Are warning labels on food a good idea?

Every now and then we hear people calling for warning labels on food with high salt, sugar or fat content. Is this a good idea?

We have all heard about the evils of salt, sugar and fat.  All of these are good in moderation, and are found in almost everything we eat. 

But our modern packaged-food society seems to get an overdose of all three. Most packaged foods have extra salt, sugar and fat added to provide artificial taste, texture and preservation. [Read more…]

The frugal shopper’s guide to protein

Protein is one of the most important nutrients in our diet.  It is the one responsible for growth and bodily repair.  It is also one of the most expensive nutrients, which is why the protein part of your meal (the meat) costs the most.

But wait!  Not all protein is as expensive as your filet mignon.

So I set out to put together a short study of the various sources of protein readily available and their cost, as much for my own use as for blogging here.  The goal is to find out how I can get a complete serving of protein for under a dollar.

I used the assumption that a complete serving is 20 grams, although you might want more right after a workout…and also you should have some between meals, because 60 grams of protein per day is pretty low.

Before reporting the results of my study, I must offer two big caveats:

  • First, I am strictly reporting on the cost of various sources of protein.  I am not judging the value of the sources, some of which might have a lot more fat or sodium than others, or a lot more other important nutrients than others.
  • Second, prices vary.  They vary from store to store.  They vary over time.  They vary from brand to brand or even from package size to package size.  I attempted to report pricing based on the most common package size available at regular grocery stores.  Specialty stores might sell for more, discount stores for less – and, of course, you can always get your protein for less by watching for sales, couponing and all the other sorts of things that a frugal-minded shopper will do.

One last thing before reporting the results, because I really need to get this off my chest…

funny gifs
Yes, trying to convert back and forth between grams and kilograms and ounces and pounds and cups and… Aaauurgghhh!

Well, now that that’s over with, here are the results:

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So you can see that there are several fairly frugal alternatives to steak. For instance, making a milk shake or a smoothie with protein powder allows you to control both the taste and the levels of other nutrients. I often add some protein powder to “milk shakes” (mostly fruit, some milk and just a little ice cream) as a snack for my kids.

Peanut butter is also quite inexpensive, although pretty high in fat. Peanut butter on a whole grain bread gives a nice between-meals level of protein.

Do you enjoy mixed nuts? Very healthy, great for protein, but not great for fat if you eat too much of them. Make sure you have plenty of peanuts and dry soy beams in the mix – a great frugal way to add protein, and the soy beans will dilute the overall fat content.

READ ALSO: Get a $1000 Raise With Your Personal Fast Food Outlet

Turkey and canned tuna are still the cheapest meat sources of protein. Both make great sandwiches or great salad toppings.

Chick peas and lentils are both also quite cheap and very healthy. Both go well in pretty much any salad or soup, and most meat dishes. The only problem with them is that to get enough protein form them alone, you would have to eat an awful lot. However, they are not complete sources of protein, so they would need rice or bread or some other grain with them, anyway.

Rounding out the under-a-dollar sources of protein are eggs, milk and chicken. Most people drink milk anyway for the vitamin D and the calcium, but it can also be a great source of between-meals protein. Chicken is very similar to turkey, but usually pricier (although often on sale – hint, hint). And eggs are packed with other nutrients, too, and if you don’t mind it turning out more like scrambled eggs, you can usually squeeze more veggies into an omelet than eggs.

As for the rest of the protein sources, some of them are also very healthy in many ways, but they will cost more. So if you are committed to frugal, there is only one thing you can do about these – watch for coupons and specials.


Top 10 nutritious foods

We are blessed with so much variety of foods that we are truly spoiled. But what if that variety suddenly disappeared? What if we were left with just ten foods?

Imagine you were stranded on a desert island and had only 10 foods at your disposal.  For your health you had better hope there was more than cheesecake, chocolate truffles and jelly beans.  Most lists of the world’s top ten most nutritious foods don’t seem to take variety of nutrients across all ten foods into account – the balance between the top ten.  Many of those lists have only fruits and vegetables on them, and occasionally salmon.

READ ALSO: World’s healthiest foods

The truth is, it is incredibly hard to choose just ten foods, but these are my picks.

For the record, I am no dietician, but I believe these make a good combination of pretty much all the nutrients we need.  I would love to hear some discussion of this, so please provide some feedback in the comment space below.

  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Almonds
  • Blueberries
  • Milk (1%)
  • Multigrain bread (kind of cheating, I know)
  • Cantaloupes
  • Garlic
  • Beans (not sure which type, maybe lentils)
  • *

Of course, the reality of being trapped on a desert island would be that you would have mostly fish and leaves to eat, but this is just for fun.

READ ALSO: The frugal shopper’s guide to protein

Now tell me…what ten foods would you choose if you were stranded on your own (And “the buffet” doesn’t count!)
* If I get to choose an 11th food, maybe I would slip in a slice of cheesecake here. After all, you need something to eat with the blueberries.

Nutrition for Happiness

What are the world’s healthiest foods? Here is a good list, well organized to make it simple, and loaded with information for those who want the nitty gritty details.

I ran across this list of the world’s healthiest foods.  Of course, every list is subjective, but I like how this particular list is organized.

If you look carefully, the categories are actually in order. They don’t mix the foods from different categories and try to compare apples with…well…bologna, for example.  For instance, vegetables is the first category, whereas natural sweeteners are at the bottom.  Since half our plates are supposed to be vegetables, this makes sense.  If half our plates were sweeteners, I think I might be sick – very quickly.

And if you click on any of the 129 healthy foods, you get a very detailed explanation of why and how it is healthy.  I was surprised to see spices on the list, thinking they were just flavoring eaten in too small a quantity to really provide much health at all.  But I learned better.  I now know that I need just two teaspoons of cinnamon in my cake to get 10% of my daily intake of iron.  Of course, I would have to eat the whole cake (heh, heh).  But even a little cinnamon added to one’s diet helps with several minerals.

READ ALSO: My top ten food picks

Of course, the healthier we eat, the happier we feel, so get cooking with fresh, natural, home-made ingredients.

Healthy eating is an art form