Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge: Week 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week #12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer

Living With CKD Pantry/Food Budget Challenge Start Of Week 4

Hello, and welcome to the start of week 4 of the Pantry/Food Budget Challenge. If you have not been reading along, shame on you, just kidding, maybe, lol. My husband and I have decided for the whole year of 2022 to try a Food Budget Challenge. Right now we still have a lot of pantry items left, but it is dwindling each week. At first, we were just eating out of our pantry and only buying what we absolutely needed. But, then last week it occurred to me that it wasn’t a very good idea to do that, and just buy no groceries. That would put us in a bind for sure. Especially, since I am the only one in my family of three that can very easily go without eating meat. So, I decided to just spend the full 63 dollars each week, and that way not completely run out of everything. This is still a challenge, and I know it is only going to get more challenging, lol.

If I remember correctly last week I only bought a kielbasa and some chicken nuggets for meat. There is still a half bag of chicken nuggets left and the kielbasa. We have cut back on our portions of meat so much, that I am amazed at how long it is lasting. My daughter will only eat processed meats, yuck, or beef. She will eat eggs too. So, she is limiting herself in the protein sources she is getting, though she definitely can get enough from all the cheese she likes. Until I get away from these 12-hour shifts I work I am just relegated to eating at my workplace even though I know it is way over-salted, and processed. I am actively starting to apply at other places because this 12-hour stuff just is not healthy for me.

One more quick note. Last week I discussed coffee, and how important it is to our morning. I do not like cheap coffee, and since my husband went and bought another coffee pot that only takes the pods I am stuck with it. Coffee is extremely expensive right now. After doing some research I found on Amazon that I could get their brand of the breakfast blend, light roast, 100 pods for 24 dollars. That will last us well over 4 weeks. So, we decided that coffee would be our gift to each other every month and will not be counted in the budget. It only comes out to about 6 dollars a week or less, anyways.

One more thing about my husband. He can not eat the same thing more than 2 days in a row, where I could and not even care. So, I have to have variety each week. I told you it was gonna get hard. We ran out of milk on Sunday morning and he thought he was going to die one day without milk until the new week started today.

In the picture below you will see this week’s haul. Some of it is hard to see like the eggs, the large Aldi pizza, behind the bagels, are some tortilla chips, and there are 4 cans of veggies, but my daughter piled them high. Canned veggies are not perfect but they will do on a budget. Be sure and get low sodium if you can, or just drain the liquid and rinse before cooking if you can’t. Asparagus was quite expensive, but my husband asked for it. I could have saved nearly 10 dollars by not buying the chips, corn chips, and pretzels. But, I have to have something for us to snack on in the house. We do have a bunch of crackers that they really need to eat up. Creamer is also almost a luxury at this point. Even at Aldi even though it is half the price of Publix, the bottle is not nearly as big. I did buy meat this week. The chicken thighs had 8 thighs for $5.55. They are not organic and the skin and bone are still there. But, that is easily 4 meals of chicken dinners. The ground beef was $5 dollars a pound and I got two pounds. Honestly, I was kind of disappointed because I can get the organic ground beef for a similar price but they didn’t have any. I split the ground beef up into two 1 pound packages before freezing it. Aldis eggs were not economical at all, either. Eggs are even higher priced. I had to run to Publix to get eggs, and then my daughter decided she wanted some french fries. All in all this week I spent $71 dollars.

I went $8 dollars over budget this week, and while that is certainly not a crisis it is still over budget. I am sure I will be buying tomatoes before the end of this week, so that will be a couple of more dollars. I can not afford organic that is for sure, and I absolutely can not afford to shop at Publix on this budget. I do have several ideas of how maybe I can do more with my hard-earned money. I will try to get my meat from Misfits Market so that I can get organic. No, it is not huge packets of meat for cheap, but it is doable and I prefer organic. I have an account with them, but since I started this challenge have not bought from them. My husband does prefer the taste of organic milk but doesn’t have to have it to be happy. That is good because it is twice the price of non-organic milk. Next week, I don’t have to go to the city where Aldis is, so I am going to try my luck at Save A Lot and possibly the Dollar Tree. I will not eat processed junk, so if it comes to that to stay on the budget something will have to give.

If there is one thing I hope people can take away from all this is that healthy food should not be expensive and shitty food cheap. This is a horrible way for things to be. Nor, should I have to shop at 10 different stores, trying to find the best deals every week. People that have time to do all that is probably not working full-time jobs.

Over the weekend my family ate leftovers and cooked out of the pantry while I was at work. I need to update my pantry list after today’s shop. This is a super important way to keep track of what you have so you can plan meals around your pantry.

Today for lunch we had the Aldis pizza because it wouldn’t fit in the fridge. Keep that in mind if you buy one, they don’t fit. I had one slice of pizza, and a side salad. That pizza had 880 mg of sodium in one large slice. I ate half a slice. That is way too much sodium in one slice of pizza. I didn’t even look at the other nutrition information. For dinner, my husband and daughter will finish the pizza and I will have a leftover pork chop from Friday, and leftover broccoli. I may have a banana, or pretzels for a snack.

Some other meals I have planned for this week are spaghetti and meat sauce, chicken and bacon-wrapped asparagus, and pineapple rice. I have to use up the pineapple I bought a few weeks ago.

Do the best you can do. Try not to buy high sodium, overly processed, and foods with added sugars.

Let me know in the comments if you are joining in the challenge and what success you have had so far. You can leave links to your videos, or websites and I will check them out. I am going to try to do short videos once my husband is not working from home anymore.

Disclaimer

Walking is the best exercise for someone with CKD. Walk with Me!

What Is A Living Will and Do You Need One? Plus More!

Welcome to another Thinking on Thursday topic. As promised I said I would cover topics related to retiring and other Golden Years topics. First off let me state this is my opinion, but if you do some research you will see that my opinion is helped by a lot of legal experts. I think anyone over the age of 20 should have a Living Will. At the end of the post, I will do an update on my pantry and food budget challenge, so there will be a lot of pictures.

We can not discuss if you need a Living Will without a few definitions. First off what is a Living Will? I like to keep things simple, so to put it in a simple way it is a legal document filed with your doctor, family, and anyone else who needs it making it very clear what your wishes are for your medical care should you become terminally ill. What is the definition of a terminal illness? Again, in its simplest form when someone has a terminal illness there is no cure and will cause death. That is a pretty broad statement in my opinion and if you have CKD, like me, they will tell you there is no cure. Now, I think in a lot of states this would be broken down into how long until death is expected, etc. Be sure and follow the guidelines, and understand what a Living Will in your state means.

My husband and I will each be doing a Living Will. Something we should have probably done years ago. But, when you are young you don’t think about such things, like something awful can never ever happen to you.

Again, this is my opinion and my feelings. I have been a nurse for 35 years and I know there are certain things I do not want. For example, I do not want to be kept alive with no quality of life. Quality of Life is a debatable topic, but for me, if I can not do the things I enjoy how and when I want to, I have no quality of life. If I am exhausted all the time, can’t work, can’t exercise or even walk far, am being fed by a machine, am incontinent with someone needing to clean and change me, these are not quality of life for me. If these things were short-term, and by short-term I mean less than 3 months, then I would consider it being rehabilitative, not poor quality of life. Event hat is debatable to me if the expense to do so will be outrageous and put my family in a horrible position of trying to pay just to keep me alive. I have lived an awesome life and while I don’t want to die, I don’t fear death. I do fear no quality of life, however. Dialysis is something I am still on the fence about, especially since I don’t have to confront it yet. It is life-saving, obviously, but I would have to assess my quality of life.

These are the types of things you would need to consider when creating a Living Will and are only examples of myself since I am the best example I can give. A Living Will can be amended or rescinded at any time, so don’t feel like once one is created you can never change your mind, or ask for changes.

Even though creating a Living Will is not something fun to think about, or something that has even crossed your mind, it does take the burden off of loved ones who would be put in the position to have to decide these things should you be terminally ill.

You don’t even need a lawyer. Legal Zoom can assist you, and there may be others. Here in Florida, they provide a sample Living Will you can use, just fill in the areas that need filling in.

Consider the pros and cons talk to your family and then make an informed decision. My family is very aware of how I feel.

Update on the food budget/pantry challenge:

This week we are using up leftovers and a bunch of pantry food items. You will see the labels and ingredients for each item below. I am very disappointed to say that I will not be eating the Stove Top Stuffing as it has HFCS and a lot of sodium, added phosphorus and added sugars. I will eat homemade mashed potatoes instead. Keep reading to learn more.

Tuesday: We had for dinner Dave’s Killer muffins as egg and sausage sandwiches. I like Dave’s products. I like their 22 seed bread better, but this is what I purchased. I did have sausage, egg, and one slice of cheese. I had a large side salad with mine.

Wednesday: I had a board meeting and my husband was going to be late. So, from the pantry, my daughter wanted Campbell’s tomato soup. Unfortunately, I did not read the label until after I had eaten 1 cup. I didn’t even consider that soup would be so bad for me. This soup is full of sodium, added sugar, and I believe added phosphorus. I did not take pics of the label but you can look it up. I almost died when I put it into my food tracker and I had consumed 40 grams of carbs in a 1 cup serving of soup that was not even filling. Good grief! I did have a side salad with it.

Thursday: We had some turkey still leftover from Sunday. So. I put 2 ounces of turkey breast on a spinach and iceberg salad, with some sunflower seeds. Unfortunately, I did not read the label for the Publix salad dressing and much to my dismay it too has a lot of added sugars. I did look up their organic version and it was much better, though you will pay more for that healthier version. I had one Hawaiian roll, again leftover from Sunday, and holy moly look at the food label and ingredients for one tiny roll. That was just lunch, lol. For dinner, I am making some pan-fried organic chicken from my freezer, carrots from a can see the label it is about the only healthy thing I have featured this week other than the organic chicken, and I will have homemade mashed potatoes leftover. My husband and daughter will be having the Cracker Barrel White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. I was going to have that too but look at the label and the ingredients. No thank you!

This week has been an eye-opening week for me with my Pantry Challenge eating with CKD. The Dave’s bread, and the carrots, are the only two pantry items that are even acceptable. HFCS, food additives, preservatives, high-fat content, added sugar, high sodium, added phosphorus in the other items are probably not good for you if you have CKD. They are probably not even good for you if you don’t have CKD. If you do decide to eat any of the foods I mention at the very least eat only one portion or even half a portion. Always discuss food options with your doctor or dietitian, if you are even lucky enough to have a dietitian.

That is it for today. I hope you are all enjoying my budget/pantry food challenge. Let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer

Living With CKD: Pantry/Food Budget Challenge Week 3

Hello, hello! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend! It is freezing here in Florida right now and my Buffalo Bills lost. So, I am kind of sad today. But, don’t worry it’s alright.

Today begins week 3 of the budget/pantry challenge for my family of 3 at home. The budget is 63 dollars per week, and I hope to do it all year and save lots of money for projects I want to do. Part of the goal is also to see if having CKD limits me from eating convenient or pantry-type meals. We ate a lot from our pantry last week, and then I thought why would I eat everything and then start buying? So, this week I took a different strategy. I planned on spending the whole 63 dollars to replenish some of the fresh stuff we had eaten, and other items that we like. Meat, especially organic meat is going to be our biggest expense. I did buy some cheaper fewer quality meats this week, but I will probably have eggs or a meatless night, instead on those nights. I only list what I eat for breakfast and lunch, and what we all eat for dinner.

I have come to the conclusion that it is just easier for me to eat at work on my 12 hour days. They let us eat for free and I will just have to pick the healthiest option. I only work two days a week, so it should be fine. Yesterday, my husband made the extra turkey from Thanksgiving, used up the rest of the fresh potatoes, and green beans from the pantry. My son and dil were here to enjoy the meal. They did well and did not purchase anything extra as I asked them not to do.

Today, I went to Aldis and Publix to get my 63 dollars worth of groceries. I honestly would just avoid Publix right now because prices are so high, but we had a coupon for a specific coffee that my husband wanted, and Aldis had no coffee creamer. Coffee and creamer are kind of like luxuries in this challenge because they are so expensive. We have one of those k-pod coffee makers, so it is even more. I spent $43.97 at Aldis and $20.06 at Publix. For a total of $64.06 which is obviously over budget, but I did not account for tax in the budget. The budget is for food items only. You can see everything I bought in the image below. I recorded all the new items on my inventory spreadsheet and deducted the things used over the weekend. We still have a good supply of food.

For breakfast, I had one of my Quest protein bars that I already have a ton of. I do not like these at all, but I bought them, so they must be eaten. For lunch, I had 1 ounce of corn chips, a tuna pouch with 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, onion, and tomatoes. Plus a dill pickle. For dinner, I am having leftover turkey breast, 4 ounces of mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup of green beans, and a side lettuce salad. Yes, I am doing low carb again. The mashed potatoes are homemade so no additives or preservatives.

That is it, for today. Come back throughout the week to see what else we had from the pantry. The pantry includes fresh, frozen, and canned or convenient meals. Let me know in the comments if you are trying either the budget challenge or the pantry challenge with CKD.

Disclaimer

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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Recreating A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Feast!

Welcome, to another Throwback Thursday topic. I am probably going to extend my Dementia topic into the month of December because there are so many topics I want to cover that center around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you are in your 50’s or older you most likely watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every single year. I know I did, and I watched it with my children as well. Sometimes it is hard to find, which is a shame, and I have to watch it on Youtube. This year it will not be on CBS, it will be on PBS on November 20th. Be sure and find your local PBS station and mark your calendar.

If you read my blog pretty consistently then you know I have started a family cook-off-night competition. We do this every two weeks on a Monday. There are several reasons I started doing this, such as family fun, we homeschool and it gets my daughter in the kitchen and can count as an elective credit, we learn creativity and budget planning. My husband has already picked the theme for his judging turn and it will be this coming Monday. That means it is my turn on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Guess what my theme will be?

You probably have noticed that food prices are higher, and the news is starting to report that there may not be enough turkeys for Thanksgiving or maybe not as big ones. I know we get stuck on our traditional foods for holidays, but would that really be such a tragedy? Would it be so bad to just be thankful for being with family and the ones you love? Should it really matter if you don’t have a 4,000 calorie day of eating? I am not sure, let’s think about it. I think my husband would be devastated as Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday. But, I also think there is a lot to be said about being humble, and grateful for what you have rather than what you want. Is this the year we all consider the real meaning of Thanksgiving, and maybe it isn’t a gargantuan meal? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

So, what about the meal created in Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal. What kind of nutrition does it have? According to this website, the meal contains around 500 calories and nearly 100 grams of carbs. Of course, you could eat more and increase the calories. But, what about a modern version of this meal. Could it be made healthier while sticking to the basic premise of the meal? That is the question and will be the theme of my next family cook-off challenge, on November 20th, which coincidentally is the same day the special will air. I will definitely take pictures this time to share on the blog. Technically, if you think about it, on the show they all end up going to grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner, so this could technically be an appetizer. That is something to think about, too. Below are two videos of people that have recreated the dinner. One is very traditional and the other puts a little more effort into making it homemade. Be sure and check them out.

If you would like to join in on this challenge be sure and share a link in the comments to your post, or video, so everyone can see your results. I will read, view, and share anyone who comments on their results, or thoughts. Please do not spam me. All comments are moderated and spam never shows up here on this blog, so don’t waste your time.

Have fun with this one! If you are a homeschooler like me, this is a great activity to do with your kiddos, young or old. Bonus points if you set the table the same way as in the show. You do not have to do it the same day I do, any day in the month of November is fine.

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