Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.
7 Foods: Mutiny Against Excess
What foods would you choose if you had to simplify your diet to include only 7 foods? In the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker lives for a month eating only 7 foods. I won't steal her thunder, you can check her blog or read her book to see which 7 she chose.
My cheap 7 foods
The concept of choosing only 7 foods is interesting as a way to simplify both your diet and your life. As a penny pincher, I would also consider cost carefully in choosing my 7 foods. First, I'll present a list that weights cost too heavily over nutritional value and healthy foods...
7 Foods: an Unhealthy List
Before I present my current choices, I'll present my list from my college days. This was my top 7 when I first got an apartment and had almost no money for food. The criteria for this list are low cost, tastes good, and easy to prepare.
- Ramen noodles
- Lilttle Debbies snack cakes
- Baked potatoes
I could make a few foods using combinations from the list, such as toast with margarine for breakfast, fried egg sandwiches, or grilled cheese sandwiches. Looking at this list, I feel lucky that I survived college!
7 Healthy and Low Cost Foods
My approach was to choose foods that have high nutritional value and that can be prepared different ways for variety. I then looked at the cost of the foods that were high on my list to make my final selection.
In order to consider cost, I evaluated the cost per 200 calories of each type of food. This is makes it easier to compare foods to determine cost value. You'll notice that there are 9 foods on the list below. I'll need to eliminate 2 of these to get down to 7.
So which 2 should I eliminate from my list to get down to my list of 7 foods?
I thought hot tea would be nice and I could also have ice tea for variety. Tea has almost 0 calories, so if I can only have 7 foods, they should all provide some calories. So tea is out.
The next most expensive in terms of cost for 200 calories is Greek yogurt. But I like Greek yogurt. And it has calcium. I'll keep that on my list.
Broccoli has vitamin C, and I can grow broccoli in my garden, or even indoors if I wanted.
I have clementines listed as a preferred alternative to oranges since they are easier to peel and have less white pulpy stuff. They are a great source of vitamin C.
Chicken is a low cost source of protein and can be used in a variety of meal, including grilling.
Rolled oats are whole grain, and with peanuts provide a complete protein. Oats are also very high in fiber and naturally reduce cholesterol. I like the idea of having oats for breakfast like cereal. But I won't have milk since it's not on my list. Greek yogurt mixed with oats sounds pretty good.
Bananas are one of my favorites. They are cheap and come in a convenient single serving package. They are a good source of potassium.
Peanuts have some fat and provide lots of calories which will be welcome on this list. Peanuts could be eaten as a snack, or cooked with chicken and broccoli dishes. You can also make peanut butter from peanuts by adding peanut oil. I won't have bread or toast, so maybe I could mix oats with peanut butter.
Popcorn is the cheapest food on the list in terms of cost per 200 calories. I was thinking air popped popcorn would be a good snack food, but it has little nutritional value compared to the other items. So popcorn is out.
My 7 Simple Foods
- Rolled Oats
- Greek Yogurt
Penny Pinching Tips:
- Food budget is a good opportunity for most people to save money- focusing on fewer foods can help eliminate expensive items
- Simple foods can be healthier and less expensive than highly processed foods with long ingredient lists cluttered with chemical names
- Although I would not recommend living on only 7 foods, choose your 7 and increase their role in your diet
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on January 28, 2013:
That's a lot healthier than my college diet...
Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on January 27, 2013:
When I was in college my food budget was $10 a week and I spent it on salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, and breaded veal (because it was real cheap) and made a salad for lunch everyday, plus milk and cereal for breakfast. Back then all that cost $10!
Catherine Taylor from Canada on January 14, 2013:
This was a really fun hub and made me think about what seven foods i could live on. My list of college foods would be very similar to yours. How students don't get scurvy I'll never know. Great hub, voted up and sharing!