Keto on the Cheap: First Pay Period Food Costs

One of my goals with my keto reset has been getting a handle on food costs.  So often, I hear things like, “Keto is so expensive! I could never afford to do that.” In reality though, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and I hope to illustrate that over the coming weeks.

When I first designed this challenge for myself, I set a grocery budget of $150 per week.  Since we get paid every two weeks, that means that to meet my goal, we need to have spent less than $300.

So how did we do? Well, we spent $317.96 last pay period, so we didn’t quite make the goal.  That being said, I’m still ecstatic because I can’t remember the last time we spent that little money on groceries.  What’s more, we only spent $13.90 eating out which is also an amazing improvement over the pattern we’d established for ourselves.

To give everyone some context, there are five of us in the household.  My 11-year-old son and I are the only ones eating low-carb; my husband, my 14-year-old son, and my 17-year-old daughter are not.

As I look back at the grocery expenses, there are some places where we could do better.  We spent $10 on ice cream (before I had started my challenge), we spent $10 on sushi, and we probably spent about $30 on diet soda.  (It’s store brand soda, but that’s still a LOT of money to spend on zero-calorie beverages. That’s 10% of my budget.) Lastly, $17.49 funded my 14-year-old’s school meal plan for September.

You can see that there’s room for improvement, definitely, but overall, I’m pretty happy about the first pay period.i

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Blind Lady Anecdotes: Feeling Green

At some point in the early ‘90s, I decided to make a batch of peanut butter cookies.  I had a recipe that was amazing, and I thought that the family would appreciate some home baked cookies, so I started making them.

Unbeknownst to me, my dad wasn’t feeling well.  He was having some sort of stomach trouble, and the smell of the cookies was making him feel worse.  He came out into the kitchen to talk with me about it, and out of nowhere, he asked, “Why are those cookies green?”

I was confused.  “What do you mean, green?”

He answered, “I mean they’re GREEN.  They’re very, very GREEN.” Then he walked away disgusted.

Apparently while making the cookie dough, I grabbed the bottle that I thought was vanilla.  With my limited vision, it looked like vanilla, and of course, it was shaped like a vanilla bottle so I thought I was good.  For some dumb reason that I’ll never understand to this day, I didn’t smell it though; I just added an entire teaspoon of green food coloring to my cookie dough!

Honestly, if Dad hadn’t told me that the cookies were green, I never would have known.  They tasted great, Of course, Dad was put off by the color, and as I recall, the rest of my family was concerned too.  As I recall though, my siblings helped me eat the cookies and we all got a great laugh out of the whole thing.

Needless to say, I ALWAYS smell the vanilla before I add it to my recipes now.

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New “Blind Lady Anecdotes” Series

In August, I  started writing a book.  I love to write, and I’ve dreamed about writing my own book since I was in middle school.  Until recently though, my problem had been inspiration. I couldn’t think of anything that I thought would interest other folks.

Fast forward to August.  I was sharing one of my humorous “blind lady anecdotes” with friends when it hit me.  I could make a compilation of these stories and publish it for folks to enjoy. After discussing it with family, I decided to start writing.

I have already immortalized a number of these short stories in the cloud for future editing and publication, but yesterday, I got to thinking.  What if I published a few of these stories on my blog? In doing that, I could get some interest going and maintain extra content for other endeavors (like ebooks or a members’ area on my blog.) And with that thought, an idea was born.

On Thursdays, I will share one of my blind lady anecdotes.  I’m not doing this to encourage folks to laugh at blind people.  I’m doing this because I believe keeping things light helps us find a common ground.  It helps folks feel more comfortable about asking questions, and it keeps folks from thinking they have to avoid us because they’re going to say something to offend us.  Everyone who knows me know that I can’t live life taking myself too seriously, because if I do, I’m just unhappy. That’s not helpful at all! I tell my kids all the time that you can laugh or you can cry and laughing’s a heck of a lot more fun! Life’s too short; let’s enjoy it!

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Keto on the Cheap: Week 1 Summary

Although I’m already into week two of my “keto on the cheap” challenge, I thought I’d post a summary of week one.  Overall, I’m thrilled about the way things went!

First, for folks who are numbers folks like me, here are some stats.

  • Highest Weight (May 2017): 290.2lb
  • Challenge Start Weight: 259.4lb
  • Loss in Week 1: 8.2lb

As some of you might remember, I’ve also been tracking my food with Cronometer.  I’ve been doing this for two reasons. First, I want to keep myself honest and avoid carb creep.  Second, I’d like to have numbers to look back on if I have to do some troubleshooting later on (which ALWAYS happens eventually.)

As I’ve mentioned in previous updates, I expected to be a lot more hungry over that first week.  I wasn’t though. And as I look back at my data, I think two things were at play there. First, week one happened to coincide with week two of my cycle.  This is typically the time that my eating and weight seem to be least affected by annoying girlie hormones. Second, I did a pretty good job of keeping my macros decently balanced.  I was staying full because I kept my carbs low and I didn’t overdo on the protein. I was pretty happy with that, for sure!

I experienced some of the GI stuff that’s usual for me when I change my eating, and I’m still dealing with some occasional reflux although that seems to be clearing up quicker than is typical for me also.

Overall, week one was surprisingly outstanding for me, and that makes it easier to stay motivated.  Community helps too, so don’t forget to come on over to the Claiming Liberty Discussion Group on Facebook and tell me about your journey.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Keto Strawberry Mug Cake

This moist, flavorful, low-carb mug cake cooks in less than two minutes, and my son thought it was made with wheat flour and sugar! This is a perfect addition to the menu for an occasional treat.



  1. Place butter and cream cheese in a microwave-safe mug and heat on high for 20 seconds.  Stir with a fork to combine.
  2. Add coconut flour, baking powder, Truvia, and vanilla to the butter/cream cheese mixture and stir again ’til well blended.
  3. Add egg.  Stir.  Add frozen strawberry slices and stir one last time.
  4. Microwave mug cake on high for 1:30.  Check for doneness.  Invert onto a plate and allow to cool.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.


This recipe made two servings for me.  After we discovered how amazing it was, we tried to make a quadruple batch in a measuring cup.  When it seemed done, I turned it out onto a plate, and the whole thing fell apart on me.  It was liquidy in the center from the strawberries but it was completely cooked on the outside.  Next time, I’ll split a quadruple batch into silicone muffin cups and cook it that way to ensure doneness.

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 3 & Food Cost

I’m still kicking butt and taking names even though yesterday was a hard day to push through because of some pretty rough fatigue.  When I stepped on the scale this morning, I was down another .8lb for a total of 6.6lb lost.

I’m still quite surprised about my lack of hunger.  Usually at this point in a reboot, I’m starving and I’m eating frequently.  As I shared in a previous update though, lack of hunger continues to be the norm this time around.

I’m also continuing to struggle with some GI issues.  I don’t have a gallbladder, so adjusting from a lower fat, crappy carbage diet to a higher fat, nutrient dense diet is giving me a little trouble.  It always does, but I know it’ll settle down soon, and it’ll be well worth it when I’m back in the swing of things and my body has had time to adapt.

Day three’s macros were good.  I ate around 1300 calories with 77% of those calories coming from fat.  For a time, I was worried that I’d only have one meal yesterday, but I did end up having a small snack of salami and cream cheese around 8:00pm.

Lastly, I wanted to share the financial cost of one day’s food since this series is called “Keto on the Cheap”.  On day two, I had loaded scrambled eggs for breakfast. I used 3 eggs, 4 pieces of bacon, an ounce of spinach, an ounce of cheese, two ounces of mushrooms, and 2 ounces of pico de gallo.  That meal cost a whopping $3.24.

For supper, I had a cheddar and bacon angus patty, 2 slices of provolone cheese, and 2 ounces of hard salami.  That added another $2.21 for a daily total of $5.45. I’m picking inexpensive foods for the most part, so relatively speaking, I’m not doing too bad.  I can’t wait to see how our grocery spending looks after the first two weeks!

I’m plugging away and I’m staying focused.  I can do this!

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 2

Day two presented some interesting challenges, but I’m still as enthusiastic as ever.  And since I saw a 3lb loss on the scale this morning, I’m must have done pretty well.

I woke up with a headache yesterday morning.  I don’t think it had anything to do with my eating habits.  In fact, I think I was caffeine deficient. And since the headache went away after I caffeinated, I’m pretty sure that my lack of caffeine was the culprit.

My “breakfast” was incredibly late yesterday.  My husband and I had an errand to run, and I wasn’t hungry before we left.  I was quite hungry by the time we got home though, so I prepared perhaps one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had.  It didn’t turn out to agree with my GI tract though. I’ll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that I was pretty miserable for about three hours after eating that salad.

I was hungry for supper around 8:00pm, so I ate some hard salami and a bacon cheeseburger patty that I wrapped in some provolone cheese.  That seemed sufficient for the day.

Yesterday’s macros were:

  • Calories: 1537 kcal
  • Fat: 121.8 g
  • Carbs: 19.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 91.6 g
  • % Calories from Fat: 71.32 %

In tomorrow’s update, I’ll share a breakdown of my daily food costs.  I think I’m doing well in that regard.

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Keto on the Cheap: Day 1

I couldn’t have asked for a better first day back on plan.  I know that my pre-planning helped, and a positive attitude didn’t hurt either.

My starting weight for this phase of my journey was 259.4lb.  This morning, I was down 2.8lb and feeling great.

So what did my first day look like? Around 12:45, I ate my “breakfast” — scrambled eggs with bacon, mushrooms, spinach, pico de gallo, and cheese.  Supper happened around 8:00pm. I had a burger salad (salad greens, pico de gallo, cheese, ranch dressing, and a chopped bacon cheeseburger) and called it a day.

According to cronometer, my macros were:

  • Calories: 1605 kcal
  • Fat: 135.3g
  • Carbs: 17.7g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 79.2g

I did feel the tiniest bit munchy at bedtime, but I really think that had more to do with the fact that other family members were snacking.  A just refilled my water and went to bed.

I did have a bit of trouble sleeping last night, but I attribute that more to the pain I was dealing with last night.  I experience random episodes of pain and swelling in various muscles and joints, and that happens regardless of how I eat.  I can say for certain though that those episodes decrease when I’m eating a less inflammatory diet.

I’ll report on day two tomorrow!

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Keto on the Cheap: Prep Work

Since I’m committed to getting back on track with my eating and my health, there was some prep work involved for my big day, September 1.  Since failing to plan means I’m planning to fail, I had to get my ducks in a row by doing some grocery shopping, planning menu options, and deciding how I’m going to document this all for the folks who’re interested in following me on my journey.

Obviously, one of the most important components to this challenge is food.  I need to acquire the food, prepare the food, and consume the food. And since this journey also focuses on financial health, I can’t just throw money at my food.  There has to be some careful planning.

Yesterday, I took a basic inventory of our provisions and then I planned a shopping list for Sam’s Club.  Since I had already looked at other sales in our area, I knew how to make our money stretch. And since there are five of us in this family, the large quantities of some items aren’t a problem for us.

We spent $133 at Sam’s Club yesterday and we came home with:

  • 1 pound of pork rinds
  • 2 quarts of half & half
  • 2 quarts of heavy cream
  • 3 pounds of sour cream
  • 3 pounds of cottage cheese
  • 3 pounds of string cheese
  • 1.5 pounds of whole mushrooms
  • 1 pound of organic baby spinach
  • 6 romaine hearts
  • 3 pounds of broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix
  • 5 avocados
  • 2 pounds of mini cucumbers
  • 1.75 pounds of “cocktail” tomatoes on the vine
  • A large package of chicken leg quarters
  • A large package of chicken tenderloins
  • A large package of stew beef
  • 4 pounds of applewood smoked Wright bacon
  • 1.25 pounds of sliced hard salami
  • New York crunch roll (because I knew I wouldn’t be eating sushi until my birthday dinner in December)

Some of these items will last our family for two weeks or even more, and some of these items will be eaten over the next week.  On September 13, we’ll see if we stuck to the budget of $150 per week. So far though, it’s looking good.

I had intended to make some deviled eggs yesterday, but time got away from me because I was helping my son who’s recovering from sinus surgery.  When I got up this morning though, I started cleaning my kitchen which has been seriously neglected recently, and I’ll take care of some food prep after I get a clean work space.

I’m feeling confident though.  There are nothing but good things to come!

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Keto on the Cheap: Goals and Rules

I’ve been thinking about my “Keto on the Cheap” series for a week or so now, and I think I’ve solidified the goals and ground rules.  The rules may change over time, but I have to start somewhere since September 1 is less than three days away.


My goals for this project are simple.  I want to:

  1. Re-establish the habit of eating low-carb foods all the time with no exceptions or excuses
  2. Reduce the amount of money that we spend on food without resorting to pasta, rice, and bread
  3. Provide resources and encouragement for folks who think they can’t get healthier because it’s “too expensive”
  4. Build community and accountability for folks who are sick and tired of being sick and tired


Deciding on some ground rules helped me develop some direction with this challenge.  After all, how can I measure success if I don’t have metrics?

  1. Be honest — I realize that a rule like that might seem like it goes without saying, but I can’t meet my goals without integrity and transparency.
  2. Record data — This rule might seem too restrictive for some folks, but I’ve always been a data hoarder.  Whether it’s weight, blood sugar, blood ketones, or the foods I eat with nutrition data and timing, I have always collected data so that I can analyze and tweak later if I need to do that.  If things aren’t going the way I expected yet I don’t have data to look at, I can’t develop strategies to keep things moving forward.
  3. $150 per week grocery budget — That might seem like a lot of money to some folks, but as I look back at our grocery spending over the past few months, we’ve been spending about $275 per week on the five of us.  That kind of spending will not help us meet our financial goals, and it certainly isn’t helping me meet my health goals either.
  4. No requirement for labels like organic, grass-fed, etc.  — All too often, people allow the pursuit of perfection to be the enemy of “good enough”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard folks in low-carb circles say things like, “You’ll spend less money on food in the long run, so you’ll be able to afford the higher quality foods.” While that may be true, in my experience, there are folks like me who need to do something now but there’s nothing to cut out to make room for that grass-fed ribeye that you’d love to have for dinner.  That’s why I want to show folks that small changes can yield huge results, and money doesn’t have to be a barrier.
  5. Report daily — Whether it’s checking in on social media or making blog posts, I won’t be a stranger.  Folks who’re interested in what I’m doing will probably get really tired of my sharing, but that sharing is what I require to keep me accountable.

As I said in a previous post, I’m really excited about this project, and it feels great to have direction and purpose.  Nothing but good things will come from this experience, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

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