Flour wins in this table listing foods by calories per dollar

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/10/flour-wins-in-this-table-listi.html


I got a bread machine for Covid time and am loving making bread. Much better than store loaf. And whole wheat is my fav. But you have to remember that it stores only half as long as white flour.

Also - you can add vital wheat gluten to your bread for a cheap protein bump - if you aren’t sensitive to it.


This seems more like a list on how to get scurvy and never poop again. They list vegetables as a "flavoring, for goodness’s sake. Using calories and protein as the sole metrics is pretty reductive, and it’s surprising they don’t acknowledge that or really provide any caveats.

It feels like some engineers are especially susceptible to the discipline-specific version of the Dunning-Kruger effect, where they assume since they’re adequate or talented within their own domain, they must be similarly adept at tackling problems in other domains.

  1. Pick A Low Cost Carb : Rice, noodles, potatoes, tortillas, all add a base to the meal providing a median to deliver food to your mouth.

Clearly proofreading isn’t efficient enough for the “Efficiency is Everything” author.


There’s a reason we call it the neolithic ‘revolution’


The author clearly forgot you can add water to flour to make a delicious paste.




I find adding this (approx 15g to a 400g loaf) improves old flour where the gluten content may have diminished and also helps non-strong flour mixes - like when I often mix some strong white and ordinary wholemeal for a 50/50 loaf. It seems to help the rise, considerably and I no longer have any flat/dense loaves as a result.

But efficiency is all, seeing as the critical thing is apparently to “deliver food to your mouth” (for which I usually use a fork, but I’m weird, I guess) rather than provide a tasty or nicely textured mouthful.


If a person keep the paste in the open air for about two weeks they might get a sourdough starter going.


I see some skeptics here, I was at first, too, seeing calories and protein as the sole metrics. No one in America is protein deficient unless they have a disease that causes it… but if you read the article that accompanies the table, the nutritional stuff is pretty valid.
They made an okay-seeming cookbook, too, with 4 weeks of recipes and shopping lists for each week:

I say okay-seeming just because the writing style isn’t my favorite, but the recipes look interesting. And the price is right :slight_smile:
My favorite cookbook for a budget is “Good & Cheap” also available as a free pdf:

I like it so much I bought the paper version. It’s great. The broccoli/tomato stir fry is excellent and turns out just like the picture.

Calling out that typo is just mean


But i’m hungry now.


Some canned food can be bought for cheap if you get the biggest size but dry foods will give you a ton of bang for your buck, getting beans, lentils, rice, etc will cheaply feed you and others for quite some time.Also if you need to get seasonings and spices for cheap go to international/specialty grocery stores like Hispanic, Indian, Chinese, etc grocery stores. You will find certain ingredients and spices for a lot cheaper than you would at a standard place, and with better variety.

Meat is also expensive, frozen and fresh produce is often dirt cheap and was the main reason i initially went vegetarian. I just couldn’t afford meat, but if you need animal protein look into buying canned sardines, canned salmon, etc. They can be cheaper than tuna because the cans are bigger so you get more for your money. Just gotta debone the fish before you cook with it.

If you’re truly hard up for cash and need to eat you can look to grow certain fresh produce and herbs, some grow relatively easily and quickly. Will probably not feed you by itself but will give some added options on what to throw in meals.

Lastly for those struggling to feed families please reach out to local organizations, they will help to ensure kids do not go hungry.


It seems counterintuitive, but I think I was actually healthier when I was poorer. I lived on dry beans, rice, mixed frozen veggies, oatmeal for breakfast and the one luxury of coffee with cream. Growing fresh herbs on the windowsill can make anything feel like a gourmet meal.
You’re right, meat is expensive, and environmentally damaging the way most of it is produced. I’m not vegetarian anymore, but buy only local organic stuff from small farms, which makes it about 3x more expensive, so only eat about 1/2 lb per week, tops…well, unless it’s a rare hot-dog week, then all my ethics go out the window. But those only happen a couple times a year.


He mentions potatoes as a starch in the commentary but potatoes and sweet potatoes are not in the table. I’ve heard you can live on potatoes and milk. Curious to see the cost per whatever for spuds.

The commentary/full article does mention getting scurvy if you ate only white bread for every meal. He is aware that you cannot eat just protein and carbs to live.


I lived off peanut butter, beans, oatmeal and pasta but i was pretty healthy as well. Mainly because i also walked/biked everywhere. At home i strictly cook/prepare vegetarian meals but when i visit family or i’m out and about i do indulge in meals with meat, so it forces me to make healthier dishes at home.

Currently in the process of paying my debts off so i can hopefully buy a house next year or the following. Can’t wait, mainly because i’d love to set up a garden to grow food :slight_smile:


As long as someone is eating veggies they’ll be fine. Veggies like Broccoli, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomato, etc have Vitamin C (among other things obviously) so even someone hard up for cash should be able to cheaply buy fresh, frozen or canned veggies and get much needed sources of vitamins and minerals.

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Optimizing for cost is a good way to get enough calories to keep body and soul together for a few weeks. Longer than two weeks you need to start worrying about nutrition. Longer than that, and you need to worry about cultural and emotional impact.

Fresh vegetables are great when you can get them and when they are cheap. Depending on where you live, availability may be limited part of the year; and the price may be very variable. For instance, tomatoes near me range from 50 cents a pound to $5 a pound, depending on time of year (and where they are needing to ship them in from). (I am always amazed that they can grow tomatoes in northern Europe in a greenhouse and airfreight ship them to the US midwest and sell them for $4 a pound.)

Canned food normally costs more, but it can sit on a shelf for 2 years and still be fine. (And honestly, they generally tend to be fine for periods of a lot longer than 2 years.)

I really like dried foods too. We have a “local” Bulk Mennonite store about 30 miles away from us, we go there to stock up about 2-3 times a year. Their prices are about 25-75% less expensive per pound than any online prices I’ve found - shipping bulk foods in individual sized containers is expensive. We get a lot of dried vegetables like tomato flakes, diced onion, diced garlic, green peppers, red peppers, celery, carrots, and so on. These aren’t so good on their own, but when using them in soups and other hydrated foods (like rice) they really work out nicely. (Just remember to increase the amount of water in your rice pot to account for the vegetable rehydration!)

Frozen foods require freezer space, obviously. It seems like the cheapest, plainest frozen vegetables are the best for you; the more they do the the vegetables past “chop them up and freeze them”, the worse they are for you.

While it’s way not a 100%, I’ve kind of noticed that food that comes in bags tends to be better for you, and food that comes in boxes is worse for you and more expensive. I’ve considered doing the research to come up with a “debox” diet because I think it would be a lot more healthy than a “detox” diet, but I’ve been lazy. This is particularly true of the frozen food section, although there are, again, exceptions.

ETA: It’s kind of funny that this article and an article about a woman eating a peach and rediscovering joy in her life, and a renewed sense of pride in her Chinese ancestry (and a discussion of post-slavery economic servitude in the south) is on the front page at the same time…


I typically avoid anything that is sold as a pre-made meal regardless if its frozen, boxed, jarred or canned. My few exceptions being mac n cheese and ramen because those are once-in-a-blue-moon comfort foods i indulge in. Besides that i take a lot of joy and pride in making my own food :slight_smile:


As an engineer who also has mostly engineer friends, I can strongly confirm. We’re the worst for this. Engineering school brainwashes you that what you’re doing is the hardest thing anyone can do (often as an excuse for bad teaching). Mix in some white male privilege, and you get constant a mental state of “I can figure out anything in any domain with google and some pet theories”.

The Soylent Green guy is an engineer. Those lists of climate change denying “scientists” that go around are also mostly engineers.

I’ve found all of the above to be largely true of theoretical physicists as well.


If you can, sometime try to find a Chinese or Japanese grocer and get some fresh Ramen noodles, or some of the closely related noodles… a lot of times they are sold in the refrigerated section. OMG they are so good, although they are 10x as much.

I also really, really recommend crystal noodles if you haven’t tried them yet; the grocer that I go to carries them in both instant noodle cups and as plain noodles to make your own. OMG, they are so delicious. (I know it sounds highly processed, but they have been making them for hundreds of years.)

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