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A Day In The Life of my Supposedly Frugal Stomach

Kicking Ass with Money is much like healthy eating and joyful living. It’s a series of daily habits that get you ahead, rather than a one-time heroic effort that fixes all your problems so you can go back to whatever you were doing before.

Because of this parallel, the subject of food is one of the nicest examples of Mustachian living, and one of the most powerful and efficient things to master.

Your eating choices will drastically affect your budget (especially if you are raising a family), but they also affect your health, energy levels, productivity, and happiness. The path to a great life goes directly across your dinner plate, so it is important to take this shit seriously and not mess around with your nutrition.

I’ve written about food several times before, sometimes with a focus on recipes or costs or general principles. But people often don’t believe me – they think I am either lying about my family’s grocery spending, eating a diet that is poor in nutritional value, or at least spending an inordinate amount of time on meal planning and preparation.

The truth is none of these things, although the actual story may still surprise you. So I thought that instead of issuing vague commandments like the preacher I am, I could share my functional and (somewhat) affordable eating style, even though it’s unusual and surely not for everyone.

So I’ll lay out a single day’s nutrition strategy, and why I think it is a good one. And then you can choose whether to ridicule it on Reddit, or adopt any tricks from it that you like for your own family. Are you ready? Then let’s take a trip into the MMM kitchen!

Alongside the Table Saw, the Cutting Board is also a favorite tool.

The first bit of crazy is that when I’m home, I eat almost the same thing every day. My son eats exactly the same thing every day* for now, and Mrs. MM runs her own show, perhaps with a bit more variety than either of us. This is a unique situation in our family that is different from most, and it adds extra complexity but fortunately not extra cost. You play with the cards you are dealt.

Most Important is your Eating Philosophy

For most people, food is just an automatic routine. They eat whatever seems tasty whenever they are hungry. People with stronger passions (sometimes known as Foodies), spend a large part of their day and mental energy seeking out perfect ingredients and flavors and meals. And for many, eating is an addiction – food calls to them (especially desserts and snacks), and they fight this addiction with varying degrees of success. People with a busy urban social life like New Yorkers get most of their food from restaurants, which throws both the nutrition content and the monthly cost into a randomizing hat.

The problem with all of these philosophies is that each is a huge gamble, with your life as the stakes. Because depending on your body chemistry and the foods you choose, you can end up anywhere on the health scale – I have met sweating car bound 25 year-old office workers who could barely stroll from the parking lot to the building, and also know a ripped 65 year-old carpenter who can still frame a three-story house by himself. The difference in the diets of these two men is as stark as the contrast in their physiques.

So my eating philosophy has always been that of the Engineer/Robot. Design each meal and each day’s food intake, according to my body’s current needs. Since my activity level changes drastically (yesterday’s mountain hike requires several times more calories than today’s work on this blog article), the food intake has to change accordingly. And since I don’t always get things exactly right, the mirror tells me when it’s time to make adjustments.

And finally, I’m a big fan of high standards and not fooling yourself. Stay lean and keep your body in condition to work hard. Learn to use the mirror, the measuring tape, and the scale as allies rather than generators of guilt and fear. If you’re not there yet, keep yourself moving in the right direction rather than being complacent. For example, if my abs get paved over with fat, I’ll adjust the variables below to go into fat loss mode until the problem is corrected. On the other hand, if I’m getting too skinny and trying to put on strength and weight, I’ll add the extra meals back in.

The Weird MMM Meal Plan

Breakfast

I have come to think of Breakfast as the time of Breaking the Fast.. but by now we all know that fasting is good for you, right?  So the design of your breakfast presents an interesting life-boosting opportunity: When you wake up, you’re already in a nice low-blood-sugar state, which means your body is beginning to think about burning fats as a source of energy (ketosis). This means that you can just prolong the fast by skipping breakfast and just enjoying some coffee or water, or take a softer approach and at least have a breakfast that is very low in sugar. So I do this:

  • Espresso Coffee with Whole milk and Coconut oil
  • A handful of mixed nuts
  • A few squares of dark chocolate (85%)

Subjectively, I find this breakfast is satisfying and delicious, but also keeps my body in low-sugar mode so I can begin a day of physical labor without hunger – and potentially work as long as I want, even skipping lunch and running on stored bodyfat if desired. (Note, I make the espresso with this cheap but good espresso machine and heat/fluff the milk and coconut oil together to get the result in that picture).

The end result is this nutrition profile:

note: all nutrient weights are in grams

At this point, you may be asking, “Wait, does Mustache really weigh and analyze his food?” – and the answer is “sorta.” While I endeavor to lead a relaxed, hippy lifestyle, the Engineer/Robot side is always in the background running the numbers. If you have at least a rough idea of the nutrition content of what you are eating, you will have a far easier time getting the results you want.

Mid Morning Snack

After breakfast, I usually bike downtown to a mixture of construction and weight training in the back “prisonyard” of the MMM-HQ Coworking space. After a few hours of this, I am ready for a bit more nutrition:

  • A giant salad
  • Plenty of water, or even the indulgence of a second cup of coffee

These big salads are a big part of my daily food expenditure and effort, but probably an even bigger part of my health. So they are definitely worth it. I make it easier by making salad in bulk every few days, and starting with a base of a pre-made $2.28 Kale Salad Kit from Sam’s/Costco. This provides a bunch of greens and saves much chopping. But I discard the crappy sugary dressing that comes with the kit and use my own olive oil-based dressing, also made in bulk from high quality ingredients also bought in bulk, (like 3 Liter Jugs of olive oil!)

I may throw in a protein bar (30g protein, $1.00) to this snack, depending on the intensity of the work.

Lunch

After the midmorning snack, I am back out for quality time with the saws and ladders for a few more hours, which feels great on a relatively light load of food because the body is burning clean and lean. The low carbohydrate nature of everything I have eaten so far keeps the hunger level so low that I could even work right through and skip lunch if needed, or if I were trying to lose fat. But since I’m currently at roughly right fat level and not wanting to be any lighter than I am, I break at around 2PM for something like this:

I have been on a bit of a Tilapia binge in recent months, because they are almost too convenient and tasty and easy to prepare. So much so, that I jokingly refer to them as “marriage savers” – there is no need to fret over whose turn it is to prepare dinner, if something with such a good nutrition profile is always in the freezer and just 15 toaster oven minutes away from your tongue.

While the nutrition profile is good, they are still a bit of an expensive source of protein. $2.00 sounds like chump change, but the same protein can be had for under fifty cents from other sources like bean and rice combinations, eggs, or even whey protein supplements.

A cost difference of just $1.50 per person per meal, multiplied over a four-person family’s 372 meals per month makes a difference of $558 per month, or about $96,000 per decade after compounding.

Yes, that is a hundred grand, and this is just the difference between a semi-frugal $2.00 meal component and a fifty cent equivalent from, say, your crock pot.

Imagine, then, the effect that impulse grocery purchases like those little $7.49 packs of sushi would make, if you casually toss them in the cart on a regular basis? A decade of a family’s innocent-seeming Whole Foods indulgence could pay for a house outright, while leaving them no better nourished than wiser meal planning with bulk ingredients.

Put a crock pot and a Costco membership to good use, and just watch what happens to your bank account.

Now, I took that sushi picture on my own kitchen table, so we too are guilty of this indulgence. But we are long past financial independence, and even then it is a rare purchase. The overall lesson is just, again, to take this shit seriously – make sure you appreciate every food purchase above beans-and-rice level as a conscious luxury rather than just a habit. And if you are in debt, no sushi for you!

Dinner

Another typical dinner – main dish is based on potatoes/veggies plus fancy sausages baked into a cheese-laden casserole.

Around 3:30pm in the afternoon, I’ll walk or bike home from “work”, so I can be there when my son returns home from school – one of the biggest rewards of early retirement. One of us parents will cook him a homemade pizza at this point (I pre-make the personal size shells and keep them in stacks in the freezer), so he can recharge with about 480 calories from a delicious meal that costs only about 50 cents to make.

Then us Adults will usually collaborate to make something like pulled-pork tacos:

 

On the side, we might add chopped fresh vegetables, more salad, or something more substantial as the appetites require. Like the filets, it’s not the cheapest possible way to get a meal, but at least it is reasonable. Also, we are omnivores, which is a more expensive and polluting way to get protein – but if you’re not badass enough to eat vegetarian you can at least make a substantial dent in your eco footprint by making beef your last choice of meats.

Adding it All Up

Although it took me quite a few hours to collect all this data on what I eat and add it up in a spreadsheet, the results have been quite interesting because I had never done it before. With just the stuff described above, I arrived at this point:

 

And the numbers were a bit surprising to me, in the following ways:

  • I am spending a lot more on food than I thought. If all three of us ate the way I do, our annual grocery bill would be $8600, not counting additional indulgences or food for parties. Since our real bill is closer to $6000, you can see that I am doing more than my share of the spending. Then again, I do weigh more than both Little MM and his mother combined , so perhaps this is fair.
  • My base calorie level is about right for my age and height for a moderately active person, but on active days I need closer to 4000 calories (if you look up a 185 pound male “athlete” for the baseline)
  • My base protein level is also about right for moderate activity, but on highly physical or weight training days I like to boost that to one gram per pound of bodyweight.
  • So while everything in this article is detailed and accurate so far, I tend to eat a variable amount of additional food to meet hunger needs, scaling it all up and down depending on what the mirror says. I use one or more of the following boosts.

Boosts

  • Handfuls of Nuts (1 ounce worth, 160 calories)
  • Protein Smoothie (banana, peanut butter, plain yogurt, tiny bit of milk, ice, water, and vanilla protein mix – about 1000 calories and 40 grams protein)
  • 2-3 simple eggs cooked in olive oil with a bit of cheese: 500 calories, 20 grams of protein, 50 cents or so.
  • Avocado toast: 3 eggs, some shredded cheese, avocado, all on a piece of whole wheat toast with butter. A truly decadent weight gainer of a snack, although quite cheap. Leave out toast if you are not trying to maintain or gain weight. 1000 calories, plenty of nutrients about a buck.

 

 

*and while I won’t explain this in detail here, parents of children with his personality type will understand without question. It is something people do tend to grow out of as they get older and gain confidence with new experiences.

 

  • Steveark May 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    I was feeling pretty good about my 60ish self for getting up and running five miles with my wife and some running friends at 5:30 this morning. And then my wife and I took a high impact tennis lesson for over an hour in some brutal heat and humidity barely stopping the drills long enough to get a drink of water. But then you had to start in on the food thing! Cause on our way home from tennis we drove through, wait for it……Taco Bell! The least healthy fast food on the planet maybe? Anyway we did just split one entree, so it was only half of a calorie laden, nutrition deficient meal. And it was awfully tasty and was only $3 each. But yeah, eat that everyday and you won’t need much of a retirement nest egg cause you ain’t livin past 65.

    Reply
    • Neil May 15, 2018, 12:36 pm

      “eat that everyday and you won’t need much of a retirement nest egg cause you ain’t livin past 65”
      That sounds like a win-win to me. : )

      Reply
    • Jason May 15, 2018, 1:47 pm

      I don’t think eating half an entree of Taco Bell once after running 5 miles and an intense Tennis camp will kill you too quickly. Most of us (hiding head in shame) may eat two of those entrees after that much exercise.

      I agree with MMM wholeheartedly that “it is important” to eat a healthy diet! Still, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a small cheat once in a rare while if you’re doing everything else right.

      Reply
    • Travis May 15, 2018, 2:41 pm

      I wouldn’t say Taco Bell is the least healthy fast food on the planet, but that’s only because I don’t consider their products to be food :) They serve food-like substances that look like food and sort of taste like food.

      Reply
      • MikeIOW May 16, 2018, 5:03 am

        Interesting….on a US road trip with our kids, we were astonished at how nice Taco Bell was!
        I planned the main route, but one of their goals was to try aws many US fast food places as they could (esp if not in the UK!)…..
        IHOP was the only one good enough that we went to twice!

        Reply
        • Gabe May 22, 2018, 6:37 am

          IHOP isn’t international?!?

          Reply
          • Adam June 21, 2018, 8:05 am

            We have IHOP in Canada so it is at least a little international ;)

            Reply
      • Bob August 21, 2018, 10:06 am

        From what I remember it does taste good.

        Reply
    • Jim Wang May 15, 2018, 4:57 pm

      I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell in years but what I remember is that it’s tasty, cheap… but you pay for it later. This isn’t some cheap stupid “oh mexican food does this” joke, but I think my body just isn’t able to process their mixture of high fat and grease in Taco Bell.

      Reply
    • Chris May 16, 2018, 4:01 am

      Hey don’t feel too bad. Taco Bell was just ranked one of the healthiest.

      http://www.wideopeneats.com/know-taco-bell-become-one-healthiest-fast-food-chains/

      Reply
    • Cubert May 16, 2018, 4:17 am

      I don’t believe there are any Taco Bells in Blue Zones. But hell, who wants to live to 100 when there’s a tasty chalupa double-decker to be had! ;-)

      Reply
      • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 16, 2018, 7:44 am

        We’re not big fans of Taco Bells and don’t eat it often. Our treat/guilty pleasure for us is those Chinese buffets that make you eat like there’s no tomorrow because there’s so much good food and you want to get the most out of your dollars. We will probably pay for it later in life though >_<

        Reply
      • Derek May 17, 2018, 10:59 am

        Definitely no Taco Bells in Blue Zones! And btw, I would argue that no fast food is healthy. However, Taco Bell does at least have some “healthier” options compared to other fast food chains. For example, the seven layer burrito without the sour cream and cheese is a healthier alternative. Doing that will make it loaded with beans, guac, rice, and other veggies. Oh, and it happens to be vegan too ;).

        Reply
  • Mr. Tako May 15, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Family of four here that eats *very well* on $500/month. (Sometimes even a little less!) So I can confirm those numbers are pretty accurate. You don’t need to spend a lot to eat like a king (and stay healthy).

    Reply
    • Lily May 15, 2018, 4:11 pm

      Yes you do eat well Mr. Tako. I’m starting to feel like grocery prices must be cheaper in the Pacific Northwest than elsewhere or something. We eat very well too (2.5 people for $300-350/month). People ask how we do it and I’m like…”It’s not hard, it’s actually quite easy. I don’t understand how you’re spending that much – what are you buying?”

      Reply
    • Ramona May 16, 2018, 6:00 am

      Absolutely. We are 3 (4 with our Carpathian Shepherd dog, who has his own food and some leftovers from us) and can easily eat healthily and not break the bank.

      My secret is: cook at home. I don’t purchase pre-made stuff, as much as I can, but make my own. The meals are delicious and very healthy. Very important for us, especially since we have a 4 year old and I’d like her to stay as fit as possible.

      Reply
  • Adam May 15, 2018, 12:21 pm

    We’ve been on a nuts kick lately, but salted roasted almonds bottom out around $5-$6 a pound on sale… still kinda up there. What’s your avocado strategy? Buy in bulk and store in the fridge? Seems the ripeness sweet spot can be hit or miss.

    Thanks for pulling back the curtain!

    Reply
    • Travis May 15, 2018, 2:43 pm

      “We’ve been on a nuts kick lately…”

      Ouch!

      Reply
    • threewolfmoon May 15, 2018, 8:29 pm

      Buy avocados (unripe) in bulk and store in the fridge – they will stay good for at least a couple of weeks. Put one (or as many as you normally would eat in a day) out on the counter every day to ripen. Just keep track of which one is which – you’ll have as many ripe avocados as you want.

      Reply
    • Lauren May 16, 2018, 1:13 pm

      Better than putting it just on the counter, put them in a paper bag with an apple/banana. The ethylene gas will ripen them pretty quickly. It’s the only method I’ve found that works well.

      Reply
    • CapitalistRoader May 16, 2018, 3:40 pm

      Sprouts has raw almonds on sale now for $4/lb and a couple of times a year they have them for $3/lb. Dissolve a 1/4 cup of salt in a cup of boiling water, pour it along with any other spices on three pounds of raw almonds, roast them in the oven on a sheet pan for a half an hour, mixing them up once.

      Raw almonds will keep in a glass container in a dark, cool cabinet for months. No plastic containers; it will give them an icky flavor.

      Reply
    • Nika May 16, 2018, 7:57 pm

      In addition to the ripening, I’ve started only buying avocados that still have the stem intact, and have much better luck with getting fully edible avocados. As soon as they have a little “give” to them, I stash in the fridge and they’re good for several days. Thanks for the tip on putting unripened ones in the fridge; I will try that next time they’re on sale.

      Reply
    • Noel Grandin May 17, 2018, 12:52 am

      Almonds are much cheaper raw, and trivial to roast on a flat backing tray in the oven.

      Reply
      • Adam May 17, 2018, 12:44 pm

        Thanks for the tips, everyone! I’m kind of excited to get my healthy fats on.

        Reply
  • Lily May 15, 2018, 12:23 pm

    “The overall lesson is just, again, to take this shit seriously.”

    Hahaha yes it is serious! Overall nutrition is important and I don’t believe in skimping if you can afford it – if it’s important to you. Out of everything I can obsess over (clothes, games, makeup etc.) food takes the literal cake. It’s usually the top 3 for most families and it adds up.

    There’s plenty of debtors dining on sushi sadly. It is ridiculously good though…if we banned debtors from sushi, I believe with faith we could wipe at least a million dollars from the American debt total ;)

    Reply
    • Cubert May 15, 2018, 12:34 pm

      “There’s plenty of debtors dining on sushi sadly. It is ridiculously good though…if we banned debtors from sushi, I believe with faith we could wipe at least a million dollars from the American debt total ;)”

      …That, and we could avoid over-fishing our oceans into a plastic-coated cesspool.

      Reply
      • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 4:11 pm

        Micro-plastics, heavy metals, dioxins, and environmental pollutants make fish not as healthy as it once was.

        Reply
        • CZ_Technically_Frugal May 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

          There is no problem with sushi. It’s pretty cheap meal, because most of it is rice.

          The trick is to roll it yourself instead of buying prepared one. It’s the best with backyard-grown vegetables.

          Reply
          • Derek May 17, 2018, 11:01 am

            I second that. Homemade sushi tastes so much better than cold/hard/bland/prepackaged sushi bought in a convenience store

            Reply
            • WantNotToWantNot May 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

              Totally agree. If you love sushi, make your own. So simple, recipe and tips are online of course. If you don’t want fish, use avocado or cokes or cooked veggies…all good. An Asian market will supply you with the seaweed papers, the sushi rice, the wasabi & ginger.

              We had 13 family members visiting for Christmas and one night we made platters of sushi as a family project. I think it will become a tradition…so fun, so delicious!

              Reply
    • Danielle September 12, 2018, 3:40 pm

      What is your secret? We spend way too much on food for a family of 3. I’m certain groceries are more expensive where we live but still. We eat healthy, I don’t buy much prepared or boxed food. My husband and I follow a low carb/sugar, good fat and good protein sources and lots of organic veggies diet from our nutritionist. So we’re not overeating and I mostly follow clean 15, dirty dozen so we’re not spending crazy amounts on stuff we don’t need to.

      Reply
  • Sean May 15, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Rice bean corn. Eat them all at the same time, maybe with a salad. Delicious, extremely nutritious (especially long grain brown rice), and if done right, absolutely dirt cheap to eat at home. I recently bought an Instant Pot, which makes ready to eat beans from dry beans in less than an hour. )It also makes yogurt on the cheap which is another nutritional meal/snack.) You can add cheese if that helps. A meal of RBC with a little cheese should run you about $0.50-$0.75 all in.
    Anyway, if you can gravitate towards a meal such as this, it is possible to bring your food costs down to around $100 a month per person and eat well and not be hungry.
    Some stuff I’ve observed along the way
    -Grow your own veggies, especially Kale and other hardy greens that can survive down to freezing and grow through the winter
    -make your own salad dressing
    -eat fruits and veggies that are in season, or buy lots and freeze in your deep freeze
    -Frozen vegetables are not a bad thing, sometimes they are frozen in less time than the same product would take to be delivered to your produce store
    -shop at fruit and vegetable markets that are much cheaper than grocery stores for the same item
    -repetition is good for breakfast, but not so much for dinner and lunch
    -Make enough at dinner to have for lunch the next day
    -If it’s on sale and won’t spoil, buy LOTS of it (coffee, flour, etc.)
    -Food always tastes better with a hunger pain, and nothing creates hunger like exercise
    -brew your own beer
    -A meal out is 10 in the pot (dollar wise)
    -Peanut butter; excellent cheap protein

    Reply
    • Danielle May 15, 2018, 3:23 pm

      Peter, with all due respect, peanut butter is an excellent source of fat, not of protein.

      Reply
      • Ilona May 15, 2018, 4:23 pm

        Peanut butter does have fat. But peanut butter also has Potassium 189mg, Dietary Fiber 2g, Protein 7g, Iron 22%. If it’s the kind that has the oil on top and very little additives, that is.

        Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 5:41 pm

        I’m not sure who this “Peter” character you’re addressing is, but you are right about the fat vs protein content of peanut butter. There is SOME usable protein in there, but the biggest benefit is the loads of cheap, healthy, plant-based fat.

        Fat is great for you, contrary to the 1990s advice which even I used to follow (and as a result, I was considerably fatter as an 18-year-old workout junkie 18 than I am today at 43 with a much less disciplined routine)

        And as long as you get the natural kind of peanut butter with ONLY peanuts (optional salt), then it comes with negligible sugar.

        Reply
        • Dunny June 22, 2018, 6:30 am

          I love peanut butter and can’t leave it alone, but never buy or eat it. There are a few problems with peanut butter (other than fat, protein, etc.). First, in the US, peanuts and peanut butter legal maximum for aflatoxin (a carcinogenic mold that grows in nuts stored in damp conditions e.g. US south) and other contaminant (insects, human waste) content is high. I suspect peanut allergies are due to the mold and chemicals in peanut butter, not the peanuts themselves, but have not facts to prove it.

          Roasted nuts are often roasted with other kinds of oils (possibly cheap and unhealthy who knows). I am not sure what the best way to eat peanuts is if any, but I avoid them.

          Reply
        • gordonsgecko June 26, 2018, 4:02 pm

          What about peanut butter powder? I discovered it recently and have been eating quite a bit of it. All the protein, hardly any of the fat. Mix with water. Or just eat it plain…or sprinkled over cut strawberries.

          Or as I recently tried, mix it up with some coconut milk and spread on some 85% or better dark chocolate for a unique twist on the peanut butter cup.

          Reply
      • Woofer2609 May 15, 2018, 6:15 pm

        I don’t know. Peanut oil is not only tasty, but healthy, and peanuts have twice the protein of eggs by weight. As a legume the pb should be eaten with a grain to form a complete protein, but it’s actually a very good source of protein. Why would you think otherwise?

        Reply
        • Huckleberry J Hopper May 16, 2018, 6:01 am

          If we are going to compare the cost of the two by weight we also have to consider the cost for that weight (from my own experience eggs are fantastically cheap) and the amino acid composition of each of them. Eggs have more essential amino acids (think of them as building blocks of protein) than peanut butter.

          Reply
        • Marnie May 16, 2018, 11:10 am

          Peanut butter, though high in fat and perhaps not the best source of plant based protein, is still very good for the protein Lysine. Lysine is an amino acid which can be a little harder to get, especially on a plant based diet. So the more peanut butter the better in my book! Plus it is damn tasty! :)

          Reply
        • Tori Pintar May 16, 2018, 8:33 pm

          I love peanut butter so much and health aside I would eat it just for that. I am happy to see others love it too! I did want to point out though that complete protein is actually not nutritionally accurate. That was a claim made decades ago that has since been debunked numerous times, yet you will see doctors, and other credible sources still talking about it. I’m not sure why this bit of science is so easily overlooked but you can eat peanut butter with out a grain. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-protein-combining-myth/

          Reply
          • Derek May 17, 2018, 11:05 am

            It’s because doctors DO NOT get adequate education on nutrition. I am a doctor so I can attest to this. The only nutrition education I received is a lecture on total parental nutrition (intravenous nutrition). Most doctors don’t know jack about nutrition. Not me though. I’m informed.

            Reply
        • BestPal May 21, 2018, 5:22 pm

          It might be true as far as protein content by weight but one might consider a REAL possibility of developing reactions to peanut butter if consumed in large quantities – even if one did not have allergies to peanut butter prior to over-consumption of it. I’d stick with eggs for most protein needs and think of peanut butter as a primary fat/calorie source to mitigate chances of developing reactions to it.

          Reply
          • BestPal May 21, 2018, 5:25 pm

            Correction: PRIMARILY fat/calorie source… NOT PRIMARY !

            Reply
      • Matt May 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

        I actually analyzed this awhile back and came to the conclusion that there are 3 categories of protein density. Within each of these categories the differences between foods are quite small. High protein is basically means high meat or low fruit. Nuts, eggs, and dairy are moderate to high fat and low carb, while grains, beans, and fruit are moderate to high carb and low fat. There are a few outliers like rice, but this holds a lot better than I expected.

        1) meat
        2) grains, beans, nuts, eggs, all dairy
        3) fruit, vegetables

        Reply
  • Darren Gordon May 15, 2018, 12:26 pm

    There is a whole other “spin” on this topic which you didn’t really touch on – that is eating for longevity. Doing lots of manual labor and eating more calories + lots of protein + dairy like you do, is not likely to result in maximum longevity according to most research on the topic. You may like the cronometer app by the way. These are the things I do:
    http://gordosoft.com/health/
    and
    http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/87615-brownbeige-adipose-tissue-activation-bat-via-cold-exposure-and-diet-for-health-and-longevity/

    Reply
    • Dicey May 15, 2018, 3:44 pm

      That second link is wonky. Can you fix it, please? Looks interesting. Unless it’s spammy, then nevermind.

      Reply
    • Ground Karate Monkey May 15, 2018, 4:03 pm

      Agree, a plant based whole food diet is the key to longevity. Reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity to almost zero and can reverse early stages of the above diseases if started later in life.

      Reply
      • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

        I second that. I myself follow a Blue Zone style whole food plant based diet.

        Reply
        • Bill May 16, 2018, 12:30 pm

          I started on WFPB at the beginning of 2018, and within three months dropped LDL cholesterol from 96 to 54 (total to 144). I am now at virtually 0 risk for heart disease, which is the #1 killer of old people like me.

          Reply
          • Dunny June 22, 2018, 6:21 am

            After years of healthy eating (whole, fresh, heavy on veg. and fruit) and low cholesterol, mine start to rise about 3 years ago. Doctor said I had to get it down. I immediately eliminated all animal foods except chicken breast without skin (I have very self-disciplined). After 3 months of WFPB, there was no effect on my cholesterol at all, but I gained 15 pounds (mostly in the first month) eating vegetables, fruit, beans, grains and oils, and had strong cravings all the time. Went back to my old diet with animal protein and fat, eliminated the cravings, and feel much better but still have the cholesterol issue. I am very fit, and look and feel great. People think I am under 50 and I am turning 70. I am told it is hereditary but I don’t want to take medication. If there is something I am missing with this diet, please advice.

            Reply
            • TexasAnnie August 8, 2018, 11:36 am

              Dunny or other w the healthy diet and high cholesterol,
              Get a “heart saver CT” test if you haven’t already. I’ve had cholesterol about 260 for 20 years. I can get it down w an incredibly restrictive diet.
              I found out I have 0 build-up in my arteries; my risk is minimal. Also
              There are 2 kinds of blood cholesterol particle sizes (different than HDL v LDL) and I have the better one. VAP test.
              My doc wanted to put me on statins without ordering advanced tests (they might not have existed then?), I am so glad I didn’t go on statins.

              Reply
              • dunny August 27, 2018, 3:06 pm

                Thanks. I will look into this next check-up. I am refusing to go on statins but would like to know what the build up is in arteries.

      • Jennifer Purdy May 17, 2018, 8:19 am

        Awesome that you mentioned WFPB! And to add, this focus on protein is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Vast majority of people including athletes only _need_ between 5-6% of all calories to come from protein, which is found in all whole foods, even vegetables :) If you think about it, you would think that babies would need high amounts of protein to develop as they are growing and developing rapidly, yet breast milk has about 5% of calories from protein. Too much protein can definitely be harmful, especially animal-based, to the kidneys (increases risk of kidney disease and kidney stones). Cheers!

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 17, 2018, 10:15 am

          Jennifer – yes to plants, but are you KIDDING about that calorie percentage?

          Even at the high of your range (6%) on a relatively big 3000 calorie diet, that would imply only 45 grams of protein, which is SUPER sparse for that incredibly useful nutrient. And unless you were highly unconventional, such a diet would have hundreds of grams carbohydrates and usually sugars too.

          If ANYONE maintains a healthy athletic body (especially over age 40) with no side effects and with a good blood test profile on such a ratio, please let me know.

          Reply
          • Martin May 17, 2018, 1:00 pm

            You could look into Ray Cronise. His diet probably meets your criteria.
            I’m not sure about “athletic”, though.

            Reply
          • Michael May 17, 2018, 9:31 pm

            I would say only that there is a lot of research and examples of very fit WFPB athletes out there who are probably eating just as Jennifer describes. Carbohydrates get an incrediby bad rap as do “sugars”. An hour or two of research would lead into a whole new realm of information. One person that comes to mind is Rich Roll – a 50+ year old badass vegan….there are many others., like Rip Esselstyn etc…Last, protein is probably one of the most overrated ( it’s important yes) nutrients and currently holds much more prominence in our dietary desires that is needed at the levels many/most believe. Again, the research is out there is large quantities, and is backed up by a lot of peer reviewed research, that all essentially points to a WFPB diet being the healthiest diet we can eat and the data backs it up. It’s also very frugal and Mustachian. Check it out MMM and let us know what you find.

            Reply
          • K May 18, 2018, 10:06 pm

            Pete,

            Kenyan runners subsist on a high carb, low fat plant based diet:

            https://runnersconnect.net/diet-of-kenyan-runners/

            This article contains the two scientific studies which studied Kenyan runners’ diet.

            Reply
          • Suzq400 May 31, 2018, 4:49 pm

            Look at a muscled silver back gorilla, many of the largest muscled animals eat a plant based diet. They seem to maintain their muscle without large ration of protein.

            Reply
          • Andrea June 20, 2018, 8:31 pm

            Check out Rich Roll. He completely changed his lifestyle at age 40. He’s a plant-based ultra athlete.

            Reply
          • Catherine CG July 8, 2018, 4:43 pm

            You should look at “Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It” by Garth Davis and “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. Forks over Knives is a great documentary.

            Reply
          • Kevin August 27, 2018, 5:29 pm

            carbs are not so scary if you are an athlete. look at the diets of tour de france riders for example.

            they eat their protein too though.

            Reply
          • DuckReconMajor September 7, 2018, 8:37 pm

            Wee-woo! Protein Police strike again!

            People really need to learn to read Examine.com

            https://examine.com/nutrition/can-eating-too-much-protein-be-bad-for-you/

            Reply
    • Sean Densford May 16, 2018, 6:07 am

      Darren, although I also eat a whole foods plant based diet and agree with it delivering maximum longevity. I would like to point out that even in the China Study – it implies those who consume under 10% animal protein receive these benefits that you mention. I have been very curious about his eating habits and it appears that maybe he eats more than 10% (looks like about 33%), but it is still MUCH lower meat and diary consumption (also very little processed meat which is the worst) than those at risk for these diseases and accompanied by lots of plant proteins. I never advocate for animal products for the reasons of environmental, unnecessary harm to animals, and the possible super bug implications, but I think that there is no reason to suspect that eating the way he is eating wouldn’t lead to near optimal health considering he has levels of activity and the fact that most of what he eats are still whole foods.

      Reply
    • Red May 17, 2018, 3:38 am

      Wow, very interesting post. Would love to discuss this more, do you have more posts about this or know of a good place to start my own research?

      I realise this reads like a spambot so for human status I feel the need to say I’m at the beginning of a WFPBD along with my girlfriend. Already loving it from a frugality standpoint but have also noticed a huge difference in the leanness of my face. Kinda curious what going further down this rabbit hole can do, and you seem to be way down there.

      I must say though, giving up cheese and butter is really tough for me. I don’t eat huge amounts of either, but damn. I could take or leave meat, but that dairy…

      Reply
  • Joe May 15, 2018, 12:26 pm

    We spend about $500/month for a family of four, but our meal plan is all over the place. I cook most meals at home. Right now we emphasize taste rather than health profile. My meals are still relatively healthy because they’re home made. However, we need to eat a lot more veggies and nuts. Eating healthy is necessary as you get older.

    It’s very difficult to change my eating habit.

    Reply
    • Sar May 15, 2018, 4:29 pm

      Joe,

      I find it’s difficult to change an eating habit if you have all the ingredients necessary to enable it. When I went from a carb-heavy/plain diet to an awesome nutritious diet, a lot of the swift habit-forming encouragement came from simply not purchasing the items I wanted to stop using. You can do it!

      Reply
    • Bill May 16, 2018, 12:35 pm

      I thought it would be hard too, but I dropped the crap food from my diet, and started adding in good recipes from the web and quickly found myself feeling so much better that I wasn’t tempted. Vegans know what’s up in the area of making healthy food taste better so look for those recipes. Once you adjust to not having so much fat and sugar, after about a week, your taste buds change and you appreciate the subtle flavors more.

      Reply
      • BestPal May 21, 2018, 5:57 pm

        I really tried and could not find any info on any conclusive study that would demonstrate that vegans live longer than their non-vegan counterparts. No evidence of that. If anyone knows of such a study, please point me in the right direction?

        Reply
        • Monk June 25, 2018, 4:11 am

          Do a Google search of “meta analysis fruit vegetable” and you’ll find numerous meta analyses (the strongest kind of research where they combine many studies done by many different scientists and then analyze the data together) showing that the higher your fruit and vegetable intake, the lower your risk for all cause mortality, cardiovascular death, stroke death, cancer death. Some even show decreased risk for depression and type 2 diabetes. Most are not specific to a vegan diet, but many of them show no upper limit to the benefit. As in, at the highest intake of fruit and veg evaluated, the benefits were still trending upward.

          Reply
        • Jon July 13, 2018, 3:36 pm

          Reply
  • Moose May 15, 2018, 12:29 pm

    Thinking of food as fuel or energy for your body is quite the paradigm shift for most in our society. I eat almost exactly the same things every single day because it maximizes nutrition while minimizing time wasted. Still haven’t gotten bored of it after a couple of years.

    Reply
  • BC Kowalski May 15, 2018, 12:30 pm

    Yes! Love the detailed look at your low-carb approach! A diet aimed at putting the body in a state of ketosis has been the one thing I find can really use reliably to control my body fat. I used to really struggle with excess body fat. Low carb helps me eat appropriate amounts of food on a regular basis, and any stomach problems I once had are now pretty much gone (if I cheat and eat a good serving of bread or donuts they come back). My approach includes a lot of pro- and pre-biotics, including sauerkraut (live culture) or kimchee. Nearly everyone I know has had pretty good results on the keto diet, including myself. I think there’s a benefit even if you just scale back on carbs versus the sub-80 most people need to enter keto. Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • Cubert May 15, 2018, 12:31 pm

    This is the kind of analysis I rely on YOU to produce. So, “Thank you!”

    We’re 90% vegetarian at home, and yet for our family of four, we spend up to $800 a month on groceries. That includes co-op and Costco whole food options. As Bill the Cat would say, “ACK!!!”

    The morning coffee is non-negotiable. And I want a tee shirt like yours to reflect my caffeine dependency.

    On a final note, I’m intrigued by the Blue Zones lifestyle to give us a blueprint: whole foods, locally sources, mostly vegetarian and practically zero beef, and eat until your 80% full. Sounds like a good recipe for hitting triple digits with a kick in your step, no?

    Reply
  • Gwen May 15, 2018, 12:34 pm

    I love that you also endeavor to eat this way on your fancy pants travels too. Anything that involves eating chocolate in the morning is something I should consider doing!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 1:12 pm

      Yup.. but don’t confuse candy with chocolate! I like to eat bars that are 90% cocoa, which leaves only about 5% sugar.
      Most dark chocolate bars are only 70% cocoa, which has 25% sugar
      Even lower grade stuff which doesn’t even LIST the cocoa content, should be assumed to be close to 100% sugar.

      Only the stuff about 85% starts to become healthy food rather than candy.

      Reply
      • Ms Blaise May 17, 2018, 3:13 am

        I added 80% dark choc chips to my homemade muesli after reading this post. Yummo. thanks for that.
        “Learn to use the mirror, the measuring tape, and the scale as allies rather than generators of guilt and fear.” A most excellent philosophy.
        Thank you for a quality, practical post. This is gold.

        Reply
        • Matt May 19, 2018, 2:09 pm

          Good call on the choc chips. I’m surprised MMM buys his chocolate in bar form instead. $2/bar is a great price for bars, but it’s still nearly $1/oz (83.4 cents to be exact). You can find bulk 85% chocolate chips for just over 50 cents/oz. If MMM eats this every day then switching to chips could save him $70/year, more if the rest of the fam eats it too. Can this be considered the amazing day when I give MMM a tip that saves him money? https://www.amazon.com/Pascha-Organic-Bitter-Sweet-Chocolate/dp/B019NRYIY4/

          Reply
      • Carter May 18, 2018, 10:02 pm

        I do 100% dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s and eat it with a few chunks of coconut oil. Amazingly tasty once you adjust away from sweet tooth dominance. Great post.

        Reply
      • Tom May 19, 2018, 8:28 am

        MMM–what brand of chocolate do you buy, and at what cost? I’m into the idea of chocolate for breakfast, but hi cocoa chocolate usually falls into the “gourmet” section of the supermarket, at silly prices. Is there a good low cost option?

        Reply
  • MarciaB May 15, 2018, 12:36 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the humble crock pot. It’s the kitchen equivalent of a bicycle (which you smartly refer to as “a rolling cash machine.”) No household that cares about its financial health should be without one!

    Reply
    • mrhappyfrugal May 15, 2018, 12:47 pm

      We love our crockpot! I don’t know what we would do without it. I have friends who eat out every meal and I’ve tried to convert them on the idea of how easy it is to cook at home by just tossing some ingredients in a pot and coming back in a few hours to a few meals. No such luck but I tried!

      Reply
      • Kayote May 16, 2018, 9:52 am

        A crock pot is not a magic wand.

        You just move the time required for prep back a ways. The clean up is way more of a pain– I can throw most normal cooking stuff into the dishwasher. The crock pot never comes clean after baking the food on so it has to soak and then scrub–so it’s not ready to go the next day. (Yes, I know about the bags. I am trying to limit plastic not bake it into my food).

        There is still timing that needs to work. My experience is most recipes are 6 hours or 10 hours. (And way too many of them want me to get multiple pans dirty before putting the stuff in. Or spend a half hour doing stuff after.) So on days I don’t work I can use it…..but I don’t need it those days.

        We need to be able to put the full crock pot in the fridge the night before, start it at around 8 am and have it ready to eat at 5:30. That fairly hard to find crock pot recipes for. When you add in the requirement they be tasty and not use bunches of prepared food (cans, sauce mixes, etc) it gets harder.

        I like the crock pot, but it still has logistics and other issues involved in working with it. It solves some problems while causing others.

        Reply
        • Debbi May 16, 2018, 12:45 pm

          Kayote,
          You might want to look into pressure cookers (the new fancy pants ones are called instant pots). This avoids quite a few of the pitfalls of pressure cookers while still allowing a healthy, reasonably priced dinner to hit the table before midnight. The library should have some pressure cooker/instant pot cookbooks so you can see if the recipes sound good to you. This is one of a small number of items that I would recommend buying new if you get one as a defective pressure cooker can be flat out dangerous!

          Reply
          • Debbi May 16, 2018, 12:48 pm

            You also might look for the 30 minute vegan cookbooks in the library (Reinfeld and Murray). They are serious about the 30 minute part, tasty, and generally frugal and nutritious.

            Reply
        • Mia May 16, 2018, 1:33 pm

          You can use the crock pot to cook in bulk, then freeze what you don’t use immediately.

          Or try an Instant Pot! It’s a huge time saver.

          Reply
        • EmEmEm May 16, 2018, 4:40 pm

          I use (and love!) my instant pot much more than my old crockpot due to it solving many of the crockpot deficiencies you list here.
          With instant pot:
          – you can sauté onions/garlic or sear the meat, etc in the same pan.
          – pot is stainless steel and removable for easy cleanup by hand or dishwasher.
          – cook times are much faster so you can often whip something up in an hour or two after work instead of all day in the crockpot (e.g. a whole pork butt & some bbq sauce is pulled pork tender after 90-120 minutes cook time – faster if you cut it in small chunks).
          – other meals can be done in <30 mins (e.g., from-frozen chicken thighs in sauce of your choice done in less time than it takes to cook rice or pasta to go with it; chili using canned beans in 10-15mins but tastes like it simmered all day (longer if using dried beans); “roasted” butternut squash soup by browning some cubes in the bottom of the pan while you cut up the rest of the squash, and then 10 mins under pressure before it’s ready to blend).
          – can also use it as a crockpot if you’re organized enough to set it before work, and it cooks slower than my crockpot so that 8-10 hours isn’t too long and everything turned to mush by the time you get home.
          – you can buy rubber lids for the pot, so you can put leftovers straight into the fridge (once cooled) without using extra containers.
          – you can buy an extra pot insert so you can cook the next day if the previous one is still in the fridge.
          – plus you can make your own plain yogurt for about half the cost of store bought, use it to can your own jams or pickles (but not unpickled veggies or meats), homemade apple sauce in ~10 mins; bone or veggie broth that tastes like it simmered for days in less than an hour, etc.
          It does take a little getting used to (wouldn’t recommend for someone not already comfortable in the kitchen), but I don’t know how I would cook without it now!!

          Reply
        • Ms Blaise May 17, 2018, 3:16 am

          I put my crockpot in the dishwasher no problem. I have never used a bag in it. I do soak it while I am rinsing other dishes but that’s pretty normal and only 10 mins. I also ignore cooking times and put mine on in the morning on low and leave it all day until dinner. the food doesn’t burn. No recipe, just slow cooked stew or soup etc. My favourite thing to do is to put a whole chook ( free range thank you) in on low for the day with a bit of lemon and herbs and come home to soft, delicious meat.

          Reply
        • rxfish May 19, 2018, 8:54 am

          I bought the instant pot when it was on sale for $70 and it has greatly increased my quality of life! HIGHLY recommend. There are tons of amazing recipes (not from cans or sauces) made from whole, nutrient rich, real foods. It cuts the cooking time down tremendously, and it is literally easy enough for kids to use. I no longer can stand hearing people say they can’t cook as an excuse to eat out 3x a day!

          Reply
        • Narrative May 23, 2018, 10:31 am

          Ditto what has been said on the instant pot. It can slow cook just like a slow cooker but the stainess pot comes right out and goes into the dishwasher with no issues. It also cooks great beans from dried, and dried beans are far less expensive than caned (less packaging also. We just got a second IP as a gift and the new ones are far better at slow cooking than the original model (which gets a bit hot in slow cook mode) and the newer models have a yogurt function. I have done yogurt on the stove in the past but am looking forward to trying it in the IP in single serve jars for convenience. You can also get lids for the pots to store the meal in them in the fridge. I haven’t tried that yet but I could see where it would be good in a time crunch.

          Reply
        • Meghan May 30, 2018, 8:10 am

          Spray your crockpot with some olive oil before dumping the ingredients in and it will clean up much easier.

          Reply
        • Dunny June 22, 2018, 6:48 am

          I don’t get what time and convenience is gained using crock pot. I don’t get why cooking is time consuming. I make all my meals from scratch, all healthy, quick, easy, and minimal clean-up. My standard meal is one roasting pan, add 1-2 small pieces of chicken, pork, or beef, add cut up vegetables, fresh or dried herbs, spices, garlic, lemon, ginger, onion, etc. No oil, the juice and fat from the meat is enough. Cook in the oven between 325 F. and 400 F. depending on the meat, and I have a fantastic dinner in 15-30 minutes. I steam some types of vegetables on the stove. Add plenty of fresh fruit (or local fruit I freeze in summer) to every meal and a big green salad (standard dressing is maple syrup and Dijon mustard) every day. For breakfast or lunch, I make a couple of eggs, fried with butter, on one side of the pan, and saute green onions, cilantro, parsley, on the other side of the pan (2-3 minutes). Nothing I make requires hours of prep or cooking. A crock pot just complicates everything. Roasting pan, frying pan, steamer is all I need. I grew up on this type of cooking because there wasn’t any thing. Get good quality fresh whole local ingredients and cut out processed food entirely and you will eat very very well and be satsified.

          Reply
    • MandalayVA May 21, 2018, 4:17 am

      Slow cooker–old and busted
      Instant Pot–new hotness

      I literally gave away my slow cooker, that’s how sold I am on the IP. It makes the best bone broth ever.

      Reply
  • freddy smidlap May 15, 2018, 12:37 pm

    i like skipping breakfast, been doing it for many years and just going with liquid caffeine until lunch time. usually just have some nuts for lunch but at dinner all bets are off. we usually go with a couple of glasses of wine and something fresh made and balanced, but meat-centric. that’s how we roll in our house. the risk is not only to our health but if we changed it up to something we didn’t enjoy we would risk living with less joy.

    Reply
  • Joe The Plumber May 15, 2018, 12:37 pm

    When I started working my current job, I would have a very light breakfast(usually just fruit and a few cups of coffee), skip lunch and then have a larger dinner when I get home. After doing this for a while, I realized most of my eating had been a result of boredom :) eating fewer meals helped me ease into the habit of planning healthier meals and snacks. I was also forced to drink more water, which unsurprisingly lowered my appetite.

    MMM, I have heard that you should eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight you are trying to maintain, but where did you get this number? And what is the science behind it?

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • Sadie12 May 16, 2018, 12:57 pm

      Hi Joe I’m a dietitian (the hospital kind) and 1.0 gm/pound is too high. The recommendation for an adult is 0.8 gm per kilogram, with 1.0 gm/kg being reasonable for an active adult as defined by Mustachianism. There are 2.2 pounds/kilo, so a 200 lb man should eat around 91 gm/day, NOT 200 gm/day.

      MMM’s eating plan (including fasting) is on the cutting edge. The only thing he didn’t mention is organic food, which of course becomes a cost issue. (If you want organic, focus your food dollars on the “Dirty Dozen,” including leafy greens.) The newest research convincingly suggests that a diet high in (healthy) fat, moderate in protein and lower in carbs is optimal for health, healing and longevity. Which is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I learned in school, but there you have it.

      Reply
      • Joe The Plumber May 16, 2018, 5:11 pm

        Thank you for that excellent information! My family happens to have several hereditary health problems, we aim for what Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls a “Nutritarian” diet.. Plenty of plant based macronutrients and all the essential greens and micros, and almost no animal protein besides certain fish. And of course, no processed food.

        I believe 20 years ago some fitness experts were advocating a diet heavy in protein and carbs (Body For Life). Then a lot of people got diabetes from mismanaging their insulin levels.

        Fasting has been a practice for many thousands of years in different cultures.. I would be interested to hear more of your opinion and scientific knowledge on that topic.

        Reply
        • Joe The Plumber May 16, 2018, 5:14 pm

          Although, for many the Body For Life program works fine with great results. Not bashing them or the program.

          Reply
  • Kristine May 15, 2018, 12:39 pm

    This is absolutely brilliant. I need to up my food game.

    Reply
  • Accidental FIRE May 15, 2018, 12:41 pm

    Even though you’re saying it’s more $ than you thought, it’s still pretty frugal as compared to most families of three. And way healthier. Waaaaay healthier.

    Your 4000 calorie days are my average day, maybe a little higher. I’m 6’4″ and 170 lbs, very skinny. But I bike about 6000 miles a year, which is three quarters fitness riding/racing and a quarter doing errands and getting groceries at a slower pace. I also run 400 miles a year on average, and paddle kayaks a lot. My food budget is kinda big, but I eat about 3500-4000 calories a day and on bigger workout days it’s more like 6000 or higher.

    Exercising a lot is great because I feel better than ever and get to eat a lot. But it costs money in other ways since I have to actually buy all those calories.

    Reply
  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 15, 2018, 12:47 pm

    Wow you eat really healthy! There’re lots of greens and proteins in your meals. Maybe it’s the pictures, but I feel like I would need some carbs (i.e. white rice) to go with those meals. Maybe it’s just because I’m Asian and eat rice every day hehe.

    I’ve read some of your food posts before. But I really enjoyed this one since it shows real life examples of what you eat. Sounds like your family doesn’t spend a lot of time prepping and cooking food, which I think it’s great. I’m not sure if it’s because of our Asian cuisine, but each of our meal would take up 2 hours, which drives me crazy sometimes. @_@

    Reply
  • Randy May 15, 2018, 12:47 pm

    My typical dinner meal for a family of four is under $10 total and provides enough leftovers for lunches the next day. I only cook with plants and find that beans, pasta, rice, flour and most veggies are pretty cheap. I also tend to stay away from premade or heavily processed foods…more so from frugality than health reasons.

    I also make my own sushi, pizza. Rarely eat out unless I am on travel.

    Reply
  • Shawn May 15, 2018, 12:49 pm

    Good stuff!

    Try adding avocado to your smoothie. Maybe even in place of banana. It keeps it creamy while reducing sugars and maximizing good fats.

    I live in mexico so Avos are very affordable. Not sure what it’s like in Colorado but I know they can be in the $2-3 each range back home in Canada which, combined with the footprint associated with getting them to Canada, makes them a generally silly choice there.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 1:09 pm

      Thanks, I’ll try that next time although it might be tough to give up the Yumminess the banana offers.

      Avocados are between 50 cents and $1 here in Colorado, so fairly reasonable given the 300 healthy calories.

      Reply
      • Ryan Anderson May 15, 2018, 2:06 pm

        You can also try coconut oil for that rich and creamy taste.

        Reply
      • Daniel B May 15, 2018, 3:56 pm

        I know this sounds crazy but cauliflower actually works as a banana substitute if you want to avoid the sugar from the nanner. I read about it and didn’t believe it but now I rarely bananas. Plus cauliflower is good and easy to roast as a side for dinner, for salads, or with hummus, etc.

        Reply
        • Donna Kuper May 16, 2018, 3:44 pm

          Gee, thanks for this tip. I’ve never heard of subbing cauliflower for banana! I do agree that roasted cauliflower is delicious.

          Reply
      • Evan May 16, 2018, 2:54 pm

        Avocados rule in smoothies! It took my green smoothies to a whole new level with the buttery, tasty texture it added. I went from using a whole banana to a half of a banana and about a third of an avocado. It doesn’t take much!

        Reply
      • Casey May 23, 2018, 9:44 am

        I recently moved to the Southeastern US after spending five years in the Boulder area and the cost of produce was the most shocking to me (well, okay, that and the increase in my car insurance rates!). I went from spending around $50/week for my husband and I to eat healthy, produce-laden meals to at least $80-$90 per week, and that’s with some creativity included.

        My go-to lunch in Colorado was a salad with a base of red leaf lettuce, which cost $0.99 at King Soopers all year long. If they looked a little small, as they occasionally did in the winter, I’d splurge on two ($1.98), then add whatever veggies, etc. It was plenty to last me the full workweek. Where I currently live, the red leaf lettuce is at least $2.99 (!!!!) per head, and usually they are so small I’d need to purchase two in order to last the week. This is one of many similar examples, and I just mention it in case anyone out there was struggling to replicate MMM’s results.

        ps Avocados here are generally $3 each, occasionally 2 for $5, and the biggest sale I’ve seen are 4 for $5 which happens rarely. I went from eating them frequently in Colorado to rarely here, even though I love them.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2018, 7:36 pm

          That’s crazy! In general the Southeastern US is the cheapest place to live, eat, drive, and everything else. Whereas Boulder is one of the most expensive – for housing and restaurants, although admittedly groceries remain competitive. But what city exactly have you chosen? And are there Costcos there?

          Reply
        • Dave May 27, 2018, 9:39 pm

          Doesn’t make sense. Transport costs for produce should be much lower for the southeast USA

          Reply
          • stoaX July 2, 2018, 3:06 pm

            It doesn’t make sense, but I do notice higher prices in the grocery store when I’m visiting family in North Carolina than what I’m used to back home in southern California.

            Reply
    • MM May 16, 2018, 12:35 am

      Chia seeds are my smoothie additive of choice. Super inexpensive, healthy, full of good fats and resistant starches. And it helps keep the smoothie in a suspended state. Oh, and they are shelf stable pretty much forever.

      Reply
    • Nakia May 17, 2018, 2:57 pm

      Sometimes, I’ll have a bunch of avocados that all come ripe at the same time. If I am worried they will go bad before I can eat them all, I cut them into chunks, freeze spread out on a cookie sheet, then bag up for smoothies. They really do add a great texture.

      Reply
    • chrissy July 23, 2018, 1:36 pm

      I concur on the avocado in the smoothie. Sounds odd but it adds a next level creamy smooth texture to smoothies. Avo blends well (see what I did there?) with fruits in salads, so why not in a smoothie? Exhibit A: avocado + grapefruit salad with greens and pistachios. Avocado + grapes + greens & pinenuts. Avocado + peaches + feta + pistachios + greens. Avocado + tomato (a fruit ) anything? oh and speaking of avocado and fruit, Avocado mango cheese quesadillas? Blow your mind delicious.

      Reply
      • chrissy July 23, 2018, 1:38 pm

        sorry, should clarify, the exhibits mentioned are salads (not smoothies) demonstrating how well avo and fruit pair together. For a smoothie idea with avo, try avo + banana + nut butter + pretty much whatever tickles your fancy (frozen pinapple and or mango is quite nice). Even kale or spinach works with the avo/banana/nut butter smoothie.

        Reply
  • krystina lankone May 15, 2018, 12:49 pm

    Great post, thank you! I use an app called “myfitnesspal” to track my food & drink intake and energy output sometimes, when my pants don’t fit very well. It outlines the nutritional profile as well, which is mostly just interesting and helps me tweak things here and there. My biggest downfall is the homemade bread I bake a few times a week. My family loves it but its very easy to toast and lather in butter or PB when its just out on the table all day.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 1:08 pm

      Definitely! Any form of bread, but ESPECIALLY delicious homemade bread eaten on a daily basis, is a tool for rapid weight gain.

      Enjoy it if you’re skinnier than you want to be, but otherwise cut it out entirely.

      Reply
      • Freebie May 20, 2018, 11:27 am

        I quite agree with you, flour increases the absorption through the intestinal wall by dramatically increasing the surface area of the grain. Though homemade bread can arguably be healthier than store bought as most store bought breads are incredibly high in added sodium, bread is not helpful when the goal is weight loss.

        But I’m mystified by your promotion of refined oils. Oil is 100% fat and is by definition a refined substance, not a food. Oil has also been shown to damage arteries and promote atherosclerosis. And for weight loss, it’s disastrous.

        How is it that you caution against bread, but promote oil?

        Reply
        • Kira May 26, 2018, 1:42 pm

          It’s become quite easy to find information about the benefits of consuming healthy oils. If you prefer to not read the abundant information on the topic, Sadie12 summed it up quite nicely (May 16, 2018, 12:57 pm):

          “Hi Joe I’m a dietitian (the hospital kind)… MMM’s eating plan (including fasting) is on the cutting edge… The newest research convincingly suggests that a diet high in (healthy) fat…is optimal for health, healing and longevity. “

          Reply
      • Mike September 16, 2018, 3:27 pm

        Just to reiterate what some others have already mentioned… If you get a chance I’d recommend reading the book “Proteinaholic” by Garth Davis, which points to a broad range of scientific studies that dispute this and several other assertions made here.

        Reply
    • Marcia May 15, 2018, 1:23 pm

      Good news / bad news for me really – Love homemade bread – started having digestive issues a little over a year ago – traced it to possibly wheat.

      Dropped wheat -> digestive issues gone. Dropped 8 lbs without even trying. And all I did was sub other grains for bread (oats, rice, corn). Didn’t cut calories or carbs at all.

      Reply
  • Dr. MB May 15, 2018, 12:56 pm

    Food has always been, still is and might continue to be my most difficult expense to tame. I do all the hacks of eating the same meals, meal prep, etc. But our home has a vegan, a meatarian (I don’t think this is a word), a foodie and then me who just loves to eat. Meal times get quite confusing indeed.

    I am inspired by everyone’s ability to keep their food expenses very reasonable.

    So back to the drawing board for me. Again.

    Reply
    • Dave May 15, 2018, 1:13 pm

      DR.Mb, Don’t feel bad I just checked my Personal Capital expenses and our rolling 6 month grocery costs are at $644.53 per month. We are a family of only two, my wife and I and our two dogs but they are in the “Pet” category, for the most part. I often think about how crazy it seems that Groceries could be our second biggest spending category.

      Reply
      • Mable May 15, 2018, 3:09 pm

        We found that eating the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch reduces both the bill and the over-eating. We also started eating soups a lot in the evenings, which are cheap and nutritious when homemade. We try to limit our splurges to Friday night—I don’t mean restaurants but splurges in terms of the meal ingredients and the calories. It is sort of like not buying something until you have waited 30 days and then you never end up buying it because the impulse is gone. If I want to be piggy on Tuesday, I remind myself that Friday night is coming—but by then I have often lost the desire for a blow-out meal.

        Reply
      • Liz May 18, 2018, 8:44 pm

        Don’t feel too bad. My husband & I are in the $800 – $1000 range every month. 2 adults, 2 labs, although their dog food isn’t in that amount. They do get some human food also.

        My husband has severe food allergies, so everything he eats is organic, preservative free, etc. groceries are our largest expense every year. On the upside, we don’t eat out often, so our eating out budget is very small. It drove me crazy for about the first year and then I just realized that having him healthy was worth the additional cost. I’m also diabetic, so I eat a lower carb diet than most.

        Reply
    • Kayote May 16, 2018, 10:01 am

      We accept food is important to us and how we buy food matters. So we buy local organic from the coop as much as possible. It drives the cost up but we get high quality and support the community in ways we care about. We are more frugal elsewhere, but this is a conscious decision of where it’s worth the money to us, combined with acceptance of our current time available.

      Our goal is to have most meals prepared at home out of good ingredients. If we manage that, we count ourselves as good.

      Reply
      • Laurie May 17, 2018, 11:45 am

        Yes! This is how my husband and I do things, as well. High quality, sustainable ingredients prepared at home 80% of the time. We eat out often, but we also eat good food from real ingredients while doing so. Our food budget is high, but our other costs are low to nothing. It’s all about choices!

        Reply
  • Tom May 15, 2018, 12:58 pm

    Am I the only one that saw the lunch table and immediately thought is that a tilapia peanut butter and banana sandwich?

    Reply
  • ABC May 15, 2018, 12:59 pm

    It’s a bit silly to focus a lot on the cost of food when the most important factor is to eat healthy and stay active. Keep it simple, eat at home rather than at a restaurant. The cost of poor health is enormous.

    Reply
  • JoeHx May 15, 2018, 12:59 pm

    I need to eat better. I’m thinking I need to find something better than poptarts for breakfast.

    I do try to understand my eating habits and adjust my food purchases accordingly. For instance, I know that if I buy a box of cookies, there’s a good chance I’ll eat it in one sitting. So I don’t buy cookies. I try to keep only simple food in the kitchen. I’m not much of a cook, but I’m learning, and I find the more I learn, the healthier I eat and the less I spend on food.

    Reply
    • Ilona May 15, 2018, 4:13 pm

      One easy and simple alternative to Pop Tarts is peanut butter on whole wheat bread. If toasted, and add a bit of honey, this is a great breakfast. Plus some milk, I think.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 5:48 pm

        Fuck yes, Joe. Listen to Ilona – NO POPTARTS ALLOWED, EVER.

        Reply
        • Dunny June 23, 2018, 2:08 am

          Amen.

          Reply
    • Kayote May 16, 2018, 10:06 am

      You can also make your own pop tarts. They are way better for you and way tastier than the box versions. (Though my oatmeal is still better and cheaper). I did like a theory that you can eat anything as long as you make it yourself from scratch–because making fries and cookies is enough of a time sink and pain you won’t do it very often. I don’t fully believe it, but it’s a good heuristic.

      We make pop-tarts two ways:
      Put a fruit leather (Aldi’s has cheap ones with decent ingredients) in a tortilla and use a Toastilla in the toaster (https://www.amazon.com/Set-Toastilla-Quesadillas-Tortillas-Toaster/dp/B079ZCCGDF/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1526486551&sr=8-2&keywords=toastilla ) Also good for fast grilled cheeses! It’s a really useful tool.

      Alana Chernila has a recipe in her Homemade Pantry book (http://www.eatingfromthegroundup.com/the-book/ ) which is more complicated but was tasty. We need to make it again to try now that I know more about how it cooks i might get it to be more even and together. :)

      Reply
  • Simple Money Man May 15, 2018, 1:01 pm

    I like your diet; although the breakfast seems light especially since you are breaking your fast :-)

    We’ve recently established a weekly menu board at home. It allows us to think through our meals and make sure there is balance in terms of veggies, protein, healthy fats etc. Then we add items to our grocery cart based off of our list. so far it is working out ok; we just need to make sure we make enough to be full and not be tempted to snack on things.

    Reply
  • DLcygnet May 15, 2018, 1:02 pm

    I love the breakdown of your meals & they all look fairly Keto or even Whole30 compliant (minus the cheese). Thank you for including a breakdown of protein, fat & carbs. It looks like you’ve eliminated added sugar fairly well too! I’ve been trying to have a mostly Whole30 diet on a budget, and was able to lose 18 lbs since Christmas; but I’m finding that I lean too heavily on eggs and my cholesterol shot through the roof. Do you have an estimate of how much cholesterol is in everything you just listed? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 1:06 pm

      There is loads of cholesterol in my diet, but dietary cholesterol doesn’t tend to correlate with blood concentrations of small-particle LDL cholesterol, so I don’t worry about it.

      I keep a record of current and past blood tests including some more detailed ones from WellnessFx and everything looks good so far. I think a bigger factor in blood levels of both good and bad stuff comes from sugar and alcohol intake, stress, and inactivity.

      Congratulations on losing the 18 pounds though!

      Reply
      • Martin May 15, 2018, 1:12 pm

        While your are correct that small-dense LDL is worse than the larger LDL-particles, all LDL correlate well with higher risk of atherosclerosis.

        Reply
        • Toby Bridgman May 15, 2018, 1:25 pm

          But his LDL will stay quite low compared to HDL. The Framingham study showed that it is this ratio that matters when considering heart disease risk. His diet is perfect for reducing the ratio. High consumption of sweet foods and elevated blood sugar is usually the cause of elevated LDL. You won’t see that on this diet with this level of activity and happiness.

          Reply
          • DLcygnet May 16, 2018, 8:51 am

            I’ve been focusing on this aspect too, Toby. Despite being pregnant (and total cholesterol staying roughly the same), my ratio came down from 5.5 (high) to 4.4 (Upper end of moderate risk) in a relatively short period of time – so something (i.e. no added sugar) must be working.

            Reply
        • Frédéric Lacroix May 15, 2018, 7:34 pm

          LDL is a very, very poor marker for cardiovascular disease. Fascinating that it is still quoted. See for example, https://fr.slideshare.net/ivorcummins/20140310-the-cholesterol-conundrum-draft

          Reply
      • DLcygnet May 16, 2018, 9:02 am

        Thanks!

        I once read that only 20% of your cholesterol is generated/controlled by what you eat – the rest is created naturally to heal your muscles (or linger in the blood stream if you’re not using them). Definitely no alcohol for me right now. I’m swimming 3 days per week, belly dancing on the weekends, and walking more. Perhaps it’s time to get a barbell set.

        Reply
      • Angie Hofmann May 16, 2018, 1:52 pm

        Hey, yeah I completely agree with the cholesterol piece, I eat two organic eggs every morning and tons of coconut oil and I have very low cholesterol and I’m tested regularly to keep checking on it. I think it has very much to do with overall diet and quality of food versus too many eggs Etc. If you’re eating a lot of fried food and a lot of junk food then probably you shouldn’t eat too many eggs but if you’re eating a very clean diet then eggs and coconut oil aren’t going to mess with your cholesterol as much. I am a total foodie, wrote a cookbook about plant-based diet but I’m an omnivore and I believe the best thing is to eat as clean as possible and a lot of veggies :-) I’m a newbie to your blog and loving it! I grew up on Maui which of course is super expensive, and so have created a lot of frugal life hacks over the years so that I can continue to live here where I want to live forever :-) keep on rocking it, mmm!

        Reply
      • Carey May 16, 2018, 2:50 pm

        I also recommend WellnessFx for tracking blood test results; you can input the results you receive from your doctor and print good reports at no cost.

        Reply
      • FireHackerOne May 29, 2018, 11:19 am

        That’s what my doctor says as well. Another LDL instigator is high fructose corn syrup. Way back, I read some research and watched a loooong YouTube video about how it contributes to high cholesterol. Apparently, in most cases dietary cholesterol passes through. However when something metabolizes into LDL cholesterol, that’s when things start to show up in blood work. If I’m remembering correctly, high fructose corn syrup metabolizes into LDL cholesterol at a 98% rate! Stop drinking all those sodas! Most countries outside the US don’t allow that stuff in sodas, but almost every soda on the shelf in the US has it. It also shows up as a top ingredient in many processed foods.

        Thanks for the article. It helps to show the mustachian lifestyle has benefits beyond the bank account.

        Reply
    • Sadie12 May 16, 2018, 1:02 pm

      Weighing in on the cholesterol thing…eating cholesterol doesn’t really give you high cholesterol. The type of cholesterol that is measured in your blood is made by the liver. Even though it seems counterintuitive, it’s actually sugar that contributes to fatty liver disease which in turn contributes to dyslipidemia.

      Reply
  • Martin May 15, 2018, 1:07 pm

    Hi,

    please check nutritionfacts.org, as well as the YouTube-Channel for evidence-based information about nutrition:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg

    Have a look please, watch some videos and then please re-evaluate your daily meal plans.

    Reply
    • Toby Bridgman May 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

      I don’t agree. If MMM has no health concerns a diet like this will keep him in optimum health. Cholesterol ratio, blood sugar, and triglycerides will be as good as they can be for him. This is super-healthy diet that places him in the top 5% of people in North America. A great example of what a person can do for their health on a budget.

      Reply
    • Marcia May 15, 2018, 1:28 pm

      It makes me sad when people share nutritionfacts.org like it’s the ultimate expert source of nutrition.

      While there is good information there, Dr. Greger is not at all unbiased.

      Like many (most?) people who write about health and nutrition, he has an agenda. His books, articles, and such will promote that agenda. His data is cherry-picked and he’ll only show results that promote his agenda.

      But you won’t care – I know because I got into an argument with my newly vegan niece and a friend of hers when I pointed out that people who have reviewed the sources of information in his recent book found that several of the results were misrepresented (if you go back to the original scientific studies).

      (Which others do too…and I’m looking at you Wheat Belly).

      “Did YOU YOURSELF REVIEW THE STUDIES??” No. But they didn’t either, they just read a book and didn’t review the studies and assumed if it’s written, it must be true!

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 5:59 pm

        I agree – nutritionfacts.org and Dr. Greger are a well-meaning organization, but you need to preface any mention to him with “The Hardcore Vegan Activist”

        And again, look at a picture of the good Doctor, and verify if this is the body type you are going for: http://s3.amazonaws.com/bw-a4c22565dfafb162a17a7c357ca9e0be-bwcore/090816/Dr_Greger_at_Pure.jpg

        (And yes I know I’m being silly and super-unscientific here, since he is older and I don’t even know his workout regimen. But still, there is some validity to the argument if you go Vegan and end up with a mostly-carbohydrate diet)

        Reply
        • Filip Dvorak May 16, 2018, 2:50 am

          I don’t agree here.

          “but you need to preface any mention to him with “The Hardcore Vegan Activist””
          What does that even mean? Does it mean that any information coming from a hardcore vegan activist is inaccurate? Please see my response to Marcia about his independence. To me, his organization is a great source of information and I believe he is not in it for the money as he rejects any ads, sponsorships etc (just like you here I think). If you know of a better source of information on nutrition that is not sponsored by meat/dairy/egg industry, please share it with us.

          To your second point… It does not mean that anyone who eats the way he recommends, will look like him. We are all different and we have different body types. Moreover, it does not mean that you cannot thrive on the diet he recommends as a bodybuilder. Anyone can use his tips for their own benefit.

          Reply
          • Marcia May 17, 2018, 1:19 pm

            It means he has an agenda – to turn people vegan.

            It means that the information he shares on his site will ONLY be the kind that supports his agenda.

            You won’t find him sharing any information that casts doubt on veganism.

            (And yes, occasionally the information he shares is inaccurate – but more than that it is INCOMPLETE).

            https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-not-to-die-review#section1

            For the record, whenever I read a health book, I google “Critical reviews of XXX” to read the other side. Sometimes it’s unnecessary, like for Wheat Belly, which has holes you can drive a truck through.

            The studies that show the health benefits to eating wild fatty fish (especially for your brain), are numerous. But no vegan wants to read that. They want to compare a vegan diet to the SAD, not a “vegan + wild salmon” diet to a vegan diet to a SAD diet.

            Reply
        • Freebie May 16, 2018, 1:06 pm

          Really? There’s validity to the argument that if you eat a mostly carbohydrate diet you can’t get in shape? Tell that to these guys:

          https://www.youtube.com/user/durianriders/videos

          https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyhJZhJQWKDdJCR07jPY-Q/videos

          https://www.youtube.com/user/VeganAthlete/videos

          Dr. Greger obviously doesn’t put a high value on muscle bulk, but he’s got a lean body mass, which is arguably healthy.

          He also backs up his posts with links to the studies. Aside from the fact that he advocates a plant based diet, what specific issues do you have with his videos?

          Like Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell, it isn’t my impression that he set out to espouse a vegan diet, but rather that the data lead them to that conclusion.

          Reply
        • Derek Morrison May 16, 2018, 2:49 pm

          Ouch, I’m a bit surprised to read the superficial and hurtful comment about Dr. Greger. The body image commentary is interesting, but I don’t see how it’s related to health in general. As for that, he claims to practice what he preaches and walks up to 17 miles a day on his treadmill desk:

          “I also have a treadmill desk. I started with a standing desk when I read all the research about the dangers of sitting all day. Then I figured I could also move a little bit. I walk really slowly, about two miles an hour, but I walk about 17 miles a day on average when I’m not sitting on my butt in some plane somewhere.”

          Also, he’s not that old (I think 45 at the time of this writing), though, that doesn’t really help my case. :)

          Reply
          • FrugalStrong May 16, 2018, 7:55 pm

            I agree. Size and body composition are not an automatic indicator of health. This unfortunate message that is permeated in our culture today is why so many, especially women, suffer from disordered eating.

            Reply
            • HeadedWest May 18, 2018, 3:11 pm

              Yeah not automatic… only almost automatic ://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854278/

              One of the most important lessons I want to impart to my daughter and my son when they are old enough to understand these things, is that excess body fat is so strongly correlated with lifestyle disease that they should make sacrifices in their life to avoid it, and if they ever find themselves to be overweight it would be Better if they changed their lifestyle to lose said fat. And if that makes some people feel bad or sad or mad I absolutely do not give a damn.

              Reply
              • FrugalStrong June 1, 2018, 12:10 pm

                There’s actually a lot of research to the contrary. I highly recommend reading the books “Intuitive Eating,” “Health At Every Size,” and “Secrets From the Eating Lab.”

              • Dunny June 23, 2018, 2:57 am

                Agree, with everything you say except use of the word sacrifices. I do not consider eating healthy food and being physically active a sacrifice in any way. Eating unhealthy food and/or too much food and not using my muscles is torture for me. The attitude that giving up stuffing yourself with junk food is a sacrifice is a problem with many people. Raise the kids on healthy food and lead them in an active lifestyle and they will have the right attitude. Don’t ever mention or refer to junk food as a treat.

        • Justin May 22, 2018, 4:38 pm

          MMM, I’m writing as a fan here (and a vegan, for what it is worth, although I’ve never heard of Greger until I got to this thread). But I must agree with Freebie and Derek, below. Body shaming Dr. Greger is not just “silly and super-unscientific” (as you put it), it’s a crappy cheap-shot and it reinforces unhealthy stereotypes. People can be healthy with a range of body types, and a lot of very healthy people don’t spend their time trying to look buff, flexing in front of the mirror and posting photos of themselves in tight t-shirts.

          I know you qualified your joke, and maybe I sound like the some anal PC policeperson without no sense of humor, but I don’t care, this is one of those comments that falls under “clueless” and “superficial”, and makes it seem like you might secretly be judging everyone you meet based on how toned they are.

          Reply
          • Kira May 26, 2018, 2:17 pm

            How on earth did you infer that MMM “might secretly be judging everyone [he meets] based on how toned they are”? I understood his comment to be along the lines of, “Don’t hire a fat personal trainer.” Head knowledge is great, but results are better.

            We also need to keep things in perspective here — MMM isn’t telling everyone to eat like him. He is giving us a peek into his lifestyle that WORKS FOR HIM, both for his budget and his health. MMM’s comment is in response to “Hardcore Vegan Activists” offering him unsolicited advice to change something that is obviously working well for him.

            Don’t get me wrong — I prefer a veganISH lifestyle, but telling someone that their lifestyle is wrong will never convince them to change. Do you know what might convince them? Showing them living proof (without trying to force it down their throats) that the lifestyle works.

            Reply
            • Justin May 28, 2018, 9:25 pm

              I didn’t say that anyone’s lifestyle was wrong, I’m not trying to convince anyone to become vegan. I was referring specifically to this part of his comment: “And again, look at a picture of the good Doctor, and verify if this is the body type you are going for”. My point was that you can’t tell if someone’s lifestyle “works” from a photo – the guy may be very healthy and fit, just doesn’t do a lot of body building. I could google a bunch of photos of buff vegans, if I felt like it, but that would be equally dumb. And since you mention it, I would feel the same about someone saying “don’t hire a fat personal trainer”.

              Reply
        • C L Ray June 1, 2018, 5:33 pm

          Oh please. Making fun of Greger’s body? How about you searching for “vegan bodybuilder” on YouTube for some slightly different looking alternatives. Not interested in bodybuilders? Check out this dude who calls himself “HellahGood”.

          Reply
      • Frédéric Lacroix May 15, 2018, 7:39 pm

        I think Dr. Ted Naiman has much more credibility than Dr. Greger.

        https://twitter.com/tednaiman

        Reply
    • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 4:13 pm

      Dr. Greger is an excellent source!

      Reply
    • Ground Karate Monkey May 15, 2018, 4:16 pm

      YES!!! There is a lot of junk science concering nutrition sponsored by the industry that is trying to promote its product (Beef, egg, dairy). Whole food plant based diet!

      Reply
    • MsMiniMustache May 15, 2018, 5:28 pm

      Nutritionfacts.org? The vegan propaganda site whose “facts” are based on cherry-picked, misleadingly cited research and sweeping generalisations? I hope no one falls for that!

      Debunked here: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/death-as-a-foodborne-illness-curable-by-veganism/

      Reply
      • Derek Morrison May 16, 2018, 2:34 pm

        Well, you’ve just linked to one of the first Google hits for like “dr greger criticism”. I’m sure you could also link to the one from http://www.humanewatch.org. :)

        But if you dig deeper, Dr. Greger seems legit.

        Reply
        • MsMiniMustache May 18, 2018, 1:27 am

          HumaneWatch? I didn’t link it because the organisation seems pretty questionable.

          Take a closer look at your assumptions in that comment. First, the position of an article in search results doesn’t determine its accuracy or inaccuracy, and second, you’re wrong to assume that I haven’t “dug deeper”.

          I imagine Dr Greger is very well-intentioned as a person but I don’t think all his views are “legit”, so we’ll have to agree to disagree. And I maintain my dislike for the way he hides his agenda, and for the similar lack of disclosure from the OP.

          Reply
      • Kat O May 21, 2018, 6:49 am

        If you look closely at ANY source of research and data – even government ones, which are often influenced by big ag – you’ll find almost all data available to us is incomplete or misrepresented in some way. If we go way way back, research itself is faulty – null hypotheses are rarely published and most results, while peer-reviewed, turn out to not be replicable. I am veganish (we evolved eating animals but I can’t support industrial agriculture or factory farming), but I stick to Michael Pollan’s food advice and ignore the rest: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Cultures all over the world eat varying diets and still have great health (and I’m talking about native/traditional diets, not those that have been adulterated by western food and economics). Just eat real food – mostly – whatever that may be, and you’ll be fine.

        On the frugality side, I take a page from diets in countries like Ethiopia, India, and Mexico: some combo of cheap protein and grains (beans, lentils, rice) with veggies and a whole lotta flavor (spices are exceptionally good for you!).

        Reply
        • Kira May 26, 2018, 2:21 pm

          Well said!

          Reply
          • lurker May 27, 2018, 11:28 am

            Yes. I must concur!!!!

            Reply
  • Marcia May 15, 2018, 1:10 pm

    Ahhh yes!! I was hoping to see a food/ grocery update (since the “killing your $1000 grocery bill”). Mostly because I’m a food nerd, and that’s where I spend my effort. Because it interests me. Both in the cost category and the health category.

    My husband teases me that it’s not enough to eat healthfully, but that I want to eat for less and eat local. And … he’s not wrong, but I’ve definitely gotten easier on myself, in that I do a combo of all 3.

    In any event, I love the detailed analysis, and I occasionally go through this effort myself. I don’t feel so bad about our $150/week bill with a family of 4 (though my boys get free lunch at school, as do all kids at our school).

    I am definitely a creature of habit. Once I lost the had-a-baby-at-42-weight, and found an eating plan that kept it off, I stuck with it. Now I just go with the (repeatable) flow, and if I put a few pounds on – I can usually directly attribute it to stress and chocolate. So I cut back on that.

    I have about 3 things that I rotate around for breakfast (oatmeal with PB, yogurt and fruit, eggs and tortillas). I eat a big salad for lunch every single day. I eat fruit and nuts for snacks. Dinner is a protein, a carb, and a lot of veggies. Unsurprisingly, veggies are our biggest expense – I probably buy and prep 30-40 lbs a week (fruit and veg) for four. Carbs are generally for breakfast and dinner only.

    When it comes to volume – I’ve been running a lot (just ran a half marathon). I’ve found that short run days or swim days, I’m hungrier than normal, so I eat more. Long run days I really don’t get hungry (but the next day I want ALL the carbs). For the boys…well they are 12 and almost-6. They go through phases where they eat little and phases where I wonder which is the hollow leg. We keep the grocery budget down by bulk cooking – I cook 2 big meals a weekend and we alternate them for 4-6 dinners. One is vegetarian/ bean based, the other has some sort of animal protein.

    I also throw in some wild salmon a couple of times a month, because we like it, and it’s good for you.

    Reply
    • Ms Blaise May 17, 2018, 3:27 am

      Thanks Marcia, I found this really helpful, having had babies at 42 and 54(!) and currently trying to lose the 5kgs I put on. Not sure what that is in pounds ( and WHY are Americans still using pounds???? – but I digress).

      Reply
      • Ms Blaise May 24, 2018, 4:31 am

        edited to say that should have said 45 not 54!!!!!

        Reply
  • Nice joy May 15, 2018, 1:14 pm

    Nice post MMM. How do you make that coffee?

    Reply
    • Narrative May 15, 2018, 2:06 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. It looks frothy. Blender to mix in the cocunut oil/milk maybe?

      Reply
    • Sadie12 May 16, 2018, 1:04 pm

      It’s “Bulletproof coffee,” lots of innerwebs recipes

      Reply
  • CapitalistRoader May 15, 2018, 1:14 pm

    Great article! I’ve been substituting daikon for both potatoes and rice in an effort to reduce carbs, and I’ve found H-Mart as absolutely the best prices on that versatile radish. Sliced, salted, drained, rinsed and fried produces a decent fried “potato.” Chopped up in the food processor, salted, drained, rinsed, squeezed dry and stir fried in a wok until light brown gives a decent sub for brown rice.

    Anywhere from 39¢ to 79¢ a pound at H-Mart vs. five- to ten-times that much at WF, Sprouts, or KS/Safeway.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

      Thanks Roadster – I had never even heard of “Daikon”, but now I’ll be on the lookout for it. Anything that gives me the Power of Potatoes without so much white starch could be a nice ally.

      Reply
      • Kristi May 15, 2018, 7:51 pm

        Daikon is a staple in South Indian cooking! Chop it with some carrot, red onion and cucumber and dress with lemon juice and salt for an awesome salad. Or make a delicious Sambar. Yumm. H-mart is great, or a local Indian store will have it just as cheap.

        Reply
      • Lurker May 19, 2018, 10:56 am

        Super easy to grow yourself I think?

        Reply
      • AliKat July 9, 2018, 12:31 pm

        I get daikon from our local asian market.

        Reply
    • Renard May 16, 2018, 5:47 am

      Learned to love and live on Daikon while stationed in Japan…..super cheap, could buy anywhere and weighed a couple of pounds apiece! Daikon ikimasho…..

      Reply
    • Bob Hall May 16, 2018, 11:27 am

      Glad to see another MMM fan who also likes H-Mart & daikon. I’ve been buying pickled daikon in order to make my new favorite frugal, tasty dish: kimbap. It’s healthy, tasty, and inexpensive — worth a try!

      Reply
      • CapitalistRoader May 16, 2018, 3:53 pm

        Old Chinese proverb:

        吃辣萝卜、喝热茶 , 让饿医生恳求他们跪在地上。
        (Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.)

        Is the daikon part of kimbap called takuan? I wonder if it can be made with Splenda.

        Reply
    • chrissy May 16, 2018, 1:51 pm

      Daikon radishes are really easy to grow, you can also eat the greens (kinda spicy).

      Reply
  • Katie May 15, 2018, 1:16 pm

    Silly question…how do you mix your coconut oil in your coffee? I know most mix it in with a spoon, but I don’t like how it tastes when I do that. Maybe I need to condition to it. I am curious to know exactly how you make it, since it does look a bit frothy. :)

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 6:04 pm

      I take about 5 oz of whole milk, heat it for 50 seconds in the microwave, then scoop in the coconut oil. Then I dump this mixure into my usual stainless mug and FLUFF IT UP SUPER LIGHT AND FANCY with the espresso machine’s steam wand.

      Then, I dump the carafe of espresso over top of that foamy mix. Tis truly a delicious thing.

      Reply
      • The Vigilante May 15, 2018, 6:42 pm

        Couldn’t the milk be heated by the same steam wand – on a machine that would be running anyway – for a much lower cost? Genuine question. I have never taken the wattage reader to my espresso machine. Maybe it’s time!

        Reply
        • Stephen May 16, 2018, 8:00 am

          “for a much lower cost”‘

          Genuine question on my part – how much does it cost to run a microwave for 50 seconds? My guess is it’s less than 10c per month. Even on a blog about frugality I don’t think that moves the needle that much.

          Reply
      • Clay May 17, 2018, 9:38 am

        What espresso machine do you have? They all seem quite pricey.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 18, 2018, 4:47 pm

          Hey Clay, I’m a big fan of a solid but basic steam-pressure-only (no pump) espresso machine. There’s very little to break, they are cheap to buy, the espresso comes out exactly the same to my taste buds, and most importantly they don’t make a lot of noise – a critical thing in one’s kitchen in the early morning!

          The exact one we’ve been using for the last 4 years or so is just this basic Capresso brand thingy: https://amzn.to/2rVKI3e

          Reply
  • Sebastian May 15, 2018, 1:22 pm

    As a fellow Longmonter (is that what we’re called?) I’m curious your take on the farmer’s market. Do you find yourself indulging on local food stuffs from there? I maintain a goal of keeping my daily food costs under $10 a day, but I’ll splurge a bit over there every week or two.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 6:01 pm

      I call us Longmontians. I like the farmer’s market occasionally, but I don’t think there is anything magical about extremely local food. What matters is the overall eco footprint and health profile of what you choose, and since transportation distance is only a small portion of that footprint, it makes sense not to prioritize that part of it too much.

      I do love local apples straight off the trees of friends, or honey straight from their beehives!

      Reply
      • Faststash May 16, 2018, 12:31 pm

        My family started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) buying club in our neighborhood in NYC. While I agree that the overall eco foot print is what matters, the local produce we eat from the CSA has a number of other amazing benefits. We eat healthy, save tons of money (there is no middle man between us and the farmer so we get pounds and pounds of fresh produce each week with no mark up), get to know our neighbors at the weekly pick up and are exposed to new vegetables. I plan all my meals around the CSA food we get and I become laser focused on using up or preserving every last scrap of our weekly share. I don’t track my food intake, I just figure if I’m eating mostly vegetables and feeling ok, then I must be doing alright. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to keep our fridge, freezer and pantry at zero waste, but perhaps I should consider your approach and think about the nuances of what my body actually needs.

        Reply
      • Lurker May 19, 2018, 11:02 am

        How about berry bushes around your house and grape vines over your deck? Permaculture anyone?

        Reply
  • Stacy May 15, 2018, 1:26 pm

    Sounds like you have a good routine. I’m currently looking for ways to cut my kitchen time. Cooking healthy whole food plant-based meals for the family is a passion of mine, but I have other things I’d like to do with my time too. I’m spending too much time grocery shopping/meal planning/cooking/cleaning up, even with using handy gadgets like the Instant Pot. Been thinking to go to a KISS method more similar to yours instead of making new recipes 4-5 times/week. Got to tame the foodie in me and find some balance!

    Reply
  • Toby Bridgman May 15, 2018, 1:27 pm

    Good for you MMM. You continue to be an inspiration! I wish everyone ate this way. Could you imagine how much healthier and happier we would be?! Good on you and thanks for the example.

    Reply
  • Fireby35 May 15, 2018, 1:30 pm

    All you need to add to this diet is .5 ounce of delicious Italian Sweet Cream hydrogenated oil product per cup of coffee :)

    Reply
  • Heidi Alexander May 15, 2018, 1:31 pm

    Interesting and inspiring to see the cost break down! I have found dialing in the right amount of exercise for ones’ body makes a huge impact. If I engage in an intensive cardio workout or skip exercise altogether, I tend to consume many more calories. Sluggishness, fatigue and weight gain easily occur in both scenarios. However, when I do light to moderate yoga 2x each day, I have a much lower appetite and am naturally drawn toward healthier foods. It also has the added benefit of cost savings.

    By far the biggest challenge for my food budget is living the car free life. This was first inspired by MMM years ago! I am within an hour roundtrip walk to Whole Foods. Costco is at least a 30 minute drive. I initially thought of renting a car a couple times a month to get there. However, I didn’t factor in the extra $40/day or so in insurance add-ons since I no longer have car insurance. For now, I follow the single ingredient rule at Whole Foods. I only buy single ingredient items, which keeps me away from the expensive items.

    Reply
    • Ilona May 15, 2018, 4:11 pm

      About the 30 minute drive to Costco, if you live in an area where Costco has same day delivery, fruits and veggies can be delivered to your home :)

      Reply
    • Marcylala May 31, 2018, 10:26 pm

      Have you considered a zipcar / sharecar? These include insurance and fuel in the hire rate and can be hired on an hourly basis, rather than for the day.

      Reply
    • Dunny June 23, 2018, 3:23 am

      If I rent a car, which I do frequently while travelling, I don’t buy the insurance, but rather rely on my gold credit card rental car insurance coerage. I save the $99. fee for the card many times over in lower rental car costs alone. Consider a taxi ride home and don’t go often. I only do a Costco run about every 3 months (15 minute drive). About everty 2 years I stock up on cleaning and paper supplies. Every 3 months, I stock up on coffee beans and meat (repackage into 1 meal packages and freeze). Also, I do farm runs in summer for produce and local fruit in bulk (mostly organic worth it for the taste), and I freeze enough for the whole year. The fruit is so fantastic, cheap, and convenient. The rest of the time I shop almost daily (often on my walk) at small local shops for fresh fruit, veg., eggs, meat, etc. A car is essential for my lifestyle which includes transporting healthy food home and I save quite a lot of money with the flexibility. I find Whole Foods and equivalents way too expensive and there is very little in there that I buy anyway. Living in the city close to a lot of small shops (half hour walk in 3 directions) has many advantages (walking lifestyle, access to best food at food prices). I almost never go into a grocery store except for those Costco runs.

      Reply
  • Simplesam May 15, 2018, 1:31 pm

    I absolutely adore food! Sadly, I appreciate restaurants a bit too much, but have cut them out completely until I pay off my debt (freedom from that hair-on-fire emergency is very close now). In fact, our grocery bills have been artificially low the past few months because I work in catering and have discovered that it’s possible to bring food home. I never used to before finding your blog, but lately I’ve realized that one doesn’t have to bring home the fatty hors d ‘oeuvres or the dessert. A LOT of healthy greens and sautéed veggies get dumped because party guests mistake them for mere garnish. Lol.
    When we reach FI and I can quit, I guess our grocery bills will go back up again, but I’ve made sure to account for that. Meanwhile if there is nothing healthy to bring home, I get beans & rice and some greens and make stuff at home.
    Also I love your breakfast! It’s very similar to my favorite breakfast which is coffee with half & half and roasted, unsalted jumbo-sized peanuts. Never thought to try coconut oil. It sounds intriguing! :)
    Lately haven’t been buying peanuts because they’re a little expensive, so breakfast is often coffee and leftover fish and/or veggies, but I like to bring greens and fruits home from work and throw them into the bullet blender.

    Reply
  • Sarah May 15, 2018, 1:38 pm

    I apologise if you’ve already addressed this, but I was curious if you eat organic? I know for my family that alone increases costs!

    Thanks for the great article!
    Sarah

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 6:14 pm

      No, I’m not religious about choosing only organic food. It’s not a health booster in most cases (especially vegetables where you don’t eat the peel). Marion Nestle’s book What to Eat covers this quite nicely.

      So I try to lean towards organic mainly in cases when it has benefits for human or animal welfare (for example organic pasture-raised eggs, or bananas/coffee because I have read that it is substantially better for worker conditions on those farms). And please correct me if any of these ideas seem wrong to you, since I’m a bit of a beginner at organic vs conventional.

      Reply
      • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 6:38 pm

        I would say you’re pretty spot on. Th e main things I buy organic are apples, bananas, and berries due to the likely lowered pesticide load.

        Reply
        • Cody May 16, 2018, 4:31 pm

          The EWG puts out a “dirty dozen” list of the foods you should always buy organic, if possible. Beyond that, it is just a matter of personal preference (this coming from the sucker who buys everything organic). :) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

          Reply
          • Dr. McFrugal May 17, 2018, 11:12 am

            I actually buy almost everything organic too! :)

            Reply
      • Darrell May 16, 2018, 8:37 am

        I was of similar mindset (“how bad can non-organic really be?”) until I got to know local organic farmers who educated me on their farming practices. For our family, our decision criteria typically follows the logic of Organic, then In-season, then Local. For example, if these pecans are not organic, are they in-season and can we have a conversation with someone about where they were sourced? (in some cases, non-organic farms follow organic practices, but haven’t been certified by State Ag Dept).

        Other nuance…we strive to take advantage of what is in-season versus what has been schlepped across the country to our local Costco. This varies up what goes into the salad or accompanies our protein (this week = radish, fennel and green garlic, next month = sunchokes, blueberries and carrots). Sure, you can get hothouse tomatoes pretty much any time of the year thanks to Mexico grow farms…but finding tomatoes that are local and in-season will taste massively better.

        All that said, this type of purchasing does drive up our family’s cost of produce.

        A book recommendation I’m sharing these days is Dr. Mark Hyman’s recent “Food, what the heck should we eat” (https://www.amazon.com/Food-What-Heck-Should-Eat/dp/0316338869) to help demystify food types/organic/etc.

        Reply
      • Andrea May 16, 2018, 2:26 pm

        Ah. Was curious about the eggs. Your dishes that include “3 eggs” plus other things like cheese or avocado are listed as “about 50 cents” in cost. When I buy the actually good eggs, EACH egg is close to 50 cents. I’m OK with paying more for ethical eggs, but it’s a far cry from the 10 cents or so your math would imply.

        Reply
      • Anna May 20, 2018, 7:10 pm

        Can’t say I disagree with these ideas. I will add that it’s more important to know how the produce is grown than whether it is conventional vs. organic. Many local farmers selling produce at the farmers market, for example, meet and even exceed USDA organic standards. They are unwilling to pay for the certification so they can’t label their produce organic.

        Reply
        • Dave Perrins May 31, 2018, 11:00 am

          Really agree with this. I used to work in an ‘ethical’ food shop. Some local non organic producers were amazing in their care for land, environment and people while some organic producers were clearly in it for the extra mark up. It’s hard, because we can’t know everything but I will always try and buy from local producers where you can trace its source a bit more. This is where farmer’s markets and local produce shops are more useful. Michael Pollan’s book Omnivores Dilemma, which I really recommend, also sheds some light on this.

          Reply
  • Tom May 15, 2018, 1:41 pm

    I’m surprised that you don’t eat vegan MMM, given how much you care about the environment based on a number of your past posts. Regardless of your thoughts on animal rights/welfare, from a pure sustainability standpoint, our society’s heavily meat/dairy-based diet just isn’t sustainable with the ever-increasing world population. Going vegan is not easy, but with your level of general badassity, and the amount of thought you put into what you’re eating, I figured you would have made the transition years ago!

    Reply
    • Anonymous May 15, 2018, 3:40 pm

      Agreed. Veganism is objectively the healthiest way to eat for 99% of people and is a huge virtuous cycle for your health, wealth and the Earth. Has MMM written all over it.

      I am also puzzled by the amount of protein MMM thinks he needs. This is bro science, not the usual well studied and researched conclusions made by MMM. I worry for his kidneys!

      nutritionfacts.org, ‘Proteinaholic” by Garth Davis, therealtruthabouthealth.com, “What the Health” on Netflix, “The China Study” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell as some jumping off points.

      Reply
    • Jimmy May 15, 2018, 4:46 pm

      We’re proud of the good work you do in the world of veganism Tom. However, no one enjoys a preachy vegan (or whatever thing the preacher is into at that moment). We all live our lives to the best of our abilities and interests. No one is more right than someone else. MMM’s having a kid (and probably you as well?) is much worse for the long term health of our environment than eating tilapia.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 5:33 pm

        Tom – agreed, Vegan (or at least Vegetarian because eggs can be animal-friendly, eco-friendly and super good for you!) eating usually comes with a much smaller eco footprint. But from what I’ve read so far (and vegans I know in real life), it is much more difficult to maintain a balanced and strong body on plants alone. Not impossible, but not automatic like it is with the diet I have right now. Every Vegan I know is very enthusiastic about the practice, but none of them has a body that looks like something I would want to live in :-)

        Eating insects (like cricket flour) seems like the best of all possible worlds – health/protein/nutrients/strength plus a tiny eco footprint rivaling plants.

        Jimmy – While I appreciate the philosophy of Live and Let Live, I would disagree that “no one is more right than someone else”. Instead, I would suggest that the person whose opinions are based more on evidence and science is More Right (or at least Less Wrong :-))

        The good news is that we don’t have to be PERFECT in order to save the world. Just by being slightly less ridiculous than average in the US, and exporting this as an example for developing nations, we can chop resource consumption by 75%, which makes us a sustainable species at the current population level.

        Reply
        • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 7:05 pm

          MMM, there are plenty of vegan athletes with excellent physiques. Tom Brady is like 85% vegan. And check out Kenneth Farris, Nimai Delgado, and Clarence Kennedy. Those guys are beasts…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgixW_RIkjQ

          Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want your body to look like that. ;)

          Reply
          • Tom May 16, 2018, 8:54 am

            Agreed! Although it’s easier to meet your protein needs with meat/dairy, with some thought and effort, I have no doubt MMM can maintain his “ripped in a ropy way” (credit New Yorker article) physique! :)

            For more inspiration: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19535559/vegan-bodybuilders-instagram/

            Reply
            • Cody May 16, 2018, 3:51 pm

              I really enjoyed reading about a typical day in the food life, MMM and have been resisting the urge to comment at the risk of being a “preachy vegan.” Apparently, I can resist no more.

              I agree with Dr. McFrugal and Tom above. From pro NFL players like Griff Whalen and Theo Riddick to MMA fighters like Mac Danzig and the Diaz brothers, to name just a few, there are tons of examples of super high-level athletes who are thriving on a whole foods plant-based (“WFPB”) diet. Non of the dudes mentioned above share the same body type or athletic level as Dr. Greger, showing that as with most ways of eating, there are many examples of results and outcomes across the spectrum (I get though that Dr. Greger is an outspoken proponent of the WFPB diet).

              I am optimistic this upcoming documentary about plant-based athletes by James Cameron will help break a lot of the misconceptions about this way of eating. http://gamechangersmovie.com/

              Respectfully,
              Cody

              Reply
          • Kira May 26, 2018, 2:38 pm

            Vegan athletes are admirable because they’ve proven that they CAN gain and maintain muscle without eating animal products, but they are still devoting most of their waking hours to being athletes. Referencing vegan athletes as examples doesn’t really drive home your point in response to the following:

            “But from what I’ve read so far (and vegans I know in real life), it is much more difficult to maintain a balanced and strong body on plants alone. Not impossible, but not automatic like it is with the diet I have right now.”

            Reply
        • katkins99 May 17, 2018, 9:36 am

          Insects, yes, I had forgotten! That’s going on my “aspirational optimal diet” list. Incorporating more organ meats into our diet is my next hurdle.

          And when we can afford it, I see no reason not to go 100% organic and as local as possible.
          Reducing glyphosate, etc in the world can’t possibly be a bad thing. And I disagree that there is no “magic” in hyper-local food. How else do we expect our farmers to be able to transport produce using bike trailers?!

          Reply
        • Mike May 19, 2018, 8:17 am

          My wife and I started eating a vegan diet over two years ago and we don’t pay much attention to macro nutrient levels. We eat plenty of carbs and fats and our protein intake would probably seem low by conventional standards :)

          My strength and endurance have both increased dramatically since then while my body fat has decreased. I strength trained both before and after the transition and have only seen positive results. In fact after the transition I was encouraged to try more advanced exercises than I had previously attempted.

          I’m not trying to convince anyone, but just want to give another account of someone who is thriving on a vegan diet :) It’s pretty easy to try for a month or two and most people seem to notice results in that time frame.

          Reply
        • Executioner May 22, 2018, 2:01 pm

          I started following a vegan diet last summer after being vegetarian for almost 10 years. In my own experience I feel better overall after eliminating the remaining animal-derived foods (cheese & the occasional egg) from my diet.

          The best way I can describe the way I feel now would be this: You know those days when you roll out of bed feeling great, fully rested, no pains, high energy level, good mood, ready to go? I have more of those now than I ever had before. I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty healthy person, so I am not saying that I have suddenly done a 180 from poor health to perfection. But I was also surprised that I could feel so much better than I did before, when I already had an optimistic view of my own well-being.

          Try it out for a few months and see how it goes for you. And stop focusing on protein! Unless you eat nothing but fruit, as long as you are getting adequate daily calories, you will be getting enough protein.

          Reply
      • Tom May 16, 2018, 8:53 am

        Sorry to hear you don’t like me Jimmy! Although I’m not sure what part of my comment you found preachy. I stated a fact about Vegan-eating being far better for our environment than the typical meat/dairy-heavy diet most prevalent in our society. Didn’t even make the animal welfare argument. I appreciate the support from MMM below!

        I applaud the work that MMM has done with this blog. I have no doubt that Mustachianism has done a massive amount of good for the environment (and humanity/the world in general) by reducing resource consumption! And I’m also sure MMM’s son will share his ideals and do lots of good in his life as well, far offsetting the increased carbon footprint of having a kid! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do as much good in my life as MMM already has. But if I could get him to embrace either a fully, or mostly vegan diet, and if in turn he used the influence of his blog to convince others to do so, well, that would be another huge win for humanity!

        Personally, I’m a moral relativist. I don’t think you’re a bad person if you consume animal products. In fact, I still treat myself to an occasional pizza or piece of fish…but I’d say that over the last 2 two years after I was “woke” to the horrors of animal agriculture, I’ve eaten 95% vegan, 99% vegetarian, and 100% pescatarian. Most of us have just been brainwashed by big meat and big dairy (or big cheese as I like to call them!) for most of our lives. I was just surprised that MMM still consumes so much of it himself, given how much of a non-society-conforming badass he is in every other aspect of his life!

        Reply
  • Brad May 15, 2018, 1:52 pm

    “I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time planning my meals”

    /writes 2k words complete with spreadsheet breakdowns of individual ingredient weight and price/calorie of diet.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 15, 2018, 5:54 pm

      heheh. Yes, but that’s not planning a meal, it is writing a blog post.

      And I started working on this post in roughly 2013, so it has been a VERY small amount of time spent, averaged out on a daily basis :-)

      Reply
      • Brad May 16, 2018, 10:20 am

        Fair

        Reply
  • Jason May 15, 2018, 1:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing your daily meal plan here. Even when I think I’m eating healthy, I know I can do better. I believe all motivation to do so is fantastic.

    My biggest win from an eating and money perspective in the past couple of years has been to drastically cut down on the restaurant meals. By adding some focus to my fitness, I find myself having a strong desire not to waste the workout and eat a bit better. I still have a long way to go to match what you’ve shared here.

    Reply
  • Chris Urbaniak May 15, 2018, 1:59 pm

    Nice to hear that I’m not the only one who eats pretty much the same thing every day! My breakfasts and weekday lunches are consistent right across the board; it allows me to know that most of the time I won’t be too hungry or too full. Suppers and weekends are when the variety comes in :)

    Reply
  • Paul May 15, 2018, 2:00 pm

    If you like to prepare your foods in advance, in bulk, take a look at the “Insta-Pot”; sort of a cross between a pressure cooker and a crock pot. We use ours all the time. I eat a lot of brown rice and cooked veggies. The Insta-Pot can prepare a large quantity of both in just a few minutes and then you have 3-4 days worth of dinners already prepared. Just heat in microwave and you are good to go.

    Reply
    • WantNotToWantNot June 25, 2018, 7:08 am

      +1 My SO is crazy about the Insta-Pot. Makes fabulous mushroom risotto in about 30 minutes time (no stirring!) and, if you eat meat, deliciously moist turkey breast (made a white-meat lover out of me), and so on. Last night it was a splendid vegetable minestrone. For more sophisticated cooks, the saute function fixes the old problem of the crockpot “boiled food” issue, allowing you to brown/carmelize some ingredients before cooking. If you are living in a situation with a minimal kitchen, the Insta-Pot would be a tremendous asset. Also clean-up is so easy with one-pot cooking. Great recipes are online for all kinds of dishes, simple to gourmet and meat-based to vegan.

      Reply
  • Jon May 15, 2018, 2:00 pm

    What kind of espresso maker do you have? Mine is ass.

    Reply
  • Dr. McFrugal May 15, 2018, 2:11 pm

    “Also, we are omnivores, which is a more expensive and polluting way to get protein – but if you’re not badass enough to eat vegetarian you can at least make a substantial dent in your eco footprint by making beef your last choice of meats.”

    That’s awesome that you acknowledge the lower eco footprint and environmental impact of vegetarian diets. I have a similar food eating philosophy as you: “Eat to live, not live to eat”.

    My wife and I personally follow a Blue Zone inspired whole food (and unprocessed) exclusively plant based diet. I think it’s the cleanest and healthiest diet one can eat. There are multiple studies out there that prove this with respect to better vitality, increased longevity, lowered inflammation, and decreased incidence of chronic disease.

    Your diet looks pretty good. But I wouldn’t go too crazy on the olive oil. After all, oil is really just a processed liquid fat. (I minimize all processed foods and avoid eating liquid calories.). I would also be careful about eating a lot of tilapia. Most are farm raised, have a lot of dioxins/environmental pollutants, mercury, pesticides, antibiotics, and other things that cause inflammation.

    Not only is being an omnivore a more expensive and polluting way to get protein, it can also pollute our bodies if not done properly.

    Anyway, great article as usual!

    Reply
    • Marcia May 15, 2018, 7:26 pm

      Got links to the multiple studies that show an exclusively plant based diet is the healthiest for long term health?

      Reply
    • Sadie12 May 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

      Agreed on the tilapia, but not as much on the olive oil. If the oil is cold pressed vs. chemically extracted I would consider it a very desirable fat choice. The oils to really avoid are vegetable…corn, canola etc. Those ARE chemically extracted, and PUFAs to boot. No bueno.

      Reply
      • Dr. McFrugal May 17, 2018, 12:21 pm

        I’m not saying olive oil is bad for you or a undesirable fat choice. It is by far one of the more healthier fat choices, especially the cold-pressed EVOO variety. All I’m just saying is “not to go crazy” with it.

        Reply
    • marcel May 18, 2018, 3:50 am

      Eh…olive oil is _not_ a processed oil. That is, if you consider pressing is not processing… It has proven health benefits, due to the antioxidants. You really can’t overdose on olive oil – it’ll make you feel saturated very quickly. That said, you should be careful which ones to pick, and I have some doubts on the type that MMM is buying. It shouldn’t come in PET bottles, and anything below $10/lt is probably adulterated or mixed with lesser quality grades. Best is to buy tins or glass bottles (smaller is better), keep light, heat & oxygen out to prevent degradation.

      Reply
      • Dr. McFrugal May 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

        MMM buys oil from Sam’s club in plastic jugs. (He links it in his article).

        Reply
      • Dunny June 23, 2018, 7:42 am

        Apparently, 75% of olive oil is contaminated with other cheaper oils regardless of price or brand. Once it leaves the farm, you have no idea what is in it. Also, no idea what pesticides are in it. It is definitely processed. I don’t trust any oil, but with the huge popularity of olive oil and the price it demands, it is very tempting for producers to add cheaper oils. You can find numerous articles on this topic. I love good olive oil (for the best, you have to go to Greece), but butter is better unless you have a farm source where the oil has not left the farm.

        Reply
  • Michelle Owens-Martin May 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

    Too lazy to do that much math so I generally try to stay under $400 a month for a family of three, eating like a bear as I describe it (mostly brown and whole grains with lean veg and vinaigrettes, a lot of still and carbonated water, meat and eggs an occasional treat). I have the same child (although she will eat more variety at school)…

    Reply
  • Blue Dove May 15, 2018, 2:21 pm

    I wish there was an app or website that allowed calculation of nutrition value and cost at the same time.

    Reply
    • Jen May 20, 2018, 7:06 am

      Great idea – can you give me more of an idea of how you would like this to work? I am learning to be a web developer.

      Reply
      • Blue Dove June 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

        sorry Jen, just seeing this.

        It would be just like My Fitness Pal’s food tracker or my personal favorite Cron-o-meter, but it would also calculate the cost of food. Just like My Fitness Pal, it would draw on some standard database of food cost for your country, region, city or even in my wildest dreams – grocery chain or store, plus allow the user to override the standard data. So for example, I would enter

        1 frozen hamburger patty, American Idol brand
        1 hamburger bun, Wonder brand
        1 slice cheese, Velveeta
        15 Tostito’s chips “Scoops”

        and it would return something like”
        1 hamburger patty, American Idol brand – 320 calories, 30 g fat, 0 carbohydrates, 12 g protein, $1.00
        and so on and then it would do sums for the meal, the day, the week, the month, the year etc.

        it could easily be monetized by people who wanted to sell you what you were eating for cheaper, sell you other stuff (e.g. the app would know you ate American Idol brand hamburger patties and could serve up ads for Canadian Idol patties).

        Reply
  • Sonya May 15, 2018, 3:25 pm

    I am definitely one that could eat the same thing every.single.day. I would rather spend my time tinkering and working on things that interest me than searching, shopping and curating a “fancy pants” meal that lasts 10 minutes and is gone forever. I am surprised that you are prioritizing beef further down on your nutrition list! When I cut back on beef, I was shocked to find that it stopped tasting good to me.

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  • Young FIRE Knight May 15, 2018, 3:30 pm

    I’m one of those who “extends the fast” through the morning, usually to about noon for a 16 hour fast. Some people call it intermittent fasting, and supposedly it has some good benefits to the body, though research is inconclusive. Regardless, this is a great way to keep your food intake in check and only two meals per day requires less preparation time. I’ve also noticed my overall food costs have gone down as well. Not sure if this is something you have ever tried or not.

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  • Mark May 15, 2018, 3:39 pm

    Totally understand the son/food situation. I was an incredibly picky eater growing up. People marveled that I ate the same lunch every day from 1st grade through graduation. I did indeed gradually broaden my horizons, and now I eat everything- although I never ate red meat of any kind until my mid-20’s when (possibly) due to a hard-core bodybuilding routine I started craving steak. I turned out happy, healthy, and (at least in my mother’s opinion) well adjusted. All the peanut butter apparently did no lasting harm. Totally appreciate your current food situation. Sounds delicious and decadent to me! My wife and I eat like royalty, yet we are constantly surprised by how little we need to spend on food.

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