Help, The Recession Is Making Me Fat

All signs now point to the United States being entrenched in a deep recession. It may be some time before things turn around, and because of that Americans will likely suffer serious side effects from the extended recession. Financial effects of recession are fairly well known. and include things such as job losses, and increases in foreclosures and bankruptcies. But not all of the side effects of recession involve finances.

Food Budgets Tightening

One of the first places families look to cut their budgets is food. After all, some could argue that food and categories such as utilities, both budget categories billed based on consumption, are a couple of only a handful of budget categories we can control from month to month. Monthly housing costs are fairly stable. Your car payment doesn’t change from month to month. Unfortunately, the effect of reducing a food budget often means poorer food choices, ultimately leading to declining health.

A diet of Ramen noodles and 2 for $1.00 generic macaroni and cheese will certainly help keep your wallet fat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your waistline stay trim. A quick survey of most coupon offerings reveals most manufacturers provide coupons for prepackaged or convenience food items. I know this because when shopping with coupons it is impossible to use them anywhere around the perimeter of the store (where healthier foods such as produce, meats and dairy items are typically found.

As more and more Americans look for ways to save money on groceries I imagine we will see a steady rise in obesity rates, already high relative to the rest of the world. I’m one to talk. I’ve been guilty of slashing the food budget and eating cheap things at each meal like cereals, boxed noodles and rices, etc. and have seen my own waistline expand.

After discussing things with my wife we have agreed that we should continue to spend a little more for quality foods and look for other places to sacrifice. Being the frugal person I am, I still look for deals, even on high-quality food items, and use a couple strategies to keep costs down.

Ways to Save Money on Healthy Foods

Shake produce before placing in bags. Most produce is sold by the pound, and grocery stores typically give them a good soaking fairly often to keep them moist and fresh. They water absorbed also adds a bit to their weight, and can add up if you pick up a couple pounds of fruits and veggies. Shake off any excess water before placing in the produce bags to be sure your savings don’t evaporate on the ride home.

Shop for deli meats late in the day. Often deals can be found just before the deli closes on shaved turkey and other meats nearing the “sell by” date.  Deli meats are typically of a higher quality because they are not packaged in sodium and other preservatives. Be sure to check out the meat case while you are at it. Many time we pick up a pork tenderloin or whole chicken marked “manager’s special” which is perfectly good if eaten or frozen that day or the next.

Declare a “Meatless Monday.” I was raised on meat and potatoes, so this concept seemed a little strange at first. But replacing meat with other proteins such as beans and lentils one meal a week is a great way to reduce your food budget and your intake of saturated fats. My family also eats breakfast for dinner a couple times a month, including eggs, turkey sausage and fruits.

Eliminate “empty-calorie” foods from your grocery list. When trying to save money on groceries, or lose weight, it is a good idea to remove empty-calorie foods such as chips, candies, cookies and soft drinks. They really add little to no nutritional value to your diet.  I guess this means I’ll have to give up Little Debbie snack cakes.

Take up square foot gardening. You may not yield enough to feed the entire block, but we were able to enjoy great summer salads last year complete with freshly-picked cucumbers and tomatoes. This year we are adding to our square foot garden and plan to grow even more tomato plants–hopefully they will yield enough tomatoes to can a batch or two of homemade salsa.

I’m interested to hear from readers. What strategies have you employed to help keep the costs of eating healthy down?


  1. I have some tips for keeping a grocery budget down! they include
    1) shop at your farmer’s market for your produce. yes, it’s the dead of winter, but if there is one operating near you, it is a great way to get in-season veg for less money.
    2) buy foods in their most natural form, that is, dried instead of canned beans, etc. this will save you lots of money for a little extra work . 3) succumb to the frozen veg. when you can. yes, the recipe calls for 10 oz of fresh spinach, but it won’t taste too different and it will save you about $5 to use frozen.
    4) give up cereal and eat oats or oat bran instead. healthier, much, much, much cheaper! and less packaging to boot.
    5) It’s January. Put those strawberries down and back away slowly! if you must have exotic out of season things – buy them dried or frozen (canned fruit kind of gives me the willies, but maybe that’s just me .)

  2. I like the tip about shaking the produce before you bag it. If something is sold by weight, I try to remove the parts I’m not going to use i.e. the greens of the carrots, the stems of the mushrooms (I don’t usually use the stems) wherever possible. I don’t want to pay for if I’m not going to use it.

  3. This is a great post Frugal Dad. Healthy eating is important to me, but money is pretty tight in our home so I have to be creative. It takes more planning on my part, with the sale flyer in front of me, but it’s worth it. I buy our meat in family packs when it’s on sale, and I also wait for the late-in-the-day managers special items like you. I think the point is to be mindful of healthy eating and your budget at the same time. It’s tricky for sure, but if you’re willing to put the planning into your grocery list (there must be a list) and put some work into it (with a garden) you can make it work.

  4. Great tip on shaking produce. It’s so obvious that it never occurred to me, or my wife.

    Rather than having a “Meatless Monday”, my wife has been experimenting with using meat as an ingredient or side dish rather than as an main dish. TO be honest, I actually prefer it this way. For some reason, I’ve never been one to go out of the way for a big steak or slab of chicken.

  5. Eliminate “empty-calorie” foods from your grocery list.

    This is a budget killer. We have 3 kids–2 teenage boys–and I refuse to spend a dime of our $100/week budget on pop and chips. For one thing, it’s gone in about half a day, and for another, you develop huge tastes for this stuff. It’s also hideously overpriced. My 13 year old son makes a batch of chocolate chip cookies for a dollar and a half, and while they can’t be called good for you, at least they’re made of pronounceable ingredients. And taste 1000% better!

    At home we drink milk, water, coffee and tea. My children buy their own pop out of their allowances–and they only buy one a week when it’s their money. Everybody’s better off.

    The bonus is, without blowing money on this junk, there’s money available to buy good stuff. Four bucks buys a 12 pack of pop or two loaves of whole grain bread. How is that not a no-brainer?

  6. Dad, thanks for the shaking the bag tip! We do a variation of this, weighting the bags/containers of prepackaged fruits/veg. It’s sad, the scales in the produce departments are getting more scarce (they’re on to me!). We also do a lot of MYO here at the house – baking mix, granola, sourdough, yogurt, etc.

  7. Using frozen vegetables when fresh vegetables are not in season is definitely a good idea. We generally make a soup of some sort about once a week, and using the frozen vegetables tastes almost as good as the fresh.

    Another thing I try to keep in mind is to skip the convenience items. For example, in our supermarket there are a few celery choices. One, it the complete bunch of celery, which includes the top leaves, and probably some dirt down around the base. This costs $1.99 when it is not on sale. You can also choose celery that has has been washed a little better and has all the tops removed nice and evenly. This costs $2.99. So by cutting the top off of the celery and running it under water (which you should probably do anyway) you save $1.

    Anywhere you can find convenience in the produce department, you can find value right next to it. In addition to celery, this can apply to pre-cut fruit trays, sliced up peppers and onions (sometimes packaged as “fajita vegetables”), pre-sliced mushrooms, etc. Do a few extra minutes of work in the kitchen, and the savings can add up pretty quickly.

  8. Great tips!

    For us, the biggest way to save money on food is where we shop. Instead of going to one of the two supermarkets by our house we drive a little bit more and go to the Wal-Mart supercenter (don’t go on staurday afternoon unless you want to be overwhlemed with shoppers). We also go to a warehouse store to buy bulk items like toliet paper, paper towels, dog food, meat etc.

    We also cut back on the junk food and going out. The combo has led to much lower food bills and a little more confidence that we will weather the recession and my wife’s lay off.

  9. I will definitely remember to shake produce in the future, though a lot of fruit, of course, isn’t kept moist the way veggies are.

    I think one of the best tips was for pineapple. My mom would ask the produce worker if they could cut the pineapple in half for her and wrap up each half. In doing so, they would cut off the stalk, which is a decent chunk of weight. That way, you’re only paying for the pineapple you’ll actually eat.

    I also think the cheapest way to eat tends to be crockpot-style — that is, anything that can be cooked in a large pot. You still get meat, but you can easily make a pound or two of ground beef last several meals in chili, spaghetti sauce, etc.

    Also remember that rice and beans are a complete protein. So if you’re trying to do a Meatless Monday, make it a fiesta night and have some burritos or some similar recipe. It’s filling and cheap!

  10. i have to disagree with you on coupons. if you are into coupons, you can find them for produce, dairy, meats and bread. even better if you can combine them with a sale.

    i just finished a lunch my lunch: a whole wheat tortilla (on sale, and i have seen coupons for another brand) with ground turkey (on sale), canned black beans (on sale) and shredded cheddar (bought on sale and put in freezer til i need it). i’m also having a delmonte fresh fruit cup of pineapple. it was on sale and i used coupons, making it $.25. and i’m eating a pumpkin bar, which i made from canned pumpkin i stocked up on november, because, you know it, it was on sale.

    i’ve used coupons on 100% whole wheat bread, tyson boneless chicken (fresh, not frozen in bags), OJ and gallons of milk.

    i stock up on meat during sales, and repackage it for the freezer (i have a side-by-side, not a deep freeze and i know how to fit a lot of stuff in). i really use those grocery flyers that arrive in the mail to determine the best times to stock up. it also helps me to make a menu plan for a few weeks out so i can look for certain items (the bag of potatoes i bought on sale this week will be used in 2-3 meals over the next few weeks.).

    coupons can also help you save on non-food items so that you have more to spend on healthy food. this past week i saved $39 with sales and coupons at three different stores — and i spent $24 on fruits and vegetables. the tradeoff in my time is worth it to me.

  11. Nice post!

    I would add juice to your list of empty calories. Whenever I shop, I’m always amazed at how much juice people buy. It’s not particularly healthy for you, even if it does come from a fruit!

    I never use coupons because the things I buy: rice, beans, fresh veggies, and such, just don’t have coupons. The few things that we buy prepared we tend to go generic, which is usually cheaper than a coupon price. I tend to stock up on things when they go on sale. Of course, YMMV, but I don’t find that coupons are worth the time.

    I would offer two other tips — plan out meals for the week so you buy just what you need, and only shop once a week. The more often you set foot in a store, the more money you will spend.

  12. I have been trying to cut back on food purchases. I have been trying to make meals last longer, and use left over meat, pasta for a second meal during the week. Leftovers can help save on costs. Another way to save is don’t buy drinks. The only drink I buy is Seltzer because I love it and it’s healthy. Buy a Brita or just use tap water, can save on drinks.

  13. Great ideas – again, some so simple, it’s hard to think why I hadn’t thought of them before.

    Quality of food is one of the things that my girlfriend and I find we will simply not compromise on. We have certainly changed our eating habits, but not to the extent of replacing quality food with cheaper, nutritionally empty foods.

    To me, this is one of the many things that really needs to get stressed early on in life through both parents and the educational system. We could address so many health issues simply by making it a regular point of discussion in the classroom and around the house. I know that there are lots of things to learn, but this is a foundation issue – it’s hard to build rockets, cure illness, or be a rock star when your insides are deprived of the nutrients they need.

    Great post!

  14. I agree with neimanmarxist – I feed myself on well under $125 a month – and that includes nonfood items like laundry soap and tp. I buy meat at the farmer’s market (yes, even in the winter) which is more expensive than the grocery store, but so much healthier and tastier. I incorporate small amount of meat in grain and bean dishes. Look at ethnic cooking – most cultures have wonderful dishes that can be made very inexpensively. Also eating in season is important. I am sure you know that the more the food is processed, the more you pay for it, so what does that tell you about the base ingredients in those “cheap” boxed dishes? I think you are right about the recession making people heavier but it is so sad, because it does not need to be that way.

  15. Wonderful tips! I always love learning ways to save on groceries. I think the part that really helped me was just keeping focused on my plans for the week. When I stray from my menu plans, that is when our grocery budget gets out of control and we end up eating at fast food restaurants (definitely not good for the waistline)

    I also try to stay inspired in the kitchen. As long as I have lots of variety and keep a wish list of recipes I want to try, the more fun it is to keep on cooking 🙂

  16. Thanks for putting this topic out there — so often frugal has come to mean – cheap/processed food. We get very little sun at our house so while I’ve tried gardens — they just don’t work here in the woods. Last year I joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agricultural) — it was $300 for a 1/2 share. It gave my 3-person family lots and lots of vegtables from June-October. See if there is one in your area – it supports local farms, you eat very well and it is fairly reasonably priced.

    I also shop for natural meats — and they too have “manager specials”.

  17. Some great ideas here. I have to tell you however, that I have been an avid fan of frugality for many years. It comes second nature to me…why I don’t know. One thing I don’t notice in any of the posts here and elsewhere is the “bent ‘n dent” stores. Nobody shop at these? I do. One must be careful and know how to pick and choose, but it is a tremendous savings. Coupons is not much of an option for me because of this. We do our own gardening and can, freeze, and dehydrate our food. I don’t buy expensive shampoo…I use olive oil soap for my hair, just like I do for my skin. It is pure…no additives and my hair is in great shape due to this. I use vinegar, baking soda, a tad of Dawn, peroxide, alcohol for all cleaning. No additives. I make my own laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. I have shelves of canned goods, two freezers full of food and jars of dried vegies and fruit. My spending little and my savings great. Our plans this spring is to buy some chickens. And dig a root cellar. We may be in for some really hard times…we plant enough food for others, too. We must carry each others burdens.

  18. “A diet of Ramen noodles and 2 for $1.00 generic macaroni and cheese will certainly help keep your wallet fat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your waistline stay trim.”

    Don’t know about mac & cheese, but ramen noodles I buy are 6 packs for $1.00 and have 380 calories per pack. Eat three a day (yes, even for breakfast; noodles make a great breakfast, a little trick I learned in Asia) and nothing else and you have three filling meals with sub-1200 calories (below starvation level), also for $0.50/day. Hard to beat.

    Malnutrition is not to be confused with obesity. 🙂

  19. Make double or triple recipes and freeze the extras. If you do this w/ different recipes you will soon have lots of extras.
    I have the (one month cooking) but it is toooo much for me.

  20. 1. Use every scrap. Leftovers into usable lunch meals or a container in the freezer for soups/stews. Boil the bones, scrap the meat off, save the broth in the freezer for soup.

    2. Crockpot a lot – a big pot of soup at least once a week, enough for leftovers. Soup bones and beans with rice makes it very filling.

    3. Get the garden growing – use edible landscaping if you have a tiny lot, like mine 50×100. Use containers on the patio or indoors if you do not have ground. Tonight I’m having fresh brussel sprouts just picked from the garden, with fresh clam fritters. I dug the clams yesterday and the potatoes and onions were out of my garden. Add some spices, and egg, and flour, but the rest of the meal was no money cost -free 🙂 (I save seeds from year to year)

    4. If you are on food stamps, seed packs are covered as food – Think how much farther your food stamps would go if you used them for seed!

    5. The Grocery Outlet is my best friend 🙂 It’s an overstock store. Whatever they have that I can possibly use, whether it is my ‘brand’ or not, I will buy it, and base my meals on the great finds there. The Franz Bread store – day old breads, flour packs, milk, is also a great find here.

    6. Make your own breads, cakes, pancakes, hot pockets, etc from scratch. Ooodles of money saved there!

    7. Remember that beans/rice/cornmeal together make a perfect protein. And remember that eggs are the perfect protein all alone – and not too expensive yet.

    8. Get a freezer and use it. Get a dehydrator and use it. Get a canner and use it!

    9. Eating does not have to be a budget buster. Mine budget is well under $100/month including the toiletries, etc. (And the wine to go with the marvelous home grown home cooked meals! )

  21. I also have to disagree about the comment of “no coupons.” I used to do as well as I could with the sales, but we were still just spinning our tires and couldn’t get our budget down. Now, I’m able to get frozen veggies, meats, and even eggs, for cheap or free with coupons. I think people see that coupon for doritos and immediately think they are all like that. There are even coupons for organic items nowadays.

    I also make my own bread every week and designate a “dessert of the week” for my family, so we get a treat, but it’s homemade and 1/4th the price of the ready-made treats at the store.

    I also educated myself on how long items will last in the fridge and freezer. When eggs are on sale at a great price(under a dollar a dozen), I get 3 or 4 dozen. Eggs can last up to 6 weeks in the fridge, if you keep them on the bottom. When we get to the last dozen, I hard boil them all and we use them within the next 2 weeks for meals(not just breakfast).
    Same goes for milk. If it is at a great price, I will buy 2 gallons of it, and I make sure to take it from the back of the store fridge. Adding a pinch of salt also prolongs the life of milk.

    Because I use coupons on food and non-food items, I am able to “splurge” on fresh, in-season, fruits and veggies, if need be.

  22. @Frugal Bachelor: It’s the sodium in Ramen noodles that is so unhealthy. I do have the occasional bowl, but with borderline blood pressure issues I have to watch my sodium intake.

    @Amiyrah: We’ve been watching for the same coupons on frozen veggies. While I prefer fresh produce, we also like to add frozen veggies in soups or pastas. Especially if they are cheap!

  23. The Ramen Noodles aren’t so horrific if you don’t use the seasoning. Maybe in a veggie stirfry?

    We’ve been doing Meatless Monday for a few months now. Last night I made a savory bread pudding (eggs, milk, toasted bread ends from the freezer, leftover butternut squash and seasoning) and served it with a small side salad. The best part of Meatless Monday is that it’s really easy to come up with dishes that use up odds and ends from the fridge and pantry and don’t involve additional purchases. Plus, it’s usually an easy sell to the kids AND it’s quick and easy, which is key for us on Mondays.

    My husband is also a meat and potatoes guy, so Meatless Monday was a tough sell. To mitigate this, I generally have enough leftovers from the weekend for him to at least pick at.

  24. Great subject…. We shop 90% of our good at Food Lion (low-mid level) store here locally. The big trick, Stay flexible and buy only things on sale. If you have to change brands, or flavors, just do it to get the best deal. Watch the volume pricing. its listed on the tag below the price. Sometimes the sale price is still not as good as generic price per pound, or ounce or whatever.

    Some things its better to buy the good stuff. Ive thrown away a lot of cheap turkey lunchmeat. I find its just better to spend the extra dough, even at $9 a pound and get Boreshead or your favorite. (Boreshead catering turkey, sodium free). Of course watch whats on sale too.

    Buy in bulk where you can, but not so much that the food will spoil . We keep a lot of “on deck” items such as juice, pasta, canned goods. Again watch sales, and get as many as is reasonable to store for two months.

    Frozen veges: Quality / Price is the best deal. Canned are cheaper, but quality is less, and they are high in sodium. I love farmers market produce in the Summer, but prices generally are not cheaper. Anything “organic” now commands a premium for some reason.

    Cheese – Shredded seems to be the new best way to get cheese. Brick cheese all seem to be priced high for some reason. Sharp Cheddar, or Mozzerella.

    Milk, we buy the Silk soy milk, but we get the two pack to save a little.

    Bread. Harris Teeter (High end grocery here locally) bread is still $1, believe it or not. HT will get you on produce and just about everthing else though.

    Pizza: We really like Diggorno, especially on sale for $5. Not as good as delivery, but pretty darn good for the price.

    Tyson chicken nuggets: look for coupons for these. I find generic nuggets/strips inferior.

    Stouffers meals (lasagna, chicken caserole): These really arent too bad, especilly for the convienence. Sometimes there just isnt time to cook. Pop one of these in the Micro for 20min, whip up a bag of salad, and whammo, dinner for 4. Its very convienent, and if you find them on sale the price is okay. Full price is a little high, sometimes it is worth the convienience.

    Another Key trick, Make enough dinner to have leftover for lunch the next day. We use Rubbermaid tagalong containers, which are perfect size. When I still had a job, I found a small lunch cooler at Wally world and would take a diet coke, snack, and leftover dinner for lunch. Way better than shelling out $6 for fast food or whatever, and didn’t cost that much extra for the original dinner.

    Stay flexible, Watch the sales. Buy in bulk what you can. Cook dinner with extra for two lunches the next day. It’s the best your going to do.

  25. One of the more detrimental foods to the budget is boxed cereals. Who actually eats only a serving of it? And, it’s so processed and full of corn syrup that I’m always starving not an hour later. Instead, I cook oatmeal, cream of wheat, or some other hot cereal that sticks to the ribs. On weekends, I will sometimes make a breakfast food to last the week. This weekend, I made whole wheat bagels. Ugly, but tasty. 🙂

  26. 1. cook your own oatmeal, add what you like (pre-sweetened is too sweet for me)

    2. cook pasta (we prefer shells) and melt your own cheese over it for mac & cheese (skip the powdered cheese)

    3. frozen veggies

    4. less calorie-dense foods (cut quantity of meat in recipes at least in half)

    5. skip juices, buy fruits in season

  27. This is not the solution to famine but I divide loaves of bread into 4 or 5 sections, which I then freeze. I’m a single gal and I can’t finish an entire loaf of bread in a week’s time.

    I also buy long-life milk instead of ‘normal’ milk so that I do not feel forced to use the milk before it expires.

  28. We gave away our microwave oven about 8 years ago which eliminated most of the frozen convenience foods and bags of microwave popcorn that we’d been eating. We don’t miss it at all. ( I can’t think of anything that tastes better cooked in a microwave oven.) By making foods that are cooked in a pot or baked in the toaster oven, we find we are making better choices and better able to control the calories and sodium levels of the food we eat.

  29. I agree that a slow cooker is one of the best investments you can make. (The thrift stores are full of them, by the way.)
    Forage/glean: Some cities have organized urban gleaning programs. You can also just talk to neighbors whose fruit trees you have noticed going unharvested; one of my neighbors let me have all the plums I wanted, saying, “I’m glad SOMEONE wants them.” In return, I delivered a couple of jars of homemade jam. I also put an ad on Freecycle this year (“Got fruit? Want jam?”), and not only got enough ingredients for preserves but also to can plums, pears and applesauce. Since Seattle is drowning in blackberry vines, I picked enough to make jam for myself and for gifts, and also froze a ton of them for winter use.
    Breakfast for supper: You won’t hear many complaints about pancakes or French toast and fruit. Make these things from scratch — they’re very easy. Serve with a little jam if you don’t have syrup on hand. (Buttermilk pancakes with homemade plum jam….mmmmmm….)
    Bread outlets: They’re not just for “old” bread. I pay 79 cents for a 20-ounce package of tortillas at a nearby bread outlet, and some of the whole-grain bread they sell is a week away from its sell-by date — but less than half the supermarket price. (Freeze it if you’re worried about it going stale.)
    Three easy “convenience” foods to keep in the fridge:
    1. Hard-boiled eggs — For a protein snack or a brown-bag lunch sandwich. When they go on sale (I got them for 99 cents a dozen this week), buy an extra dozen and have omelets or scrambled-egg sandwiches for supper.
    2. Grated cheese — Chunk cheese is a frequent loss leader; I paid $3.99 for two pounds last week. You use less if you grate it as opposed to slicing it. Sprinkle it on top of a meat or tuna sandwich and melt it in a toaster oven, or make quesadillas with those bread-outlet tortillas.
    3. A bowl of plain cooked beans — Here’s where that slow cooker comes in handy. Cook a couple of cups of dry beans and have them ready to mash up as refried beans; to heat up with salsa and a little of that grated cheese (a side dish with a small piece of chicken or pork, a main dish if you add rice and/or a tortilla); or to roll up in a tortilla with shreds of leftover chicken (you can make a small amount go a long way) and salsa. If you make soup from scratch, add a few spoons of beans to make it heartier; if you’re heating up a can of soup, ditto.
    Another voice for coupons: Read the ads each week and you can save money. Here’s a healthy example: This week at Albertsons, Quaker rolled oats are $1.50 for a 42-ounce box if you buy four Quaker products. I’ll buy four because I have coupons for them. I’ll wind up paying 90 cents to $1 for 42 ounces of oatmeal. Each box holds enough for about 30 breakfasts.
    And if I didn’t buy four products and have four coupons? The oatmeal would be $2 a box, which is still a pretty good price for 30 breakfasts. At that price, stock up — another tip for stretching your food dollars. I don’t know what a 42-ounce bo of oats costs, but I know that an 18-ounce box costs $3.29. Yikes. (Some stores have bulk-buy or health-food sections with rolled oats by the pound — usually cheaper than buying them prepackaged.)
    Finally, thanks to coupon/rebate combos at stores like Rite Aid and Walgreens, I frequently get paid to use toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. What I can’t use I donate to shelters and a social service agency — both places are being hit hard by the economic downturn.

  30. I thought I was being clever when I bought the long-life milk. It’s awful. Well, it smells awful so I’m back to square one.

    But freezing my bread helps.

  31. Ramen noodles don’t have to be bad for you. I add bean sprouts, fresh basil, green peas and green onions with a dash of oyster sauce and a pickled egg (I pickle them myself) for extra nutrition. A very cheap and tasty meal!