate too much pb&j . What works for one family may not work for every family. Lead by love and example. Home is a refuge. ❤️

  25. Oh no! Thank you for telling me that. I do have some Rubbermaid lidded containers for the penne, macaroni, and rotini. The pests we have noticed here in GA look like little carpet beetles. One time, I bought a bag of flour that must have been infested wtih eggs, and those little critters got into EVERYTHING dry in my pantry! After a deep clean, I put my flours into glass iced tea dispensers with lids, and most everything else into ziptop bags or plastic lidded containers. So far, I haven’t had any problems…including the plastic-wrapped pasta. Do you have any tips for how to store the spaghetti? I did have those plastic lidded spaghetti dispensers, but I don’t like that the lid can flip around and open for dispensing the spaghetti. Maybe I should use another glass iced tea dispenser with a lid? I think I have an extra!

  26. Shopping plans are… nothing! The van we use for church transportation (we are our ward’s unofficial taxi) has had… well, it did a thing, my husband has done everything he can do, it still is messed up, so into the shop it will go thus month. We’re forgoing several things this month to ensure maximum cash flow. Because of course this happened after we paid a single Sister’s rent, so we’re okay, but extra tight at an extra inconvenient time, haha.

    I’m planning on harvesting squash tomorrow. (Hurrah for the south; squash season is upon us!) I’m also really hoping to get red noodle beans and cherry tomatoes by the end of the month; I got my garden in so late this year, everything is messed up. Except the squash. :p

  27. I really love to read your shopping and menu plans as well as your harvest plans. You are very fortunate to have so many ready to harvest fruits and vegetables each month. The pictures are wonderful to see. Here in my NW garden, I have been able to harvest rosemary and lettuce so far. We have had such a long rainy year that our veggies are taking longer to ripen and so does my lavender to bloom. Not at all like last year. I do see flowers and squash starts on my zucchini plants, little bell pepper buds and small tomatoes starting. Hopefully they will mature and we can have a good harvest in August. We added one more veggie planter box ( 5 now plus containers ) in my small back yard so I am excited to get a few fall veggies started now too. I have noticed about 10 little apples on my 1- 1/2 y/o apple tree. Last year we had only 1 🙂
    This last week I lost all of my garage freezer meats and food. This is a financial loss of storage food for us. Our power had gone out a couple of times and the circuit breaker switched off . We fixed it and somehow it went off again after the power was back on. Even the garage lights have been working this last week so I am surprised this one breaker switched off and we lost use of the big freezer. Needless to say we were very disappointed as I had planned to use most of this through October for meals . Thankfully I did have home made packaged freezer meals, some chicken, packaged vegetables and pasta sauces in my refridg freezer. This , along with our pantry foods should last us this month. With the lettuce to harvest , we will have plenty of salads as well. This month I will spend only enough for bare essential foods from my budget ( $50.00) and use the remaining money ( $75.00) for any sales of meats to help replace what we lost.
    Thanks to you and your wonderful teaching of frugality, food storage, gardening as well as your awesome menus , I find comfort knowing we will be ok 🙂 I continue to learn so much from you Brandy~ and you give so much inspiration not only to me but to so many. So blessed!

    Have a very blessed week,
    Patty from the NW

  28. Lori, my brother, daughter and I are all very picky eaters, so I have a lot of experience with this. My daughter is on the Autism spectrum, so there are sensory issues at work for her as well. First, I just want to say that most people, even those who claim they are not picky, have likes and dislikes when it comes to food. For some of us, there are just more things we don’t like or the things we don’t like are common food items most recipes include (like onions and tomatoes). Since these children are young, their taste buds may change over time (mine did, especially as an adult). Be patient, offer variety, encourage tasting, but don’t push or force as this would turn anyone off.

    Second, I get the short order cook issue. I have the same issue in our house. One of the things that helps is to make meals where everyone can choose what topping they put on their meal. Examples are tacos, wraps, pasta with different sauce & add in options, baked potato bars, salad bars, and/or make your own pizzas. It will allow everyone to pick what they want, but still expose them to other options without pushing. Honestly, this has been a huge help in our family.

    Another option is to take into consideration what you are having, realize this is not something that the picky eaters are going to enjoy and make one item that they will eat. The rest of their meal will be what everyone else is having. For instance, if you are making a stir-fry with rice, and you know the picky eaters will not eat this, then make them chicken fingers, but have them eat some of the veggies from the stir-fry that you know they like and rice as a side dish. This way it is not a completely separate meal, just the meat is different. It still encourages them to eat the meal you prepared, allows them some comfort of food they prefer, and you are not putting great efforts into a second meal.

    I hope these suggestions help you find a way to make meal time better for everyone!

  29. Last year was our first time with pantry moths also. Now, we put everything in a heavy, plastic pourable container. We bought several at Target and have not seen a moth so far this summer. They will eat right thru a cardboard cereal box. We keep a close eye on everything. Also, flour, pancake mix, etc. goes in the freezer for a while before opening to get rid of weevils, etc. that come with it.

  30. We used to have breakfast arguments when my kids were in elementary school. One child in particular went to school in tears many times. I did what Brandi suggests. He was offered what everyone else ate or went without. One day later, he ate what was put before him and the arguments ended. He now cooks every day for his own children. I would say, he cooks better then me!

  31. We are in the process of replacing a life insurance policy for my husband that is expiring. I agree that it is so important!

  32. I second what Brandy says. That is how meals were as a child. The picky one could live on hot dogs and beans! He now is adventurous with food.
    Also, they learn quickly – if you give them the choice that it or leave it.
    Depending on age, maybe they can help prepare foods and get them involved in the process, that helped with my daughter.
    Good luck!

  33. Brandy, your pictures look delicious 🙂 So beautiful, in fact, that I showed them to my husband. He finds it amazing what you grow where you live (we are in Indiana), and he has become so inspired to grow more in our small patch of yard. Right now we have green tomatoes on our plants. A co-worker planted his tomato plants 2 weeks before we did and is harvesting his so we are hoping in another couple of weeks to be eating some delicious tomato and mayo sandwiches! Our lettuce is still growing, as is our basil, stevia plant, cilantro, and mint. Oh, and the green beans are coming right along too. I also planted some flower seeds last week. We will see if they come up.

    I don’t have definite plans on what we will be buying this month other than to only buy what we NEED and any fresh produce or meat on sale at really, really great prices. I am buying less and less these days because I have been grocery shopping by this method. Eggs have been at such great prices and so has milk.

    I’ll be making yogurt, smoothies, eggs, and muffins for breakfasts.

    We will also have salads, green and pasta, for our lunches, and wraps,as well as any leftovers lurking in the fridge.

    For dinners, we will have tacos, chicken on the grill, spaghetti, beans and rice with salad on top, and eggs.

    I usually make a large batch of either brown or white rice for the week. Whatever doesn’t get eaten goes into the freezer. I will be soaking and cooking batches of different kinds of beans, too.

  34. Hi Doris! I do the same with flours…they are stored in the freezer until I need to refill lidded glass iced tea containers that are in my pantry. I told my husband this morning that I don’t like to think about just how many insects we all eat per year! He said he read somewhere that it is about 2 pounds! We remembered the time we had pantry months was when I bulk ordered from a company that obviously had an infestation in their warehouse. The moths hatched from the bag of dates! BLEH!!! I looked online last night, and Bed Bath & Beyond sells OXO Good Grips Square Food Storage POP containers. I think I will use some coupons and go buy a few for storing the pastsa.

  35. Love this. I don’t enjoy cooking 18 meals, but there are definitely bigger things to fry when it comes to families. When I had a very picky eating stepson I would casually mention the menu for the day and let him know that’s what we are eating and he was welcomed to join us. He would sometimes go a day and a half of not eating much, but he knew what was expected and I did it from love.

  36. This was an extreme and complicated problem during my blended family time. The step children were catered to with any meal demands they had by their mother. Dad was so use to it that he found it acceptable. The problem was that he did none of the meal preparations. If the children complained to their mother that I refused to cater to their whims, she complained to dad. Dad then complained to me. Blending a family can be difficult without dealing with nonsense issues. I prepared meals and served them. If you ate, that was great and if you didnt, fine! If you don’t eat, there is no dessert. Dad finally got on board after the family therapist suggested that I should not be a short order cook. The children did not starve and could always eat at school or at mom’s house. It took a while but the children eventually learned that there were different rules at different places. Being consistent is the only thing that helped. It took a year to adjust. I swear that one child ate a 32 ounce container of yogurt With cocoa pebbles on it everyday for 6 years. The other one only ate buttered bread and the princess only ate buttered noodles. grrrrrrr. Be blessed

  37. When I started couponing, I wasn’t much better than a hoarder. I did not have a clue what pantry moths were. Our infestation was extreme. I took two truck loads of food to the dump. I had to pull everything apart in the kitchen. Every drawer was removed. I used a fondue fork to scrape the eggs out of the crevices. We soaked the kitchen in Apple cider vinegar. This was one of my nastiest life experiences. I learned real quick what pest infestation is. The kids of food was unbelievable. My problem seemed to have come from oatmeal.

  38. Hi Brandy,
    I am interested to know what you know to be New Zealand spinach. Yes, I am from New Zealand

  39. I hope you never need it but it is worth having anyway. You should look for a small policy for yourself also because your husband would need to hire help if anything ever happened to you.

  40. The technical name is tetragonia. Here is a link to the seeds I have: It grows on long stems like a vine and then you just take the leaves off the vine. In the U.S. it is called New Zealand Spinach.

    Another fun one is Swiss chard, which the rest of the English-speaking world calls silverbeet. I never heard of it when I lived in Switzerland 😀 and didn’t eat it until I moved to Nevada. Swiss chard is the U.S. term for silverbeet.

    We also call aubergines eggplant in the U.S.

    I would love to find out what you call tetragonia there!

  41. I don’t need much this month except milk, eggs, fruit and juice. Trying to eat out of the freezer to make room for everything that will be coming from the garden. I will stock up on good sales of course. I had $100 extra at the end of June so I bought a lot of toilet paper and some other items that were great prices. I even had money left over.

  42. Death is a part of life, so at some point, I am sure I will need it; what is to be seen if it is during the time period of this policy or later in life. My husband is 13 years older than I am so in all likelihood he will go first–and women in my family tend to live between 88-95 years.

  43. My oldest daughter hated pork chops which is one of my husband’s favorites. When she was young she was allowed to eat just sides that night if she had one mouthful of the pork chops. She now eats pork chops. When my kids got older they were allowed to make themselves something different as long as they did it and cleaned it up. My youngest has stomach issues and I sometimes make her something different because I know she will have a problem like when we have chili. My nephews on the other hand are very picky eaters. I cook what I’m cooking. If they don’t like it, there is always fruit. Some of my kids friends are very picky. I tell them what I am making. If they don’t want it feel free to eat else where.

  44. Since we just moved to a new home, we do not have a garden yet. We have a raised area bed where we will garden.
    Money will be tight with our daughter going away for college. We are working on getting all of her supplies. We also have a bunch of medical appts to take care of in July. Both dogs need to go to vet.
    My list of things to buy will probably be from Sam’s Club – coffee, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent and dust mop.
    I have a bunch of gift cards that I will check amounts and use on little things we need.
    Also, my husband and daughter are flying to Ohio to help my father in law with packing his house and deciding what we be moved here in a few weeks.
    I just earned at $25 Lowes card thru Swagbucks that we will use on drawer handles and knobs (we have MANY drawers and cabinets …. right now we only have 1 handle and 1 knob so working on more gift cards.

  45. Patty,
    If your deductible is low enough, it might be worth filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance for the loss from the freezer from the power outage. Years ago, we had just purchased a side of beef when we had an extended power outtage (five days in the middle of summer) due to damage to power lines from a storm. Our insurance reimbursed us for the freezer contents, less our deductible. I had to send in an itemized list of what was in the freezer, but they didn’t ask for any proofs of purchase. Of course, it was pretty fresh in my mind, since we had purchased all that beef only the week before!

  46. I am SO glad you mentioned using Swagbucks for Lowe’s cards. I have seen that option but I had forgotten it was there. There are some things I have been wanting from Lowe’s and that would be a great way for me to pay for them.

  47. Thank you for the heads up about the American Beauty Pasta coupon. I just bought some on sale, but will go back and get some more with the coupons. Also, I have saved your recipe for Pavlovas. This morning I made a chocolate pie and saved the egg whites — these will be a great way to put them to good use, and I have lots of frozen berries.

    As for what we will buy this month, local corn (Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn) should be coming in soon. City Market (Kroger affiliate) has a big sale the first week the corn is ripe. Last year was 6 ears for a dollar. The sale only runs one week, so I stock up. Twenty-four ears will take us through just about to corn season next year. (I used the last of the corn I froze last year this week). Peaches will be ripe soon, and we try to purchase a box to can. Our late snows hurt the local fruit crop. The roadside trees where I have harvested free apples and apricots have no fruit at all this year, so I don’t know what that will mean in terms of the availability and price of fruit from local orchards.

    Our tomatoes should begin ripening in earnest in a week or two, and my green beans are doing well — I hope I get enough to can some. Our raspberries are just beginning to blossom. Last year we got no berries, so I am really hoping for a good crop this year. Like you, I have only female blossoms on my zucchini — I hope they will start producing zucchini soon. I will harvest garlic by the end of the month — I have a big crop this year.

  48. I was planning to get a Bed, Bath and Beyond card to use for my daughters school supplies, but I didn’t see it offered, so I thought Lowes is good since we are needing things for our house.

  49. I brought something home from the store with pantry moths. They invaded everything, kitchen, pantry , bedrooms it was a nightmare. They laid larvae on the undersides of soup cans, drawers, under the lids of glass jars. It took months to get rid of them. I ordered pantry month traps by the dozens. Used Peppermint oil on my shelves. Now I don’t bring anything into my house until I look at it.

  50. my late husband didn’t have ins… nothing, not life,not health and no money AND NO WILL…
    spend the money to get this dealt with Brandy. It’s a living Hades to go through court and spend money for that court because there was no will. Hospital bills, funeral bills etc… I barely held on to the house with the kids under it with me. Also check your utilities of their policy of transferring bills to the living spouse. One company wanted to charge me over $300 even though the bill was current just to put it in my name. Even when I remarried, my new hubby (now over 20yrs) refused to pay to have it put in his name because of their attitude with me. It took 3 months to get survivor benefits. I didn’t qualify for any help, WIC, welfare, food pantry because they kept basing everything on what I WOULD get when the SS started. I sold most of the furniture to pay bills.
    It’s worth the peace of mind.

  51. What I do with my nephews is let them help with the meal planning. I give them two options and let them pick from those two. I also think its important to meal plan with their tastes in mind. I meam, if you are in charge of planning meals, are you going to choose a bunch of things you wouldn’t eat? Probably not. Just don’t be like my stepmother. Our food preferences bothered her, so she made stuff we didn’t like on purpose on the nights we spent over. (And I promise I was not just mad at her for making food I didn’t like – she was very vocal about doing it on purpose.)

  52. I grow a leaf lettuce from Territorial Seed. I only grow lettuce in the spring and again in the fall.

    I’ve found that I have to use newly purchased packages of seed – planting seeds from the previous year yields nothing.

    And lettuce for me can be very finicky. When you plant your seed – use a mister for a few days. The soil needs to be moist but not saturated for good germination. Also, using a watering can might make the seeds float away, so to speak. I probably made every mistake there was to make. Just keep at it, don’t give up.
    I also learned that chard is a lot more forgiving and that I like the new leaves just as well in a salad.

  53. As a step parent who had picky stepchildren.FIRST..the parent needs to set the rules to the kids after you set the rules to the parent (Tongue in cheek there). If can be more of what they are used to rather than preference at 6 and 3. As a personal chef I always asked for the menu of what the preschool/daycare/school was having because I know they were eating that. For bfast… limit the cold cereal to once a week. Like Monday….something to look forward to.I actually got my grandson (Age 6 at the time) when he first moved in with us (after 2 yrs of pop tarts and cold cereal ,made me wonder where my own child had went to Just FYI she’s been clean and sober for 3 yrs now today and no bipolar either) and offered him grilled cheese (cheese quesadilla), veggie pizza,overnight no cook oatmeal cups, microwave omelet (Conelle salad plate works great) and Homemade egg Mc Muffin (also made in Corelle small bowl) or scrambled eggs. When my step kids were picky about not eating certain foods I found my darling new hubby had backed the kid instead of his ex about that and it got dealt clearly that if he didn’t want to make it clear then he could do ALL the cooking and CLEANING.
    Have the kids help prep the food… have them watch shows about cooking. BUT KEEP HUMOR not anger or frustration at the front of all talks

  54. shoe box , plastic shoe box . I have used this for decades including a wet basement. I also have pantry moth bait to help with the issue. The plastic shoe box will even slow down a mouse (we live in boonies and get field mice when the crops come off the fields in the fall).I leave spaghetties in their boxes. My son uses rubbermaid/tupperware that is to store celery in.

  55. I just did my monthly stockup day today and yesterday. Our two local grocery stores offer 10%, one on the first Monday and one on the first Tuesday of the month. I was able to price match at the store on Monday as well. I found great deals on two kinds of vitamins, bandaids, and bath bar soap. Everything I bought was on sale except the milk. I knew I had done well yesterday when the cashier remarked how much I had saved on the order.

    The rest of the month I will watch for good sales on meat/chicken and restock on milk as needed.

    I will continue to harvest swiss chard, kale, and snow peas/shelling peas. So far, other gardeners have offered me carrots and baby broccoli. I’ve shared strawberry starts with one of them. Also from the community garden, I will harvest herbs, raspberries, blueberries, figs and apples from the communal plots. Love my community gardens!

    I hope to harvest cherry tomatoes, beets, green beans, eggplant, summer squash (pattipan and zucchini), onions and garlic. Also growing for much later harvest are parsnip and winter squash (butternut). Later in July, I will reseed for lettuce, radish, carrots, and more beets.

    I use shredded summer squash in place of cucumber for pickled relish. I like it just as well and most years cucumbers do not grow well for me.

    For fun, I planted 3 starter pots of peanuts that my garden center had for sale; I have no idea when or if those will produce.

    Thanks for the great meal ideas. I think I will make a pasta salad the next time I harvest my snow peas. I’ve found the best prices for pasta at WalMart and some times at the local chain drug store. Thanks as always for this blog.

  56. I was thinking the same thing about squash blooms — they’re good chopped up in stirfry, too. So are daylily buds and blooms.

    You are so good at other dishes — why not make your own ice cream, as well? This version is good:

    We also got $1.49 cherries — which I have not seen for ages. Our fridge nearly froze them, which made them extra tasty just to pull off the stem and pop like candy. I feel guilty griping about our Colorado heat, when I see your temperatures. My beautiful raised bed of greens, peas and radishes didn’t produce a thing because of the sudden heat — the radishes went woody, the greens bolted and the peas died with blooms still in place. (Sigh) I am going to try again with cherry tomato plants — but honestly, after putting that energy into it, and getting just a few leaves of greens…

  57. We buy sunflower seeds in bulk for our bird feeders and store it in a large rubbermaid garbage can in our garage. Several summers ago, it gets hot in Okllahoma, I opened it and found pantry moths in the can in large quantities. I emptied the can, washed it thoroughly. Before refilling it with the seeds I scattered several bay leaves on the bottom. I had an old bottle of bay leaves and used those. I have never had another pantry moth. I also place bay leaves on my pantry shelves in my kitchen and utility room. I also freeze flour, oatmeal, etc. when purchased for at least 6 weeks. Enjoy reading all the good ideas.

  58. THough I have no kids, I wanted to offer a food suggestion anyway! I know that Brandy already posted something similar about the beans in her burritos.

    My mom fed us canned spinach as a kid and I gagged through it every time. To this day, the sight gags me. Flash forward to my late teens and I go to a restaurant called The Good Earth and order a side salad. I tell my friend that I never had this type of lettuce before & it’s delicious….what is it? And she tells me it’s not lettuce, it’s spinach. :::thud::: My mom could’ve been feeding me raw spinach my whole life without an issue. I had the same issue with pumpkin pie. I hated it. I later discovered it was the texture that I didn’t like. I still don’t like the pie, but I love pumpkin everything else. Sometimes it’s the way something is prepared, not the food itself. As a grown up, my husband has learned the same thing about foods he hated as a kid.
    IT’s worth a try!

  59. We just evaluated our life insurance and even though the cost per month doubled, I feel so much more at peace knowing we have that security in place!

  60. I’ve been *not* pregnant or breastfeeding for only about 18 months of our 6-year marriage and I dont ovulate during those times so I just laugh and tell my husband I’m just so naturally frugal. I still have some pads left over from my single days. I have a 7-month old baby now, so won’t even use those for another year!

  61. Thanks, everyone. I’m definitely of the mindset of take it or leave it. I even have a giant fork and spoon shaped chalkboard in my kitchen that I wrote upon years ago “Today’s Menu: Eat it or Starve”, so I live by that motto, especially when I take time out of my busy day to prepare a home cooked meal. Their dad is similar to me, but would likely cave and give them pb&j every meal if it was solely up to him. I don’t want to set that precedent that if they whine/throw a big enough tantrum, that we’ll give in and they can have their way, but it’s not really up to me to make the final call.

    I try to cook a variety of things that everyone will enjoy but it’s difficult!! We only have them full-time through the middle of August, then it will be back to every other weekend, so my nightly ordeal is only for another 6 weeks. Still, I want it to be known that when you are here, you eat what we’re eating. I don’t think going to bed hungry a night or two will kill anyone, and it may just get the message across that I am cooking one meal, and that’s it.

  62. Also, I want to add that I’m not going to force the kids to eat a plate full of food they hate. We are encouraging them to try new things – like green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, chicken (not nuggets!), general things like that. And we ask them to eat like a teaspoon size of whatever, but even that is met with complete meltdowns. Dad has told them if they don’t eat what we’re eating, then there is no dessert and no after dinner snack, so that’s working somewhat. I try to make enough variety that everyone will have something they like. I think they’ve been allowed to utter “Ewww I don’t like xxxx” so much, that they think that will be acceptable here. Most of the time, whatever they claim they don’t like, is stuff they’ve never even tried!!

  63. Elizabeth, I read about this, and cinnamon too, and was planning to do it—until I found them inside cinnamon and bay leaves. They got into anything and everything it was possible to get into. They ate all kinds of herbs and spices. They really liked my red raspberry leaves; those were a total loss.

    I did find that fly paper works and it is much cheaper than pantry moth traps. I ordered a bunch online as it seems to be a seasonal item (in the summer). It was a huge help after discarding and repackaging food.

  64. Hubby and I talk about your gardens all the time since we are house hunting and looking for home we own. He wants fruit trees and bushes etc. WiTH metal cages around them until he doesn’t run over them with the mower (yeah even after HE PLANTED THEM in the fence line).
    We cut our electric bill again. Ate mostly from the pantry. Already paid most of next winter’s propane bill.Saving a lot more than we have been able to since 2008. Good thing as I am having surgery( 4 tears in shoulder and bone spur) end of the month and will be limited for 4 mos before fully recovered. Workload jumped up and I am sorting out priorities along staying frugal due to medical bills that will be coming in and other needs of things bought I don’t normally use or buy like some of the groceries that I won’t be able to grow,take care of and process for pantry. PLUS what to do about Christmas as I make our gifts( I might have a good thought on that that Hubby can do ) and won’t have a spare hand …. funny isn’t it that parents seem to have 3-4 hands all the time until we need one of those spares and can’t find it. I’m not sure of menu plan but I plan for it to be for 2 months and include bfast and lunch that I can fix on my own with one hand.
    What I am buying will be stuff I need while down on surgery examples :2nd mesh sling for shower, floss picks because I can pretty much say Hubby isn’t flossing my teeth for me 🙂 baby wipes that they tell me I will need to use to clean under the arm while the shoulder can’t be moved and then I will look at things we need to finish stocking before Hubby retires in Jan and then fill in with what is needed for regular day to day. He cooks so that is a help and I have some precooked meats and such in the freezers.

    The tiller is still being repaired, fuel tank on back order and I still need to get my pressure canner tested and possible new seal with that. The truck’s fuel line that is leaking (very small amt) is getting fixed tomorrow. Hubby got a LED ceiling light for the butler’s pantry as I use that light daily and the landlord decided he would pay us for it since we were putting it up. He also deducted from our rent where we rented a 100 yard plumbing auger to clear tree roots out of the field tile.Plus he came over and washed the siding and the outside of the windows because we do so much to take care of what was his grandparents home.

    I know I will have onions from the garden, some lettuce and spinach. I am hoping tomatoes as I see a few green ones on them along with maybe a few bell peppers that actually turn orange or red before they fall off the plant. I saw the start of an eggplant. I have plenty of corn in the freezer from last year. I looking at peas this fall for the freezer as I use 10 lbs of peas and 10 lbs of peas and carrots blend during the winter for casseroles and fried rice.

    my head just keeps going back to surgery and finding ways to cope and be frugal.

  65. I’m growing lettuce from seeds dated 2012. Germination rate was over 75 percent! Should be ready to harvest later this week.

    I’d try to arrange your containers so they don’t get caught under the deluge of the drip edge, or at least move them around based on the weather forecast.

  66. I very much agree with this. They are not your children and at least for now, it is really up to their father. Additionally, letting them go hungry could lead to significant issues with the other biological parent if they complain, plus the possibility of hard feelings and resentment from the children toward you, which will make developing a strong bond with them much more difficult. I’d get them involved in food shopping and preparation…make food choices exciting, interesting and empowering.

  67. July is my first month on a pension so I decided to pay all the first of month bills, my two credit cards and then set aside a certain amount for transit, a small allowance and then $150 for food & household expenses:
    .$20 for laundry
    .$25 towards stockpile
    .$25 towards non-food items
    .$80 for food
    I know this is very low even for one person but my fridge and freezer (just the top of the fridge) are packed so I don’t need any meat, poultry, fish or dairy this month. The $80 is for eggs, fruit & veg and a few odds & ends.
    I did get a good deal on small ham steaks. They are usually $3 each but were on sale for $1.50 – I bought 6 – each does me two meals, 3 if I’m using them as a breakfast meat. Another store had canned beans on for 2 for $.150 – and that is the cheapest I’ve seen in ages so stocked up. Also bought 4 bags of frozen fruit on for half price.
    I live in a small apt. with no balcony in the middle of the city so no gardening for me I’m afraid – I am envious of you all with your lovely gardens but I know how much work it is so I hope that all of them produce well for you.

  68. I bake bread and saved any stale ends. Most often I put them in a casserole dish, throw in cheese and/or vegetable bits, any leftover cooked sausage or ham. Mix it up, pour over some beaten eggs and bake. We also eat a lot of crepes, mostly savory but sometimes sweet for dessert. And crustless quiches are popular with the husband.

  69. Just looked Tetragonia up we call it warrigal greens in Australia. I have it on my list to plant because its a perennial vegetable.

  70. Hi Brandy

    I’m a long time reader, first time poster from New Zealand. I have been fascinated by your references to nz spinach as well but have found this link . It’s not something I have ever come across as when I buy spinach at the supermarket it is just plain old spinach !

    Love your blog and am inspired by your taste and style. But we are not that frugal although we are trying !


  71. I found several of those catalina Halo coupons AND I was able to enter one on ibotta, so I made two dollars on that free ice-cream. (which isn’t the best on the planet, but fantastic for my dieting daughter).

  72. Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, tut, tut, tu, can’t grow lettuce! I have never heard of such a thing! A husband who laughs at your harvest, that I CAN understand. I could not sleep last night for pondering this difficulty!

    So a few questions to see if we can figure out this mystery:
    1. Is your balcony facing south? Lettuce hates heat although it might not be that hot up north right now. I can’t grow it in the summer either. (lower middle Tennessee)
    2. What variety of seeds are you growing. Forget head lettuce, it is not worth the effort.
    3. Perhaps the pot it is in is too shallow and it is heating up, or it is made from something that holds heat. I have plants on the front porch planted in an old crock pot. The heating element broke so I reused the pot. It really holds heat, way into the night.
    4. Maybe there are too many seedlings growing and they are fighting for space. Try thinning the small ones (and eat them, of course) to see if the others begin growing bigger.

    My suggestions would be to try the following, put seeds in the other pots where you have other things growing and see how they do there. Also, I would suggest purchasing seeds that have a bunch of types, a mixture of all types. Lastly, I have no idea as to how to handle a husband. Nothing seems to work there.


  73. Brandy, I just started using Swagbucks, ibotta, and ebates. I’m slowly getting the gist, but it seems like it will take a looong time to earn a 25.00 gift card on swagbucks. I doubt that you have all day to take surveys, so how do you get the most swagbucks? I did switch to the SW toolbar even though I don’t care for it and I take the daily poll and play videos in the background if I”m on my computer….but you seem to earn a lot of them and I’m wondering what your technique for maximizing them is.

  74. The main thing I’ll be keeping an eye out for is flats of blueberries. Last year, they came in very early, so I wasn’t sure they were at their best price. Sadly, they were, but I had only bought one 5 lb flat. This year I’ll buy two. I freeze them and use them through the winter. These aren’t quite local – they come from the province next door. Local ones are a little later and pricier.

    I’ll also be looking for local raspberries later in the month. I may get some extra free through my CSA if I go out and help with the picking.

    I got my first box of produce from my CSA (paid for months ago), which has given me plenty of vegetables, including asparagus, radishes, pea greens, kale, new potatoes and spring onions, along with a bunch of rhubarb. In two weeks’ time, I’ll start getting double boxes, since I am only picking up every two weeks. I need to plan some time to cook or preserve the day I pick up the box, because this may be more food than I can use right away.

    I’ve spent $34 on groceries so far this month, and I won’t spend much more. I did get a large bottle of canola oil (3 litres, which is about the same as 3 quarts), which will last me into the fall. when my income goes up.

  75. I joined PetSmart several years ago but hadn’t shopped there in a while, since they didn’t carry the type of food my dog needs. I recently got a coupon from them in the mail for a free small bag of dog food or cat food, which I used this weekend — I got a 4.5 pound bag of Instinct Grain-Free cat food for my cats ($19.99) for free, with no other purchase. I’ll take that! I still bought my dog food at the independent pet store, where I get every 12th bag free — I’m halfway to my next free bag. I checked prices, and this independent store sells it as cheaply as I can find it online.
    Our temperatures have been high, too, and our tomatoes have stopped setting fruit. We had a bounty of green tomatoes almost ready to pick, and several days of unrelenting rain ruined them. It’s such a disappointment to lose out on good food.
    We have baby cucumbers starting, if we can keep the beetles from giving them mosaic virus. They wiped out a crop last year. We are going to try dusting the plants with kaolin clay, which seems to deter them somewhat.
    We fueled the car at a station a few miles from us, but it’s on our way to church in the next town, so no extra trip. Gas there was $2.07, while in our town, it’s still $2.31. Since we drive right past this station every Sunday, we keep an eye on the prices.
    Our fountain pump in our brick pond quit working, back-flowed some oil into the pond, and the oil killed over a dozen of our biggest goldfish. Luckily, a few of the smaller fish survived somehow. We have ordered a different pump that has no oil in it, and is cheaper, to boot. We hope this one works well, because this last one didn’t last nearly as long as expected based on our previous pumps, and the oil was a nasty surprise. The good news is that our other goldfish living in a tank– actually a cattle trough dolled up with potted plants, a sand bottom and a floating planter — on our open porch have had babies, so we can “re-stock” the larger fountain pond once the babies get bigger. My husband knows how to flush the fountain clean and install the new pump, so no extra money will be spent on that. We enjoy those fish, and our grandkids think feeding the fish is superior fun.
    We received a 10% coupon off everything from Tractor Supply that ended on July 4. We didn’t get a chance to go until the 4th, when I convinced my husband to go, since they had a couple of things I knew I would need soon, usually at a good price. To our surprise when we got there, a sign told us that for the 4th only, all veterans got 15% off their entire purchase, including sale and clearance. We bought the items we needed plus a few more things that were already marked down or on clearance, which we had been saying we needed to get, but had put off till we found a good price. We got 15% off of everything, since my husband is a veteran and saved over $13.00 just on the discount, not counting the markdowns, all on stuff we actually needed to get.

  76. This month should be a busy one in the garden. I’ll have green beans ready to can soon. My sweet corn is tasseling so it won’t be long before I’ll need to get to work on it. I have 36 tomato plants that are covered in tomatoes – so I’ll be busy canning those, making salsa, making spaghetti sauce, and making pizza sauce. I picked my first cucumber today and noticed I have about 40 more coming along. That mean lots of pickles! I harvested over 200 cucumbers last year. I was giving them away like crazy! I should also have zucchini, peppers, and broccoli ready, too. My lettuce is also still producing nicely. I may get a few melons late in the month, but it will probably be early August.

    I need to stock up on stick butter, toothpaste, and mozzerella cheese. I also noticed some good deals on toilet paper coming up. A local grocery store is running a good deal on pasta, baby carrots, and crescents rolls. Next week, their ad has good deals on cottage cheese and whipped topping. I will buy some apples, milk, and bread throughout the month. Other than that, I will probably just be buying things that I can find a good deal on. We have plenty to eat in the pantry and freezer. In fact, I need to make some space!

  77. Thank you for these great and simple tips, Juls Owings! Now, why didn’t I think of them? After reading your reply last night, I went “shopping” in my house, and found a large lid-locking bin to store my recently purchased BOXES of pasta. I have 3 large round lidded Rubbermaid containers (one is for head lettuce). The contents of two 16 ounce boxes of pasta will fit in each. I cut the labels from the rotini, penne, and elbow boxes, taped them to the lids of each container, and filled them. I also found my Rubbermaid-type lidded spaghetti storage container, and it fit the contents of three boxes in it. I have never seen a celery storage container; I will have to keep an eye out for that! As for plastic lidded shoe boxes…I can find LOTS of them at our local dollar store, Kmart, Walmart, etc. Thank you for posting! I have been inspired frugally!

  78. Brandy, for your Sam’s Club membership, you should keep an eye out on groupon/sam’s website, as they routinely offer deals on the membership for “new” customers. So, if your husband signs up instead of you, you could get a membership for $45 plus get back a gift card and get some coupons for free/very cheap items. Last time I did this, I paid $45 for a plus membership and got back $20 on a gift card, plus got a free pizza, free bakery cookies, and $4 off their fresh spring mix (which normally costs $4.50). This works even if the person signing up had a courtesy card- the only limitation is that whoever had originally had the card in their name cannot take advantage of this deal for 6 months. We should be seeing a similar deal soon (based on how often the previous ones came up), so this might be perfect timing.

    Our shopping plans for this month are really just the basics- I’m using the little bit of food we have left in the freezer to make meals so that I don’t need to buy as much. I need to pick up a few items from Sam’s (cheese, deli meat), plus I’m taking advantage of a sale at Cub again to get another 6 lbs of ground beef for $1.88/lb. Total, I’ll have 12 lbs in the freezer, which should equal about 24 meals. Since we have ground beef ~4 times per month, that will last us a while. I also need to stop by Aldi and get some usual purchases- eggs, dishwasher detergent, etc.

    Unfortunately, bad rain destroyed my seedlings- they weren’t big enough to handle the downpour we got one night (and I wasn’t expecting the rain, so I didn’t cover them beforehand). My chive plant also didn’t make it back this year (I’m thinking it had something to do with being kept in the garage overwinter instead of in a shed near a warm house). It’s a bit too late to sow seeds now, as we have a short growing season, but I’m keeping this in mind for next year. Perhaps I’ll get plants from a nursery next year- they’re not cheap, but I don’t want to keep wasting seeds and it’s still cheaper than buying the produce from the store. I’m disappointed about this year’s plants, but I’ll make do, I guess.

  79. I always see those deals, but both of our names are on the membership and we have a business membership already, so we haven’t been able to get the coupons for new customers.

    Gardening is never the same–but we can all just keep trying! I have planted zinnias in the white garden 4 times now with no success–using different packets of seeds. I even put down some new dirt. I think they are drying out; I don’t know. That part of the garden is looking sparse. I actually planted them in two places. I planted other colors in back and those came up, so it’s a mystery. I’m having company in 9 days and should have had zinnias to cut by now.

  80. Nothing fancy about it!

    Years ago I was telling a friend of mine from Hull, England, that I didn’t care for eggplant. She asked, “What’s eggplant?” I used the French word aubergine, and she said, well, we just call it aubergine!

    Learn something new every day 😀

  81. I wish we could afford it but we are both considered high risk (he just had cancer and is diabetic and I have multiple mental health diagnosis’ as well as digestive disease) so the rates are incredibly high. I was hoping we could figure out a way to at least get the bare minimum to pay for cremation expenses (hubby want no funeral or anything) but there just is no way we can afford it. We’ve sold just about everything that has value already.

  82. Melissa,

    I would do whatever you can, when you are able, to work on having a savings. It would allow you to pay for cremation, which is definitely the least expensive option. I know it’s hard to imagine putting anything in savings right now and it may be impossible, but if you are able to do so, even a small amount, it would be a start for you. If you’ve been selling everything you can to make ends meet then it’s not something you can do now, and I know that feeling very well. Just keep going as you are and keep looking for ways to cut expenses and increase income in all kinds of little ways, as they all add up and help.

  83. The butcher at Winco (who used to be the produce manager!) saw me and pointed out the sale to me. He saw my cart and said, “Don’t you ever buy meat?” I said not much as it is expensive, and then he told me about the new markdown, so I stocked up. That was an unbelieveable price!

  84. I grow New Zealand spinach. Actually, it reseeds itself every spring. I clear the area where the main stem begins, and I water only that part as opposed to the whole big clump. When lacking water, the leaves begin to curl and then not taste as good. My crop seems to thrive in a semi shady area. The seeds are the size of capers. This spinach was a huge source of greens in my family’s diet while growing up.

    I enjoy New Zealand spinach steamed, soaked in cold water a few days, and then eaten with Brandy”s orange viinaiigrette dressing. I also love this spinach in a soup made with chicken broth, a few pork pieces, salt, black pepper and scrambled eggs dropped in at the end. I have eaten this soup cold on hot days.

  85. When my son became ill, and his chronic, lifelong, health expenses, even with insurance, amounted to thousands of dollars, I, sadly, made the decision to cancel my life insurance and my disability insurance, and use that money to pay on his medical bills, and still it is not enough.

  86. I kind of agree with Andrea on this one. I5 years ago I was a new stepmonster. I understand about not wanting to cook 3 different meals….but what about having 3 options, 1 what you are cooking, 2 peanut butter and jelly or 3 nothing?

  87. I have mostly canned goods and dried beans. I do keep a lot of rice, in plastic containers, and some pasta, but not a lot. I usually only keep one bag of corn meal and one bag of flour. I also do not keep much frozen food. I have lost food because of power outages before. I only use the little freezer on top of my refrigerator, and use it mostly for frozen figs and mulberries, both of which are free from my yard or my late mother’s yard. I do store a little bit of chicken, or meat, but not much. Canned fruit, canned vegetables, and canned meat, such as chicken or tuna, comprise the bulk of my food storage.

  88. So important when you have minor children and/or it would greatly affect your retirement financial stability. We have kept my husband’s life insurance even with grown children because if he died before retiring I would get nothing from his pension. When he retires at the end of Sept and that guarantees me 50% of his pension for life, then we will cancel it. He would be fine financially since I only have Social Security and IRAs.

  89. Cindy,
    I have the sbtv and swagbucks apps on my cellphone and all the ipads. When I’m using wifi, I “watch it” and get points…(actually click on the button, turn volume down and let it run). When my total is finished I switch to perktv.

  90. I love reading your posts, Brandy. We are in Texas and our tomatoes are still flowering and putting out lots of tomatoes. This is so unusual for us too, but I’m happy with the extra food!

  91. Most of my gardening is done in community gardens. I had to wait to get my plots but it was worth it. I’ve worked my way up to 3 plots with three different societies. My fee for each plot also includes use of tools and hoses. Hopefully there’s something like that near your in Toronto.

  92. What do people do with yogurt whey? Does it really work on plants? I make yogurt then add 2 cups milk and make ricotta. Still end up with a lot of whey….

  93. Indian Kheer is a dessert which I LOVE as long as it doesn’t have the wheat in it (gluten intolerant) I have had it both hot and cold and actually prefer it cold. The also have a mango “icecream” type of dessert that is very refreshing as well ( I can’t remember the name for it though) The Kheer doesn’t have to have any of the expensive nuts in it but topped with some berries it would be divine!

  94. Most of my bulk foods (rice, pasta, flour, sugars, oatmeal) are either in 5 gallon buckets with Gamma lids or in the various Tupperware pantry storage I have picked up from garage sales and thrift stores over the years (all the lids are different colors so it sure doesn’t look like one of the magazine organized pantry photos!). Tupperware is guaranteed against bugs. I also have a few bail topped glass jars with rubber seals I use as well. Finding all your dry goods infested and having to dump all of that food is VERY discouraging when you are on a tight budget 🙁

  95. It’s summer time and the kids are bored. I spent 11.00 and did three different trials of gamefly, Hulu and a game app. I will cancel the subscribtions at the end of the trial period. That 11.00 spent earned me 80.00 for giftcards. I call that creative financing. I am very careful to write my deals down and to cancel them on time. I have used Starbucks for about ten years and have never had an issue using my bank cards on line with them.

  96. Because of how I shop, I only make my shopping plans weekly to take advantage of great sales. There are few fresh items I purchase weekly, such as milk and lettuce (no garden here, as we are renting temporarily.) When I do my weekly shopping, I always check the 4 clearance areas in our store. There is one in fresh meat, one in the lunch meat/breakfast sausage area, 1 in frozen and 1 for other grocery items. I don’t buy meat unless I am getting it between 50% – 75% off. Usually on clearance, but occasionally a really good sale. Because I have a good stockpile of items, I typically only need to buy them when they are on clearance.

    This week’s big sales were 6 oz. blueberries for 85cents, and 5 lb. bags of potatoes for 89 cents per bag. This store also doubles coupons and I had a 50 cent Colgate coupon. I hadn’t seen it on sale in the circular, but I checked the aisle just in case. They had large tubes on clearance for $1.24, so I got 1 for a total of 24 cents.

    In the Phoenix and Tucson areas, there is an organization called P.O.W. W.O.W. (Produce on wheels, without waste that saves the produce that the grocery stores don’t need from the growers in Mexico that would otherwise go into landfills. Different churches around the valley host volunteer to distribute it. They offer 60 lbs. of produce for $10. You don’t never know what they are going to have until just a day before. It is mostly assorted varieties of tomatoes, peppers and squash. In the past, I have canned the tomatoes, frozen the peppers and cooked and frozen the squash. I’ve also given some away. I may go this week depending on the variety they will be distributing.

  97. Freezing your flour for about 3 days is supposed to kill eggs of any critters that may be in there. I’ve been doing that for years and haven’t had any bugs since

  98. Ah, Jeannie! You always crack me up! I read out part of your comment to a colleague on lunch, and she also laughed. So funny! Also, good advice! I never thought to plant seeds in pots where other thing have grown; that would mean I already know that the earth in that pot is good for growing. Great idea!

    I’m currently trying ‘Curly Leaf (Cutting) Lettuce’ from Berton Seeds (a Canadian company) and I’ve also tried ‘Grand Rapids (Leaf) Lettuce’ (some $ store brand). I’ve tried growing in a mini plastic greenhouse (both indoors and outdoors — nope and nope), in dollar store planters on one side of balcony on a shelf, to protect from the rain, and on the other side, on the ground, no covering (a slow death at 1 inch tall at one end of the balcony and death by deluge at the other end of the balcony). My balcony faces kind of south-ish, but there’s no burning sun as there’s another building in the vicinity that blocks the strongest of light (everything else is growing well, so it can’t be too little sun). The temperatures here are somewhat moderate; summer is usually between 25-32 degrees Celsius. I don’t think I’m overwatering or underwatering, but I suppose that’s another variable. Darn it, I WILL grow lettuce, one way or another! I will feed my husband a homegrown salad by the end of the summer! (Hopefully one that includes lettuce.) Thanks, Jeannie!

  99. Cindy, I too am in the south (New Orleans) and don’t keep a lot of frozen foods, especially during the summer and hurricane season. We lost a lot of shrimp and meats from Katrina so now we eat up a lot of our freezer contents before hurricane season starts each year.

  100. One thing I use for storage is those large buckets ice cream comes in. I’ve stored many things including brown sugar, white sugar, flour, dry beans, and more in those. I’ve gathered many of them from church events where they are serving ice cream to children, etc., and most of the time I’ve been the only one who wanted them–they were slated for the garbage can until I snagged them.

  101. For those who can not grow lettuce try purchasing some romaine at the store cut the bottom off make it about 3 inches high. Try burying this in the ground . You can google it on utube how to grow from your groceries. I can’t grow anything and we have lettuce.

    I also have roses and I seem to be keeping an orchid alive .

    I am working on tomatoes and I think I have basil and some peas that I hope I have not killed.

  102. I lost food from tornadoes in Alabama. Katrina was terrible. My daughter started going to LSU the year after Katrina, and I remember the tarps on the houses all the way up to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is about 70 miles from the coast….it was unreal. She was also in Baton Rouge when it flooded from one of the later hurricanes and/or tropical storms. She ended up leaving the dorms and staying at a professor’s house! I also keep cans of beans because I am not sure how much water I would have available to soak dried beans to eat. I do have a solar cooker because of the tornado issue. I keep two weeks worth (a gallon a day) for just me. I also keep a little food fifty miles away from me because if a tornado hit my house, it would be all gone.

  103. Ooh, good idea re the lettuce, Janet! I’ve heard of that, but never tried it. I’ll have to buy a single organic head and then plant it. Thanks again! I know it’s possible to regrow celery, and I always regrow green onions. In fact I’m regrowing some right now, and once I reharvest them, I’ll plant the root/bulbs/base in dirt to see if I can regrow a third time.

  104. Our Aldi’s sells a cranberry chicken salad for about $3 per container. I’m not sure how many ounces the container is, but we can eat sandwiches for lunch the entire week (two of us). It’s delicious!

  105. Lori,

    I don’t know if this will help or not. But Katie Kimball at has an excellent course for teaching children to cook. I’ve seen a few of her modules. She teaches simple skills. She’s a teacher and they are very well done.

    I know this is a new situation as their stepmother. But it might be something to look at in the future.

    I have celiac disease and I’m also dairy-free and sadly react to a lot of healthy foods. Both of my children are gluten free as well as my grandchildren. So I’ve worked with tricky food situations for other reasons.

    Good luck to you.


  106. In 45 years of marriage we have never had pantry moths – until the last six months! I have been battling to get rid of them. They are awful little things!

  107. I have a friend who works at the bakery in our local grocery store and she saves me the buckets the frosting comes in. I use these buckets to store pasta as they are food safe, come with lids and only require that I wash them out first. It wouldn’t hurt to ask at your local bakery, because from what I understand, they usually just throw them away. They are usually 3 gallon buckets.

  108. Brandy I love your blog.I have been reading for a few years. I have learned so much. I am a single mom to 2 girls. My grocery budget is about $200/mos. I do not need to stockpile as I shop at Aldi’s and many of the staple items I buy are very cheap. Our milk is currently $1.35/gal, Eggs are 49cents. I try and shop every 2 weeks. I try and cook at home,but I also work FT. We used to eat out a lot,but now we are down to 3-4x mos. I also have a Sams card and do buy quite a bit there,but I find some things are cheaper and some things not so. I love your garden andflowers.

  109. Here is a perfect example of what I was talking about above in regards to shopping to take advantage of the clearance sales. I just ran into my local store today to pick up a bag of flour, which I am almost out of. This store is the one with the great clearance sections. I walked around and checked them out, as I do every time I am in there. I picked up 2 bone in NY Strip Steaks (hubby likes steak 1x per week, so I always get it on clearance when I see it.) They were regularly priced $11.99 and $13.75 each. I got them for $5.59 and $7.22. Much less than we would pay at a steakhouse. Then I went by the packaged meat section and scored my deal of the year. Smithfield Bacon, 1 lb. packages – normally $8.99 per package. On the 75% off clearance tag it was marked as “regular price $2.49”, which made them 62 cents each – a 93% savings! I picked up 16, 8 for me and 8 for my daughter. We both now have bacon for the year. The sell by date was tomorrow, but I just put them straight into the freezer. I’m pretty happy right now!

  110. That’s too bad about the membership and the zinnias 🙁 It sounds like either a soil issue or a sunlight issue, though I don’t know enough about zinnias to offer more assistance than that. Maybe the pH of the soil’s not right? It’s hard to tell.

    In hindsight, I should have been more wary of rain, as my new apartment is on the top floor- great for sun, but no protection from the rain.

  111. Most likely they are just drying out. It’s 114º here and has been real hot for quite some time. It’s hard to keep the soil moist for several days for them to germinate as they are planted so shallowly. I grow zinnias in the same spot every year; a few that self-seeded have come up there (albeit a few rows ahead). I planted some other seeds there too and they didn’t come up there–but came up in other places. It’s full sun and these plants will grow there if they don’t dry out.

  112. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    It is winter here at the moment and getting down to anywhere from 0 oc – -3 oc , cold at nights but warming up to 18 – 20’s during the day.

    The garden is producing parsley, silverbeet, spinach, shelling peas, cherry tomatoes, turnips, some herbs being rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. Just about to pick is a large crop of sweet potatoes which will probably happen early next week and we will put them to cure in the shed on newspaper for a while so they can get nice and sweet.

    We are mainly living out of our freezer where we have blanched and frozen a lot of our excess vegetables in the main growing seasons to get us through the winter season and have pumpkins stored in our makeshift root cellar which we can pull from as well for soups and meals too.

    Plans for this month’s grocery shopping (we only shop once every 6 weeks) are to just top up the necessities and only things we have used being –

    – 2 minute noodles.
    – 4.5kg of rolled oats.
    – powdered milk.
    – cocoa powder.
    – 8kg plain flour.
    – 3kg raw sugar.
    – Butter we intend to build our stocks up gradually to 36 x 500g blocks over the coming months.
    – Bacon.
    – Eggs.
    – Tinned mushrooms.
    – Tinned chicken.
    – Sultanas.
    – Macadamia nuts.
    – Crackers.
    – Laundry detergent.

  113. Love your date night with each child. What a special & memorable experience.

    We are currently growing tomatoes, carrot, spring onion, riberries, basil and parsley. I am harvesting all except tomatoes at the moment.

    This month we are having lots of Popsicles with riberries, smoothies with banana and strawberries (both have been on deep discount), spaghetti and lasagne, eggs in all their disguises (scrambled on toast, boiled etc), cauliflower soup (I have been buying an entire whole cauliflower for $1.99), sandwiches, roast chicken, lots of grilled carrot, basil pesto pasta, burgers, lentil and pearl barley stews, pumpkin risotto and homemade pizza. I have made and will make more butter cake. Snacks are green apples, Popsicles, bananas & natural yoghurt with honey and cinnamon.

    For my family of four we have, for the past several months, been spending $55-$90 per week on food, toiletries & laundry/cleaning products. I do budget $120 a week though but due to constantly being under budget may be able to permanently lower this amount to $90. The extra money saved will go towards our mortgage. This is our priority.

    Your budget is very inspiring! You are so resourceful and creative, love reading how you make it work for your family of 10.

  114. I had to google celsius to fahrenheit 25c = 77f and 32c = 89.6f, hmmm (I can’t do metric either, my boys can, I am old school). It might be warming up a bit too much during the hot part of the day, maybe? I don’t know the varieties you are growing since they seem to be for your area and they might want it to be cooler. That is my guess. I will pat you on the head and say, “Keep trying Margaret!!! You can do it!!!!”

    One last suggestion, no one said how big a salad has to be, to be a salad. One leaf chopped in a bowl eaten with tweezers can be considered a salad and tell your husband if he complains about the size of his first course, there will be NO more courses for dinner.

    I do know how to threaten husbands.


  115. Brandy, I don’t know if this would work for you but in mid summer, when I start some seeds for fall crops even though it is hot out, I sow the seeds, water well and then cover with about 10 sheets of newspaper that has been wet thoroughly (I fill a 33 gallon bucket and dunk them in there and then wring them out). This keeps the ground cool and moist. I start checking for germination at day 3 and every day after, but I have found that this protects seeds from drying out long enough to sprout. I also soak the seeds in tepid water for about three hours before sowing, as that seems to get them germinating faster.

  116. Most of my vegetable seeds are several years old. I’m growing radishes from 2009 (heirloom seed that I saved and forgot about!); pole beans from 2011; many things from 2012 (all given to me free, so they are worth a shot) including tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and kohlrabi; plus peas, fennel, cucumbers and squash from 2015. The only new seeds I bought this year were white marigolds and pumpkins. They are sometimes slow to germinate and the germination rate decreases, but I haven’t been disappointed yet. I have a small garden and like variety, so it takes me a while to get through a packet of seeds! I haven’t had nearly as much luck with commercial flower seeds.

  117. Great shopping tips, Laurie. That’s how I buy nearly everything – on sale. That’s the best thing about having food storage, pantry, etc.; you can wait until the sales and save a ton of money.

  118. I totally laughed out loud again! So funny! I WILL keep trying! Thanks for the support, Jeannie!
    I might try switching to New Zealand spinach, a la Brandy, next year, and see if I have more luck with a vine type green. But it really irks me that lettuce won’t grow for me. Argggh! I refuse to be beaten by a plant! I WILL grow lettuce from seed! One day. One (possibly very distant) day.

  119. Last year the rage at the grocery store was a head of lettuce with the root left at the bottom of the plastic container. You were supposed to just tear off the leaves and keep the root watered and leave it in your fridge. I did that until it started looking peaked, then I planted it. It produced large, crisp leaves for weeks afterward.

    If you buy leeks and green onions with large numbrers of roots hanging out and plant the ends and roots, they should grow well for you. By doing this for a few years, this has given our leeks and onions a head start on a short growing season (we live in Alaska). Celery will grow as well, but I have found it will only grow a very short stalk. So we harvest it when the stalk is spindly and the leaves are full. Dry the leaves to use in soups, or use them in stir-fry.

    Off topic, but I had some applesauce in jars that were soon to be out of date. Nobody waned to eat the applesauce, so in order not to waste it (I’m the one who uses juice from canned fruit and even corn to make jelly), I made apple butter from it. Puree it to break up any little chunks and place in a crock pot for several hours with spices; cook down to the consistency you want your apple butter and water bath or steam can it as you would jelly. Yummy.

  120. Thanks Lindsey. It probably won’t work this time of year as we have 5% humidity and it was 116º yesterday. They would be dry in an hour even if I didn’t wring them out 😀 I tried extra watering sessions with drip irrigation and three zinnias sprouted. I think the best plan at this point is to plant something else there today that gets planted deeper–squash or pumpkins. At least this way I will hopefully yield something from the space until fall when I can plant something else.

  121. I once put together a lovely, fun gift of dress up clothes and accessories from dollar store and thrift store items for a little girl. Things like cute scarves, purses, jewelry, hats, pretty hair bands, etc. You could even make a no sew tutu skirt from tulle and a piece of elastic band (tutorial link: Brandy has some really great tutorials for making cute hair accessories as well. A handmade fairy wand would also make a great dress up accessory!

  122. I use applesauce and banana flavoring in place of bananas in muffins and quick breads.

  123. I would like to recommend baking soda. It is the most wonderful, natural toothpaste and deodorant. It is non-toxic and cheap. For use as a toothpaste you simply dip your toothbrush and brush. For use as a deodorant, there are 2 options: one way is to sprinkle a small amount onto your hand, moisten it, and apply to underarms. Another option is to mix a tablespoon in a quart of water, put in a spray bottle, and apply that way. If you detect odor, spray some and the odor will be gone. On a more personal note, a sprinkle in the underpants is the very best feminine odor product I have ever tried.

  124. I got my 2 year old grandchildren a small backpack that fit their frame and allowed them to carry a few things to church or in the car. I’ve also made “go-to-grandma’s” cinch sacks to put jammies in, etc.

  125. This has always been our menu, and even though we only have 5 children, it remains a steadfast rule.

  126. I’ve read several times that planting lemon balm is a great encouragement to the bees which would result in the pollination of your various squash plants. If you’ve tried everything else, this might help.

  127. Hi Brandy,
    Do you and any of your readers have any trouble with rats and mice digging up your seeds just as they are sprouting? We live in Phillip Island which is at the bottom of Australia. Actually at the moment we are freezing as it’s a particularly cold winter so I am jealous of your hot temperatures.
    We have baited the rodents but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. Perhaps Phillip Island’s rats are hardy?
    Cheers, Christine

  128. Not particularly–it’s too hot to transplant (it’s 90º at 6 a.m. and about 103º or more at sunset). Normally they come up in the white garden and I had other colors come up in the back that were planted at the same times. I also don’t have a good spot to grow seeds indoors.

  129. Rhonda,

    Mine are back again (supposedly eggs can lay dormant for almost a year and then hatch when it’s warm). We have found fly paper is much cheaper than the pantry moth traps and it works wonderfully in our walk-in pantry. I hope this year they don’t find anything worth eating–but knowing their propensity for eating plastic I can’t say everything is safe. Most things we have transferred to canning jars. It’s just hoping they don’t get into anything. I don’t keep several things in the original containers anymore, like chocolate chips, nuts, and any kind of dried fruit. They will eat right through the bags until they look like cheesecloth.

  130. Jennifer, Even if you have bees, you have to have both male and female blossoms, and they must be open at the same time. The female blossoms will produce fruit but only if pollinated by male blossoms. Only male blossoms have pollen. So if the plants are only producing one or the other you won’t have any fruit, or if they open on different days (they are only open for one day), or if you don’t have enough blossoms it is a problem. I have zucchini plants with no flowers right now. Once in a while, a single flower will open, but that isn’t enough by itself. I have cucumber vines with only male blossoms–plenty of pollen and lots of bees (despite the heat; they usually go into their hives to keep them cool above certain temperatures) but no female blossoms, so no cucumbers.

  131. My husband and I have 7 kids at home, 17 years down to 7 months. 2 years ago we moved into a 3 bedroom chalet in the woods in 16 acres. He just had a full cornea transplant so no work for him, so I’m working as much as I can so we don’t get too far behind. We talked about starting a garden but neither one of us are farmiliar with gardening ,,, also I don’t know how I would keep the wild life out. We have about 14 Apple trees scattered throughout the field. . . .I would guess they’re not too healthy and probably need to be tended too, we also have 1 pear tree but again Idk if that’s healthy, when the pears fell off the tree last year there was a whole lot but they were hard. And then over by the pond there are thorn bushes and these red berries that grow off them and some black berries, , we want to use what’s on the land but we are completley lost on where to begin ,,,, any ideas?

  132. I am out of money and not sure how I’ll pay for my referral to an oral surgeon (it’s not an urgent thing anyway) so I’ll probably wait. I didn’t have money for ice cream so bought a dozen over-ripe bananas, peeled them, and put them in a freezer on a cookie sheet. Then, when they are frozen, I put them into a zip-lock bag. Take them out but don’t let them thaw much as they’ll become mush. Eat while still mostly frozen — a dozen cost me $1.25 total and they were organic. A relatively low calorie substitute for ice cream and if one wants to dip them in melted chocolate, bonus!

  133. Tammy, it sounds like your land has some great starts. Make sure to find out what the red berries are and that they are edible and not deadly before you harvest them. Take photos if need be and compare how they grow with other berries; a local nursery can help you identify them too.

    Pears ripen off the tree. So, they are picked hard and they soften within a week if they are picked ripe. Figure out when they fell last year and try to pick about a week or two before that and that is when they are ripe. Then let them sit somewhere cool in the house and they will soften up.

    I would start with what you have first and work on harvesting what you have. Apples can be made into sauce and canned, sliced and dried, eaten fresh, and kept for a while if kept in the fridge (depending on type; some last a month and some types last several months if kept at 34º).

    Does your pond have fish? That could also be a help to the budget as well/

  134. I think cornstarch is far better suited to moisture absorption and odor prevention than baking soda! Baking soda is rather abrasive–folks use it to scrub pots and pans, after all. Baking soda has a million uses, but applying it to one’s nether regions is definitely not one of them!

  135. We freeze bananas, too. We make smoothies with them, and by only adding one half banana to less than one cup milk, it makes a very thick, frosty drink much like a milkshake. My son adds strawerry syrup or frozen strawberries, and I like mine with chocolate syrup. We like them better than ice cream or milkshakes.

  136. Tammy, many of pioneers that came here had to learn how to live off the land. It was new to them, too. Learning new things starts with asking questions. Perhaps doing some research on-line or on Pinterest will help you with answers. There are lots of tutorials that might be helpful with getting you started.

    I’m sure it is overwhelming for you right now. Try starting with one thing, like the apple trees or the pear trees, and learning more about when to tell they are ready for harvest. Then look into the best way to preserve the harvest. Just because the apples don’t look like the perfect ones in the stores, doesn’t mean they are not good for eating. You can still use them by cutting out the bad spots. Cut the good parts into slices for eating fresh, drying, putting into baked goods or cooking them into a wonderful applesauce. Same goes with the pears. If you work at learning answers to your questions in stages, it won’t be quite as overwhelming. Perhaps some of your children might take an interest in helping you with this challenge, too. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  137. Thanks for tip about adding frozen strawberries. I’m going to try it and your smoothies, too. So far I’ve just been
    eating like popsicles. Thanks, Eve

  138. I prefer to give books, classic books with beautiful illustrations would be nice. Or the Berenstain Bears books has a newer series out called Living Lights. They are very very popular in our library and appeal to toddler up to early readers. I think new they are only 3.99 each.

    If you don’t want to do books and you sew then I would do something for a doll, like an outfit or two to fit the doll she has, I your know it. Or a quilt for the baby doll or a nap quilt. You could do a quick machine quilted or tied one without any piecing, just a couple pretty pieces of fabric and some fluffy filling.

  139. Tammy, please call your county extension agency and ask for a visit from an agent. They can help you identify the bush with the red berries. Are the “black berries” you mentioned actually blackberries? You could get those identified too, if not. If they do not make house calls, though I would think that odd, then clip a branch with the berries and stop in at their office. Also pick up any free literature they have to offer.

    A good thing to do with apple trees is to keep them pruned. You want to remove anything that grows straight up, some people call them watershoots. They are non productive. A book on pruning will give you the correct times for pruning, the proper cuts, to seal or not, also proper tools. Apple trees seldom get too old, but uncared for they may slow down a bit. We have 10 apple trees and the oldest was planted in 1945 and it is still producing well. We have plenty for our use plus extra to sell and share. You could sell extras also for some income.

    Oh another thing, keep fruit picked up off the ground. It is a favorite of yellow jackets.

    Do you know what kind of fish are in your pond? I would think they would have told you when you bought it as that would certainly be a selling point. My husband fishes almost daily in our pond. If you have no information about your pond I would contact your Department of Natural Resources and have an agent visit.

    I would deal with those things first as they are already there…the pond and the fruit trees. Then begin planning a garden. Look and watch for areas that do not drain well after a rainfall as you would want to avoid that. Do you have adequate rainfall or will you be using the pond as source of irrigation? If you are depending on a well for water that is iffy. A well that can handle home usage is one thing, but adding heavy garden/yard usage is another.

    Best of wishes for all success for you and your family.

  140. I use it to make bread, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc or in soups. I have about 1.5 liters left over after making ricotta and I freeze it for future use. You can also drink it 😮 but the whey from ricotta is salty and weird tasting. My dogs loved it but they can have only 1/2 cup or they may get sick. Plus they’ll pee alot. Chickens like it too. I have friends who lift weights and they like to mix it with protein powder for the extra boost.

  141. My parents did something like this. Tell them they have to try 2 bites of everything to get a pb sandwich. They just can’t have any junk w it. And my family never had desserts every dinner. I had an ex who did. My dad was T1 diabetic and we were not raised eating a lot of sweets.

  142. Yes…definitely a texture thing. My 8yr does not like peas or beans. She’ll eat raw sugar snap peas. She loves bean burritos. I finally got her to eat bean soup. Told her it’s the same beans in the burritos. Just added some cheese and tortilla chips and she ate a small bowl. Yay I’m a very plain eater(mom was too). I just don’t like most sauces. I ate salad dry for yrs. People cringe when they find out I’m a plain eater, but they usually realize I can eat most things. Especially build your own dishes. I just don’t add a ton of extras or salt. Everyone’s taste buds change over time too.

  143. If you get male blooms…I would get a couple soft brushes and “load” up a brush w each male type plant(like one for cucumbers, one for zucchini,etc)…place in labeled Ziplocs for east storage. I haven’t been able to try. But I remember someone who’s mother had orange trees. Someone was pd to come out and clean the leaves(indoor dwarf tree in pots) and they would use a paint brush to pollinate the flowers. Worth a shot, if you see male flowers first. (I need to google, but what is difference between the flowers?)

  144. If you have space for some hanging baskets…you could probably grow herbs, mixed lettuce, and even some types of tomatoes(like a cherry). There are types of tomatoes that ate in a hanging kit. You just need a sunny window. I’m attempting mixed lettuce in a screen top aquarium, but I have a cat that eats my plants. We have community garden plots and I’m in Dayton, Oh. Unfortunately, my schedule wouldn’t give me enough time. Do you have any outside area? I know it depends on the type of apt. I’ve been in one w a small step/platform by front or back door. Would have been enough for one or two pots.

  145. If the variety of tomatoes you planted was not a hybrid, you might consider saving the seeds on the ones that are still flowering. You may be able to develop a variety that will work better for your high heat area.

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