Is It Still Possible To Create $5 Dinners With Inflation?

Hello, hello. You may have noticed I have not written anything in like 10 days. I took a much-needed break from blogging. I still have not had time to take the new AKF Kidney Coach Class, but I hope by the end of May I will have it done. Then I can edit the old posts, and post the new slides. I have not been feeling great the past couple of days. My new job has a lot of mental stress and it is wearing me out. You know they say the grass is not always greener on the other side. I can say for sure that is true. While my old job had become toxic in many ways, there were things I appreciated about that job. Switching to a new job did not necessarily change some of those toxic issues. Health care is a very stressful, and mentally challenging profession these days. I hope to have my certification in Medical Billing and Coding by the end of the Summer, and I can begin transitioning into that.

Back to the topic at hand. Is it still possible to create 5-dollar dinners with inflation? In November of 2020, I did a blog post with a whole list of possible 5 dollar dinner ideas. So, I decided to try and recreate them to see if they can still be made for 5 dollars or less. The first one is Chicken Fajita wraps. I have no idea why Chicken Fajita Casserole is on the list because I don’t know as I have ever made that. I am going to straight-up say this may not be doable unless you can find a really good deal on chicken since it is so expensive right now. You can always use beans instead of chicken. Anyway, I searched all of my local grocery stores to see if I could find chicken on sale at a decent price. The only place that did, and it is only a 2-day sale was my local Hitchcock’s. They have chicken leg quarters for 98 cents a pound. So, if you bought 2 pounds it would cost $1.96. Flour tortilla wraps you can not get any more for less than a dollar. In my area, the Dollar Tree has them for the best price of $1.25. The Great Value brand of Fajita seasoning mix is .62. one green pepper is .72, and one onion is.78. If you want the cheese to sprinkle on a block of Great Value cheese is 1.86. We will use sour cream instead of cheese, at 1.16 for a smaller container.

The total if you use chicken and cheese would be $6.57 and honestly, I don’t think that is all that bad considering.

The total if you use chicken with sour cream would be $5.87

To keep it closer to 5 dollars use a can of black beans at .72 for a total of $5.25 with sour cream but no cheese.

You can always make your own fajita mix if you have the 3 main ingredients, cumin, oregano, and chili powder already on hand.

I am making these tonight for dinner with chicken and sour cream. I par-boil the leg quarters for about 10 minutes. This makes it easy for me to remove the meat from the bones, plus if you have CKD it will reduce the fat, potassium, and phosphorus in the chicken.

We are still sticking by our 75 dollar per week grocery budget, for 3 people, and while it is not as easy as it was, it is still doable. Meat is super expensive right now, and we have cut back even more on meat.

Have an awesome Saturday!

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week #14 Dollar General

Hello, hello! Before I start my grocery haul for this week I want to remind my regular readers that the Kidney Class will begin again, after I take the updated class. It might be a couple of weeks, as I have a lot going on in other areas, but I will get to it.

This week, as promised, I decided to take my $75 dollar weekly food budget and head to Dollar General. Now, a few things to note. I was not optimistic at all as to how this would go. I either thought it would cost way more, or I would get cheap less quality food. I live in a very small town in rural Florida. There is a Dollar General in almost every town around me. About 25 minutes from me there is a Dollar General Market, which really is just like a small supermarket. You can get fresh fruit, veggies, and meat. But, I am talking about a regular Dollar General that has some freezer stuff, and the one where I live actually has a tiny area for fresh fruit and veggies. In my very tiny town we also have a Family Dollar, more on that in a minute, a small Hitchcock’s, and a Sun Stop which is really a gas station with a grocery, and deli section. I will hit all four of them, eventually with my budget.

This budget began as a 21 dollar per person budget, or 63 dollars per week. It also was a pantry challenge to see if someone like me, with CKD, could eat shelf stable foods and still feel well. That only took a couple of weeks to decide no, that is not possible. Everything is so expensive now, that I had to raise my weekly budget to 75 dollars. This is only for food, and it is to save money, spend down debt, not make new debt, avoid food waste, and just learn to be more wise with our money. I have to say, so far it has been successful, and with smart food choices, and portion control, it has not effected my health.

Dollar General is quite small, and buying groceries at these types of stores is odd, because most people probably go in and just buy a few things. The self checkout area is super tiny, and there is not a lot of place in the regular checkout, only one, to put groceries. But, we made it work, albeit with people looking at us strange. You are not going to get a huge selection, and honestly I am ok with that. Too many choices is just a pain to me.

I was pleasantly surprised by the small area of fresh fruit and veg. The grapes were way too expensive for me, but they looked good. I did get a bagged salad, some roma tomatoes, and white onions. These prices were comparable to Walmart, maybe a smidge higher. But, to not have to travel the 12 miles to Walmart is a plus. I noticed that the meat section was not horrible. I could get burger patties, ground beef, chicken breast, sausage, and various breakfast meats. I am not going to ever get organic, grass-fed meats in this town, but it is meat. The chicken breast was the frozen kind, like you can get at Walmart. The price for 2 pounds I think was 9.50. But, I had to run into Family Dollar because DG did not have the Idahoan potatoes, and the same size chicken breast was 7.50 there. I did not need any chicken and there were only a few bags left, so I did not buy any. They had no ground turkey at all, which was kind of disappointing. Family Dollar did not either. There were whole freezer sections where food had been sold out.

The dairy section was also not too bad. I expected just cheap imitation cheese, but there was actual real cheese and the price was not bad. I did need milk, and that was $4.50 which I think is way too much. I don’t drink milk, so it will last close to a week. I still have shredded cheese from last week, so I didn’t buy any more. I probably will never buy coffee creamer at these small stores. It costs way too much for a small container. But, if I am not wanting to drive to save gas, you never know I might. Maybe I will give up coffee. LOL, that is a lie.

They had lots of dry beans and canned beans. We do not eat a lot of those, and I have some in the pantry for when we do. They did not have a ton of flour, and I have some in the pantry, so again, I did not buy any. I did not see any dry rice. They had a small selection of pasta, and I did pick up one box of spaghetti which was 90 cents. We decided to try the chicken pasta in the package. I am not sure if I will have that, as it is very high in sodium. It was only a dollar, though. The canned veggies were on sale for 75 cents each, and I got 6 cans. They had no Idahoan mashed potatoes, or taco seasoning. I had to get those at Family Dollar. I already tried the sweet pickles shown, and I don’t care for them, but they will go good in chicken or tuna salad. I bought one can of fully cooked roast beef at $3.50. This was a curiosity buy to see if it is worth it to have it in the pantry. Let’s face it, even if it might be affordable if no one will eat it, it makes no sense to buy it. The bread was a decent price, but the hot dog buns were way too much. Unfortunately, it was the only kind available on this day. The Armour chicken hot dogs were only 1 dollar, which I thought was a very good deal.

You can see my whole grocery haul in the image below. My grand total between the two stores was $64.15. That means I am 10 dollars under budget this week and honestly that makes DG definitely worth it. Would I shop here every week? No, most likely not, unless I had to. But, even if I shop here once or twice a month, and get my other items that I can not get here the other weeks, it is still worth it to save the gas and wear and tear on my car. If you read last week, then you know I can get my organic meat at Winn-Dixie and if I got at a good time a lot of times it will be marked down to a reasonable price. I was very unhappy with the organic milk I got there last week, though. That might have been why it was such a good deal, because something was wrong with it. No one would drink it. I had to waste it. It was well within the use by date, so that was not the issue.

Are you joining in my grocery budget challenge? Leave me a comment to let me know how it is going.

Next week, I think I will try my budget at our small Hitchcocks to see what I can get there for 75 dollars.

Thanksgiving on Tuesday: Family Food Challenge!

Hello, Hello! As promised, yesterday, I am sharing something fun that your family, or friends can do too. I was watching a Youtube video last week and it was a family that challenged each other to make a themed meal. Their theme was a Dollar Tree theme challenge. It was really interesting, and the creative meals they came up with were amazing, well two of them were, lol. Plus, they had three meals worth of leftovers for the rest of the week. Brilliant! So, in my house at this time is myself, my husband, and my 17 year old. I proposed to them that we try this on Mondays when my husband and I are both off from work. My daughter decided she did not want to be a judge between her father and myself, so she will compete each week, and one of us will be the judge. For the first Monday coming up I picked the theme and it is a Fall casserole. Casseroles are easy, convenient, and we should have a ton of leftovers, making them also economical. I will be sure and share how it works out next week.

But, I wanted to do a challenge this week, so last night I challenged myself to make a Thanksgiving dinner that was not a Dollar Tree challenge, for as affordable as possible. I spent only $6.04 on my meal. Now, this is not a traditional Thanksgiving meal. That is not the goal. But, if you are tight on money, don’t really know how to cook, or maybe you just want a really chill Thanksgiving instead of all the hassle of cooking all that food, and the dishes oh my, then this might be for you. Maybe you are stuck at college for the holiday, or some other reason. This would also be great for leftovers after the big day. Check it out. I don’t have my receipt because I order online now, but I can tell you from my order the price for each item.

Ingredients:

Great Value Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup 1 can .57 If I ever make this again, and I probably will I would get low sodium.

Great Value Turkey Flavored Stuffing Mix 1 box .82 again if there is a low sodium option I would get that next time

Great Value Thin Sliced Oven Roasted Turkey Breast 1 pound $3.28 You honestly only need half of this so it could be even cheaper.

Daisy Natural Sour Cream 8 oz $1.37

1 cup of water free

That’s it! Now, if you bought half of the turkey breast you could get some canned green beans for .46 I had some already in my pantry and we ate them as a side.

To make this you need a crockpot. I chopped the turkey breast up and put it in a pan to sautee with some olive oil, and poultry seasoning. In hindsight I would not use the poultry seasoning the next time. This only took a few minutes. Then I layered it on the bottom of my crockpot, after spraying it with non stick spray. Open the stuffing mix and pour it over the turkey breast as evenly as possible. In a large bowl mix together the water, sour cream, cream of chicken soup. Then pour it all over the stuffing spreading it out to make it even. Cook on low for 2.5 to 3 hours.

My daughter and my husband were the judges. Now mind you my daughter does not eat stuffing. She hates it! But, she didn’t know what was in this meal because when you stir it all up to serve you really might think it is mashed potatoes. Anyway she ate it and had seconds. She gave me a 7! My husband said it was too salty, and I agreed. But, it really did taste like Thanksgiving in a bowl. He still gave me a 6. I would recommend the low salt versions that I stated above. I could have made the presentation better as well, but I didn’t think of that.

Anyway, I would definitely make this very easy, affordable meal again. This is obviously not a well rounded meal, but when you are in a pinch for time, and money, it will work.

How affordable can you make a Thanksgiving meal? Leave me a comment below. Probably Friday, for Foodie Friday, I will be sharing a chocolate recipe. Come back to check it out.

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Meatless Monday: Greek Spaghetti

Hello, Hello! As I try to work back more towards a Vegetarian type of eating pattern, I have discovered this wonderfully delicious recipe. If you have read any of my posts on Oxalates this month, then you know why I have steered away from strictly Vegetarian eating.

We actually had this on Friday, but I am sharing it today on Meatless Monday. I did not remember to take pics, but you will get the idea. It is a very simple and delicious meal. The video below is the original recipe, and I will share how I tweaked it for my family, and our preferences below.

Greek Spaghetti:

Ingredients: Penne Pasta, Feta cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, onions, black olives, butter, garlic, cherry tomatoes.

For starters I used mostly organic products, as that is my preference. I do not always get my preference, but I try. I also do not mix everything together, as I do not eat Feta cheese, and my daughter will not eat olives, or tomatoes.

To make my version put in your hot pan a half of a stick of real butter, or the whole stick as the original recipe calls for. Add fresh minced garlic, and chopped onions. I like Vidalia. I don’t think her recipe had onions, but I include onions in almost everything I cook. Just let that cook gently on low, while your pasta cooks. After the pasta is cooked, and drained, toss it in with the butter, onions, and garlic. You have to be fast here, and serve it quick. It is not as good once it starts too cool, and I would not like this leftover, so be sure and cook only what you are sure will be eaten. I had the olives sliced, cherry tomatoes sliced, and the cheeses all shredded up so each person could add whatever they wanted to their pasta. I also added some fresh chopped Basil to mine, and a little garlic salt. This really was so super delicious, and everyone loved it. It is also relatively inexpensive. Of note, black olives are very high in Oxalates, so use them cautiously if this is an issue for you. Pasta, can also be moderate in Oxalates, especially if you are using a whole grain pasta. I used just regular white organic pasta.

Try this and let me know if you like it. Try my version, and the original below. They are pretty much the same, but just a little bit different.

Come back tomorrow to see my 6 dollar meal that I am making today. I don’t want to give it away, so no hints. I will also be sharing a new family together time challenge.

Are you trying to eat more meatless meals? Let me know what your biggest struggle is to achieve it.

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what i eat in a day, Plant-based August 4, 2021

Hello, and welcome to Wellness Wednesday! Readers seem to like these kind of posts, so I thought maybe once, or twice a week I would do this type of topic.

First let me get this out of the way. Plant-Based is not Vegan. There is nothing wrong with eating a Vegan Diet, but it doesn’t work for me at this time. Plant-Based also does not mean that you eat no dairy at all, oil, fat, meat, etc. It simply means that at least one half to seventy five percent of your plate is plants. There are of course plant-based dairy products, I tend to really like Oat Milk, cheeses, and yogurts. I am also working towards Whole Food Plant Based, but again I am not quite there, at least not by blogger Nazi standards. People and their word issues. I also eat eggs on average once a week. I prefer organic cage free eggs.

Why have I chosen a plant-based way of eating? Well, if you actually read this blog then you know I have CKD, and my number one goal is to get back and maintain at least stage 2. One of the ways studies say you can improve kidney function is by losing weight. In the Fall of last year I started a low carb diet, not Keto, low carb. I stayed at or under 100 carbs per day. I was able to lose 15 pounds in a few months eating that way. However, it also meant I was consuming more protein, and fat than my body requires. This lead to my cholesterol going high, as well as my HDL, and LDL being backwards. Since going on a Statin is not something I wanted to do, they mess with kidney function, I decided to go very low fat to see if I could get it down. I did a one month very low fat, zero point food challenge and was able to get my cholesterol back to normal range. But, my HDL and LDL were still backwards. Most people with CKD will end up with some kind of Heart Disease. Obviously, that is also not a goal I wish to reach. So, for the last month, or so, I have been plant-based. I consume chicken, or fish only once or twice a week. If I decide I want milk, it is skim, and 4 ounces, and cheese is 1 ounce part skim or low fat. I may consume dairy once a week, or every other week. I also will add 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed to my smoothies, or certain foods to get Omega 3. But, I am concerned I might have an allergy to it, so I have to take note when I eat it so I can monitor for symptoms. When I eat a high meat based protein diet, I have issues with my gut. That is another reason to eat plant-based, to heal and restore my gut health.

Iron Deficient Anemia is a huge issue for people with CKD. For that reason I do take a B12 supplement on the days that I do not have any dairy, or meat. There is a very famous doctor that said it would take many years to deplete your B12 stores, but if you have CKD you know this either may not be entirely true, or don’t care to take the chance.

I am consuming a lot of potassium with this way of eating. But, I do not have issues with potassium. My labs are monitored every six months. I also realize plants have a lot more phosphorus than meat products, but again my phosphorus levels are fine. If you have any of these issues be sure and discuss with your doctor first before you make major changes to your diet. If you are a Diabetic be sure and stay within your Carb limits to keep your glucose under control. There are studies that are showing that higher fiber foods, even with higher carbs, may not spike blood sugar.

Ok, now that I got all that out of the way, what did I actually eat?

Breakfast: One banana and coffee. I do not generally eat breakfast, but I was particularly hungry today. I ate this before my treadmill workout. I do not count drinks in my daily calorie or nutrition count. Read why here.

Lunch: See the picture below. This is a ton of food! You can eat a lot of food on a plant-based diet, and trust me you won’t be hungry in an hour. I hardly ever snack, or even have cravings. On that plate is 2 red potatoes cooked in Instapot, 1 cup of shaved brussel sprouts, 1/2 of an onion, and 1/2 cup of canned pork and beans. I also sliced up a delicious tomato on the side. I cooked the onion and brussel sprouts in a pan on the stove with some vegetable broth. After they were soft but not mushy, I added the beans to the pan. I added about a tsp of brown sugar and squeezed in half a lemon. That is my favorite sauce type over top of baked potato or other veggies. The lemon and the brown sugar make a delicious salty and sweet sauce. I only really eat baked beans, pork and beans, or black beans. I buy them canned because they are convenient. Pork and beans are like 33 cents a can. I also add a tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over my potato when it is on the plate. Why? It has certain health benefits, and I take my Vitamin D supplement with this meal and I need to the fat to absorb the Vitamin D properly.

For breakfast and lunch the nutrition info is as follows:

Calories: 626

Total Fat: 9 grams

Saturated Fat: 1.3 grams

Sodium: 450 mg

Total Carbs: 122 grams

Fiber: 19 grams

Net Carbs: 103 grams

Protein: 18 grams I generally eat right about 35 to 40 grams of protein per day.

Vitamin A: 30% of RDA

Vitamin C: 250% of RDA

Calcium: 20% of RDA

Iron: 26% of RDA

Potassium: 2,453 mg

Phosphorus: 267 mg

I obviously still have dinner to go. Dinner today is a little harder to break down the nutrients because we are having pasta salad. The way I make pasta salad is I cut up celery, onion, black olives, bell peppers, cucumber and any other veggies I may throw in. Then I cook the pasta, usually bowties, and throw it all together in the fridge. Then each person put as much Raspberry Vinaigrette and Italian dressing they want on their own serving. They can also add cheese if they wish. I don’t put cheese in mine. I probably will add tomatoes to mine. If I had frozen peas I would also add them, or fresh broccoli. This makes a huge amount of food and will most likely be for lunch as well tomorrow. I am going to say my serving of one cup will be about 450 calories, mostly from the pasta and however much Italian dressing I will add to mine.

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meals on Monday: Budget meals

Welcome to another Manic Monday! I hope everyone had a splendid weekend. It is finally sunny here. The weekend was cold and dreary. I decided I would keep my Budget Meals, or 5 Dollar Dinners here on the blog, rather than my Meals With Melissa subscription plan. I will refer subscribers to the blogposts in addition to the weekly meal plan.

Part of Mindful Eating is knowing what you are eating and eating the healthiest options you can afford. Not everyone can afford, or wants to afford the most expensive of food choices and more expensive does not necessarily mean healthier. Budgeting and meal planning are all part of Mindful Eating. As you know if you are a regular reader I have created a unique Nutrition course for my homeschooled high schooler. As I continue to research information for topics I learn so much about food, food waste, food insecurity and so much more. During the wars and The Great Depression food was scarce and even rationed. Housewives had to be creative and wise with their food and money. While researching this topic I found a wonderful Youtube channel called YesterKitchen. She makes war time and old recipes that can be made on a budget. You will see one of her videos below for Tamale Pie.

Tamale Pie can definitely be a Budget Meal. All you need is Corn Meal, Diced Tomatoes, Onions and Ground Meat. I would use ground turkey as it is way more affordable than ground beef, plus it tastes better. I also would make mine in a 9 x13 pan with the corn meal only on top. It looked kind of mushy with the corn meal on the bottom and the top. This is not a low carb meal, but corn meal is a whole grain loaded with fiber and other nutrients. Read about corn meal here. It is calorie dense and filling. You could even make this meatless and use beans instead of ground meat. If you have CKD be careful because corn meal has a lot of Phosphorus as will the beans. If you are a hunter you could even use ground venison in this recipe.

So, how would this meal break down money wise? The prices are for my area using my Basket App. I have not made this meal yet as I do not have any corn meal on hand and my meal plan is already done for the week. But, we definitely will be trying it soon.

Ground Turkey Version:

1 pound of ground turkey: $2.98 at Walmart

Roma tomatoes: You need one cup chopped and one Organic Roma Tomato is .30 at Walmart

Onion: 1 Yellow onion is .48 at Walmart

Corn Meal: You only need a third of a cup and a 12 oz bag at Walmart is 1.58

Salt, Pepper and Chili Powder you should have on hand, but are very cheap spices to purchase.

Total: $5.64 I counted two tomatoes. Dollar Tree may have Corn Meal for only a dollar

Venison Version:

All of the same ingredients and prices, except you can remove the $2.98 for the ground turkey as you got the venison by hunting. So the grand total would be $2.66

Ground Beef Version:

1 pound ground beef: $3.48 at Walmart

All other ingredients and prices the same

Total: $6.14

Kidney Bean Version:

16 oz of Kidney Beans: .72 I would rinse and drain them first leaving a little liquid. You could always buy dry and save even more by making your own.

All other ingredients and prices the same

Total: $1.81 Wow! Now that is a deal.

I am sitting down today to figure out our money budget, Dave Ramsey style. I can already tell we over spend on groceries and energy ie air conditioning. We do budget billing, so I am going to figure out what our monthly average is and work from there. We also have two car payments which means we over spend on transportation as well. This is where my focus will be. We did renew our Sam’s Club membership from 2017. We went on Sunday for our two week shop and I only spent 65 dollars for each week on food. That is way under budget to my 75 a week I had hoped to spend. The secret to Sam’s is making a list, sticking to it, staying away from the snack aisles, and staying out of the middle aisles. Some things, because it is in bulk, will last at least a month or more. So, there is that to consider as well. I spent only 55 dollars on meat for two weeks. That is a steal. I also restarted my Misfits Market. I upgraded to the bigger box and I am so pleased with the bigger box. I do have to include that into my budget. I get it biweekly which means I am spending 80 dollars a month for that. Each Saturday I do a social media share blogpost. It runs on Saturday and Sunday. This week will be Pinterest sharing. It is easy and it is free self promotions.

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happy thursday!

OMG, I almost felt like Frosty the Snowman for a minute! It is still chilly here in Florida, which I am getting really bored with. If you have been following along then you know I homeschool my daughter and she is starting an untraditional Nutrition course designed by me. Yesterday, was the first day and we did inventory to see what we had and what we needed. She also had to decide on a healthy meal that she would prepare for the upcoming week. She chose Chicken Cesar Salad, which could also count as this week’s 5 dollar dinner because everything comes right in the kit. At Aldi the kit was 2.99 and you could get two servings out of that, and if you really tried three. That is a great deal. I said everything was in there, but there is no chicken. We had one piece of chicken leftover and we threw it in there. A nice healthy filling dinner for my fast food, junk food, processed food loving teen. Not a bad start. If you have CKD go light on the Cesar dressing, I only used about a tbsp. Creamier dressings, as you will see in the video below have more calories, phosphorus and other additives than a clear dressing. You don’t get a lot of cheese with these salad kits, so that shouldn’t be an issue especially if you are sharing it with another person. Also a note about Mrs. Dash and other low sodium seasoning mixes, they are generally high in Potassium, so be sure and read the label for Nutrition info and ingredients. My menu plan is all set for the next week and if you would like to get my menu plan, grocery list with basic prices, and two recipes a week, then check out my new subscription plan Meals with Melissa. You get all of that, plus I will message you twice a week to see how it is going, what you might need help with and what kinds of meals you would like in the future. I also add general Nutrition info to each recipe. All that for only 10 dollars a month!

This is not what I intended to post about today, but I did not have time to research what I was going to write about. The three in the video are kind of boring, but they did put together an awesome meal for people with Heart Disease, Diabetes or CKD. A couple things I would note, I am not a Dietitian, but I have been counting my protein long enough to know their chicken breast was not 3 ounces. While they did say a portion should be 3 ounces, that one was not. Cut it in half, and always weigh your meat if you are unsure. Basil is very strong in flavor, and to me they put way too much. But, if you like zing in your food Basil will get you there. I like to use Red Wine Vinegar as it tastes like salt but contains no salt. I loved the Alfredo Sauce they made, and I can’t wait to try that. I do not care for traditional Alfredo Sauce, and it isn’t really good for people with CKD anyways.

I will be back tomorrow. Have a great evening! Drop me a comment if you think you will try their Alfredo Sauce.

I am looking at adding a Facebook Instant Messenger Chat box, so be sure and watch for that if you would like to chat with me. I do have a chat box on this blog, but it is not convenient and I don’t find it works well.

If you would like to learn more about me, and my Health Coach services, use the contact form at the end of this post to message me.

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This week’s $5 Dollar dinner idea

This could be for a lunch as well. Some of these items I bought before this week, so I didn’t remember exact prices. So, I used my trusty Basket app to let me know what prices were at my local store.

My family loved these little mini pizzas. You see four in the image, but I only ate two. They were very filling for me. You could easily make them ahead, freeze them, and use them in lunches for work or school as long as you have access to a microwave.

All you need is:

Thomas English Muffins: 2.49

Pizza Sauce: 1.19

Mozzarella Cheese: Borden brand is the cheapest at 1.89

That comes to $5,57. You could use a generic brand of English Muffin to bring the price down a little bit. If you have an extra dollar the pepperoni at Walmart was only 1,00 You get 6 muffins per package. So, a family of 3 could each have 2. We toast the muffins first, then add the sauce and cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. You could put these in an air fryer as well.

For those of you who have CKD most breads will have phosphorus in them. I can not find where Thomas English Muffins have any on either app that I use. Mozzarella cheese per 1 ounce has 132 mg so use very sparingly. Pepperoni per 3 ounces also has just over 130 mg of Phosphorus. So, again be careful with how much you are eating.

This is obviously not a low carb dinner idea, with 26 grams of carbs per muffin. However, if you watch your carbs the rest of the day you certainly could enjoy a mini pizza muffin. That is what I did.

For some exciting news my Buffalo Bills are going to the playoffs, woot woot! Are you a Bills fan?

The new vaccine has come to my area, and I am hoping as a health care worker and someone with CKD I can get the vaccine. I will keep you posted. If you can get the vaccine please do so.

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14 Days of gratitude: Day 11 Plus Hillbilly casserole and a failed homemade pizza

Happy Monday! Today’s gratitude prompt is, be grateful for your body. Is my body perfect? Absolutely not! But, I still respect it and am grateful for it. I have both arms, legs, feet all of which help me to hold, lift, exercise, move in general, walk, stand, run, jump, type, etc. Even if I have some flabby triceps I am still grateful for my arms. Even if I don’t have Buns of Steel thighs, I am still grateful. I have both my hands and I am grateful for that. I have a little arthritis, so I can’t do some of the things I used to, but I am still grateful to learn to do other things instead. I am grateful for my head that houses my brain and my eyes and ears. Without my eyes and ears I wouldn’t be able to see and hear the beauty all around me. I am grateful for my chest that expands when I breathe and houses my heart and lungs. My heart and lungs the lifeline to the body. I am grateful for those. My hips and abdomen that houses my womb where my children grew and thrived for 9 months before entering this world. My kidneys which to me are just as vital as my heart and lungs. While I still have 2 only one works well. But, I am still grateful for that, and all of the learning experiences that have come with having a failed kidney. Be grateful for what you have!

Friday I made some homemade pizza. It was super easy, affordable, and had good flavor. So, why was it a fail? Because, I used puff pastry for the pizza dough. I had it on hand, it has great flavor and figured why not. It was delicious, but puff pastry is flimsy and just did not make a good pizza dough. We ate it, but we just had to cut it instead of hold it. We didn’t use a lot of sauce and just added cheese. Super affordable!

Saturday, I made Hillbilly Casserole. This is a recipe I found on Youtube. It was super easy, delicious and affordable. However, it was not very healthy for anyone with CKD, or if you are following a low carb diet. All you need is a large bag of instant potatoes. I used Idahoan and they were only 1.50. A package of bologna. I used hot dogs, of which I only had 3 left from last week. It really was not enough hot dogs to get the full affect, but it worked. The last thing you need is cheddar cheese. I used about 4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese. Fry up the bologna, mix up the potatoes. Put it all in a casserole dish, add the cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. This has a ton of salt in it, and phosphorus. Neither of which is good for CKD. Eat this in small amounts only and add some side veggies or a salad if you can. My family loved this, though more hot dogs in it would have been preferred. We still have some left and it will be a side for our chicken and broccoli tonight. Would I make this again? Yes, but with hot dogs not bologna, which to me are the same things. I would try and be sure we had veggies or side salad though.

We still have some of the homemade pork and beans leftover. That was definitely a budget friendly meal. I actually had them over the Hillbilly Casserole for my work dinner last night. They were super delicious that way. Bu, the last three days I have been eating way too many carbs. So, today I have to get back on track.

One thing I have already learned from my budget grocery shopping is that the sales flyers come out on Sunday. There were some great deals in the paper yesterday, but I had already shopped on Friday. I won’t make that mistake again. I will have to menu plan right through to Sunday and shop on Mondays.

If you would like to learn more about Gratitude Journaling and how it can help you, or how to budget grocery shop, meal plan especially with a Chronic Disease, use the contact form after the images to message me for a free email meet and greet. All new customers get 1 month of coaching for only 25 dollars.

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14 days of Gratitude: Day 4 and 5 Dollar Meal Ideas

Today is the day I share my very long list of $5 dollar meal ideas. These are meals you can make that cost $5 dollars in total, or I will find out if that isn’t so. My husband and I have decided to tighten up our budget to increase savings. We had a nice savings account and then we took a grand vacation, my son got married, the AC broke and the car needed new tires. Plus, a few other unexpected medical-type things came up. So, our savings got depleted. We are going to try and limit our grocery budget to 50 dollars per week for 3 people. I will start Friday, but with Thanksgiving next week I am not sure I can stay on budget, but I am going to try.

But, before I get to the list I want to do the 4th day of my 14 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Today’s prompt is, what tradition are you grateful for? I am not really into traditions or rituals. I find when they can’t be followed anymore, for whatever reason, people are upset or hurt. But, one tradition I do try to stick to is decorating the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day. This has been a tradition in my family ever since I was a small child. We have had years we have altered it due to time constraints, it takes a very long time, but most of it gets decorated on Thanksgiving. For example, my husband for whatever reason insists on dragging the tree out of the garage and putting it up the day after Halloween. It is pre-lit so the lights are already on. I highly recommend pre-lit trees. Putting lights on is a nightmare. Anyway, it sits in my living room with just lights until Thanksgiving. Sometimes I start adding ornaments in small amounts just so it doesn’t look so naked, and like I said it takes such a long time to put it all together on Thanksgiving. This year, with Covid, Thanksgiving will be different for many families around the country. Maybe new traditions can be forged this year. Update 11/5/2021: My husband put the tree up the day after Halloween, this year, while I was at work. So, next year I told him to just put it up after Labor Day and I will decorate it for Halloween, lol.

Now for my large list of $5 dollar dinners. Each time we have one I will share the breakdown and recipe. I didn’t do the breakdown for our Ziti this weekend, because I hadn’t completed the list, but Ziti is definitely economical and it has fed us for 3 days. These can be modified as needed. If you have CKD the way the food is prepared plays a huge role in potassium and phosphorus levels.

1- Ravioli, sauce, bread, veggie

2- Hot dogs with mac n cheese, and a veggie

3- Pancakes with sausage or bacon, whichever is cheaper that week. You may be able to add fruit too.

4- French toast with bacon

5- Breakfast pizza

6- Homemade pizza

7- Spaghetti and meat sauce. Meatballs cost more to make your own, but if you can get sales on your ingredients they can be frozen for leftovers.

8- Chicken and gravy over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. Shred your chicken to make it go further. Add a veggie of choice

9- Poor man’s stew or beef stew if stew meat is on sale

10- Vegetarian chili

11- Grilled cheese and tomato soup

12- Chicken caesar salad

13- Homemade sloppy joes with veggies. This is so easy to make and has way less sodium than buying the can or mix. Add a veggie side

14- Chicken pot pie Fettucine or just chicken pot pie

15- Chicken alfredo

16- Chicken or pork fried rice

17- Mexican beef and rice sometimes called Spanish rice

18- Shit on a shingle, otherwise known as chipped beef over toast

19- potato soup with or without kielbasa or other sausage meat

20- Taco burritos, or quesadillas with just cheese, add ham, beef, or chicken if affordable that week

21- Broccoli, rice, and sausage casserole

22- Rigatoni casserole, this is a meatless meal and is super cheap/ This is a favorite of my son

23- Ziti

24- Sweet potato black bean casserole. My husband loves this and it is a meatless meal

25- Chicken and biscuits, add veggie of your choice

26- Tuna noodle casserole with peas or green beans

27- Baked potatoes with carrots, green beans, or broccoli. I eat a baked potato almost every day for lunch.

28- Noodles with butter and garlic, served with a veggie.

29- Chicken nuggets and fries. Make your own nuggets if you can.

30- Bagel pizzas or English muffin pizzas

31- Ham penne pasta with swiss cheese. This is one of my husband’s favorites

32- Italian mac n cheese

33- Pasta carbonara

34- Barbecue black-eyed peas, or black beans

35- Baked eggs in ham cups

36- Baked beans

37- Shepherds pie

38- Vegetable polenta casserole

39- Beef or mushroom stroganoff

40- Lemon chicken and pasta with a veggie of choice

41- Sweet and sour turkey, beef, chicken, or pork over rice

42- Fried rice with or without meat

43- Sesame chicken or pork over rice with a veggie

44- Chicken cacciatore

45- Chicken salad sandwiches, tuna salad, or egg salad are all affordable

46- BLT

47- Chicken, pork, or beef enchiladas with veggies. If meat is too expensive use cheese and beans

48- Chicken fajita casserole

49- Tacos, or taco salad use beans if meat is too expensive

50- Pasta salad with or without meat

51- Potato salad with egg

52- Macaroni salad with egg or tuna

53- Pulled pork or chicken sandwiches with a veggie side

54- Veggie and potato frittata

55- Vegetable oven fajita casserole.

That is a good long list to start pondering $5 dollar meals. There were many more, but I picked ones that my family would most likely eat.

Our Menu for the week ending on 11/20/20:

Monday: Today was supposed to be hot dogs with mac n cheese. However, we still have Ziti leftover, so that is what we will eat.

Tuesday: Tuesdays are crazy so I will move the hot dogs and mac n cheese to this day.

Wednesday: Sweet and sour pork with rice and a veggie

Thursday: leftovers from Wednesday

Friday: Homemade pizza rolls. This is shopping day. I will share what we bought for our 50 dollar week of groceries, and the recipe for the homemade pizza rolls, plus next week’s $5 dollar dinners menus.

You don’t see a whole lot of fruit or snacks in this post. I discourage snacking, but I always have at least one or two fruit options, crackers, cookies, or popcorn. Making your own snacks, rather than buying packaged, can save a lot of money and heave healthier ingredients. This may change with the budget, but there are budget-friendly snacks out there. Lunches are usually sandwiches, salad, or baked potatoes. We are not big breakfast eaters, but we always have bread, eggs, and usually cereal.

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