Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney diet on a budget: Stretching produce food dollars

Last week I wrote about making a PLAN for stretching your food dollars when following a kidney friendly diet. I hope you tried some of those suggestions. This week I want to zero-in on produce to help you find ways to save on your fruit and veggie budget.

  • Start a garden. From patio pots to garden plots–anyone can plant herbs, fruits or vegetables and reap the reward of free food over the summer months. Consider fast growing, high yield low potassium vegetables like cucumbers, crookneck squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, leaf lettuce, green beans, peppers, eggplant and radishes.
  • Grow your own herbs. Have you seen the over-inflated prices grocery stores charge for a few sprigs of rosemary or basil? What a ripoff! An herb garden saves money and you always have fresh herbs on hand. Last weekend I planted my favorite herbs in patio planters.  Basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme–plant your favorites and use them to add extra flavor in kidney diet recipes. I even make my own dried herbs in the oven and store for use after the growing season. Another plus–you’ll be more likely to experiment with herbs in the kitchen when you can pick them as needed from your garden.
  • Plant a fruit tree for free apples, lemon, limes, peaches, pears or plums. Low potassium berries,  grapes and watermelon are also great choices for home grown fruit that’s renal friendly.
  • Shop at your local farmer’s market to get great deals on in season locally grown produce.  Consider buying extra when produce is really cheap. Many foods can be canned or frozen for later. Not too long ago I was at a farmer’s market near closing time. To avoid packing the day’s leftovers, the merchants were selling 6 bags of assorted vegetables for $1.00 each–what a deal! In addition to being cheaper, farmer’s market produce is often fresher–so it doesn’t spoil as fast as grocery store produce.
  • Be aware of how long produce keeps and plan to use what you buy before it spoils. Nutrient levels are highest when produce is fresh. Buy only what you plan to use each week or preserve extras. Cook and refrigerate or freeze the produce you can’t use within that time rather than letting it spoil.
  • Purchase in bulk. Apples, lemons, onions and potatoes are much cheaper when purchased by the bag instead of by the piece.
  • Skip convenience. Buy uncut broccoli, celery, carrots, apples, pineapple and watermelon. You can easily trim and cut produce at home. Consider using the extra trimmed pieces for homemade soup or broth.

Do you need ideas on what to eat for your kidney diet? Here are some DaVita.com recipes to use with your next fresh fruit and vegetable bargains.

Carrot Casserole

Eggplant Casserole

Green Beans with Turnips

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Turkey Waldorf Salad

Zucchini Stir-Fry

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

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DaVita Diet Helper

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.