I’ve been talking a lot about diet lately, but I still love being super frugal, and I’ve learned some things in the last few weeks.
So, all the raw, vegan salad dressing and sauces out there seem to use cashews as the base. These sauces are delicious and creamy, but raw cashews are extremely expensive! A much cheaper alternative that gives similar(ish) results is to substitute sunflower seeds. They’re a bit higher in Omega-6s, but they contain a lot more vitamin e, and at nearly $6 cheaper per pound, that’s easily a trade-off I’m willing to make. Also, if your Omega-6 intake is too high, add some flaxseed meal to something.
Also, I’ve discovered that pecans, cashews, and almonds are the most expensive nuts. Walnuts actually have a pretty good Omega-6/3 ratio, and they’re slightly cheaper.
Frozen food is almost always a great idea. The food is picked when it’s actually ripe, so it actually contains more nutrients than the fresh food. It’s also cheaper a lot of times. Especially in the case of fruit, there’s about a 1-2 month window where the produce is in season. Outside of that time, either the produce isn’t available, or it’s been trucked in from far away. It’s way more expensive and usually doesn’t taste as good.
I know I just said that frozen food was good, but that excludes cruciferous veggies like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. These veggies contain an enzyme that can’t be frozen, or it’ll stay alive, and the food will continue to degrade. To kill the enzymes (which isn’t terrific in any case, but whatever) the produce is boiled first and then frozen. Not only does this kill the enzymes, but many of the nutrients remain in the water (all those water-soluble nutrients).
This aspect of boiling leaching nutrition out of your food also plays into canned goods. In the canning process, the cans are boiled on a high heat, sometimes in a pressure cooker. This pulls nutrients into the liquid in the can. If you drain your cans prior to eating their contents, you are draining away nutrients.
Dried beans are always more cost effective than canned beans. Canned beans can seem really inexpensive, but dried beans triple in volume when cooked/soaked. Canned beans have already been cooked and are at their top volume.
There’s one item that’s a complete waste of money, and that’s any pre-cut produce. Yes, it’s convenient, but 1) that allows the food more time to die, 2) food handlers are supposed to be clean, but you don’t really know how that food was handled, and 3) stores use the cutting up process to use produce that no one would buy if it were whole – they cut around all the bad spots and put the good pieces in a container.
You know, when people talk about healthy food being more expensive, a typical response to that it “Well, how much is your health worth?” That’s pretty much a trick question. Personally, my health is worth so much. I spend most of my day thinking/researching about health or exercising or preparing food, and I would absolutely love to be able to monetarily spend whatever I wanted on health, but the reality is that my family does not bring in enough money to do that. I don’t care if I think my health is worth $5; if I only have $2, it doesn’t matter!
But eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be, sure, but only if you make the choice to buy those more expensive items.