Menopause, Belly Fat, and Weight Gain

Hello, and welcome to another Self Care Saturday post. In the month of April, I am focusing on the topic of Menopause. If you did not see my first post, you can find it in the archives.

Menopause is a fact of life. It is part of the middle ages, and there are different aspects of it. Just like kidney disease, dementia, or really any other topic everyone’s journey will look different. But, there are some main topics that are more common to all women going through Menopause, and one of those is belly fat and weight gain.

I encourage you to watch the full video below. There are no gimmicks here, no easy, or fast ways to lose belly fat, but good sound discussion on the topic. I am not promoting the course that she is selling at the end, I have no idea if what she offers is good, or not.

There are a few things I would like you to pay particular attention to.

  1. NEAT- I have talked about this before via using a step tracker, and getting up and moving every hour. I have two dogs, and one way I increase my NEAT is to take them out every hour, when I am home, from 8 am to 8 pm, even if it is raining. They love this! My back fenced yard, around the perimeter is exactly 125 steps. When I first started this I would do 2 laps or 250 steps. I now do 6 laps every hour. It is really a habit now, and I just do it. My dogs are used to it and will remind me. We play ball and enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes, when the weather is super lovely, I do my laps and then I sit on my swing listening to all of the nature around me. It truly is a beautiful part of my day.
  2. LBT- Licks, Bites, and Tastes. You will see what she means.
  3. The amount of protein they are promoting. If you have kidney disease or may be at risk of getting kidney disease please be very careful about consuming this much protein. I have talked a lot about getting back to stage 2, and while there are many things I think have allowed my kidneys to heal, consuming a lower end, but quality, amount of protein is one of them.

All in all, I feel like this is a good video, and lines up with articles and studies I have read. They do not promote any particular kind of diet, supplement, or gimmick. They do promote weight training, and I have discussed that before and how important it is for women to do weight training. They do talk a bit about heavy weights, and I urge you to go slow, especially if you are over age 50, and especially if you are over 50 with kidney disease. Please consult with your doctor before lifting heavy weights over age 50.

Once you hit menopause, and your estrogen begins to decline and eventually disappear, the fat you carry will shift from your hips and thighs to your abdominal area. Note, that they state the abdominal area is the last place most women will lose weight. You can’t target it via abdominal work, or decreasing sugar. It is a process, and most likely you will see results in your face, and chest, long before your waist.

You also will not need as many calories as you age. This is just plain true. So, you may not even realize how much you may be over consuming what your body needs.

If you would like to work with me as your health coach to conquer your health goals, send me a message via the contact form below.

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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.

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Taste Test Tuesday: Quest Pizza!

Hello, and welcome back my awesome readers to one of my topics that readers seem to love, Taste Test Tuesday. With my new job and all that goes with that, I had forgotten I wanted to repeat this series every week. But, if you read my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge post yesterday, then you knew I was going to talk about this today. I will tell you at the end of the post why I ultimately chose Quest Pizza.

This Quest pizza and this is the link to the item with the ingredient and nutrition info, is quite expensive. For 2 servings it was $7.48. With that said if your family loves pizza, and maybe you are on a weight loss journey, this could be a good option for you. I didn’t even know Quest made pizzas, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them at Walmart Sunday. I like the Quest tortilla chips, and some of their protein bars, but not all. I am fussy about protein bars, anyway, so it isn’t a flaw in the Quest product. I was looking for a healthier option pizza, for both CKD and weight loss. I could not find any WW pizzas, so I opted for one of these. Before I get to the nutrition of this Quest pizza, and no I did not look at it first, except for the fiber and carb count, I want to talk about texture and taste. I am a huge texture eater. If the texture is odd, chances are I am not going to like it, or even eat it. I chose a thin crust Quest pizza, and I fully expected the crust to come out crispy. Not only is this crust not very thin, but it also does not come out crispy after baking. So, I threw it into the air fryer for 5 more minutes. The only thing that got crispy was the toppings. I was a little disappointed by the crust, but not enough not to eat it. The cheese I am not so sure about either, but it didn’t taste bad or have a strange texture. As far as taste goes, it was overall fairly bland. I am funny about pizza sauce and this one was OK. I think if I buy it again, and actually I still have half of it left, I will sprinkle on some garlic powder. Would I buy this again? Maybe.

Now as far as nutrition goes, and now I am speaking in relation to my CKD, this is probably not a great choice. Why? I threw away my box, and I can’t really make out the ingredients on the box online, but the list is fairly long. That means it probably has additives I would normally opt to avoid. Remember, there are only 4 slices to this pizza, and 2 slices are a serving size. It is very high in fat, sodium, calcium, and protein. In this regard, this is not a healthy option for CKD as most pre-packaged foods are not. Plus, I can not account for how much phosphorus is in it, but I can assume it is pretty high. It is high in fiber, and low in carbs, and I was not hungry after I ate 2 slices. This was definitely a spur-of-the-moment buy for me. I would have been much better off using one of my Wellness wraps, a little marinara sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and making my own little pizza.

So, why did I choose this particular pizza? I have not discussed weight loss at all much this year, and that is on purpose. But, I recently started following Itrackbites. It has a different name now, but I am finally coming off of my plateau and seeing results. It is similar to WW in that you get assigned a set number of points and each food item has a point value, and some are zero points, but not like WW. Anyway, I knew we would have pizza on Sunday for a quick and easy dinner. I also knew the pizza my family likes is like 13 points per slice, so I was hoping for an alternative. For the 2 slices of the Quest pizza, it was 10 points and was a much better fit for that day. That is why I chose the Quest pizza, and because I was intrigued by how it would taste.

This is not a paid post, as none of my posts are. This is my thoughts and my journey. If you would like help in your health journey email me for a free consultation.

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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.

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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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$63 Dollar Per Week Grocery Budget Challenge: Start Of Week 6!

Hello, and welcome back! If you have been following along then you realize I changed the title It used to be a duo challenge with the first part being could I, with CKD, eat pantry shelf-stable type foods and still feel good and healthy. After 5 weeks, the answer is no, I can’t. Those types of foods, unless I buy organic which I can not on this budget, are too high in fat, salt, sugar, and added phosphates. None of which is good for someone with CKD. So, that part of the challenge is over and decided. With that said there are some options that can be worked in like peanut butter, nuts, seeds, frozen fruit, beans, and canned or frozen veggies. Be sure and read the label and ingredients list prior to buying these items. For example, last week I save a couple of dollars by buying a cheaper French salad dressing. I did not read the label before buying. Today I went to put it on my salad and did read the label. Much to my shock 2 tbsp contains 13 grams of fat and High Fructose Corn Syrup. I will never buy this dressing again, and I am not even sure I will eat it.

For the remainder of this year, I will continue the 63 dollars per week Food Budget Challenge.

This is the start of week 6. I will be starting a new job probably within the next 7 days, so I may have to adjust my start and stop days. You also may remember that I went way over budget last week buying Superbowl stuff. The good news is, we have tons of leftovers, probably enough to feed us lunch all week, or most of the week. We also still have in the freezer mozzarella sticks and a package of hot dogs. Plus, a bunch of other things we didn’t use last week. We also did not cook the macaroni and cheese, I just forgot. For my challenge, The Pantry is anything in a cupboard, on a shelf, or in the freezer.

You can see everything I bought in the image. Aldis seemed just as expensive as Publix this week. So, unless I need to be over there I will shop at Walmart or Save A Lot from here on out, which is only 10 miles from my home, as opposed to 35. The only meat I purchased was the Boston Butt which I am not sure you can see well. It is a good chunk of meat and will make a lot of meals.

No one in my house will eat beans, except me, and I don’t eat them a lot. So, as this challenge goes on and the meat inventory gets depleted, this budget will be a real challenge. We may have to have a few meatless meals a week. Good thing they like eggs.

The only fresh veggies I bought this week are carrots and onions. My Instapot died and I didn’t buy a new one yet. So, I am going to prep the whole bag of potatoes extra from last week’s haul, and the carrots by baking them all up or freezing them. Because, I love to pop a carrot and a potato in my Instapot for an easy lunch, but I forgot I don’t have one. I did buy fresh fruit, because I hate canned fruit, and will use frozen only in smoothies. I got a bag of apples and some bananas. I eat a banana every day until they run out, even with CKD. I bought no salad stuff this week. It just doesn’t get eaten well this time of year. Some of this stuff I don’t eat, like the pizza, and chicken tenders. Once in a while, I will, but not this week.

One thing I like to do when we are having Alfredo Sauce, like tonight, is I use creamed-style corn as my sauce instead. Gravy will work too as long as it is low sodium and doesn’t have phosphorus additives in it. This will be tonight’s dinner. I will cook up the chicken breast with some onion, mushrooms, and frozen peas with carrots. Then, I will cook the creamed corn in a separate pan, and add half of a cup on top of my chicken and veggies. No one else will eat it this way but for me.

Some meal ideas I have floating around in my head for this week are Chicken Alfredo which is a definite for tonight, Spanish rice with ground turkey, cream of chicken lemon pork chops, taco soup, bbq fish. All of the ingredients for these meals I already have on hand. We should not have to buy any other food items until next week.

I spent $60.25 on groceries this week, but it could have been much less had I not bought the Boston butt.

If you would like to learn more about meal planning, and grocery shopping with CKD, use the contact form at the end of this post to send me an email and arrange 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.

Disclaimer

Healthy Tip Tuesday: Sugary Drinks Are Your Enemy!

Hello, and happy dreary, rainy, Tuesday. I have talked about quitting the soda habit before, you can read it here, but what about other sugary drinks. I actually want to discuss added sugars in general not just drinks, though drinks are the main area that Americans are getting added sugars. There will be several evidence-based study links below. I urge you to read them.

Have you noticed that people are dying younger and younger? We are supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world but we are not living to ripe old ages as much and if we are we are burdened with chronic illnesses and disease. Why do you think that might be? Check out this article titled Is Sugar Evil and Addicting? Some people can actually give up sugar, or at least added sugars, while others struggle to even give up a little.

What other delicious sugary drinks are there besides soda? Tea, frappe, latte, coffee in general, juices with added sugars, sugary drinks like kool-aid, and Hawaiian punch, coffee creamer, milkshakes, frosty, and the list goes on. What about alcohol?

I will discuss three of my favorite drinks that may not be so great. McDonald’s Ice Caramel Frappe, Welch’s white grape cherry juice, and Bailey’s Irish Cream.

  1. The frappe. I love these iced caramel frappes that McDonalds offers. However, if I were to drink this more than once in a while I would be consuming for a small frappe 420 calories. There is 17 grams of total fat, and 11 grams is saturated fat. There is 60 grams of carbs of which 55 grams is sugars. Now it doesn’t specify if it is added sugar, or natural sugar, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. There is 7 grams of protein, but other than that this drink is a nutrititional wasteland. There is no fiber, or micronutrients, except for Calcium. It is fairly high in Sodium as well.
  2. Welch’s. I do only buy the 100% juice which has no added sugars, but is still high in natural sugars. I only add tiny bits of this to my water to give it a little flavor. I probably consume a half cup in total each day of this juice. Per one cup serving I would be consuming 130 calories, zero fat, 32 grams of carbs, 30 grams of natural sugars, no fiber, no high fructose corn syrup, it has some calcium, some potassium, and vitamin C. The sodium is only 15 mg per one cup serving.
  3. Bailey’s. I love this stuff. It is great in coffee, or just milk and ice. I never have read the nutrition label, and good thing I don’t have this very often either. 1 ounce is a serving size, in case you are wondering that is 2 tablespoons. That serving contains 102 calories, 6.5 grams of carbs of which 6.2 grams is sugar. 4.9 grams of fat the majority of which is saturaated fat. And then some other minute nutrients. You can see how this can quickly add to your calories and sugar intake.

If you are drinking heavily sugared drinks, are you reading the label? Are you sure what you are putting into your body or your children’s body? For example, yesterday in my grocery haul were Little Debbie Birthday Cake sticks. My daughter wanted these and they were cheap enough. I decided I wanted to eat one today, after lunch, for a snack. I almost didn’t eat it after reading the label, but I had already opened the package and tasted it. These little cakes are literally the size of a good-sized pointer finger. If I was a food producer I would be embarrassed to call this food. Read for yourself.

Here are some studies on what added sugars, and sugary ladened drinks are doing to our bodies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5793330/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31398911/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29671076/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32891165/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30235828/

It is recommended that you do not consume more than 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, of added sugars per day. Added sugars are labeled as such on the nutrition label. This does not include sugars found in whole foods. If you need help understanding sugars vs added sugars use the contact form at the end of the post to send me an email for a free consultation.

Disclaimer

Living With CKD: Eating From My Pantry The End Of Week 4!

Hello, and happy Friday! I have some news to share today. Last week I took the plunge and decided that the 12-hour shifts every weekend was not healthy for me, and I started to look for other nursing opportunities. I had an interview yesterday, and was hired! I should start my new position in the next few days. I am very excited about this move, and they have opportunities for me to grow with their company.

We are at the end of week 4 of our $63 dollar per week food budget and pantry challenge. The budget will stay all year unless it gets to a point where we can no longer do it. My husband did have a minor freak out last week because he had to go a day without milk, but he is OK, lol. I may have to change the beginning day and ending day because I will be working every other Monday at the new job, but I think I can keep it the way it is. We actually ate a lot from our pantry this week and ate a lot of the fresh stuff I purchased on Monday. I update my pantry list every time I grocery shop and we do not have a goal to completely eat everything in the pantry and then start fresh on the super low budget. That just will not work, but if we had to we now know we are not going to starve to death and can eat relatively healthy if we shop smart. I have not shopped at Misfits Market in a few weeks, because I don’t need a lot of fresh stuff, or meat, yet, and there is a 30 dollar minimum to order. Today, I will be making spaghetti and meat sauce, and we bought pizza last night as a treat to celebrate my new job. Both of those things will get my husband and daughter through the weekend while I am at work. I eat at work now, not the healthiest, but it saves me time prepping in the morning when I have to get up so early. I don’t know if the new job provides food to the employees, so that may have to change in the near future. Be sure and check out my post about cleaning fruits and veggies to remove pesticides if you can’t afford organic foods.

I had a crazy busy week and did not take pictures. So, I will provide links to some of the not-so-healthy food items we used, so you can see the nutrition info. Next Sunday is the Super Bowl, and I can already tell you we will be over budget this week, but I don’t know by how much. I am going to try and get everything we need in my weekly shop, but I know my husband will want chicken wings and he insists on buying those, and they are expensive.

For breakfast each day this week I had a banana and my coffee. I still have enough for tomorrow and Sunday. For some reason, my husband is not eating fruit right now. I also have one cutie left if I need it in case he does eat a banana. I do have frozen fruit and can make smoothies.

For lunch each day this week I had a green salad. Some days I put on a little cheese or croutons. I do not mind a simple salad. I ran out of tomatoes and instead of going over budget and buying more I decided to use one can of corn and put a little on each salad. That worked out well and was very tasty. I am almost out of my Country French dressing so I will be on the hunt for an affordable low sugar variety, as the one I have is not low sugar, though it was affordable. We still have quite a bit of lettuce leftover and we will have some tonight with dinner, and my daughter will use the rest over the weekend.

Dinners this week were:

  1. Monday: This was a low carb dinner with lean pork chops, peppers and onions, and steamed broccoli. All of this was from the freezer and fresh pantry. I do not eat more than 3 ounces of meat at any meal, unless I have not had enough protein the rest of the day.
  2. Tuesday: For this meal I had bought the previous week a turkey polska kielbasa at Aldi. Even though this is still not super healthy, it is much better than the regular variety. It is way less in fat, and sodium. Just be sure and weigh your portion and try to stick with the 2 ounce portion size. I cut it up really small so it looks like I am getting more. Then I made a homemade macaroni and cheese. I had about 2 ounces of Velveeta cheese left in the fridge. I do not remember why I bought this but it has been in my fridge for about 2 months. I do not eat this stuff, usually, but I cooked some macaroni, then added the Velveeta and about 1/4 of a bag of part skim mozzarella cheesed that also had to be used up, and a 3/4 of a can of low fat evaporated milk from the pantry. Velveeta is very high in sodium, and fat per 1 ounce serving. There is absolutely no way you can call it healthy. Be mindful of your portion size. I eat about a third of a cup to half a cup once it is prepared. We had canned corn on the side. I love corn with macaroni and cheese. You can also substitute some of the cheese with an orange veggie like pureed carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato to make it healthier.
  3. Wednesday: I had fresh pineapple in the fridge that needed to be used before it went bad. So, I made pineapple rice, using Jasmine rice, that is the favorite rice in our house. It is white rice, so it is still not as healthy as the brown version, but economically it is very affordable. I cooked the rice separate, then added it the cooked pineapple, and cooked onion mixture. At the very end sprinkle on some garlic salt, and just a little brown sugar. This is super delicious and a big hit at my house. I also made chicken thighs. I did not realize I bought the bone in variety and I won’t buy them again. You really are not getting much meat for the price, and paying mostly for bone. They were just OK and too forever to cook due to having the bone in.
  4. Thursday: Pizza take out to celebrate. Be mindful of your portions and have a large salad with it to fill you up.
  5. Friday: Today, I am making spaghetti with meat sauce. The meat is not organic, but I will survive. This makes a ton of leftovers and my family will eat on it over the weekend. As does the pineapple rice from Wednesday. These large meals make great lunch options for at least a day or two after.
  6. Saturday and Sunday: I will be at work and they will be eating leftovers from the week, the pizza, and any snack options they can find in the pantry. I know there is still pretzels, bagels, and popcorn.

Unless I have to go to Gainesville to do stuff for my new job on Monday, I will not be going to Aldi. So, my other budget-friendly options are Dollar Tree, Save A Lot, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie is not always budget-friendly, but my husband reminded me we have a rewards card there, so I may give it a try. The Dollar Tree I am not so convinced about their food options, and Save A Lot is usually good. At least they are all in the same city and within a mile of each other. So, if I have to go to more than one it will be convenient.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. Are you joining in my food budget challenge? Share what you are doing, and how it is going in the comments. I would love to hear about it. We have spent about $250 dollars on groceries for the past four weeks. We did go over a tiny bit this past week, I think by 8 dollars. That is at least half of what we were spending on groceries.

Disclaimer

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