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.

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge: Week 13

Hello, and welcome to week 13 of my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge. This is a year long challenge, and possibly more. If you have been following from the beginning this started as a dual challenge at 63 dollars per week, for a family of almost 3 adults now, and a challenge to see if someone with CKD, could eat shelf-stable, convenient type foods and still feel good. The latter only took a few weeks, and I quickly decided that no I could not eat those types of foods on a consistent basis and still feel well. Now, with that said I can eat shelf-stable veggies like canned veggies that are low in sodium and no funky preservatives. I don’t prefer canned fruit, but the same ingredients would apply. I can also tolerate shelf-stable tuna, and canned chicken, as long as the sodium is within reason, and there are no funky preservatives. I looked at canned beef, I think it was, roast beef maybe, but the sodium was insane, and it was expensive. I did not even bother to try it. Mainly, when I say shelf-stable I am talking about convenience foods, such as frozen meals, and ultra processed foods. Last week, I had to increase the budget from 63 dollars per week to 75, just because of how high food prices are now. The sole purpose for this challenge is to see how much money we can save, and to take account of how much food we are wasting. 75 dollars per week is about a third of what we were paying prior to starting this challenge. So far we have had to replace our fridge, and washing machine. We also just got nailed on taxes and were able to pay the balance. We did not have to finance any of this. The fridge and washing machine were not just bought because we wanted new, both of them needed to be replaced. We are not starving, we have reasonable snacks, and still enjoy the food we are eating.

Last week, I came in at I think 5 dollars under budget. I did have to pick up an extra gallon of milk part way through the week, so that money went for that. This week, I spent 25 cents over my budget, so 75.25. Food prices are still going up, and chicken is outrageous right now. Some of this is due to the millions of chickens that have been euthanized due to a Bird Flu outbreak. Chicken is my main protein that I eat. So, that is a bit distressing.

You can see the picture of my grocery haul below. Please don’t mind the cups in the sink. I shopped at Winn-Dixie and Walmart this week. I have mentioned before that I hate shopping at two stores. But, I needed some pool chemicals, and Walmart is right across the street from Winn-Dixie. Along with prices going up, there are still bare shelves for some items. You might be shocked to know, but each week I shop, whether it is Aldi’s, Winn-Dixie, or Walmart there is always coffee creamer in short supply. Onions are very high in price, too. Cheese and lunch meat have gone way up, and most other items have gone up at least a few cents as far as I can tell.

I was kind of annoyed this week, because I go to Winn-Dixie because they mark their meats way down, and my husband prefers their meat over Walmart. I don’t know why, they all taste the same to me, unless it is organic, then it is better no matter where I buy it. But, the new weekly ad prices started yesterday, yet they did not have all of the sale signs up and I had to go back and forth between the app, and store items to figure out what was on sale. This just took so much longer, and I won’t go on a Wednesday again. Two items that were super good deals this week, were the Swerve brown sugar replacement, and the organic milk. At Walmart, last week, I paid 7.50 for the same Swerve. At Winn-Dixie for this week only, it is buy one get one free. That means each bag was 4.25. The organic milk which was not in the sale flyer was 3.99 for a gallon. If you buy organic milk you know that is a good deal. I did not buy a lot of meat this week, because the prices are high, and we have a good stock in the freezer. The ham steaks were buy one get one free, and I can make them go a long way in several meals. Lettuce and tomatoes were also very high priced at Winn-Dixie. I had to get lettuce at Walmart where the price was a little more reasonable. I don’t know how much longer I will buy fresh tomatoes, and I hope my garden will produce some. I bought more canned veg this week, than frozen because one it is cheaper and two hurricane season is coming and I don’t like to fill the freezer too much in case we lose power for an extended period of time. We will use up what is in there, and then keep bare minimum on hand. The juice was buy one get one free too.

If you are on any kind of specialty diet to stay healthy, and or manage a chronic disease you are probably feeling a pinch in your budget. Healthier foods are more expensive right now, even beans and lentils have gone up in price. Do the best you can. Decrease your portions, especially if you are overweight and can afford to decrease your portions. Don’t be afraid to reach out to community organizations that may be able to help you get the foods you need to stay healthy. Not all junk food items are cheaper. They too are going up in price. Snack type foods, like chips and pretzels, even crackers are outrageous right now. We don’t drink a lot of soda, but the price for that is also through the roof. I am surprised people are still willing to pay these prices for food items that serve no purpose to health and well being. I know some people say eggs have gone up, but honestly dime for dime they are still a great deal as a protein source. The same goes for milk. I do not drink milk, but the others in my family do.

Are you on a grocery budget, or do you just spend whatever you want? Leave me a comment and let me know. Do you use any reward cards? I have the Winn Dixie rewards card and so far I have 5 dollars saved up to use on groceries. I just signed up for the Hitchcock’s card, but I have not used it yet.

Next week, my daughter and I will be taking our 75 dollar budget and shopping at our local Family Dollar and Dollar General to see what we can get. Family Dollar I know sells frozen chicken thighs, and Dollar General does have some fresh fruit and veg, albeit very expensive. We will see how that goes. These two stores are right in our town, and we could literally walk there if we had to. I am unsure of what day this will be, but probably Friday.

Disclaimer

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week #12

Hello, again, and welcome to another week of my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge. To see how this challenge has evolved from the previous weeks, please visit the archives and read. It is pretty interesting, especially how we are learning how much food we are buying that we don’t need. I have not done a shopping trip in 10 days. We had family visiting from out of state and I knew we would not be needing food, as we always eat out. They headed out right after lunch today, to get to the airport before the storms got here. I ran to the grocery stores quickly, so tomorrow I could relax before my weekend of work.

Today, I went to Winn-Dixie and Walmart. I hate going to more than one store, but it is the best way to get deals. Winn-Dixie does bogos kind of like Publix, and I do like that. Winn-Dixie had very good markdowns on meat, and I was very satisfied with that, but their creamer and frozen vegetables were much higher than Walmart. The grapes were also much higher at Winn-Dixie and I have been mostly eating bananas and apples, and I wanted grapes. I refuse to spend almost 3 dollars a pound for grapes, and they are not even organic. Walmart had the red grapes on sale for $1.68 per pound. I don’t think you can see the markdowns on the meat, but they are substantial. I don’t buy steak, or even beef, that often, but my son and his wife are coming to visit next weekend and the markdown for members was superb, so I got 2.29 pounds of certified Angus steaks for 14 dollars or something like that. The organic chicken thighs were marked down to 4 dollars and some change.

As far as pricing goes I spent just over 70 dollars at both stores. My budget is now 75 dollars per week due to how high the prices have gone. That leaves me some room if we run out of milk before I shop again, or bread. I still have not had a chance to try and make homemade sandwich bread, but I will. I noticed this time that frozen veggies have gone up quite a bit. I like to keep frozen broccoli, and a few others on hand in the freezer. WM frozen broccoli just a couple of weeks ago was .88 per bag, today it was 1.12 per bag. Snack-type foods are outrageous, as are bottled and canned drinks. I did not buy any cheese this week, because in my area they do not offer lower-fat cheeses, except mozzarella. We still have some cheese for my husband and daughter and it will easily last a week. I also did not buy lunch meat this week, as we still have tuna, and canned chicken on hand, plus some ham slices. Lunchmeat, the better quality especially, is really expensive right now. I eat tomatoes and bananas pretty much every day. That is why you see them in every single grocery haul I do. Yes, I do have CKD, but potassium is not an issue for me. Phosphorus and sodium are the ones I watch for, and preservatives. I think preservatives bother my kidneys more than my doctor thinks.

On the menu this week, well I’m not sure, lol. I have not been doing a lot of meal prep like I used to. I kind of just decide every couple of days now. We will be having some pork chops with veggies tonight. Our family brought us some awesome deli rolls from NY, and everyone is still loving them. I am on Itrackbites carb-conscious plan right now, so I have not even wanted one actually. I will make air fryer potatoes and some kind of other vegetables, maybe a salad because we have lettuce that needs to be used up. I will try to sneak in some meal prep for the weekend, tomorrow, so I don’t make bad choices for work. I will probably have tuna or chicken wraps on my 1 point Wellness wraps. It has been a rough week of eating well when we have eaten out every single day.

Check out my grocery budget haul for this week, below. Leave me a comment if you are joining in the grocery budget challenge. We have saved so much money, and we are not eating garbage food either. Remember we are a family of 3, almost all of us are adults now. Our budget is just for food for 3 people at $75 dollars per week. This is for food only, not pet food, or other items we buy, though I am frugal about that as well. If you are wondering why we always have coffee creamer, but no coffee, it is because we decided coffee is a luxury we can not go without and it is very expensive right now. It is a family treat and not included in the budget. I buy a bulk coffee from Amazon every six weeks for 24 dollars. It was very hard at first to get my family to stick to this budget, but now it is kind of routine. That does not mean, my daughter, or my husband, if they have spending money are not buying themselves junk food, but that is their money to waste. I will give my thoughts on Itrackbites in a few weeks after I have been on it for two months. I can tell you I have had good success so far.

Tomorrow, I will share some pictures from our day at the beach yesterday. It was a lovely day and I am glad we didn’t wait to go until today because the weather is nasty.

Disclaimer

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week 11

Happy Monday morning! It is a chilly morning here in Florida, and I did not know it was going to be this chilly. We slept with the windows open, and the fan in the window. Brr!!! But, I slept like a baby. It was just hard to get out of a nice warm bed this morning.

I hope you have been following along with the Grocery Budget Challenge. I actually have to increase our budget from 63 dollars per week to 75 dollars per week, as everything has gone up at least a little bit, and some a lot. I can not even get our basics anymore for 63 dollars per week. That is for 3 people in my home, currently. It is still a huge saving from what we were spending before I started this challenge. Now, with that said, I obviously could cut some things out, like coffee creamer, snacks, etc. But, that is simply not realistic for us, and since this is a saving money budget, not a necessity, it is totally not going to happen. When you look at the picture below, from Walmart, the big box under the veggies is actually one of the fresh pizzas they offer. These used to be 5 dollars, yesterday it was 6. Then you will see a Quest pizza, which I didn’t even know Quest offered pizzas. Anyway, that was over 7 dollars for a small one-person pizza, but I went grocery shopping after I got out of work yesterday, and we needed something quick for dinner. I did not want to eat the other pizza, so I figured I would try one of these as it was better for me. I will post my thoughts about that pizza tomorrow, on Taste Test Tuesday, and explain why it was a better option for me. But, I totally could have saved 14 dollars on just those two items, and either just went home or added some other fresh or frozen items to my cart. The Romaine lettuce seems to be mostly cut from the image, but it is there. I try to eat a salad every day for lunch. It doesn’t always happen, but I try. I also have another healthier product I tried last week that I loved. I will share that in the coming week. That grass-fed organic ground beef was actually the same price as the non-organic variety, for the same weight. In general, if I can not fit the organic beef into my budget, I just won’t eat it. My family will, but I won’t.

This challenge started out as a pantry/budget challenge. My CKD journey has brought me back to stage 2 and I personally believe a lot of that is due to dietary changes I have made. But, I wanted to see if I could tolerate more shelf-stable, pantry, convenient type foods and still feel well. It did not take long to figure out that no I could not. So, I moved back to a more fresh food way of eating, frozen, and canned are OK, for veggies and I felt better. Organic is also best for me, but it is hard to stick to a low food budget buying all organic. Once inflation starts to recede, if it does, I will go back to the 63 dollars per week.

I can say that this budget has already taught us so much about our spending and eating habits. Plus, the fact that we waste a ton of food just because it doesn’t get eaten. I doubt we have a fear of running out of food because we were buying way more than we needed and we are still eating off that.

This week started 3 days late, so last week was 10 days in length, which is awesome. Next week we have family coming to visit from out of state that we have not seen since before Covid. So, I will not be doing a budget challenge next week as I am sure that will not work at all for 5 to 7 people.

I also do not shop at several stores. I pick one or two stores for that week and that is where I go. This budget is for food items only. It does not include household items or pet food. But, on that topic, it is time to buy pool supplies to open the pool. We have had a pool ever since we moved to Florida 22 years ago. I can not believe how high the prices of pool supplies are this season. I about died yesterday. I don’t even know if it will be worth it to run the pool once we get into late July and August when maintaining the pool is already that much harder due to the heat and humidity. It might be the first year ever I refuse to afford to keep the pool open. Since I am really the only one that uses it consistently anymore, it might be more of a cost hog, than a convenience.

How are prices where you live? Share your budget strategies in the comments.

If you can not afford to buy groceries please reach out to your local community resources for assistance.

Disclaimer

Ouch Grocery Prices!

Hello, everyone! If you read here often then you know that I missed my Wednesday post for the next kidney class. I worked all day, and it was a rough day, and I was exhausted. I just plain forgot. I do have to work again next Wednesday, but it is mostly meeting stuff, and I will be bored and thinking about other things I need to do, lol.

The other day I blogged about the really high gas prices. It cost me 40 dollars to almost fill my tank this morning. That is about 8 dollars more than typical. 8 dollars may not sound like a lot, but even if it was 8 dollars a week, that is 32 dollars a month, plus another probably 35 for my husband’s car, extra each month. It will add up pretty fast.

Today is the start of week 10 of my 63 dollars per week grocery challenge budget. That equals 21 dollars per person per week. We pretty much have been able to stick with it, mostly because I shop smart, make a list, shop my pantry first, and have an idea for meals from what we already have on hand. Our on-hand foods are dwindling, and soon this will just be a budget of 63 dollars per week. The budget is for food items only, and not for pets, or other home supplies. You can see the picture of the items I bought this week. I checked all of my local stores for the best deals, and Walmart had the best deals. I mean I could get one or two things elsewhere but to me, it isn’t worth it to go to several stores, and it was pouring rain today too. Anyway, I stuck to the list and it was 5 dollars over. Since these are typical of what I will buy each week, this is probably going to happen each week. So, I will have to put something back each week to stay within budget. Since we are a family, all with different eating needs, and styles, it is hard to follow a strict budget. I have CKD and am on a weight loss journey. My husband eats what he wants, and I have a teen, so yeah teens, lol.

Walmart had the best price on boneless skinless chicken breasts, at 1,99 a pound. Yes, I know I can get another variety of chicken for less, but again, I have to buy what everyone will eat. I could do boneless skinless chicken thighs, but apparently, they didn’t have any. You will also notice I did not buy much fresh stuff. I needed onions, I use them in everything, and that bag of onions was 4.98 and the more affordable yellow onions were sold out. I bought frozen veggies instead, which I prefer over canned. No organic purchases either, this week. Everything is at least a little bit more expensive. I did buy more brown rice because for the price and the nutrition profile it works for me. I can add some beans and we will have a complete protein. I also have the bag of lentils from last week that can be added to rice. In my pantry is also quinoa.

What will be on the menu this week? Tonight, we are finally going to eat the ham steak, some pineapple rice, and a veggie. If I decide I don’t want the ham, I will stir fry up some onions, and mushrooms to put over my rice. Nobody else will eat that but me, lol. Tomorrow we are eating out because of our anniversary. Sunday, my son will be visiting and we will have kielbasa, mac n cheese, baked beans, and green beans. I have some apple chicken sausages in my freezer, that I will eat instead of kielbasa, though I love kielbasa. I may or may not have the mac n cheese. I still have one package of ravioli left and that is why I bought the sauce. I can have my whole grain pasta with sauce. I don’t really like ravioli anyway, but my husband and daughter do, and price-wise it is a good deal. Beyond that, I have not really planned much out. My biggest struggle right now is breakfast, and lunch, on the days I work. I did some prep and got some potatoes done in the air fryer. I can just heat these up and have an egg or two over them in the morning. When you walk 15,000 steps a day at work, I need breakfast to start my day. If I had a desk job it would be different. Lunch is harder. I don’t want to prep a meal for the next day when I get home from work, and I don’t want to take leftovers that will need to be warmed. That is why I bought the whole wheat bread. I really like the Ole Wellness low-carb wraps, as does my husband. But, you only get 8 wraps, and the price of them has gone through the roof. The whole wheat bread was only 1.48 and I didn’t check, but I hope it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup. My husband will not use whole wheat bread, so I had to get regular sandwich bread for him. I still have not had time to try making my own bread, but after next week, my weeks should quiet down a little. I can pack a sandwich and a piece of fruit for lunches. I still have apples and oranges on hand.

I am still contemplating shopping every two weeks, at 126 dollars, instead of weekly. I have not decided if that will be more cost-effective. If gas continues to rise, most likely it will be.

Are food prices high where you live? Let me know in the comments what you are doing to save money on food. There were a lot of empty spots on the shelves at my Walmart too, this week.

Please remember that we are doing this as a challenge, to save money, avoid food waste, and challenge ourselves. If you have food insecurity that is not by choice, please reach out to local organizations that can assist you to get food.

Disclaimer

Start Of Week 9 Of The $63 Per Week Grocery Budget Challenge

Hello, and welcome to Friday. Have you joined the challenge, yet? Each week I spend 21 dollars per person, per week, on groceries. There are 3 in my home at this time, so that is 63 dollars per week. At first, it was a pantry challenge as well to see if I with CKD could still feel healthy eating pantry or shelf-stable type meals. That only took a few weeks to decide absolutely not. However, as the weeks have gone on I have found that we can still eat quite healthy on the small budget I created. We still have a few snacks for the week, and we still eat meat. It is a little trickier I will admit, but so far it is very easily doable. If you take out all of the junk we tend to eat, then you can afford the good stuff. I can’t afford organic, or grass-fed most weeks, but I can squeeze it in if it is on sale. If I could tolerate beans better, and my family would eat beans as an alternative to meat, that would be much better, but alas I am not the only person that eats in the house.

As you will see in the picture this week I focused on meat. I went to Save A Lot because they had the best prices on the meat. My husband likes those Ole low-carb wraps, I do too, actually, I just don’t eat them as much. They are quite expensive for only 8 wraps. I am going to see if I can find a recipe to make my own homemade low-carb wraps. They don’t even have to be low-carb as long as they are high fiber. There are some snacks in there too, for my daughter and husband. I tend to try to avoid snacking altogether. We still have apples and oranges on hand. My daughter likes those instant potatoes for her lunches. Drinks are one place that can suck up a lot of money. We have cut way back on the drinks, and just have water most of the time. Except for coffee and creamer, if you have been following along then you know coffee is no longer part of this budget. I tend to buy the larger packets of meat and then split them up into proper portion sizes before freezing them. Use your leftovers too! Don’t let your family waste them. I spent $2.50 at the Dollar Tree and picked up the lentils, and a 2 pound bag of rice. The lentils do not bother my stomach as much as beans, but my family won’t eat them. So, I will prep them and store them for me when I don’t want meat. I spent the full 63 dollars this week, and not a penny less.

This week my husband was away for dinners, again, but he will be back next week. So, my daughter and I had smaller meals and leftovers. I did some meal prep this week by air-frying almost a whole bag of potatoes. Now they are ready for any meal I want to use them in. Potatoes take forever to cook, but they are affordable and healthy. I have started a new plan as part of my weight loss journey to eat little or no carbs after lunch. I can not say I have adjusted to this yet, and it is still a work in process.

For dinners coming up we will be having: tonight baked pork chops and a veggie, Saturday ravioli with sauce, Sunday breakfast for dinner, Monday cornbread and ham. Now, they may not be in that order, and I haven’t thought past Monday. Since I am doing low carb for dinner I will either prepare the dinner meal for lunch, as my husband still works from home, or I will make it for dinner and save it for my lunch the next day and eat something else for dinner. So far it really only affects the ravioli dinner, and I don’t really care for them anyway.

I bought the ham steak on purpose because I knew I had two cornbread mixes in the cupboard that need to be used. Now, they do have HFCS which I generally avoid, but I bought the dumb things and I refuse to waste them, but I won’t buy them again. Gas is getting so high now, that we probably won’t be heading to Aldis again anytime soon unless I go after work, but even then it is still not that close to my new job and I really don’t want to shop after working all day. So, I will have to do with the stores that are closer to me.

Leave me a comment if you are giving this challenge a try and how you are doing with it.

Have a great weekend!

63 Dollars Per Week Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge, Start Of Week 8

Hello, and welcome to Friday. If you have been following along, my family of 3 is doing an extreme grocery budget challenge hopefully for the whole year of 2022. The amount of money we saved has already afforded us a new washing machine paid in cash, not on credit. I have had two weeks that I went over, one on purpose, and one was an oops because I just didn’t pay attention. Each week I allow myself to spend 21 dollars per person or 63 dollars. We are using up existing inventory that we have on hand, but I do not want to run out of food completely, so each week I spend the 63 dollars. This is only for food and does not include household items, or dog food. So far we have not had to buy any condiments, or spices, from the last Sam’s Club grocery haul back in December before this challenge began. We also have allotted other money for special occasion dinners when my son and his wife come to visit. There has been some minor grumbling from my family, but for the most part, we all see the benefits to this budget, and since we are eating well it is fine. That doesn’t mean they don’t spend their own money on a soda here and there, or other snack items. So far I have been able to include fresh fruit, and a savory snack such as popcorn, crackers, or pretzels. I generally would rather discourage snacking altogether. Starting today my start and end day has changed. This week and next will be from Friday to Thursday. After that, I am not sure. Today is also the end of week 7. My husband was gone all week so it was a mish-mash of eating for me and my daughter. We generally ate easy light meals.

In the picture below you will see all of the items I bought this week. Not pictured are ice cream sandwiches that had to be put in the freezer right quickly. I did go to Aldis again, even though it is not close, because I had to take my daughter to an eye appt, right near it. With all of the stuff going on in Ukraine, and gas prices going higher, we will need to adjust where we grocery shop in the coming weeks.

I spent $41.61 at Aldis and again this time they did not have the coffee creamer that my husband will drink, nor did they have pizza sauce. So, I went to Publix and spent $15.44 and got creamer, pizza sauce, and the ravioli were buy one get one free. I forgot I had ravioli on my meal plan so I am glad I saw them at Publix. The creamer was 3 for 9 and that was a very good deal. So, my total for this week was $57.05 which means I am under budget this week by $5.95 woot woot. I noticed at Publix that some of their prices are still pretty reasonable, but some items are way through the roof. I forgot to get eggs, so if I end up needing them I will have a little room in the budget to get them.

On my meal plant this week and in no particular order is:

Cesar chicken salad

BBQ fish

Air fryer ravioli with sauce

Turkey teriyaki

Breakfast for dinner

Cheese quesadillas with tomato soup

Tonight, there are still 3 hot dogs left in the package. So, we will be having a hot dog each, on a bun, with a nice salad on the side. I want macaroni salad but my husband probably wants a green salad.

Creating and sticking to a budget is difficult. If you would like to use a health coach to help you use the contact form at the end of this post and send me an email for a free consultation.

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Start Of Week 7, Oopsie!

Hello, and Happy Monday. I am just going to get the oopsie out of the way to start with. Have you been following along, did you join the challenge? The challenge is to spend 21 dollars per person per week for groceries. There are 3 of us, one with CKD, and our budget is 63 dollars a week. My week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday, but that may change with my new job that begins Wednesday. I will let you know. Each week I learn something new about our eating habits, how much food we buy that we really don’t need each week, and most importantly, so far we have been able to eat relatively healthy on this budget. I gave up on eating pantry foods with CKD. It was not healthy for me, and I could tell by how I felt.

When I order from Misfits Market, it is on a Thursday or Friday, and then the food is not delivered for several days after that. So, Friday of last week I noticed they had some really good sales on organic meat. If you read here, you know that is my preference and I was getting concerned as to whether I would be able to afford it on this budget. I compared their sale prices to the organic options I can buy at Walmart to compare the pricing. Walmart didn’t even carry some of the options, and the ones that they did Misfits beat them by at least a few cents. So, anyway I placed a 30 dollar order with Misfits Market on Friday to be delivered this Wednesday or Thursday. Then this morning I went shopping and totally forgot I placed that order. So, my oopsie this week is that I should have only spent 33 more dollars today, and I spent $58.17. That is my blonde moment for the week, lol. That means I am 25 dollars over budget this week, which really just annoys me, but live and learn. I will have to see if I can change my Misfits order and delivery days, so this doesn’t happen again.

One thing I learned is that I probably will not buy canned veggies anymore. If I can’t afford fresh, I will buy frozen. They taste much better than canned and don’t have all the sodium. Each week I learn something new and it helps me to buy smarter for our needs, and avoid waste. Below you will see what I purchased from Walmart this week for $58.17. We still have a good amount of food on hand, but like most families, we run out of favorites and snack foods. I always try to have fresh fruit on hand for snacking, but that is not always the snacks they want, but it will have to do. You will see donuts and Trix yogurt. My daughter asked if I would get those and I do try to let her have some snacky stuff each week.

What is on the menu this week? Breakfasts and lunches are always simple and whatever is leftover or on hand to make. These dinner ideas may or may not be in the order they will be made. Today, we had leftover pizza from the get-together with my son last night. I did not actually have pizza I had taco casserole again. I actually froze the last 2-3 servings for later use. I put lettuce in it this time so it was kind of like a taco salad. Tuesday, my daughter and I are having some small steaks I purchased from Misfits a couple of months ago. My husband will not be eating dinner with us this week, so these 4 oz steaks are perfect for two people. I will decide on the sides later. Wednesday I will work, and I will take out hot dogs and buns, and fries will be the side. I am not sure yet if I will have hot dogs or something else. It depends a whole lot on what I decide to take for my lunch. My daughter and husband can have the hotdogs for lunches the next couple of days after. Some other meal options for the week are tuna noodle casserole. That meal makes a lot of food and can be used as leftovers for several lunches after. Probably one night will be sweet sausage with spaghetti. I am not sure, though, because we already have steak and hot dogs this week. Quesadillas with tomato soup is another option. I haven’t really thought out meals that much this week, as you can tell. I will share what I come up with. I need to sneak in at least two chicken meals or a meatless meal.

This budget has allowed us to save more money to pay down debt, and that is a good thing. Our washing machine just died last week and we were able to buy a new one with cash, and no financing. That was pretty awesome! We have some financial goals we would like to meet before we retire, and as long as we are not starving or malnourished this budget works fine. I can always add more money if we need to, but so far everyone is adjusting fairly well. We do not buy a lot of sweet drinks, snacks, and other empty calories that really can suck up your budget. We are also learning to eat healthy portion sizes, which also saves us a lot of money. I have been following my portions for many years, but now the others have to as well.

If you would like to learn more about meal planning, meal budgeting, portion sizes, healthy snack options, etc. a health coach like myself may be able to help you to learn these things. Use the contact form below to message me for a free consultation.

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Living With CKD: Eating From My Pantry And Food Budget Challenge End Of Week 5

If you read my post from Monday, which was the start of week 5, then you know I went way over budget this week due to the Super Bowl party we will be having. Even though it is small, and just us, all that extra food added up quickly, and some of it I had on hand! Going over budget once in a while is not a huge big deal, and we are lucky enough to be able to do so. Food prices are so high right now and I was disappointed with the prices at the store I chose to shop at this week. But, we have used just about everything I bought this week, or will by Sunday, plus finished up leftovers from last week and used items from the pantry that have been there for a while. If you are new here this is a food budget challenge where I challenge myself to spend 21 dollars per person per week. That means I can spend 63 dollars per week on groceries. I have CKD, so the second part is more of a self-study to see if I can eat more affordable shelf-stable foods with CKD and still feel good. If you have been following then you know that no, unless I buy organic, and low sodium options, I do not feel good when I eat these types of foods. This makes it harder to stay on a budget because I refuse to sacrifice all of the hard work I have done to get my kidneys back to stage 2. But, I know I can eat nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans and they are shelf-stable and feel OK, as long as I am mindful of portion sizes due to phosphorus. As we move on with this budget challenge, through the year, as our pantry winds down, plant-based protein sources will be vital. I just am not sure how my family will do with that since this is a challenge, not a necessity. So, I guess I need to rename this challenge because I have answered that question.

My husband is adjusting well to the new budget challenge. He only ran out of milk once. My daughter, however, not so much. She is very much into the more expensive and unhealthy convenience meals. At least I think they are expensive considering they are low-quality nutrition in my opinion. Next week I will be back on track and will head to Aldis again because so far that has been where I get the best prices, and they have organic options for less. I really do like Misfits Market, especially the way they do it now, but this time of year we do not eat as much fresh produce and it goes bad too fast. Obviously, throwing food away is not part of this budget. But, if you have never tried Misfits check them out. They have a great mission.

What did we eat this week? It was pretty much as I stated it would be.

Monday was a bagel, egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich. This is a favorite at our house. I eat only one and will have fruit or a salad on the side.

Tuesday was homemade scalloped potatoes and ham. I used this Taste of Home recipe. I modified it a little. I did not use 2% milk because I don’t buy that. But, I did have Half and Half that needed to be used up and it was the exact amount needed. I also didn’t use Thyme, I don’t like it, or parsley because I didn’t have any on hand. However, I did use Rosemary and sprinkled Paprika over the top. If you have never cooked with Rosemary, it is the bomb! You only need a very tiny amount to get a ton of flavor. This was a huge hit and I will definitely make it again. For CKD it probably is not something you want to eat often. I leach the potatoes by soaking them for a while, then rinsing, prior to use. This leaches out a lot of potassium and phosphorus. I would probably use skim milk the next time to save on the fat content. Ham is ham and not something I eat more than a couple of times a year. This made a ton of food and fed us for lunch and dinner a couple more days.

Wednesday I had a board meeting so I needed something fast. I mistakingly bought from Sam’s a huge tin of their Member’s Mark chunk chicken. They usually are small cans but for some reason, this one was one big can. I knew I had to use this up, but I wasn’t sure how. I know some people put it in soups and casseroles, but I am not crazy about it like that. So, I decided to make chicken salad wraps with some pretzels on the side. We like the low-carb, high fiber wraps. These are going to be higher in phosphorus as they are whole grain. Be mindful of your portion sizes with CKD. I add celery, and onion to the meat, plus some mustard and light Mayonnaise. We are now out of light Mayo and I will have to use full fat because we have a huge tub of it from Sam’s to use up. I drain and rinse the chicken to reduce the amount of sodium. This was really good, easy, and economical. It made a ton because of the large can size and we are still eating it for lunch today I will take some for my lunch tomorrow at work. I stick to a 2.5-ounce portion size.

Thursday Leftover scalloped potatoes and ham with green beans. I forgot to say we had fresh asparagus on Tuesday. I didn’t like it, though, so I probably won’t buy it again.

Friday today we will be having Chicken Alfredo over pasta with broccoli. I buy frozen broccoli and steam it. The Alfredo Sauce, in the pics below, came from Misfits Market. It was not cheap, and it has been in my pantry for a while. I don’t care for Alfredo sauce, but the others in my family do. I will probably only use half the jar, so we will be having this again soon. I also had Rao’s organic pasta in my pantry, also from Misfits. It isn’t cheap but it only has one ingredient. You can see the information for the Alfredo sauce below. Compare it to a non-organic variety here, and see the difference mainly in the ingredient list. While it is true it is cheaper to buy in bulk, when you are on one of these budget challenges you will have to buy smaller amounts. I bought a very small package of organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I think it was 6 dollars for a pound. That is expensive, true, but I am getting organic which I prefer. Sometimes I can get Publix Greenwise brand, which is organic, on sale at a decent price, but that was before all of this inflation crap.

Saturday my family will eat this tomorrow as well when I am at work. Cook once eat twice, or thrice, that is a good way to do this.

Sunday Superbowl junk food fest, lol. The menu will include pigs in a blanket, mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce, tortilla chips with salsa, fresh veggies with ranch dip, pickles, and of course they have to have soda. I don’t drink soda it is Pepsi and dark soda is a bad choice for anyone with CKD.

Who will you route for in the Superbowl? I have no team favorite as my team didn’t make it, nor did my husband’s. So, I have picked the Bengals to win.

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The Start Of Week 5 Of My Pantry/Food Budget Challenge

Hello, and Happy Monday. If you have been following along then you know I have CKD and we are committed to following a Pantry Challenge and a Food Budget Challenge for 2022. This is to save money and to see if I can eat shelf-stable type foods on a budget with CKD and remain healthy. I can already tell you that no I can not eat shelf-stable food, at least not the affordable ones, on a budget and still feel good. There is just too much sodium, phosphorus, and other additives that are not good for CKD. While these foods are more affordable they are not healthy. We have, however, been sticking to the 63 dollars a week food budget, with just a few dollars over one week. Well, this week, as you know is the Super Bowl, and I knew I would not be able to stick to that budget. The Super Bowl party items cost more than 63 dollars, and I didn’t even buy chicken wings or soda. Good grief! For this 5th week, I spent 130 dollars. I also stated I was going to try Winn-Dixie, as it was closer than Aldis. No, even with their sales it is still not a better deal than Aldis, even with the long drive to Aldis. I also had to go to Walmart for just a couple of things that were cheaper than Winn-Dixie. I guess we will chalk the Super Bowl up as a gift.

In the image below you will see all of the things I purchased. The best deal of the whole shopping trip was the ground turkey. It was 3 pounds of ground turkey for less than 6 dollars. That is a good deal! Most of the food in the image will be for the Super Bowl, lol. So, we are definitely eating from the pantry this week.

Our Super Bowl menu will be pigs in a blanket, raw veggies with dip, cheese, and crackers, tortilla chips with salsa, mozzarella sticks, and Cracker Barrel mac n cheese which I already have in the pantry.

I decided to pick meals this week based on what I have on hand and the sales flyer. I have not really done that as of yet, but the pantry is dwindling now, and that is the most efficient way to do it.

On the menu this week will be homemade scalloped potatoes and ham, with fresh asparagus on the side, and cornbread. The cornbread is the Jiffy brand. It is very affordable, but not very healthy. It has been in my pantry for a while and it needs to be used up. Egg, cheese, bacon bagel sandwiches. These are a favorite at my house. I like the Applegate bacon and that is the one I am using. Chicken salad sandwiches on wraps with tortilla chips and salad. We use low carb, high fiber wraps, and the chicken is the kind in a can. I will share my thoughts on that chicken the day I make it.

Lunches are generally leftovers, salad, soup, or sandwiches. We still have leftovers from last week that everyone is working on. There is one or two servings of spaghetti with meat sauce and pineapple rice. There is one chicken thigh left as well.

Next week I am going to try and buy only necessities, to save from what I spent this week.

We have really reduced our grocery budget, and the amount of food we are wasting. These are both very good goals to have.

If you would like help in learning more about food options with CKD, label reading, cooking, menu planning, food budgets, etc. use the contact form below to send me an email for a free consultation.

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