The Depression Diet

The 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

TAGS:  mental health

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42 thoughts on “The Depression Diet”

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  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.

  2. 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:


  3. 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.


  4. 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…

  5. 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.


  6. 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?).

  7. Good tip, Marc. And for everyone that doesn’t know, “Top Blade” is also (and I think more commonly) known as flat iron steak.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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’

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    1. 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

  17. Some partly relevant ideas here

    This is well worth a look

    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

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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. 🙂

  21. Even I lived in a constant state of depression. Reason can be anything but ultimately its the unhealthy thinking that makes us depressed. I was very very lucky to find thoughts from Pandit Sri Ram Sharma Acharya’s literature. His thoughts and teachings were enough to get me out of my depressed state of mind. I didn’t take any medicine for depression and now I’m fit. People do everything to come out of depression. I’ll suggest everyone to go through His literature. Maybe it can help you. You can find his thoughts and literature here-