14 days of gratitude: Day 14 Happy thanksgiving and meal prep low carb

Updated 11/20/2021: I will be Black Friday shopping for the first time in 2021. I have shopped on Thanksgiving eve before, but this year the Bills are playing and most stores are closed, I think. My daughter wants to do it this year to get her gifts picked. I won’t do Door Busters, or 5 AM type shopping, though. I don’t think she will even be out of bed if she wanted to.

Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I am grateful for so many things. I woke up, the weather is cool enough to have the windows open to keep it well ventilated in the house. I am grateful for all of you, my readers, who read my posts. My traffic and followers have exploded this year. I just started paid advertising on Facebook and had my first lead yesterday. I am so grateful for that. Even though the potential client needed something I could not offer it was great to have a lead. I get leads from Pinterest too, but they are nonsense, just men looking for something other than coaching. They kind of waste my time, but I am grateful for the practice of the communication. I am grateful for my job, my husband’s job, and my son and his new wife are still employed. So many people are not and they are having it hard this holiday. Long food lines of people need food and other items just to sustain themselves and their families. If you can help a family in need I implore you to do so. We have donated to a few food groups this year and will continue to do so. There is always a need, but this year it is so much more. Don’t forget about furry family members too. When money is tight they often can go hungry too. Please read my reminder tips below to stay safe and healthy today. These are simple things we are doing to be together and be safe.

First, as I promised I will share the homemade cream of mushroom condensed soup for the green bean casserole. I actually didn’t get to it until this morning, but it was super fast and easy. Plus, it is so delicious, I mean super delicious. This is not low carb, but really it uses only a minimal amount of flour, and you could use coconut or almond flour. My husband hates almond flour, and I do not have coconut flour on hand. If you choose to use either of those be sure and research how the consistency will come out. I used this recipe, and modified it as follows. I did not have onion powder so I just added fresh minced onions. I use canned mushrooms because I prefer them. I also had no celery salt. I thought I had celery seeds, but apparently, my daughter disposed of them and did not tell me. So, I just left that out. I also used chicken stock instead of vegetable broth because that is what I had. I added less salt than the recipe called for and more pepper. This is so much lower in sodium than the canned stuff. I simply put it in the fridge until I am ready for it. Be sure to drain and rinse your mushrooms if you choose to use canned like I did. You could literally use this same recipe to make condensed cream of anything soups and it would be so much healthier. I could probably use it for sausage and gravy too.

Last evening I started watching some Keto videos on Youtube. Now, I am not Keto, I am 70-100 grams of carbs per day. I don’t want to be Keto, either. I don’t want all of that fat. However, they had some really good tips on following a low carb lifestyle. Diabetics and people who are obese probably are already trying to live a low-carb lifestyle. I will share a video from each of them, and you could check them out at your leisure. The first woman, I really liked how she made sweet potato casserole using butternut squash and cauliflower. I wish I had seen this video a week ago.

If you don’t have an Instapot, they are awesome! I did so much of my prep last night which will save me a ton of time today. I put my peeled potatoes, and one carrot in there. The potatoes will be for mashed potatoes for my family, and the carrot will be mixed with a quarter cup of sweet potatoes for me. I do not make sweet potato casserole with all of the marshmallows. No one likes it that way. I just add butter and some brown sugar and that is it. I also put a whole head of cauliflower in the Instapot and then mashed it all up. This will be my mashed potatoes. At first, it was just blah, but I added a little butter, garlic, lemon pepper seasoning, and the kicker was a tablespoon of ranch-flavored sour cream. The sour cream is what made it creamy just like mashed potatoes. It was so good I wanted to eat it last night. A whole head of cauliflower has quite a bit of potassium and protein, plus phosphorus. So, be sure and limit it to a half-cup serving at a time. I also cooked my macaroni, for the mac n cheese. I set aside a 1 cup portion for me and I will use coconut milk and cheese in mine. Everyone else’s will have evaporated milk and cheese. This is literally everyone’s favorite dish. I add seasonings to taste. I will be making homemade gravy this year to save on sodium. My husband decided to cook his mom’s homemade stuffing. He puts it in the bird, and I don’t like stuffing like that. He did leave me a little to bake for myself. My apple pie and ice cream definitely won’t be low carb, nor will the Hawaiian rolls. But, the second Keto lady I like on Youtube has some awesome low-carb biscuits that I will definitely try in the future. I noticed Keto people eat a lot of beef. This will not be me. I prefer to not consume too much red meat. I am a chicken and turkey kind of girl,

My safety tips for Covid and Thanksgiving:

1- Check temps of anyone who comes over

2- Limit the size of people gathering to 10 or less even.

3- Have the windows open, fans on and keep the home well ventilated, or eat outdoors plus outdoor activities.

4- No hugging, kissing, or handshaking. I know this one is hard.

5- Keep 6 feet a part as much as possible and don’t eat close together.

6- Say your prayer without holding hands.

7- I have gloves that everyone will wear when plating their food, then the gloves are removed and hands sanitized before eating. If seconds are needed new gloves are to be worn and follow the same procedure.

8- Limit the amount of people in the kitchen.

9- Wear masks if you can’t be outside, or socially distanced.

10- Disinfect before company arrives, after they leave, and in between as needed, especially high touched surfaces.

11- This last one is the most difficult. Don’t travel if you can avoid it this year, consider having elderly relatives not attend, or anyone with a compromised immune system. The Covid is especially dangerous for them. If you have a baby less than 30 days old, it might be a good idea to stay away from that family member as well.

I hope everyone will be safe and healthy. These are just suggestions and things we will be doing. I am in no way saying that it means you or your loved ones will not get sick. But, I am saying it helps.


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14 days of Gratitude: Day 12, Plus My Dollar tree food challenge and a few updates

Updated 11/20/2021: We are almost to Thanksgiving 2021. Have you been practicing being Grateful? I have!

Welcome to Tuesday! I hope everyone is having an amazing day. I am so loving the weather in Florida right now. 70’s during the day, and 50s at night. Windows can be open, fans in the window. I love it!

Thanksgiving is 2 days away, and it will be much different this year, but I will post more about that on Thanksgiving. But, I am doing so food prep today. This year I am making homemade stuffing, check back Thursday to see how that went, homemade apple pie, again check back, and I am making homemade cream of mushroom condensed soup. It is super easy, and I am hoping super delicious. That of course will be for the green bean casserole. I am making that later today, and will share the recipe and results tomorrow.

Today, I am grateful for my car. For many years, like 15, we had only one vehicle to save money. I worked night shift, and my husband worked the day shift. It was hard, but it worked and it saved us a ton of money. It allowed me to work less and homeschool my kids, basically on one income, and a quarter. I was so happy, though, when we were able to buy a second car. I do not take my car for granted, and I protect it like it is gold. Because in a lot of regards it is. I hate working the night shift and I never want to do it again. I can shop, or take my daughter places without issues. I am so very grateful for that. If you live where you can access the bus or an Uber, then a car might not be important. We are very rural and have no access to any of those options.

Today, is Dollar Tree Food Challenge Day. You may have seen some of these on Youtube from other people. Mine is different. I am not going to buy 20 dollars worth of Dollar Tree food and then try to make meals out of it. But, each week, or so, I will buy two items and then compare them to each other, and taste them. Some I even eat completely. This week I chose Baker’s Best soft pretzels and Arctic Classic Cookies N Cream.

First, the pretzels. You can put these in a microwave, but since I don’t own one we baked them. You can see the ingredients below, but honestly I was impressed by the ingredients list. They have less than 1 gram of sugars and added sugars. That is impressive. I left the salt off of one pretzel for me, because I knew these were going to be salty. These were delicious and exactly what I expected a soft baked pretzel to taste like. There are six in a box, for a dollar, and to me, this is a steal of an item from the Dollar Tree. My daughter and husband love these. My daughter dips them in melted butter, and my husband dips them in mustard. I don’t dip, lol.

Now, for the Arctic Classic Cookies N Cream. On the label it says it is a frozen dairy dessert. I grew up in the ’80s and this tastes like Ice Milk that we used to get. It honestly was not awful, but definitely not like ice cream. I only ate a few teaspoons, because if you look at the ingredients the second ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup. So, I simply was not going to eat this. It was only a dollar so I don’t feel horrible throwing it away, but my husband might not mind the HFCS. I left it to see if he wanted it. I guess I could put it in very small amounts in a smoothie, but I honestly don’t even think I would do that.

You can see both product pics below.

I have a couple more updates. My Rosemary Challenge is almost over. I am so thrilled that I added this herb to my cooking skills. I do find I do not care for it on meats, but it really adds awesome flavor to veggies. In the image below is what I ate for dinner last night. I added Rosemary and Lemon Pepper seasoning to the steamed veggies and it was so delicious. Check out that adorable plate I found at Hobby Lobby. I bought the whole set. I don’t switch out for the seasons, we just use them all year. I can’t afford that kind of nonsense, and even if I could I wouldn’t bother. That plate is 8 inches across. I try to always eat on those as it keeps my portions in check. There are large ones, too. The mashed potato serving is only 1/4 of a cup, keeping my carbs in check, and the chicken thigh was 3 ounces even. I weigh all of my meats, and try to eat 2-4 ounce portion sizes. This keeps my protein in check and allows me to still eat low-carb and not get too much protein for my kidneys. I have been really bad about my carbs lately. I have not gained any weight, and have maintained the 11 pounds lost. But, I need to lose more, so I need to pay more attention. Remember I eat 70-100 mg of Carbs per day. That is Low Carb, not Keto. Keto can be very dangerous for anyone with Kidney Disease. I eat a ton of veggies. Update 11/20/2021: Since this post, I have lost 20 pounds and have managed to maintain plus or minus 2 pounds.

If you would like to work with a Health Coach to learn more about eating Low Carb, making meals to fit into your needs, or any other Health needs, please use the contact form after all of the images to message me.


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14 Days of gratitude: days 9 and 10 plus some food and a video

Updated 11/19/2021: I am really grateful for Grammarly as I update my posts and see the mistakes I made, lol.

My internet would not cooperate yesterday, so I have to do days 9 and 10 today.

Yesterday, I was grateful for my husband. While not perfect, none of us are, he is a good man and a good husband. He works hard, likes to laugh, and loves his children. As a wife, those are the things I am most grateful for. But, before I was his wife, I could tell he was kind, smart, driven, a great friend, loyal, and family was important to him. I am grateful to him every day.

Today, I am grateful for my children. I have a boy and a girl. I have homeschooled my children ever since 2007. I have graduated one and the other is almost there. That chapter in my life will soon be over. Even though I have been their teacher all these years, they have taught me so much. I am grateful I was blessed with the gift of motherhood.

If you have been following along then you know a lot of my gratitude has been about Nature. I found this old TedX talk on Youtube about gratitude and nature. I encourage you to watch it.

Yesterday, I made the Hillbilly Casserole. It was good and definitely affordable. Not especially healthy, though. Come back tomorrow and I will share the very easy recipe.

Today, my family is having cheeseburgers and the box of mac n cheese that didn’t get eaten last week. There is still salad in there if they choose to have it, or other veggies. We also have some homemade pizza left from Friday. I will share that easy recipe also, tomorrow. It was also definitely affordable. I will be taking some of the leftover pork and beans I made last week, along with Hillbilly Casserole to work. I think the pork and beans will add a little more health to the Hillbilly Casserole.

I hope everyone has a blessed Sunday. Has anyone started Christmas shopping yet? I have. I don’t want to be in the stores with a ton of shoppers during Covid.


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14 days of gratitude: Day 8 and my 50 dollar food budget

Updated 11/12/2021: In January of 2021 we sat down and figured out our budget the Dave Ramsey way. Our budget is $528 dollars per month for groceries using that method. Some months it doesn’t go so well. Still working at it, lol. I have to say the easiest way to save money on groceries is to use the pickup option. I order online and then pick it up. There is no impulse buying and teenagers picking up things we don’t need. Now, sometimes I actually have to go inside a store.

Yay, Friday! I am happy you are here. Before I get to the two things annoying me today I will write what I am grateful for, LOL. I truly am a grateful person and do not like to complain, but I may not always show my gratefulness which I assume would apply to most people. Today’s prompt is, name one thing I learned from my mother that I am grateful for. I hate these one thing prompts. There are so many things I have learned from my mom. But, since I have to pick one it would be how to be frugal. Now, that does not mean I have always listened very well, lol. As you will see below going back to a strict budget is proving not so easy for me and my family. We have always lived on a budget, but when you have more money you spend more money, and we are no exception to that rule. But, I grew up fairly poor, and my mom was excellent at being frugal, finding deals, stretching a dollar, and saving even with meager amounts of money. I am so grateful all of that information is stored in my brain and I truly want to teach my daughter how to be more frugal and buy what you need and save for what you want. It is so hard, especially for a teenager.

So, my 50 dollar for a week of groceries did not go well for this next week, and I can blame Thanksgiving for that. Now, with that said a lot of the stuff I bought can be carried over into the second week of the budget, as we get paid every two weeks, mainly because there will be a ton of leftovers from Thanksgiving. So, I am hoping it will even out.

I have a few gripes today in reference to things that were supposed to save me money. First Amazon Prime Pantry. We signed up for this and pay for a reason, two day shipping. I made my list the other day and this morning went to place the order. My items, a lot that I needed for Thanksgiving were not going to arrive until probably the day after Thanksgiving. Even if they came on Wednesday that is 5 days to delivery, not 2. I do not appreciate paying for a service and then I don’t get to receive the benefits of the service I am paying for. So, I had to take all of those items out of my cart, and left only the items for the second week of my budget. Amazon is in my not happy bucket today. Now, I could see if it was a true emergency, but Thanksgiving is the same day every year, and Covid has been here for 9 months, so I am not accepting those lame excuses. My second complaint today is for Ibotta. They were offering a free refund on Thanksgiving items that I intended to purchase and donate. But, of course, Ibotta would not load yesterday, or today, so I didn’t get to take advantage of that either. I have stopped using Ibotta before due to it not working properly and well that may happen again. There, now I am done complaining.

My first week menu starts tomorrow, 11/21, and goes until 11/27. I also purchased my two Dollar Tree items for my challenge next week. For this first week, I spent 83.68, and yes that is obviously over 50 dollars, but like I said a lot of the items will roll over into the second week in leftovers. For the second week, I have already spent 17.71 Save A Lot had the better deals, but not by a whole lot over Walmart. Just a few cents difference for most items and Save A Lot does not always have everything I need. Remember, my 50 dollar a week food budget is for food items only. It does not include non-food items. After Christmas, I hope to be able to sit down and make a budget for non-food items we use.

I wanted to share a recipe I made yesterday that was very affordable and will feed me and my husband for several meals. I had leftover pork ribs from Wednesday’s meal. You guys that was such a bargain, We have already had the ribs for 2 meals and lunch, and I was able to freeze 3 of the ribs for the next time I make this bean recipe. So, while the ribs were 10 dollars when you get several meals and then some out of the meat it really was a steal. In my crockpot, I put a can of black beans rinsed, and a can of Cannellini beans rinsed. Now, you don’t have to rinse them, but it gets rid of some of the sodium and I don’t generally like the sauce. Then I added about a 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce and a 1/2 cup of Italian dressing. I also threw in some pearl onions because I needed to use them up. Plus, one of the ribs that were leftover, bone and all. Then I put it on low for 8 hours. You guys this was so delicious. My husband loved it and had it again for lunch. If you have CKD like me be sure and not to eat the sauce, or as little as possible. Slow cooking your food helps decrease the phosphorus in the foods and releases it into the juices. I only eat a 1/4 cup at a time, and I put it over a 1/2 cup of masked potatoes. I had a simple side salad of lettuce, green onions, and some sunflower seeds. Try this delicious, simple, affordable recipe. The cans of beans were less than 80 cents apiece and I already had the other ingredients on hand. Eating beans is a great way to reduce your meat budget and still get protein.

Below you will see everything I bought for this weeks menu plan. I could have saved at least 10 dollars by using the stuffing I had already purchased, but my husband wanted me to make his mother’s homemade stuffing. So, I had to buy all of those ingredients. Plus, the pure maple syrup for the turkey was 7 dollars. So, that is actually 17 dollars I could have saved. But, my husband likes to make his turkey that way. I thought we still had some but did not. Sorry, my clean dishes are in a part of the shot. I wanted to get everything in one shot and my teen still hadn’t put dishes away.

Menu for 11/21-11/27/2020:

Saturday: Leftover homemade pizza for lunch and Hillbilly Casserole for dinner. Come back Monday and I will tell you how we liked both of those.

Sunday: Cheeseburgers and a side, probably Mac n cheese, fruit, or a veggie.

Monday: Chicken and broccoli. I think I have a jar of Alfredo sauce so we could have that over pasta. Or, it could be a completely low carb meal.

Tuesday: Tuesday is our busiest day of the week, every week. So, I like something fast and simple. I am sure there will still be the homemade pork and beans, or we could have grilled cheese and tomato soup, or breakfast for dinner.

Wednesday: Cheese ravioli, bread and butter and a side salad

Thursday: Thanksgiving, yay gobble til you wobble.

Friday: Leftovers of course


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

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

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

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

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

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

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14 Days of Gratitude: Day 6 and My Dollar Tree Food Challenge

Updated 10/28/2021

Before I begin I want to explain my Dollar Tree Food Challenge. I have been watching different food challenges on Youtube. It is obvious you can eat at Dollar Tree. For my challenge, I wanted to compare two different foods and the nutritional value, as well as taste and overall value. I am unsure of how many places actually only offer Dollar Tree food options as a choice to eat. The two Dollar Trees that I frequent are within feet or a mile of other grocery stores where prices are very affordable and have healthier options. So, I simply don’t understand why someone would choose to eat Dollar Tree foods if you don’t need to. I find their serving sizes for a dollar to be higher than you could get the same at another store, or make your own. See my results below.

Today is day 6 of my 14 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Today’s prompt is, something I am grateful for today. Today, and probably every day I am very grateful for the internet and my smartphone. While our internet provider is not as fast as my son’s who lives in a bigger college city, it is faster than my mom’s in the sticks. Most of the time she can’t even get a signal on her phone to access the internet and her computer is slow. I can’t believe in 2020 in the USA that people still don’t have access to affordable good internet service. It just baffles me. Without the internet, it would be very difficult to find good information, and studies on CKD and other topics for this blog. Of course, this blog probably wouldn’t even exist. Having good information, quickly, right at the tips of my fingers is something I am extremely grateful for.

Now for the Dollar Tree Food Challenge. I compared Celeste pizza for one, to a can of peas. What I was looking for was comparable protein per serving size, and then all of the other nutritional info especially in relation to CKD.

First, the pizza. I am not a fan of frozen pizza to begin with but I picked it because per serving of one pizza there are 9 grams of protein. That is actually a pretty small amount of protein for a food item with sausage and cheese on it. I only ate half of this small pizza and gave the other half to my husband. So, I ate 4.5 grams of protein. The whole pizza which is about the size of 2 normal size pieces of pizza, there is 360 calories, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, a whopping 730 mg of Sodium, 47 grams of Carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugars, Calcium 8% of DV, Iron 15% of DV, and Potassium 2% DV. The ingredient list is so long it is ridiculous. The cheese is not real, and it has added Phosphorus as most processed foods do. So, from a CKD perspective, this is a horrible food choice. The sodium alone is 32% of DV, and the added phosphorus in this meal would be 100% absorbed by the body. While I could not locate this particular pizza on Eat This Much, similar pizzas have 22% of the DV of phosphorus per serving. On top of all that, it had a very chemical taste to it to me, and was not even enjoyable or filling. This is not something I personally would choose to consume again.

Now, compare the can of peas. First of all, it has only 4 ingredients, peas, water, sugar, and salt. That right there already makes this a better food option. Comparing the protein to the pizza, the peas per 1/2 cup serving size have 4 grams of protein. That is almost exactly half of the Celeste pizza. Plus peas are loaded with other nutritional items and is real food, not fake manufactured food. Per 1/2 cup the peas are 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, sodium is 290 mg, Carbs 11 grams, Fiber 3 grams, Sugars 4 grams, Vitamin A 6% DV, Vitamin C 10%, Calcium 2%, Iron 6%, Phosphorus 8% DV. You can’t change the sodium content of the pizza, but by rinsing the peas twice, you can greatly reduce the amount of sodium in the peas. Add butter, margarine, or other seasonings to flavor your peas and this is a much healthier food option from Dollar Tree. I will eat the peas with my dinner meal tonight. If they taste gross I will let you know, but I am doubting canned peas are going to taste like anything other than canned peas.

You can see the images below with the ingredients and nutrition labels. I am not picking on Dollar Tree or Celeste pizza. My only goal is to inform. There is obviously a market for these foods or they wouldn’t offer them. But, I do think it should raise concerns if people really only have a Dollar Tree to purchase food items from, and some of their items I could have purchased cheaper elsewhere.

Learning to read nutrition and ingredients on labels can help you eat smarter and healthier, especially if you have CKD or any other Chronic Disease. If you would like to learn about me and my Health Coaching services, use the contact form after all of the images to message me for a free email meet and greet.


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14 days of gratitude day 5 and Basket App

Happy Tuesday! OMG it is only in the 70’s today and I love it! This is my kind of weather. Today’s prompt for the 14 Days of Gratitude Challenge is: something I didn’t have last year that I do have this year.

So, I guess I can’t really say I have this as I don’t own it, but I definitely didn’t have it last year. In January of this year my teenage daughter and I started volunteering at a local dog rescue. We go every Tuesday morning and it has added so many rewards to both of our lives. I am grateful I took a chance on a lesser known rescue, for all the amazing dogs we have got to meet, and all of the other wonderful volunteers. This is not our first time volunteering somewhere. I encourage my children to volunteer. My husband is a volunteer firefighter and it is so important to stress the importance of giving back to our local communities. My children are very different in personality, so we have volunteered at different places in different ways. I am so grateful for the experience and lessons we have learned. I highly encourage you to volunteer especially with your children. You won’t be sorry. Plus, we get tons of fresh air and exercise.

I found the best app I have ever used, the other day. Basket is an app that compares prices for items you want to buy showing where the lowest price is. I went into Dollar General today intending to get Breyer’s ice cream for 4 dollars a gallon. Unfortunately, it was all sold out. But, I found a huge tub of vanilla ice cream for only a dollar more. So, I bought that. It wasn’t Breyer’s but my family doesn’t care the brand of the ice cream. This is for Thanksgiving pie. I used the app to compare prices at Dollar General and other stores I would shop at and was able to get my green beans, brown sugar, pasta, and evaporated milk all for less than Walmart was offering. I have spent 15.30 out of my 50 dollar budget for this next week, but I got 25 cents refunded from Ibotta, so I only spent 15.05 so far. I must add we already got our turkey weeks ago, so that was in a different weekly budget. Ibotta is another great app, though sometimes I find it quite annoying. If you are buying a lot of food the receipt will be too large, and I have had items denied. Keep your receipt if you are denied so you can fix whatever they say is the issue and get your refund. So, I still have 34.95 left in next week’s food budget.

We were supposed to have ravioli tonight, but everyone is tired of pasta and sauce after 3 days of ziti. So, we are saving the ravioli and having hot dogs and mac n cheese. I probably will have a hot dog and tomatoes on the side, as I need more protein today, but not more carbs. Remember, I am low carb.

Another note about Ibotta, they are offering Thanksgiving dinner for free. I looked at it, and added the items to my list, I mean free. The catch is we will be donating all of this food to my mother as she will most likely not come to Thanksgiving dinner, and I don’t blame her, due to Covid safety issues. So, this will be small enough for her to make herself and share with her pups and kitties. We do self checkout so I will just do a separate receipt. This is offered at a variety of stores through Ibotta.

If you would like to learn about using my Health Coaching service to help you learn about budgeting, living with CKD, managing chronic illnesses, low carb, etc, use the contact form below the images to message me for a free email meet and greet.



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

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

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

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

1- Ravioli, sauce, bread, veggie

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

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

4- French toast with bacon

5- Breakfast pizza

6- Homemade pizza

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

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

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

10- Vegetarian chili

11- Grilled cheese and tomato soup

12- Chicken caesar salad

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

14- Chicken pot pie Fettucine or just chicken pot pie

15- Chicken alfredo

16- Chicken or pork fried rice

17- Mexican beef and rice sometimes called Spanish rice

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

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

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

21- Broccoli, rice, and sausage casserole

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

23- Ziti

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

25- Chicken and biscuits, add veggie of your choice

26- Tuna noodle casserole with peas or green beans

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

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

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

30- Bagel pizzas or English muffin pizzas

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

32- Italian mac n cheese

33- Pasta carbonara

34- Barbecue black-eyed peas, or black beans

35- Baked eggs in ham cups

36- Baked beans

37- Shepherds pie

38- Vegetable polenta casserole

39- Beef or mushroom stroganoff

40- Lemon chicken and pasta with a veggie of choice

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

42- Fried rice with or without meat

43- Sesame chicken or pork over rice with a veggie

44- Chicken cacciatore

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

46- BLT

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

48- Chicken fajita casserole

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

50- Pasta salad with or without meat

51- Potato salad with egg

52- Macaroni salad with egg or tuna

53- Pulled pork or chicken sandwiches with a veggie side

54- Veggie and potato frittata

55- Vegetable oven fajita casserole.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday: Sweet and sour pork with rice and a veggie

Thursday: leftovers from Wednesday

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

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


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14 days of gratitude: Day 3

Happy Sunday! Today is our last warm day here, as it is going to get pretty chilly over this next week. I hope that doesn’t mean it will b super hot for Thanksgiving. While that would make it easier to have an outdoor Thanksgiving, it makes baking a turkey all day awful. Plus, we would need the AC on as opposed to having the windows open.

Today is day 3 of my 14 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Are you joining in? Leave me a comment to let me know and where your posts are written so I can check them out, if you have a blog. Today’s prompt is, what is your favorite sound?

I have very sensitive hearing so sometimes it is easier for me to tell the sounds that annoy me as there are many. Like dripping water drives me nuts. Snapping fingers, loud chewing are a few others that I can not stand. But, sensitive hearing is also a blessing as I notice things others may not. I hear the birds every morning, even when the windows are closed. I have a family of Cardinals that live in our trees, and visit the feeder twice a day. They wake me up every morning. I love to hear the birds, and it is even more fun to learn which birds make which noises. I love nature noises in general such as waves, light rain, animal sounds in general, etc. You may have been able to guess this if you have been following along, lol. I am grateful for my sensitive hearing, most of the time, lol.

What is your favorite sound and why are you grateful for it? If you would like to learn more about gratitude journaling and how it can help you live a more balanced, happy life, use the contact form after the images to message me for a free email meet and greet. There is no obligation to purchase anything, and all information is confidential. Check out the lovely journal below that you can purchase to start your journaling journey.


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14 days of Gratitude: Day 2 and the outdoor christmas tree

Happy Saturday! I am happy you are here. Today is day 2 of my 14 days of gratitude journaling challenge. Did you do day 1? Today’s prompt is: What is your favorite scents? Now it was meant to be scent as in one, but unfortunately I can not pick just one. So, I made it scents. While I love a lot of scents I definitely have some favorites. I like scents in candles and air fresheners, but they aren’t really natural scents. So, I am sticking with natural scents.

My most favorite natural scents:

1-Apple cinnamon They can be separate but I especially love them together.

2- Jasmine


4- Peppermint

5- Fresh crisp clean air, usually in Fall when it is dry and lovely.

I am grateful I can smell these lovely things. I have a sister who can not smell at all. I feel so bad for her, not that she complains. I am so sensitive to smell that I can not cook meals overnight in the crockpot like some lucky ladies can. I will smell it all night and it will keep me awake, lol. I also had to stop using my diffuser at night as the smells would disturb my sleep. So weird, lol!

What are your favorite scents? Think about it and write them down. If you are not sure go on a smell testing adventure, and then be grateful you discovered them.

Today, for Self Care Saturday, I am sharing a post I found on Pinterest about the Outdoor Christmas Tree. We had done a variety of this many years ago when my kids were small using pine cones. We put them on our porch to better see the birds. But, what a lovely idea of decorating a tree just for our feathered friends. We have Palm Trees in our yard, not exactly a traditional Christmas Tree, but we can easily see them. We also have some evergreen trees on the edges of the yard. We could decorate them too as the birds love those trees, but we just won’t be able to bird watch as well. I probably won’t do this until closer to Christmas because the end of December, January, and February is when we really get tons of birds visiting. I will be sure and share a picture when we do it and maybe some birds visiting too. I will try a video. You can read how to do an Outdoor Christmas Tree, here. You may be wondering how this is Self Care. Well, for two reasons. 1- You are being kind to nature, and 2- through the beauty of watching the birds that will visit you may find peace and relaxation. I know I do.

Starting the day after Thanksgiving I will be sharing gift-giving ideas that will be geared towards people with CKD. They will not be affiliate links, just things I find and love myself, or have added to my list. Be sure to watch for that.


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