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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I spent the first part of the week organizing things to run as smoothly as possible for the end of the week, as I had surgery on Thursday to remove cancer from my head. It was growing in my hair next to my part, a place where I don't usually put sunscreen. I'll have stitches for the next three weeks and I imagine I'll have a swollen face for at least this week. One way I'll save this week is by not wearing any makeup, because it's a bit impossible right now! 

To save money this past week, I did the following:

I baked a carrot cake in a 9 x 13 pan. I didn't have cream cheese on hand to make icing, so I lightly dusted it with powdered sugar instead.

Red Noodle Beans The Prudent Homemaker 

I cut red noodle beans, Armenian cucumbers, rosemary, Genovese basil, chives, and green onions from the garden. I picked some teeny-tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden as well to use in a pasta salad. They are so tiny that I put a slice of olive in with them so you can see how little they are; they are the size of blueberries! The heat we have here in summer makes them stop flowering, or if they do flower (these are in afternoon shade and just started flowering recently) they are still super tiny because of the heat.

Sun Gold Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

The Armenian cucumbers do well in our heat, growing huge. I still don't get a lot of them when it's really hot, so I am happy to have them grow to great lengths, as they don't get bitter like other cucumbers and can grow as long as my arm. This means I have a lot of cucumbers to eat but not always enough to make pickles (as sometimes just one or two are ripe). This week we ate them sliced thin in vinegar, cut into sticks and dipped in ranch dip made with Greek yogurt, put in green salads, and chopped in pasta salad.

I went to the library and checked out a large number of books with my three youngest daughters and my 2-year-old son.

I opened the windows and doors in the early mornings to cool down the house for a couple of hours each morning.

I used my solar oven to cook three meals. One of the things I cooked was a large batch of pinto beans. I made bean burritos one day with them. I made a huge pan of bean enchiladas with them another day, which we ate over three days. My corn tortillas were a little old (so they would break rather than roll), so I made the enchiladas lasagna-style, layering the tortillas flat instead and layering the filling between with three layers of tortillas. I also find this is a great way to make enchiladas when you don't have enough tortillas, as it uses just 18 corn tortillas in a 10 x 13 pan. You'll need more filling, but if you're using beans for all or part of it, it is still quite frugal.

When I cooked baked potatoes, I cooked enough to have leftovers for the next day. I usually cook 10 pounds for our family, but recently we have upped it to 15 pounds at a time, saving gas for the oven (and not heating up the house) and giving us more leftovers. Leftover baked potatoes cook really quickly as cubed potatoes on the stovetop with onions for breakfast, a great side dish to a fried egg or two. It also means use you can use less oil (I only use a couple of tablespoons for a 5-quart pan full of potatoes) which means less money and fewer calories.

My son went to a thrift store with his uncle. He found a pair of cowboy boots there that he liked. One boot was priced at $35 and the other at $15. He tok them up to the register and asked how much. They told him $5, so he bought himself a pair of boots.

My mom went to a couple of community garage sales and picked up a few items for me, including a polo shirt for my eldest son ($2) and ten brand-new wide mouth quart-sized canning jars for $0.40 each.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  • Julia October 01, 2018

    Just the smell of citrus can increase appetite. Do you have access to a diffuser? Or could you just simmer some citrus peel in some water on the stove?

  • Margie from Toronto October 01, 2018

    A friend had the same issue with her 94 year old mom and she found that 6 small meals throughout the day rather than the traditional 3 meals a day worked better. If her mom saw too much food at one time she felt overwhelmed and refused to eat anything out of fear of wasting the food. Also, bottles of things like Ensure (or the equivalent) help to add calories and liquids. Does she like yogurt or smoothies - add ice cream for more calories but again, keep the glass small to start with. Good luck and remember to look after yourself.

  • Mable October 01, 2018

    When my husband had cancer and became quite anemic, he would drink milkshakes that I added protein powder to. It can be frustrating to feed someone who doesn't really have an appetite...the other thing my husband liked was McDonald's breakfast sandwiches, although it seemed to take all day for him to eat one. I made homemade versions, which were cheaper, and also allowed me to put protein powder in the egg before I turned it into a folded egg for the sandwich.

  • lillianna pickles October 01, 2018

    Holly, my father is down to 90 lbs. My mother was instructed to use Boost drinks. They average about 1.50 a piece here and are quite expensive for long term use. Several stores have a store brand . I am not sure if my mother checked into medicare covering them or not. As with any product please make sure the doctor approves. many products have massive amounts of sugar in them although several have low glycemic options. The main goal is to get as many dense calories in them. Mom cooks for dad and adds butter and cream to anything she can. He loves potato soup. A bowl of moms would make me gain ten lbs. good luck.

  • Athanasia October 02, 2018

    Holly, the companies that make these supplement drinks actually supply them to doctor offices by case loads for free. I know our physician's office gets more than they can use by the expiration date so they will give boxes of them to those with lower incomes who can benefit from them rather then let them go to waste. Check with your doctor office.

  • Athanasia October 02, 2018

    Lilliana, soup sounds like a good idea as they are getting liquid also. Any chunky soup could be totally or partially pureed too.

  • Lisa from Maine October 02, 2018

    my son is very underweight due to Crohns. We have had him drink Boost but He no longer wanted to drink it, no longer liked the taste. My sister (a nurse) had me give him Carnation instant breakfast and in a month he gained 5 lbs. Yeah--at least 5 more to go.

  • Holly October 03, 2018

    I will buy the instant breakfast mix the next time I go shopping. Walmart's generic nutritional drink was very chalky tasting.Yuck. We still have three bottles in the fridge. Mom usually is an ingredient list reader and long lists kill her appetite. She refused to buy us the instant beverage mix when I wanted it in high school to quickly drink as I ran out the door for the bus. But we'll try it now.

    Her only dietary restriction had been salt. But since she hasn't been drinking enough, the nurse said don't worry about sodium. Her next beverage/most of her dinner is going to be a chocolate malted banana shake, using the banana that came with today's Meals on Wheels.

    I am going to buy an assortment of herbal teas.

    Mom can get out the front door in case of a fire and I am confident that at least at the present time she would just stay in her chair and out of trouble if I left for an hour to run errands/buy groceries.

    Unfortunately, we live in a "dead zone" when it comes to home delivery of groceries. (But the woods are pretty.) I had used a service a few times in the dead of winter to get organic produce but the company went belly up. Kroger and Meijer won't deliver here, at least not yet.

    I am so appreciative of the Medicare-covered home health services ordered by the doctor. The physical therapist yesterday said she got into home healthcare with the goal of keeping elderly people out of nursing homes after two of her grandparents end up in them.

  • Marcia R. October 01, 2018

    There is a medication available--sorry I don't recall the name of it but it starts with M. My Mom had dementia and was in nursing care for the last 14 months of her life and they gave her that to up her appetite. I found that bringing her favorite treats (my Mom loved milkshakes) that I was able to get some nutrition into her. She was quite small as she was 95. I brought her homemade applesauce and also whatever treats I baked at home. She always preferred HOME cooking. Of course if I did bring a milkshake, she didn't eat dinner afterwards, but she might not have anyhow! The home also had an ice cream shop that was free to patients and families a couple days a week in mid-afternoon. Actually one scoop was free for family members, but we found them overly generous with the scoop! And older people don't need as many calories as they used to also---they aren't burning off so many calories with activities. I'm glad your Mom is doing better now. It does take them quite a while to recover from such upsets, so try to be patient.

  • Doc October 02, 2018

    Megace (megestrol) and Periactin (cyproheptadine) are medications that can be used for age- or disease- related anorexia (decreased appetite). They have specific indications thought and are often only covered in certain situations. Often increase supplement drinks can lead to diarrhea due to high fat and sugar content. Increased protein intake is also usually needed due to nutritional protein deficiency. (this is not medical advice, merely informational)

  • Marcia R. October 02, 2018

    Megace is the one they gave her. It was somewhat helpful. Another thing I have read about dementia and appetitite is that there is a theory that they don't remember what foods taste like, and don't KNOW what they like or dislike. That's why food doesn't look appetizing to them.

  • I October 01, 2018

    When I brought my elderly Mum home from hospital after surgery she had little appetite either-2 things that she would eat that are very healthy and lots of calories for a small amount of food were flavoured Greek yogurt and also avocado. It was also helpful to cook things in the oven so the smell for a couple of hrs before would stimulate her appetite-she would then eat small amounts of things like meat pie-she also enjoyed things like salmon/mashed potato fish cakes fried in a little butter. Good luck with your Mum.

  • Holly October 01, 2018

    Mom just placed an order for mashed potatoes made with a boiled potato. Progress! This afternoon I proofed yeast for bread. The smell of freshly baked bread might help. Funny, the comments on McD's breakfast sandwiches--I made a microwaved egg in a buttered Grab-It bowl and cheddar cheese sandwich for her breakfast today and she ate the whole thing. Drinking enough now seems to be a bigger problem than eating enough.

    At-home physical therapy starts tomorrow. I hope she regains her confidence in moving around the house.

    I might try using a brightly colored small plate, bowl, and mug. I read white dishes sometimes cause problems for AD patients. She does not have AD although she was definitely confused for a while during her hospitalization. I have noticed that small servings do seem to be better received.

    She is not fond of Ensure or clones. I just turned the remnants of a milkshake made of Equate, ice cream, and Carnation milk into pudding. It is cooling in the refrigerator. I think I will try making frozen fruit, milk, and ice cream shakes and see how they are received.

  • Rhonda A. October 02, 2018

    I asked my mom, who is a retired nurse and worked most of her career in a nursing home, for ideas on how to encourage eating/drinking in elderly patients that have no appetite. She said in nursing homes, they use the Ensure if the patient refused to eat, which are basically a balanced diet on their own. If she doesn't like the Ensure on it's own, you could try mixing maybe 1/2 bottle/can into a strongly flavoured milkshake or smoothie (lots of favourite fruits or some chocolate syrup mixed in) just to boost the vitamins and minerals content. Adding some protein powder will also increase the nutritional content. You could try making frozen popsicles out of the milkshake or smoothie to see if that is more appealing to your mom. Either way, it will help get some liquids into her.

    Her alternatives were basically the same things as everyone else...offer easily digestible foods, such as soups (which also has lots of liquid to help hydrate) or any of their favourite foods. Don't worry about high calorie or high sugar content at the moment. If she is not eating much, and she is diabetic, she may not be consuming enough sugars/carbs for those high calorie foods to cause a problem. When my grandmother was having problems with eating, I made her some full fat muffins loaded with lots of fruit. My grandfather said she really enjoyed eating those muffins. He said 1 muffin often ended up being her entire meal. Good luck with your mom, Holly!

  • Ellie October 01, 2018

    My elderly friend would drink milkshakes with an egg in then to keep weight on while he was being treated for cancer.

  • Kathy L October 01, 2018

    Hi: You are a blessing to your mother! If medicinal marijuana has been legalized in your state, you might want to discuss its use with your mother’s doctor; it might help your mother’s appetite. Prescription cannabis does NOT make a person high.

  • Patricia from Canada October 01, 2018

    When my mom had cancer, I found that she would more readily drink liquids using a straw. She seemed to be able to swallow a larger amount per sip than just drinking from the glass. Also, by putting any liquids in a small glass, it didn't seem quite as daunting for her to finish the entire amount in one sitting. It was also recommended that she have gingerale, as it was soothing to her stomach. Because dehydration was such an issue, the doctors also recommended she try to eat fruits and vegetables that were high in water, like melons, cucumbers, grapes, strawberries etc.

    She also had a difficult time with eating, but she did enjoy creamed soups that weren't too rich (made with cream) or made with cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) but instead that were made with light-tasting, easier-to-digest vegetables like celery or green peas. Saltine crackers were easy to digest as well.

    Best wishes to both of you.

  • Jennifer Furnish October 03, 2018

    Liquid coconut oil... one tablespoon has like 65% of daily fat!!! Add to anything!

  • Holly October 03, 2018

    Mom would get too much air and too little fluid when she would take her tiny sips with a straw. A doctor and a speech therapist both suggested that She drink directly out of a glass. Different approaches are needed for different people.

  • Mable October 03, 2018

    Kathy---when I got my terrible illness and had not only no appetite but also terrible pain, my doctor wrote a prescription for me to get medical marijuana. I was probably one of a dozen people in college who never used any drugs, so I expected to be really impacted by it. But for me it did nothing and was quite expensive since insurance would not cover it---no appetite increase, no pain decrease, no becoming laid back (the one effect my husband hoped for!). So, if someone does try it I would buy only a small amount first (you can get it in edibles and oils, too) because of the expense, since it may not be effective. My doctor later said he should have figured out it would make little difference since I get zero effects from morphine or any of the other opiods. Apparently some people are immune, for lack of a better word, to most pain killers.

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