Let's see, last time I made it through the first three of my essential practices for cost effective health eating. Here's more:
4. Grow it yourself
. Doesn't have to be a full garden. Even better, grow a single crop of something you'd like to have a constant supply of, grows with incredible abundance in a small plot, useful in a hundred different ways, easy to take care of and harvest and is self is self-renewing instead of picked once and it's gone.
Which brings me to my current ideal meeting all those requirements:
5. Home grown greens
(i.e., Swiss Chard and Kale). They're green, They're leafy, they constantly renew, grow in cool weather, warm weather, and are tender and wonderful in salads, smoothies, soups and lots more. Easily harvested by cutting it off about 2 inches above the ground, you harvest again in three weeks or so.
6. With any recipe, substitution of high priced ingredients
is my preference. Most often when a recipe calls for something expensive, I substitute something inexpensive but with great nutrition and find it's still wonderful. For example when hummus calls for tahini (made from roasted sesame seeds), I just substitute sunflower seeds. Waaaaayyyyyy cheaper! And it makes a milder hummus, which is my preference taste-wise.
Or if a recipe calls for chia seeds, you'll pay three times as much for chia seeds as you would for flax seeds, at least where I buy 'em.
7. Which brings me to the hummus principle
. Or if you're like my wife, you'd prefer refried beans. Or chili or just black beans. Frankly I love them all. Any recipe qualifies here, as long as it requires using lots of dry beans, and can be used as a dip, a base or just by itself.
So this illustrates another core technique.
8. Flexibility and adaptability
. I've never seen a recipe that can't be adapted to taste, to budget, and to make wonderful variations that relieve food boredom.
Take for example the smoothie. It's great stuff, a foundation of what I eat. I love the green base, and sometimes I only eat the greens, but often I add some fruit for sweetness (and to keep my wife happily sharing with me).
For variety, I don't blend it all smooth. I also love the texture, the crunch and the joy of chewing my own food. In fact, at times I just about quit making smoothies. I call them chunkies 'cause they are.
An ingredient I add for interest is mild hot peppers. Banana peppers are a current favorite in my green and fruit smoothies, adding some heat and interest to my regular favorites.
Who knows, maybe next month I'll add some chopped jalapenos. Call me crazy. But I think I can predict I will never, ever add habaneros. Now that'd be nasty! Then again, I acknowledge that one man's nasty/crazy/avoid at all cost taste is another man's food heaven. Which is the basis of this principle, and doesn't preclude great health and great eating.
9. Food foraging
Now this could be a sensitive topic. For many people, cost effective healthy eating typically means buying kale when it's on sale for, say $2 a bunch instead of $3 a bunch. And there's nothing wrong with looking for sales on great stuff, buying all you can safely use, and doing that over and over forever.
But typical for some means out of reach for others.
By food foraging I don't mean dumpster diving (though some in my family think that's what I do).
To me it means finding unusual sources for high nutrition foods.
Here's a case in point:
For several years now I've been looking for a cost effective source of walnuts. Walnuts grow on trees in people's yards. They'll even invite you to come pick them up, because they've grown tired of picking and shelling.
Most walnuts on people's trees in their yards are, well, tough to shell. Black walnuts are impossible. Most English walnuts are a little to very difficult, (try shelling a pound of walnuts and you'll have a new appreciation for the inherent value of buying 'em at the store).
But the variation called Carpathian walnuts are amazing. They're huge (some are two or three times the size of regular walnuts), thin shelled, and you get lots of nut for your effort. I met someone who introduced me to these, and invited me to pick them up in his yard. Lovely!
Any one of these examples may not be a solution everyone else needs. The point is to keep looking, exploring, and be open to cost effective solutions when they come up.
10. Ground Flax
Healthy oils are an essential part of the nutritarian plan. You should eat some nuts, seeds or avocado every day, but in smaller quantities. These foods are nutrient dense and have plenty of fiber but unlike the rest of the top recommended food groupings, they're also calorie dense because of the fats in them.
There's not a cheaper source of healthy oils. I have a little most days, and I think it's wonderfully good, and cheap (which means I can do it over and over and over again).
But here's an essential principle of nutritarian eating. Never eat a calorie without it's protective source, as in never consume flax oil without the flax seed. Just like the apple, full of succulent, sweet fructose.
A calorie isn't just a calorie. The calories in high fructose corn syrup have a very different impact on the body than the fructose in an apple.
And the oil of every seed or nut has a way worse nutritional profile than in its original setting.
Not that the fructose is any different. Same chemical, same effect. Too much, too often and without the plant fiber and other things it was born with it's liver poison, very bad stuff. Same with vegetable fats and oils. You have to understand and use them in the right context, then
it's truly great stuff.
And no one I'm aware of ever got to be 500 pounds by eating too many apples. It's a physical impossibility to consume that many apples.