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7 Foods: Which foods would you choose if you could eat only seven foods? Would Jen Hatmaker approve?

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.

  1. Eggs
  2. Bread
  3. Cheese
  4. Margarine
  5. Ramen noodles
  6. Lilttle Debbies snack cakes
  7. 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.

Table of top 9 Foods and cost per 200 calories

Table of top 9 Foods and cost per 200 calories

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.

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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

  1. Peanuts
  2. Bananas
  3. Rolled Oats
  4. Chicken
  5. Oranges
  6. Broccoli
  7. 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

Recommended reading:

Stop Waste and Improve Your Life: 10 Actions You Can Take Today

© 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!

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