Food Inflation is Not a Concern on the Peasant Diet

Food prices are spiking and people are complaining. I’m not. The Peasant Diet that I designed back in 2016 not only will lean you out, you’ll also save a lot of money on food.

I wanted to post this earlier, but first I needed to do my defense of Low Fat Dieting. The Peasant Diet is based primarily on cheap unprocessed carbohydrates.

  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes and yams
  • oats
  • lentils and other legumes
  • quinoa
  • rice (brown and sometimes white)
  • buckwheat
  • farro
  • kamut

Then add in some cheap protein sources such as eggs, sardines, and possibly chicken. I tend to favor lentils as my primary protein as I overdid the sardines last year.

Think Buddha Bowls

Now that I have years of experience with the Peasant Diet and its sequel diet Potatoes & Protein, I found making single bowl dishes to be highly effective. The bottom of the bowl will be a tuber or a grain. Then top that with either legumes, sardines, or eggs. Add additional veggies or sprouts. Stir in some salsa or hot sauce and you are done. Be careful not to add a calorie-dense topping.

brocolli sprouts

Every week for 2 years now, I grow a batch of broccoli sprouts. I use seeds from the Rainbow Heirloom Seed Co. It takes about 5 days to go from seed to sprout. These are perfect toppings for Budda Bowls.

You now have a heavy, nutrient-dense, unprocessed meal that was dirt cheap. And because the carbs are unprocessed, you will reach satiety quickly.

I got to a point last summer where I had to add additional calories because I was losing too much weight on the Peasant Diet. If this happens to you, add a little extra virgin olive oil to the bowl.

When cooking, I make larger portions and then have leftovers ready for multiple meals. Although recently I favor having my lentils and grains shipped to me, in the past, I’ve gotten great deals buying them in larger quantities at restaurant supply stores that don’t have a membership fee requirement.

Last Words

Unless you are a carb-phobic carnivore, food inflation in an obese world isn’t the worst problem to have. As a society, we have been spending too much on food for decades. Not because the price was high, but because we were buying calories well beyond our caloric needs.

At my peak, I was 222 pounds. Today I’m 40 pounds lighter. By supporting my ideal weight, I’m spending less on food every day. But you don’t need to be overweight to adopt a Peasant Diet and you don’t need to make every meal Peasant.

Yesterday for lunch I mixed lentils with quinoa and added some broth. Then I chopped some veggies and mushrooms up and tossed them into the mix. I set the Instant Pot to 5 minutes at high pressure. Then I added some sprouts, spices, and hot sauce. I had enough for 4 meals. My estimate is that each meal was about $2.

My lentil+quinoa leftovers. I also added garlic, onions, red peppers, corn, and mushroom powder. Before serving this I’ll add some hot sauce and sprouts.

Do you have a favorite meal that is nutritious and cheap?

17 Comments

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  1. Do you put any weight into protein : energy ratio? e.g. do you put any weight into hitting protein goals?

    Do you think it is worth thinking about risk of inadequate protein intake accelerating loss of lean body mass / sarcopenia, esp with a focus on plant protein vs animal-based protein?

    Out of curiosity, have you kept track of how high your blood sugars go after each of these meals?

    I’ve been enjoying your posts, thank you.

  2. @Woojin – My position is that as one gets leaner (and older) to focus more on protein. That is why I came up with the Potatoes & Protein Diet to address those concerns.
    https://criticalmas.org/2018/12/potatoes-and-protein-a-no-hunger-template-for-fat-loss/

    I still consume some animal protein, just not as much as before. Lentils are serving me well.

    I do not track blood sugar. The carbs I consume are not processed and have the fiber. I also have a rule that Implemented that I go for at least a 20 minute walk after I eat. I believe that helps with blood sugar. Maybe that is something I could look into at some point.

  3. Completely wrong place to ask this @MAS, I hope you can forgive me, but I’d be interested in your thoughts re: the RDAs for vitamins and minerals.
    I take it from your comments when people have asked about your macros that you don’t track these things but do you ever check if you might have any deficiencies that might creep up on you?
    Re-reading your “What I Eat and What I Don’t Eat – 2020 Edition” post, I am in a similar position wanting to quit dairy (and soy, oat milk, etc). But the more I stare at Cronometer, the more I can’t see how to reach 1,000mg a day of calcium without it.
    One thing that seems genuinely agreed on (happy to be corrected) across the internet nutrition universe is the undesirability of calcium supplementation.
    Is this something you ever think about?

  4. @SCMelville – No I don’t track those numbers or think about the RDAs.

    I look at the nutrient density and diversity of my diet compared to the general public and I know I’m in the top 1%. I’ve had 3 calcium blood tests. All were in range (9.1, 9.0, 9.0) across 3 years.

    Since my 2020 edition post, I’ve tweaked my diet to include more animal products in the winter months. A hedging seasonal strategy.

  5. Thanks for your thought @MAS – I’m always glad to see an update in my RSS reader for your blog, most thought provoking.

  6. @MAS
    Great follow up post. I enjoy the flavor of this type of diet, but unfortunately it gives me major digestive issues.
    Alas, I think a childhood of highly processed foods has permanently tuned my digestive system away from unprocessed carbs. 🙂

  7. @MAS I have been using this template very successfully on my fat loss journey. Down nearly 15 pounds so far. Thank you for writing about it. I find a lot of similarities between your Peasant Diet and what Clarence Bass recommends as a diet for lifelong leanness.

    During these cold winter months in the northern hemisphere, lentil soup with potatoes is a go to recipe for me. I do use a small amount of butter to sauté onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to start but it is spread over many servings. Add lentils, diced potatoes, (occasionally some cabbage too) and liquid and let it simmer. What I like is the flexibility that format allows – different amounts of chicken broth, veggie broth, or tomato broth and different herb/spice combinations can create a huge variety of soups that are all “the same but different”.

  8. @Jim – I have an idea for a follow-up post with some things I did to improve my gut tolerance of some of these carbs.

    @Geoff – I love it. Lentils are the best. Even people that have trouble digesting regular legumes will be fine with lentils. So cheap. So filling. So nutrious.

  9. Rice & peas

    Actually beans (pinto)

    Soaks beans over night
    Pressure cook in Instant Pot per Mary’s Nest
    With lot of liquid!
    I skip the jalapeño ’s

    Boil the rice separately
    I hate mushy rice so I never pressure cook rice
    I freeze my rice to create less calories and more resistant starch.

    Pore beans and liquid over heated frozen-rice add raw opinions at your own risk

    Marc

    Yum

  10. Social bigotry over protein consumption has been happening for a very long time. German physiologist Dr. Carl Voit (concluded that protein intake for people should be 118 grams (g) per day . He believed that people with sufficient would instinctively select a diet containing the right amount of protein .

    Today, billions of people choose fast food for nutrition needs. So much for instincts. Big corrupt businesses, and corrupt politicians have led to much confusion over diet over a rather simple matter.

    Russell Henry Chittenden spoke the truth. He was ignored. Ditto Dr. William Rose . BTW, judging animal protein products efficiency versus plant protein via rat consumption is just plain stupid. Bodybuilding magazines have made fortunes selling protein powders to build muscle with steroid using bodybuilders.
    Now , the government wants us to believe that seniors need extra protein instead of resistance training and strenuous activity AKA hard work. Many a strong man has gone to his grave without extra protein. Seniors gravitate to something sweet. The kidney, liver, bones and muscle weaken with aging. Resistance training fixes this , not extra protein. I seen too many examples of strong older people. More protein equals more fat in the diet. Not wise!

  11. @Marc – I suspect you are correct. However, I do hear that protein absorption decreases with age. This leads to recommendations for increasing protein levels. Are you saying that if one lifts that corrects that decline?

  12. MAS
    Are you saying that if one lifts that corrects that decline?

    ——-

    Not correct , but rather slow the decline of the body’s ability to absorb and utilize protein.

    One of my pharmacology professors had a famous saying years ago

    You can pee in the ocean but it doesn’t change the level

    Increasing protein intake doesn’t change aging body functions, and decreased enzymes among a myriad other body functions. The kidneys and liver , your skeleton will all appreciate less protein.

    I have some practical experience. I have personally trained two 80 year-olds. I realize this may not apply across the board for everyone. I Increase carbs, decrease fat, protein-who cares, cut calories til clothes start fitting loosely, VT1 cardio, once a week rotated statics of 2 exercises total.

  13. I don’t know what you think about Tvp but I have been loving it lately. It is a cheap protein source but I don’t know if it is healthy because there is a lot of negative press around soy. I find it so filling and versatile so I hope I am not doing something unhealthy

  14. @Marc – Thanks for the clarification.

    @Rachel – I have not looked into TVP. I am skeptical of most of the soy hate. These days, I try and eat natto a few times a month.

  15. MAS
    Do you have a favorite meal that is nutritious and cheap?

    ———

    Air fryer potato wedges

    Serves 2 hungry people

    2 Russet baking potatoes
    – Wash and scrub clean

    Cut potatoes in half lengthwise
    – place flat side of potato down on cutting board
    – cut each of the 2. one-half potatoes into three pieces
    – leave the potato skin on

    Bath the the potato wedges in cold water for 30 minutes
    – pat potato wedges dry on paper towels
    Spray potato wedges with olive oil lightly

    Season potato wedges, your choice
    My choice is salt, pepper, oregano, and paprika and most importantly garlic

    Air fry at 400 degrees for 17 minutes

  16. Nice. I’m going to try a lentil soup today. My diet will never be as streamlined as a single person, my family would mutiny.

    On a side note, Mas, I’ve been looking through your old strength training posts. Are you still doing HIT or other training? Would love to see an updated post. I’m struggling with the balance between strength training and injury prevention.

  17. @Essleyfit – Good idea. I think I will put out an updated fitness post. Probably next week.

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