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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have an awesome Saturday!

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge End Of Week 6!

Hello, to all of my amazing readers. I am at the end of week 6 of my 2022 Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge. Go back and read the previous weeks to see how this has evolved in relation to my kidney disease. The week technically ends on Sunday, but I will go over what we will be eating through the weekend from items we already have on hand, and the groceries I bought this week. So, far, with the exception of Superbowl week, we have been able to stick to the budget with no issues. Yes, we run out of our favorites by the end of the week, and I have to be more creative with meals, but we are certainly not hungry. One thing I have definitely noticed is that I can cook one large meal that can be leftovers for a couple lunches and another dinner. That means 3 meals a week can be stretched to cover the other days. We don’t typically eat breakfast, except maybe my husband some days, and we always have eggs and toast on hand. Lunches are always leftovers, peanut butter sandwiches, salad if the supplies are all here, grilled cheese, soup, etc. Below you will see the dinners I made this week, and how you can modify them for kidney disease. Remember, I am now hovering right around stage 2, and your dietary requirements are going to be different than mine, along with any other comorbidities you may have. They are examples of what can be done, not dietary advice. I have been off all week because I start a new job next week, so my lunches will need to be figured in as well. My old job would feed me, but it was in no way a healthy option for CKD.

Monday- This might be my new favorite meal ever. I made chicken alfredo for my husband and daughter. They love it, I hate it. Plus, the already made alfredo sauce is full of phosphorus, like 450 mg per 1/2 cup. If you are only allowed 700 mg of phosphorus per day on your renal diet, you can see where this is problematic. There is one you can make homemade on one of the kidney sights that is much less phosphorus. It is also expensive to make. Anyway, what I did was I sauteed some mushrooms and onions with the chicken. I cooked the pasta and drained it. I measure all of my proteins on a scale, except for eggs. On my plate, I put one cup of pasta, 2.5 ounces of chicken breast, some mushrooms, and onions, and then for my sauce, I use 3/4 of a cup of canned creamed corn heated up. This was so delicious! I am the only one in my house that will eat creamed corn. I love it! Try to buy low-sodium canned items.

Tuesday- Leftovers, and we still had some leftovers from Superbowl Sunday that we were eating for lunches.

Wednesday- Actually, lol, I think Monday was Superbowl leftovers, and the chicken alfredo was Tuesday and Wednesday. No reason to delete all that and fix it, lol.

Thursday- When we still had our Sam’s Club membership I had bought a box with like 8 Stove Top stuffing in it. I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought that. Anyway, we still have like 6 boxes left. This meal is not for people with high blood pressure or very strict sodium restrictions. You can find the recipe here. The original recipe called for swiss cheese, but I only had a Mexican blend, so that is what I used. I also left out the vinegar. You can certainly buy low sodium cream of chicken soup, and lower sodium cheese. Swiss cheese, especially you can find in a lower sodium option. There is also a lower sodium stuffing mix, but I had to use what I had on hand because it is a budget challenge. We had 4 pork chops, so this made enough to have for lunch on Friday.

Friday- This was just something I threw together with ingredients I had on hand. I originally was going to make Taco soup, if you read my post-Monday. However, it is way too hot to make soup today. So, I made a taco casserole, actually, my teenager did, that is how easy it is. Buy low sodium taco seasoning or make your own. This made a huge amount of food and will feed us all the way to Saturday and maybe Sunday.

Saturday- taco casserole leftovers.

Sunday- There may still be taco casserole left, but my son and his wife are coming to visit, so we decided that we will buy pizza. We have tried making homemade pizza before but no one really likes the crust at all and it doesn’t really get eaten. I am all about not wasting food.

Next week I am going to try to make a kidney friendlier version of the Tik Tock feta cheese meal that everyone is talking about. If you are not sure what I mean Google it. Next week I am also going to discuss a new CKD drug that has a lot of promise for reducing the risk of kidney disease progression, and a new CKD supplemental drink I found. Be sure and come back to read all about it.

Are you joining in on the 21 dollars a week per person food budget challenge? Let me know how you are doing in the comments. I have actually learned so much about how much money we were wasting on food.

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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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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.

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Thanksgiving on Tuesday: Family Food Challenge!

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

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

Ingredients:

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

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

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

Daisy Natural Sour Cream 8 oz $1.37

1 cup of water free

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

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

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

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

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

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meals on Monday: Budget meals

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

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

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

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

Ground Turkey Version:

1 pound of ground turkey: $2.98 at Walmart

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

Onion: 1 Yellow onion is .48 at Walmart

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

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

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

Venison Version:

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

Ground Beef Version:

1 pound ground beef: $3.48 at Walmart

All other ingredients and prices the same

Total: $6.14

Kidney Bean Version:

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

All other ingredients and prices the same

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

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

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14 days of gratitude: Day 7 and can you eat for $1.50 per day

Happy Thursday! I hope everyone is well. Thanksgiving is one week away here in the USA. In my Misfits box last week I got some organic Granny Smith apples. I got enough to make a pie. So, I added all of the ingredients for one apple pie and put them in the freezer. That way they won’t go to waste and I just thaw and put in a pie crust and bake. I have decided to pause my Misfits Market deliveries for 3 months, to evaluate cost-effectiveness. I love Misfits, and their mission to reduce food waste and supply organic foods to all areas of the country is something I definitely support. However, by the time the foods get to me, some of them are already starting to go bad. This is not cost-effective to me. I may have to find a local crop share program to purchase from. I found a couple, but they don’t offer the flexibility of choices that Misfits does, but I will have to evaluate.

Today’s gratitude prompt is: what do you love about the city you live in. I don’t technically live in a city, at least not by my definition, lol. It is more of a small town, but we picked this area for a reason. We are close enough to a city to be considered a suburb and have access to the convenience of a city but not the noise and traffic. People in this town are strong believers in faith and family. They have a community mind, at least most of them. No community is perfect and while I don’t always align with their political views, it is a great town with good schools and safe communities. Share your gratitude prompts in the comments.

As I continue to research food topics for my teenager’s Nutrition course next semester, I have come across some very interesting things. I didn’t know, and you may not know either, that the average food stamp benefit is 137 dollars per month, which actually breaks down to $1.52 per meal for 30 days. That is $4.56 per day for 3 meals. That is really sad. The government can only afford to offer this paltry amount of money to people who may already be in dire times. While researching how to eat healthy foods for $1.50 per meal, I came across the website Efficiency is Everything. They break down the healthiest foods with that amount of money. They base their 1.50 meals around flour, milk, eggs, pinto beans, kale, carrots, black beans, russet potatoes, and cereal. Their website is $1.50 per day, not a meal. That is really low. Cereals are fortified, or there is oatmeal to consider. You notice there are no fruits, but I would add bananas or apples to that list. I would probably also add tomatoes, but only when in season or canned. I think the list could be modified a little to reach the same threshold of 1.50 per meal, such as rice or pasta. A note about potatoes. Potatoes very often get a bad rap, but they are super healthy and cheap. I eat a baked potato almost every day for lunch, plus a carrot or peas. It is more brunch than lunch, as breakfast is usually just coffee for me. Add some lemon pepper seasoning and it is just delicious. I don’t particularly like Russets, but I could eat them if I had to. I much prefer red potatoes. You will note there is no meat on their list. Milk, bean, and eggs make up the majority of the protein. I don’t care for Kale and Broccoli is just as healthy and affordable. Also, green beans and spinach could be a substitute. I could totally eat like this, but my family probably would not be thrilled. However, if we had to they wouldn’t have a choice. I am following a low carb, so I simply modify portions to meet my daily carb limit of 100 grams of carbs per day.

Today, I am trying a new recipe that will make a lot of food with plenty of leftovers. I will share it tomorrow and how we liked it. It is very affordable and easy to make. My husband is willing to try it, but my daughter is a no, lol. She may starve. Just kidding I modify meals for her needs too.

Oh, before I forget, I did not have the Dollar Tree peas last night, I forgot, but I put them on top of my baked potato today, and like I guessed they tasted just like peas. See yesterday’s post. Tomorrow, I will also talk about cooking methods to reduce Phosphorus in foods for CKD.

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

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

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

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

1- Ravioli, sauce, bread, veggie

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

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

4- French toast with bacon

5- Breakfast pizza

6- Homemade pizza

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

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

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

10- Vegetarian chili

11- Grilled cheese and tomato soup

12- Chicken caesar salad

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

14- Chicken pot pie Fettucine or just chicken pot pie

15- Chicken alfredo

16- Chicken or pork fried rice

17- Mexican beef and rice sometimes called Spanish rice

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

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

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

21- Broccoli, rice, and sausage casserole

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

23- Ziti

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

25- Chicken and biscuits, add veggie of your choice

26- Tuna noodle casserole with peas or green beans

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

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

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

30- Bagel pizzas or English muffin pizzas

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

32- Italian mac n cheese

33- Pasta carbonara

34- Barbecue black-eyed peas, or black beans

35- Baked eggs in ham cups

36- Baked beans

37- Shepherds pie

38- Vegetable polenta casserole

39- Beef or mushroom stroganoff

40- Lemon chicken and pasta with a veggie of choice

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

42- Fried rice with or without meat

43- Sesame chicken or pork over rice with a veggie

44- Chicken cacciatore

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

46- BLT

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

48- Chicken fajita casserole

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

50- Pasta salad with or without meat

51- Potato salad with egg

52- Macaroni salad with egg or tuna

53- Pulled pork or chicken sandwiches with a veggie side

54- Veggie and potato frittata

55- Vegetable oven fajita casserole.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday: Sweet and sour pork with rice and a veggie

Thursday: leftovers from Wednesday

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

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

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$25 dollar food Challenge for 3 people!

This is my first food challenge. It will be for 3 people, 2 adults and one teenager. Now, I must say a few things before I lay out the rules.

1- I am low carb eating. That does not mean Keto. I am not Keto. I have CKD and Keto can be very dangerous. Low carb is any amount of carbs under 150 carbs per day. I consume 100 or less per day. Cheaper food such as rice, potatoes, pasta and beans are very high in carbs. That does not mean we will not be eating those things. I will just need to adjust my portions to stay less than 100 carbs per day.

2- My teenager is a picky eater. Part of this challenge is to teach her how blessed we are to be able to afford foods that she prefers over more affordable foods. It is also to teach her about budgets and to stick to it, plus she will need to make mostly healthy food options when shopping.

3- Meat is very expensive. I prefer organic grass fed meat. It tastes better and that is the truth. However, we will have to see if that is even available at the store we will be shopping at. I can eat small amounts of black beans, pork and beans, or baked beans. My daughter will eat none of these, and my husband does not prefer them. So, that will limit protein options for all 3 of us. I won’t have the luxury to adapt meals for preferences of 3 people.

4- I will try super hard to make this as healthy as possible. I actually think it is very doable.

5- This will not be a live video challenge. Also, I have watched several 5 dollar Dollar Tree challenges. While it has been shown that you can actually buy and create meals with 5 dollars at Dollar Tree, I have never actually seen anyone eat any of these meals. This makes me suspicious if the challenge does not include actually eating the prepared meal. We may try one of those challenges, but honestly I am not going to be happy with food I buy there. It is all highly processed, and we have worked very hard to move away from those types of foods.

6- I use Misfits Markets, biweekly, to provide me with organic fresh produce. I freeze a lot of it, because organic foods do go bad faster. The challenges will be on the opposite weeks of my Misfits delivery and we will evaluate everything we already have on hand before shopping. I can not stress enough, that if you live in a food desert try Misfits Market. It is 22 dollars for the small box, with 5 dollar shipping. It is worth it! I must also add here, the best gift anyone ever gave us was a chest freezer. This allows me to freeze food that is on sale, or ready to expire, without having to use it immediately. If you can buy one, or know someone that wants to get rid of one, they are worth every dime!

OK, for this challenge, my teenager and I will be shopping at Save A Lot. I chose this store because it is a more affordable store in our area. I do have access to an Aldis, about 40 minutes away, but most people especially if they can not drive that far may not have access to that. We will be doing this challenge at various stores in the coming weeks, except Dollar Tree. We have a Family Dollar and Dollar General right here in town. If I choose to do Dollar General I will probably go to the one that is a market about 30 min away. Our local Dollar General does not offer healthy options in my opinion. The Family Dollar, however does, most of the time. We also have two super market type stores, that are very high priced, and both have sold me rotten food. I refuse to shop at either of these places for fresh foods, including meat and dairy.

We will have 25 dollars to spend, for a week of food, for 3 people. If we run out of milk, or bread then we will have to go without. My husband is the only big milk drinker at my house. Coffee, well I hope I have some leftover from this week, lol. We will first go through the freezer and cupboards to see what we already have and then build on that. When things are on sale, I tend to add a few to my cart. This leaves me with a decent supply of stuff on hand. We may have to have a few meatless meals, which is fine for me.

My daughter doesn’t remember, because she was very small, but there was a time when we had very limited money for groceries. We survived, but we did eat a lot of processed foods.

We will share pictures and meal ideas after we shop. I am not sure what day we will shop, but it will be before next Thursday. The challenge will run from next Thursday the 22, thru the 28th,

If you would like to join in this challenge, and you have a Save A Lot near you, please do. Be sure and leave a comment where you will post what you buy and what you can make, so everyone can read your results.

Next week sometime I will share my Low Carb routine, what kind of success I am having, and why I am doing it.

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