Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week #12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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National Sloppy Joe Day!

Welcome back for another Food on Friday topic. I love Sloppy Joes! Do you? Today in the USA, is National Sloppy Joe Day. Watch the short video below to learn about the history of sloppy joes and her recipe. I make mine a little different than she does. I really enjoy her food history videos. Be sure and check out some of her others. I was actually going to make these today, but I completely forgot to take out the meat to thaw. But, I have made these lots of times using the ingredients below. My new week for the grocery budget challenge will begin Sunday, as that is when I have time to grocery shop.

Now, I have CKD, and I try to avoid HFCS at all costs. It upsets my stomach and generally makes me not feel good. There is a standard Sloppy Joe sauce that is available in stores. It is affordable, but it does contain HFCS and lots of sodium. So, I choose not to use it, and honestly, I don’t even think it tastes that good. Keep your portion size of the meat mixture to no more than 3-4 ounces, and try to make a vegetarian option using mushrooms. Ooh, I bet that is delicious.

To lighten up your Sloppy Joe you could use ground turkey, lean ground beef, or even ground chicken. A whole-grain bun would add more nutrients than just a plain white bun. If you are trying to keep it light don’t add cheese to the finished sandwich.

These are the ingredients I use.

  1. Lean ground beef, the leanest I can find, or ground turkey.
  2. About a tbsp of olive oil to cook the ground beef and veggies in
  3. A bell pepper, green is the most affordable
  4. Some chopped onion. I like Vidalia onions.
  5. Garlic minced, or any garlic you have on hand. I generally have garlic powder.
  6. Low sodium tomato paste.
  7. 2/3 of a cup of catsup. I like organic and prefer sugar free, though no one else does.
  8. 1.3 cup of whatever vinegar you have on hand. I usually have red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar on hand.
  9. 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  10. 1 tbsp of brown sugar, use stevia brown sugar if you watch your sugar intake
  11. 1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce.

That is it. After you cook the ground beef, onions, and peppers, add everything else, stir it all in, and voila a Sloppy Joe is born. Don’t forget to drain the fat off of your meat.

Let me know how you make Sloppy Joes, and if you don’t if you will try this recipe and how much you like it.

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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 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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Pantry Food Challenge With CKD and My Very Small Haul

Welcome to another Healthy tip on Tuesday! Today, my healthy tip, especially if you are doing a food pantry challenge, is to do an inventory of your pantry. We seriously have way more food than I even thought we did. We did a complete inventory yesterday. I am almost embarrassed to say, but I have purchased so many protein bars that I absolutely don’t love, but now I have to eat them. My husband will eat some, I hope. Protein bars are very expensive and I absolutely refuse to waste them. They are convenient for when I work my long 12 hour days, but I just don’t really care for them. From a CKD perspective please be careful. Some of these protein bars can have 30% of your RDA for phosphorus. I made a Google document for my whole pantry supply and each time we use something I will change the count. I was doing this last summer, but then the 12-hour shifts came and I got out of doing it. The point of a pantry challenge is to have no waste and to save money.

Last week I was able to save 57 dollars by shopping in my pantry. For me, my pantry is cupboards and a freezer. The fresh stuff of course I use up, but it isn’t shelf stable. That 57 dollars saved will go to dog training lessons for my crazy dog, or for me, whatever perspective you think about it. The budget is 21 dollars per person, per week. So, for a family of three, that is 63 dollars a week. It is for food items only. The real challenge is to see if shelf-stable foods can be both affordable and healthy choices for someone living with CKD. So far I have still been able to afford organic options, but that may not last once my existing inventory is gone. I do not generally shop for quick, easy, processed-type foods, either.

Today, I went to Walmart to get a very small food haul for this week. This should be all we need, but you know how that goes. Milk, Tampico, bag salad, pretzels, coffee creamer, and the lunch meat all came to a total of $19.56. So, that means for the rest of this week, which ends on Sunday we have $43.44. My son and his wife may be coming to visit Sunday, and we may get some pizza. This will probably come from this fund. I did not buy Organic milk because the price has gone up quite a bit, and I don’t drink it. Tampico is for my teenager. The bagged salad was actually 40 cents cheaper than the app said it was, woot woot! We did not technically need lunch meat, but my husband does not want to eat tuna every day, of which I have a ton, so I picked up some lunch meat.

Tonight, for dinner from my pantry I am using some pasta, chicken bullion cubes, chicken stock, a whole chicken, carrots, and onion. I am making homemade crockpot chicken noodle soup. Everything in this recipe is organic and already in my pantry.

To keep organic carrots fresh longer I peel and slice them up, and then I put them in a jar of water in the fridge. This maintains their crispness for at least two weeks. I had to chop the peppers and freeze them because they were going bad faster than we could eat them.

I cook the whole chicken all by itself, with just water, in the crockpot for six hours. Then it is fall off the bone tender. Throw that water away. I know it sounds like such a waste, and maybe it is. But, in that water is a lot of the phosphorus from the chicken. This method reduces the phosphorus in meat and I use it often. I then take the chicken apart and put the meat back in the crockpot with organic chicken broth that does not have added phos in the ingredients. I do add bullion cubes for flavor, along with Rosemary, Thyme, Organic, and my secret ingredient Paprika. If this is too salty for you use low sodium broth. I cook it for a few more hours until the carrots are soft. Then I add some pasta and cook for about 15 more minutes or until the pasta is done. I only used about 1 pound of chicken in the whole soup. It is hard to measure the protein this way, but you can kind of guess.

There will be enough of this for lunch tomorrow, and I didn’t use all of the chicken so that will be another meal this week, either for lunch or dinner. There are also still some homemade meatballs with sauce in the fridge. My husband will most likely finish those off.

Tomorrow will be the 3rd slide in the Kidney Class. So, be sure and come back to see what it is.

Tomorrow, I have a late meeting, so I might make homemade bread in the morning and we can have grilled cheese and tomato soup on homemade bread. Yum!

Please remember my kidney disease is not the same as anyone else. We are all different. What I eat you may not be able to eat. Proper portions are always the key to any specialized diet, and I am not on dialysis. If you have any questions, there is tons of information already on this blog about me and my kidney journey, or you can leave me a comment. If you would like to learn more about my Health Coaching services please send me an email to melissa@healthybuddymelissa.coach

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Do Processed Foods Cause Kidney Disease?

Welcome to another Thinking on Thursday topic and it is the day before the Night Before Christmas. How exciting!

There are lots of thoughts about what causes kidney disease and how to prevent, and treat it once you have it. There are lots of different reasons someone may get kidney disease. What about processed foods? When I talk about processed foods I am talking about highly processed foods, though processed foods have their own issues as well. Highly processed foods are processed foods that don’t just have added fat, salt, and sugar, but also have other chemical additives, colors, preservatives, etc. There are studies that show that the body does not know how to break down these chemicals in these foods and that it caused the kidneys to work harder and can even damage them. If you read here often then you know I have been able to get back to stage 2 CKD after being diagnosed almost 5 years ago. I do attribute a lot of this to allowing my kidneys to heal from the damage of years of eating processed and highly processed foods. I mostly consume organic, home-cooked meals now. I do indulge in unhealthier options, it is a given in this world these days, but before diagnosis and a stressful job with kids at home, we were consuming these types of meals daily. Below you will see links to articles, studies, and videos that explain this topic and how increasing both fiber and resistant starch can actually help to start to heal at the very least the metabolic issues of CKD and at best the damage that has been done to the kidneys. If you don’t like to read research studies, like I do, just read the conclusion. That is the only part that really matters, lol. You can buy resistant starch right off of Amazon, and make your own baked goods using it. The video is short, but she explains the idea of brown food, or baked diet, as the concept to ultra-processed fiber deprived foods and CKD.

If you would like to learn how to cook your own meals and reduce eating processed meals, plus how to meal plan for when you work, use the contact form at the end of the post to message me and I will talk to you about my health coaching options.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547583/

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/090112p22.shtml This article does not reference CKD but does talk about weight and metabolic issues.

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Meatless Meal #3

Hello, and welcome to another Humpday! I hope this Christmas week 2021 is seeing you healthy and merry! I had shared a couple of weeks ago that I was skeptical about getting the Covid booster shot. I got Moderna, and my daughter got Pfizer the first two shots. I listed why I was skeptical, but on a spur of the moment yesterday, I had to go to Walmart anyway so I decided to see if they could do them. They got us right in and we are both now boosted. I knew I was going to spike a high temp, I always do, my immune system is hyper-responsive apparently. But, I knew some of my friends who don’t usually get high temps did with the booster. So, I was prepared for it. It took about 8 hours but at bedtime, my temp was 103. With CKD you aren’t supposed to take Ibuprofen, and Tylenol is pretty useless against a fever that high. So, instead, I took a baby Aspirin and 2 Extra Strength Tylenol and went to bed. I kept water by my bedside for hydration, which is important with a fever. I woke up once to use the restroom and my temp was still 102 so it didn’t do much. I put a cool cloth in my armpits and went back to bed. This is an old trick we old nurses know. You can put them in the groin area as well and on the forehead. I still had a low-grade temp when I got up this morning, but it is now gone. I had little nausea and a lack of appetite for lunch and dinner yesterday. Interestingly I did not get a sore arm this time. All in all one day of feeling cruddy for extra protection against the scourge of society was worth it.

One of our Christmas week traditions is we drive around and look at Christmas lights. I hope my husband will still want to do this once our last child leaves the nest. We go out to dinner first, and if you have CKD like me, that is always a challenge. This year I am going to eat salad, a meat source, and veggie. I will steer away from potatoes and bread, I hope, lol.

If you were here last week then you know that I am trying to encourage my family to eat two meatless dinners a week. My husband is less than enthused, and my daughter is OK depending on what the nonmeat is. For example, she isn’t going to eat beans plain and simple. So, today I decided to do a meatless lunch. Yes, I am the only one that ate it, but oh well, hopefully, they will come around. I am trying to eat beans at least a few times a week. Lunch is a meal I can make and they can have it or make their own, so they had their own, lol.

My lunch consisted of beans on toast. This is something that a lot of people in England enjoy for breakfast. I always thought what a strange breakfast and for people to actually want it seemed strange to me.

My lunch consisted of 1/2 cup of pork and beans with a sprinkle of brown sugar, Dave’s 22 seed thinly sliced bread, 10 red grapes, 1 cutie mandarin, and a tablespoon of Cool Whip topping. I warmed the beans with the brown sugar then I kind of mashed most of them down like a refried bean consistency. I then spread some of the bean mixture onto the two slices of bread and put them together like a sandwich sliced in half. You can see I sampled it before I took the picture. I have to admit this was very good. I was totally surprised. The rest of the beans I just ate on the plate. I cut all the grapes in half and put the mandarin in the bowl. I sprinkled one sprinkle of salt on them and then the Cool Whip. There is nothing better than sweet and salty. It is a very light salty taste as it is just one shake of the shaker. The bread and cuties were both organic. The grapes are really not that good, probably because they are out of season, but I won’t waste them. This was very filling and should hold me until dinner. If it doesn’t I will have one of my favorite snacks salt and vinegar almonds. If you are a potato chip lover give them a try.

Nutrition info for the above meatless meal: Calories 351, total fat 5 grams, saturated fat 0.5 grams, sodium 641 mg, total carbs 65 grams, fiber 11 grams, net carbs 54 grams, protein 14 grams, vitamin a 10%, vitamin c 33%, calcium 18%, iron 17%

As you can see this is a higher sodium meal if you have CKD try and buy beans with no sodium added. Organic beans should be lower in sodium than non-organic varieties. Or, you could make your own from scratch. Beans and whole-grain slices of bread are higher in phosphorus, so if that is a concern for you be sure and take your phosphorus binders or consult with your doctor about eating these foods first.

I am going to try to avoid any more carbs for today. We will see how that goes. Some days are better than others. I am not Diabetic but I do have a goal to lose baby belly fat that I have been carrying around for many years. Reducing sugar and carbs is the best way to do that.

Let me know what you think. Do you do meatless meals to try to cut down on meat consumption and or your grocery bill? Maybe for better health or environmental reasons.

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