Wouldn’t you know it, the day after I wrote the first of these posts on Food Efficiency, our handy microwave died. The irony is that Lizzy and I had just been talking about this Modular Meals idea and we were intrigued to try cook-free eating for a couple weeks experiment. Not that we cooked in the microwave much anyway, but we are trying to latch onto raw or appropriate serving size foods more and they have the benefit leaving no leftovers. First we meet some more High Efficiency foods, followed by some thoughts on combos.
Expanding the Selection
A few more of my (completely amateur) Food Efficiency Top 20 follow since it’s hard for me to leave these heavy-hitters out of the mix:
- Hard-boiled eggs – I’ve found you don’t actually have to refrigerate them too assiduously and they’re tasty and filling all on their own with only a shell to peel (20 seconds)
- Add a little salt on top if you want
- Cheese – My favorite is pepperjack. Sticks are most wasteful packaging-wise but easiest efficiency-wise: You’re choice.
- If I eat too much alone I feel kind of greasy inside, so I try to have a little at a time or mix it with a grainy or dry food like crackers or nuts. (speaking of)
- Nuts – Super food, filling, lowest-hassle ever. 5-stars.
- Bran – Great for breakfast, jump-start energy/fullness.
- Taste I’ve really come to appreciate, though I’ll be the first to admit some is better than others.
- I mix a little All-Bran Original with a little FiberPlus and a little milk in a little bowl for breakfast. (seriously little, it doesn’t take a lot to get full, and it can be tough to eat too much of that kind of thing)
- Less intense related items would be oatmeal, granola, muesli, and obviously breads. (though oatmeal probably deserves special mention later, and breads I wouldn’t say keep you full)
- Apple Sauce – Single serving packs are highest efficiency (packaging aside) with no refrigeration required. A light fresh complement to any heavy grain or fatty protein. Not the most filling, but it is something.
- As a bonus, the Mott’s Sugar-free single packs we get come in fun flavors (mango, peach) and are designed such that spoons are unnecessary if you don’t mind licking things.
Anybody who plays video games knows that combos always win because you invariably get more points from combined actions than the sum of those actions separated from one another. Well the same seems to go with easy foods. Informed nutritionists say certain combinations of foods unlock the nutritional potentials in both better than they are on their own, i.e. the concept of the creating complete proteins. To be fair, the following thoughts have nothing to do with that, and are only drawn from my amateur experience exploring the effects of what I eat.
To me, important combos are those that either ease access to an otherwise high maintenance food, or pair well to mutually enhance strengths or moderate weaknesses of the foods. For example, hummus and peanut butter, for all their merits, are impractical alone. Add carrots or flat bread, or an apple/banana/carrot to peanut butter and you’re golden. Most involve dipping, so you may need to be okay with double dipping. However, at this point the options are endless and hence the modular part of this deal begins. Don’t be alarmed, I try to stay to foods I’ve discussed but I list here some items I wouldn’t put in my top 20 easy foods because they may not be efficient themselves but still make good combos.
- Yogurt goes well with all kinds of grains: Add grape-nuts or granola, or dip in a mini-bagel (though bagels are not very high efficiency themselves)
- As mentioned, hummus pairs well with with carrots, bell peppers, flatbread/pita, apples, celery, olives.
- Peanut butter with apples, pears, bananas (PB&Banana sandwiches rock), carrots, pickles (PB&Pickle sandwiches rock too)
- While I was in the UK (where it was affordable), I would put a Weetabix block on a bed of cheerios or flakes; spread peanut butter and honey on the block and put milk over the whole thing which would slowly soften it. Maximum delicious, maximum fill.
- Cottage Cheese goes well with crackers (I like Saltines or Club crackers in this case) or even tortilla chips.
- I personally prefer Large Curd cottage cheese, because it makes for more interesting/aesthetic dipping.
This is just a start to endless fun. I’m inspired to try quantifying the concept of Food Efficiency. I’m a sucker for comparative data so look forward to a table and associated graphs because illustrations say much more than prose.
Next time: Modular Meals III: Quantified & Visualized