(I had closed the scholarship applications, but am reopening it for the a few more half scholarships if you aren’t able to pay full tuition for the ecourse. Please email me at kimi (dot) harris (at) gmail (dot) com, if you are interested).
Can you eat a nourishing diet on a budget? My ecourse, A Peasant’s Feast: Nourishing Food on a Budget, is all about answering that question in detail (starting in just a few days!). But I am not the expert. I am just a mom trying to do the best with her resources. However, I find it comforting to know that Weston Price (the inspiration for Sally Fallon Morell’s book, Nourishing Traditions and for many of us), also had to face this issue because he lived through the Great Depression.You can read more about him here.
We can take comfort in knowing that we aren’t the first ones who have had to be on a budget before! Weston Price’s goal was to make sure that children didn’t suffer from malnutrition during a tight time. So he gave advice on what was most important to eat and buy. I thought his advice was interesting and helpful so I thought I would give a few quotes and thoughts from one of this letters to his nieces and nephews in 1934.
1. “I am deeply interested not only in your health individually but in the efficiency and welfare of your families. It is particularly important in these times of industrial and financial stress, that children shall not suffer defeats which may mark and handicap them for their entire life. Fortunately, an adequately defensive nutritional program can be provided without much expense and indeed often more cheaply than the currently selected foods. ”
2. He gave advice for overall principles rather than a daily menu plan.
3. Concentrate on foods high in nutrients. Our appetite can be satisfied on nutrient lacking food. “Modern civilizations had modified this by providing us with menus that tend to be too high in calories and to low in mineral content.”
4. “Cereals (not cold cereal, but whole grains), milk and sea foods are the foods that Nature has provided us with in natural form, which will satisfy our hunger and will at the same time take care of our body’s requirements.”
5. Get vitamins, especially the fat soluable vitamins (such as vitamin A and D) from food, not synthetic vitamins.
6. Don’t concentrate on fruits, they are overrated nutritionally.
7. “The basic foods should be the entire grains such as whole wheat rye or oats whole wheat and rye breads, wheat and oat cereals, oat-cake, dairy products, including milk and cheese, which should be used liberally, and marine foods. All marine or sea foods, both fresh and salt water are high in minerals and constitute one of the very best foods you could eat. ”
8. “Cut down on starches and sugars. Sweet things satisfy the hunger and provide calories and thus not only displace foods higher in minerals, but reduce the total amount of food eaten by satisfying the appetite. Reduce white flour products and pastries to a minimum.”
9. Eat pastured butter and take cod liver oil ( a little with each meal).
10. “The protein requirement can be provided each day in one egg or a piece of meat equivalent to the bulk of one egg a day. The meals can be amply modified and varied with vegetables, raw and cooked, the best of the cooked vegetables being lentils used as a soup.”
11. Eat cooked cereal made with freshly ground grains with cream and just enough sweetener to lightly sweeten.
12. Snack idea: Whole grain muffins made with freshly ground wheat and slathered with pastured butter (served with lightly sweetened applesauce).
13. Avoid skimmed milk.
Thanks Dr. Price for some great advice!
Do you have any thoughts to share on his advice? Or do you have further advice for how to eat nutritional food on a budget?
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“6. Don’t concentrate on fruits, they are overrated nutritionally.”
I agree. Fruits have been made sweeter by thousands of years of agriculture, to the point that now they are not much better than candy. The best fruit choices are the non-sweet fruits like tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, and avocados.
Domesticated fruits have similar levels of sugars to wild fruits.
Modern fruits seem to taste sweeter because they are less acid, less bitter and less fibrous than their wild counterparts. They have not been bred to have higher sugar content.
Yeah, Jim! It’s like blog blog said…the sugar is the same, but the vitamin c (sour acid), insoluble fiber, and medicinal bitters have been bred out of them. Get it straight.😏
I *loved* this, Kimi. Milk, whole grains, and seafood huh? I know that we don’t eat nearly enough seafood, but we are upping our organ meats, so hopefully that is helping?
We also do very little grains, but lots of vegetables which I am guessing are fairly interchangeable.
I also loved what you said about fruit. It is a treat in our home, not a daily food.
Jana @ Weekend Vintage
Well said…thanks for all the encouragement. It is difficult. Our food bill has increased so much now that we are eating better but I think the trade off is worth it.
What I like most is his emphasis on getting good fats with all those grains and legumes. He doesn’t just say to eat cereals & legumes (the typical filler to a diet on a budget), but to eat them with plenty of butter & cream!
I wonder if he included all that “marine food” in his meat-the-portion-of-an-egg requirement, or if he viewed that separately (segregating “meat” from “marine food”)? I’m guessing he probably used quite a bit of seafood, and even used fish broth a lot as the base for his soups. But I can’t imagine just one egg or just one egg-sized portion of fish being enough protein for a day. I can, however, imagine saying one egg is enough IF you’re also getting plenty of fats, broth, grains & legumes, and some extra bits of seafood thrown in to round out the vegetables.
i also cant see how one egg only, per day, would be enoug protien. an egg has only 6-7 grams protien.
Very interesting! It’s nice he didn’t throw the taste buds to the way side even on an extreme budget. Butter makes everything taste better. 🙂
The Coconut Mama
Great information! I really enjoyed reading this, Kimi.
Thanks for sharing!
Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
I think potatoes are a great addition to the diet: nutritious and affordable. A lot of people shun the potato because of low-carb beliefs or the misconception that anything white is inherently unhealthy (white sugar and potatoes are not even close to the same thing). Potatoes have a very wide range of vitamins and minerals, fewer anti-nutrients compared to most vegetables and grains, and are a great medium for our good friend, grass-fed butter. In mashed pototoes you can incorporate some raw cream/milk or creme fraiche as well.
People should remember that butter and cream don’t have to be used in monstrous portions in order to be healthy. Nothing against low-carb or high-fat diets at all. Just encouraging people to use high-quality fats and dairy products, even if they seem a little expensive. A little goes a long way in nourishing the body. You don’t have to down a stick of butter a day to get good results.
why is it assumed that if people are encouraged to eat butter and cream the amounts will be “monstrous”? just curious, as i’ve heard this sentiment before. it strikes me as a fear of “if i eat some fat i’ll ONLY eat fat and then i’ll become a fat person”. personally, i use butter, and olive oil, to taste and maintain a very healty body size (thin, but not skinny).
It still amazes me that what “traditional” thinking of what is fattening, is in reality not so much when taken back to the wholesome ways of the past. That infact, these things that most say are what makes you fat are the complete opposite, they have many health benefits and are great for your body. When I started learning about eating more wholesome foods, I told it to my husband this way, basically what we eat is not the problem, it the quality of what we eat that is. Our bodies are not made to digest the added chemicals, preservitives, colors, flavors etc. It still surprises me though, the idea of eating plenty of butter and cream. Whole raw milk. Cheese. I must say I love the idea 😉 What another great bit of advice, another great post!
So, a few years ago I finally stopped worrying about how much fat I was eating. I figured if the advice that grass-fed animal fats were good for you was wrong and I gained weight then I’d just go back to low fat stuff. We switched from skim milk and yogurt to full fat (organic as always and raw when we can get it), started eating as much butter, pastured lard, and our own pastured eggs as we felt like and never made sure the meat we ate was lean again. I’m happy to say that my weight stayed about the same…might have lost a little. The only weight gain I’ve noticed in the past few years has been over the past 10 months or so when I got a more sedentary job and started eating more sugary, white flour treats (the kind people bring to work to share). I haven’t been to the doctor in a while and I am interested in what my cholesterol levels are like (it’s not unusual to eat 5 or 6 eggs a day since we raise them) although I expect them to be better than they were.
Very timely. I’m doing GAPS at the moment and my beans and lentils haven’t come in yet. It is hard to keep everything under budget when we are eating so much fresh veggies, even with the excellent deals at the farmer’s market. Great reminder for when we are off GAPS that grains are not evil, but can be very nutritious when prepared properly. I’m trying to learn the tips to make protein stretch too. Thanks for such a helpful post!
I think he must mean something different by “protein” than what we think of as protein. I just don’t think 6 grams of protein per day is enough. There is protein in most of the other foods he mentioned, so he must have meant that in conjunction with all those other foods, you don’t need a large amount of meat/similar just to get enough protein.
I think he perhaps was talking about “animal protein”. He considered lentils a “vegetable”, after all. 🙂
In Canada, diabetics are told not to eat white potatoes. We are restricted to 3 fruits a day and, in season, I love berries and stone fruits. I also love water with lemon juice.
I find it interesting that uncooked (prepared) cereal is not mentioned. I haven’t found one I like. I would like to use granola as a cereal or a snack, but I have yet to find one without too much sweetener.
I try to eat foods without additives and prefer full-fat (which is not a lot … 3%, I believe) dairy products.
I don’t know how popular prepared cereal was in the 30’s but it isn’t nutritious or frugal. Packaged cereals are expensive, usually contain preservatives, are often extruded (which negates nutrients), and are sweet. The oils in bought granola are usually rancid and exceedingly sweet. You can make your own fairly cheaply, and if you are into preparing grains certain ways that can be done too.
It does seem extreme to limit protein to only 6 grams per day, but we have to remember this was written at a time when food budgets were slashed several times and then slashed again. My mother remembered kids in the 30’s coming to school with nothing for lunch…it made her beans seem much better to her. She also remembered a family moving to their area and the children bringing lard sandwiches for lunch. She felt sorry for them, but in reality they may have been eating very well according to Dr. Price!
There’s also a note in Nourishing Traditions that I find greatly reassuring in relation to serving smaller portions of protein to my family from time to time. “…[broth] acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Thus, gelatin-rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets.” Nourishing Traditions pp.116-117. A good reason to cook legumes, grains, etc. in broth, or to drink it with vegetable meals when we aren’t making soups or sauces from it.
I suspect that he was referring to animal protein, since he mentioned other sources of protein, like lentils and whole grains. 🙂
I discovered the whole nourishing food thing not long ago. It’s such a relief to finally have answers to my nutritional issues, and the food I’m eating is so much more satisfying and tasty since I’ve stopped worrying about fat content. Pastured butter is fantastic! Sometimes I just eat thin slivers of it for the taste. I guess I’m confused about whole grains. More research to be done for me on preparing it correctly. I’ve already started soaking oats and brown rice with water and a spoonful of yogurt and it really makes a difference.
Interesting to see that he mentions ‘freshly ground wheat/grain’ (#11-12) and doesn’t specify soaking. I’ve heard that if you use grains immediately after they’ve been ground, they don’t have the anti-nutrient danger that they would after sitting for hours or days. Thoughts, anyone?
Right after the grains are ground they contain phytase (the enzyme that helps break down the phytic acid). That’s one reason why freshly ground flour is better. Dr. Price never actually discussed raw milk or soaking grains. However, when he was working with the children to help heal them, he used raw milk and his whole wheat bread was both made from freshly ground wheat (so it contained the phytase) and had a long rising time to help break down the phytic acid more.
This article privdes no advise aboutr how to do this on a budget. It just repeats WP’s mantra. The wolrd needs energy from food. everything we eat gets converted into glucose regardless of weather they are fat, protein or carbohydrates. Only people who don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from worry about such nonsense. Yes minerals andvitamins are important but why? WP does never addressed the growing pollution from industry and diesel exhaust as a cause of diesease. He only focused on the lack of good nutrition. We have to ask ourselves why vitamins and minerals are important. We need antioxidants regardless of where they are coming from (fat soluble or not!)