Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Mar

The Depression Diet

depressiondietThe Depression Diet? We’ve discussed the “Recession Diet” and we’re always on the lookout for food budget hacks and tricks for our readers, and the economy isn’t getting any better. And so, although commentators, pundits, and politicians are loathe to utter the “D” word, we just couldn’t resist the chance to alliterate and provide some helpful money-saving tips for our readers looking to maintain their Primal ways.

1. The Rule of 3

To keep things simple and inexpensive, limit meals to three basic components: a fat, a protein, and a vegetable. That covers your dietary fat and protein intakes (the most important parts of a Primal meal) while giving you enough leeway to make things interesting. Start with the three building blocks and dress them up with easy additions (garlic, salt, pepper, spices). Think:

Coconut oil, beef, broccoli
Butter, eggs, bell peppers
Olive oil, chicken breast (skin on), brussel sprouts

2. Make Meals Pop with Simple, Inexpensive Ingredients

Assuming you’ve gone the logical route and stocked up on the basics (meat, whole chickens, frozen veggies, frozen fish, etc) to cut costs, now it’s time to invest a little in some simple, inexpensive ingredients that can really make your meals “pop.” Buying in bulk means you’ll invariably be eating some of the same stuff on a regular basis, but keeping these ingredients on hand can make every meal a little different:

- Fresh garlic (not much needs to be said – featuring prominently in nearly every cuisine, fresh garlic is essential)
- Indian spices (garam masala, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon – all the flavor, none of the naan!)
-  Wasabi (most know it by the green clumps in sushi places, but powdered wasabi is incredibly versatile – add it to nut mixes, to mayo, or to salad dressings)
- Fresh ginger (there’s nothing quite like ginger, and if you don’t use it all at once, wrap it up tightly in foil and freeze it for later)
- Chili peppers (whether you keep fresh, dried, or canned on hand, chili peppers will quite literally spice up your dishes)
- Salsa (either make your own or buy stuff made with fresh, whole ingredients)
- Vinegar (the foundation of most salad dressings – try to have red wine, balsamic, and white on hand)
- Citrus (citrus is another basic building block, this time for marinades and sauces – keep stocked with lemons and limes)
- Butter (maybe Grok didn’t have butter, but it’s full of healthy milk fat and it adds richness to dishes)

3. Use the Power of Google

Out of ideas? Not to worry – you’ve got a powerful recipe resource at your beck and call. Rummage through your freezer and pantry for all those forgotten food items that never seem to get made and Google them, adding a “recipe” at the end of the list. A search like “canned tomatoes olives green beans chicken recipe” will turn up dozens of results, if not more. You’ll never have to think again!

4. Be Adventurous

As the increasingly apt saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. Necessity breeds change, so embrace it! Try new things! Approach the grocery store not necessarily with a rigid list, but with an open mind. Explore the perimeter of the store and consider items you’ve never considered before. If the beef heart is on sale, try it. If you’ve never had collard greens, pick up a bunch. Variety will keep you satisfied, especially with impacted finances. The cheaper cuts of meat are often the more “unusual” (and nutritious), so be flexible.

5. Be Prepared

Primalize your pantry and keep it well-stocked, and you’ll likely never go hungry or succumb to takeout. There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating out, of course, but it’s definitely not the best way to save money on food (plus, the ingredients used are often decidedly unPrimal). Having plenty of good food on hand will “force” you to cook at home.

6. Plan Ahead

This is similar in spirit to “Be Prepared,” and utilizing Google can be a big part of it. Buy a dry erase board, a chalkboard, or put together a spreadsheet on the computer to plan your meals. Spontaneity is good, and you can always switch things up at the last moment on a whim, but having the week’s meals in writing will let you buy everything at once and avoid those last-minute trips to the grocery store for one or two ingredients that always seem to add up on the credit card statement.

How about you, readers? Anyone got any good money saving tips for Primalists on a budget?

Further Reading:

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Affording Organics

10 “Vegetables” You Shouldn’t Be Eating

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great ideas. Here’s a few cheapos from my cupboard:

    Sauerkraut: Oh yeah, that stuff can fill out a meal.

    Horseradish-mustard: Because regular mustard doesn’t always cut it. And they cost the same.

    Protein shake w/ frozen berries: Makes a long lasting snack, and once you figure out the per-shake cost, it’s cheaper than a handful of almonds.

    Broseph wrote on March 17th, 2009
  2. Good ideas, Broseph. I like the sauerkraut idea… I sense a blog post coming in the near future.

    I’m with you on the protein shake. I use mine when I need a quick meal on the go, or my tastebuds are in the mood for a tasty high-protein treat.

    http://www.primalnutrition.com/responsibly-slim-i-3.html

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 17th, 2009
  3. I’ve always believed in the importance of cooking as a skill. But recently Jamie Oliver really brought home the idea that now, more than ever, cooking is crucial. This is the first time that we are heading into truly troubled economic times without the skills to turn some kitchen scraps into a wholesome and tasty meal. Here’s the post:
    http://tinyurl.com/clt9bo

    Cheers,
    Adam

    Adam Steer - Better Is Better wrote on March 17th, 2009
  4. Great suggestions- I have a great application on my iphone that has thousands of recipes (called BigOven) that also helps with inspiration. You just type in an ingredient or a dish and it’ll give you a recipe. I’m getting good at subbing primal stuff if need be.

    Speaking of- I find that a lot of the high priced stuff that’s primal and a replacement (like almond and coconut flour) are not only worth the investment, but also last a long time. Most recipes call for just a little flour so even though one bag is $8-15 they’ll last for a bunch of recipes.

    -BEE

    BEE wrote on March 17th, 2009
  5. To your last couple of points Mark, I think freezing is a big winner, especially if you have to journey far to access good quality, wild meat or fish. Being prepared then means remembering to take things out of the freezer the night before you intend to eat, especially things like a large chicken which take a long time to defrost…

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on March 17th, 2009
  6. Mark, you;re absolutely right about the “cheaper cuts”. For example, check out “Top Blade” everyone. It’s very affordable and works great as stew meat, and if you remove the middle sinew, great for quick high heat grilling also. Make sure you grill it WITH fat. Like a yummy basil butter or similiar.

    Marc

    Marc Feel Good Eating wrote on March 17th, 2009
  7. By “depression diet” I thought this post was about psychological depression.

    If anyone wants to induce depression through diet, I highly recommend the “super carb” diet. Just eat lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of carbs and your serotonin receptors will fizzle (who needs them anyway?).

    Jeff wrote on March 17th, 2009
  8. Good tip, Marc. And for everyone that doesn’t know, “Top Blade” is also (and I think more commonly) known as flat iron steak.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 17th, 2009
  9. I’d also add cook and eat in large groups. In tough times people need to come together, it’s not about being alone. The support and company of others can make us all get through most anything (plus it’s more fun, relaxing and usually cheaper to buy/cook in bulk). As long as everyone takes turns cooking…could be fun and cheap.

    Mike OD - Life Spotlight wrote on March 17th, 2009
  10. that and $2.50 Trader Joe wine goes well with dinner. :)

    Mike OD - Life Spotlight wrote on March 17th, 2009
  11. First of all, I guess it would be appropiate to say “Hi!”, since this is my first comment here, even though I’m reading this blog for quite a while now.

    The last few days I’ve really been wondering how to cut costs a little, since well, I’m not really the one buying food most of the time. My mother does this and since my parents are still not really convinced of that whole “Primal”-thing, the fact that especially fresh meat or fish tend to cost quite some money, doesn’t really help when convincing my parents to buy the stuff I want.

    I also would recomment http://www.nibbledish.com/ for recipes. The recipes are mostly “unPrimal”, but just type in the ingredients you currently have and look up the recipes. There are always still some quite nice recipes out there.

    madMUHHH wrote on March 17th, 2009
  12. Welcome, madMUHHH! We talk a lot on MDA about the numerous stumbling blocks and hurdles associated with trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Skeptical parents hasn’t yet made an appearance. Until now!

    Good luck and stay in touch.

    Mark Sisson wrote on March 17th, 2009
  13. One of my favorite ways is to cook more than you’ll eat, freeze the rest. This really does save money and time-works for me! Bon’Appetite’

    Donna wrote on March 17th, 2009
  14. I’ll second the sauerkraut idea. I make a huge crock-full at a time and put it in mason jars in the fridge after it is done fermenting. I actually make something closer to kimchi, with napa cabbage and any of a countless combination of other veggies and spices. Good probiotics, and very economical, not to mention very satisfying to make at home!

    Rodnay wrote on March 17th, 2009
  15. Mark I often use arrowroot to thicken gravies sauces etc. I know it isn’t exactly low carb (agoun 50g for half a cup) but at least it isn’t a grain and a very small amount is needed to thicken. (About 10th of a cup..heaped teaspoon) The trick with arrowroot is to let your sauce or gravie cool a bit before adding the arrowroot. Unlick flour it doesn’t need cooking to get rid of the floury taste. If you aadd it when it is too hot it doesn’t thicken as well. you get very clear sauces and gravies with arrowroot. Cheers

    JohnL wrote on March 17th, 2009
  16. love the google suggestion. i always tell people when they’re stuck on their diets that google can spice things up :)

    Fitness Forum wrote on March 17th, 2009
  17. pack that lunch! I just bought a case of very primal wild sardines in olive oil for like a buck a can(25-case)at a “cash-n-carry”. Saurkraut rules! The only problem whith watching my budget is its conflicting with my desire to buy high quality meats.

    warren wrote on March 17th, 2009
  18. I have been making soups for dinner! It’s so easy and I just add frozen veggies, beans, onion and garlic and bouillon cube and lots of filtered water. It’s the easiest thing and so affordable. Sometimes you eat healthier in a recession because you have less to spend and the healthiest foods are the most affordable.

    HelloKittyfan wrote on March 18th, 2009
  19. Well that was disappointing. As a person who deals with hereditary clinical depression I saw “Depression Diet” and hoped it was somehow geared toward people like me and how to manage the binge eating tendencies, etc.

    Stacey wrote on March 19th, 2009
    • depression ,trauma & adrenal fatigue
      good explanations in the book
      adrenal fatigue- explains trauma & its effects on body – and how the writer helped his clients (including catatonic,
      violent, addicted ,cravings, insomnia, etc.
      good explanation of how nerves, glands, hormones,brain- and how they get damaged
      good info on avoiding harmful people,or situations,jobs, family, etc to save yourself.-peace,hope- louise-member SIA

      louise mollot wrote on June 21st, 2010
    • Me too, Stace.

      Rebecca wrote on April 10th, 2011
  20. Hmm.. I posted a recipe but don’t see it??

    Ellen wrote on March 20th, 2009
  21. Some partly relevant ideas here

    http://diabetesupdate.blogspot.com/2009/02/diabetes-on-budget.html

    This is well worth a look

    http://mendosa.com/satiety.htm

    you can dilute expensive stuff with high satiety things to stretch them further

    Also things which look expensive can be good value, that Proper Chicken may look expensive compared to the supermarket version but won’t be injected with extra water and due to the quality you may be able to get another meal out of it.

    Likewise venison or game will be satiating with a smaller portion than the el cheapo meatlike substances more commonly available

    Trinkwasser wrote on March 20th, 2009
  22. Great Information….

    Chris wrote on April 12th, 2009
  23. This may be a bit off-topic. But I can’t find a more appropriate thread.

    I have just finished my baked chicken thighs with a glass of water and was wondering how “balanced” Grok’s meals were.

    Did the men folk bring in the wild boar and women dress it up with side dishes of berries and leaves or did they gorge on nothing but animal protein?

    Then another day, no boar, but found a berry patch, so dinner is nothing but berries.

    Conventionally we assume there is wisdom in “balanced meals”–Has anyone looked at the physiology of unbalanced meals? Might there be some benefit to single-food meals?

    ron t wrote on March 10th, 2010
  24. When I can afford it I buy stuff that “lasts forever” (canned food for example). Then if I have a bad month and end up being broke I have maybe 15 meals just sitting in a cupboard. It’s a bit dull, but it will fill my stomach well enough until I get the next paycheck.

    Also, some things like eggs and black pudding (and porridge (yes, I know, wrong site)) is cheap food with lots of “meat-type” nutrition.

    Veronica wrote on June 21st, 2010
  25. One thing I do to save money and avoid throwing away veggies that I couldn’t eat before they start to wilt – I make soups with them. I call them my “kitchen sink” soups because they contain any and everything that I have on hand and don’t know what to do with or just plain need to use up. I made a great fish stew the other day loaded with parsnips, celery, onions, garlic, canned diced organic tomatoes, tomato paste, left-over chicken stock, 1 fillet of mahi mahi, 2 fillets of cod and some shrimp from the freezer. It was delicious and full of good primal ingredients. :)

    Amanda wrote on August 31st, 2010
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    Alldietus wrote on March 20th, 2011
  27. i cant eat

    Farah wrote on April 5th, 2012

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