The Healthiest Foods To Make You Fit And Rich

Well now, it looks like some people weren't very happy with my defense of people who like to eat out to win business or order food delivery to save time and their marriages.

I'm not sure whether the true anger lies in going against the food preparing norm or highlighting the truth about how we can all be doing more for our health and our finances.

I don't shout angrily on the internet when I disagree with something. Nor do I insult people with different beliefs. Instead, I like to listen carefully to feedback and adopt any good ideas to improve my life. And I've got a good one that could really make a difference!

In the near future, I plan to drop my writing frequency from 3X a week to once a week and stop podcasting once a week in order to cook more for my family and to save money.

I calculate by cooking at home, I'll save between $500 – $1,000 a month, equivalent to the monthly cash flow savings I've earned from refinancing my mortgage. Not bad! Although I might also suffer revenue loss 10X greater, that is neither here nor there. All good things are worth the initial sacrifice.

Further, I've been looking for a good reason to give up my posting cadence after reaching the 10 year mark. I'm tired and want to mix things up. After the second year of writing, I started consistently getting thank you e-mails or comments every week from readers saying how XYZ article helped them. As a result, I started feeling guilty that if I didn't post regularly, I would be letting people down.

Thanks to reader feedback, it's time to make a change for health and wealth!

Chef Sam Rises

Before I embark on my new journey, I need to prepare. I don't want to just start serving tomato sauce over boiled carbohydrates every night.

I'll be watching some cooking videos to brush up on my culinary skills. I might even take a weekend cooking class at the local community college. The last time I took a formal cooking class was in high school. It was called Home Economics and I had a blast!

My goal is to create individual breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus with a set caloric count. Each menu will have a selection of three items to choose from. Once I master each item on the menu, I'll introduce new menus for different seasons.

Below is an example of the pre theater menu from La Grenouille, one of my favorite restaurants in New York City. If you ever want to go on a romantic date, this is the place with its legendary floral arrangements and wonderful food.

My goal is to master several of these dishes over time. So far, I know how to make Split Pea Soup, House Salad with String Beans, Lobster Medallions with Avocado, Lobster Tarragon Ravioli, Grilled Sea Bass, Grilled Lamb Chops, and Crab Meat Cocktail.

Instead of spending $100 per person at La Grenouille, perhaps I can get the cost down to $20 per person at Casa Samurai.

In addition to creating a variety of tasty meals for my family, I will make sure the food is healthy. Therefore, dishes like Cheese Soufflé are out of the question. But boy, do I love me some Three Cheese Onion Soup Gratinéed!

Even though the statistics say ~82% of Americans mostly eat at home and are also the heaviest we've ever been, I'm hopeful that Financial Samurai Food will help buck this trend!

Below are the healthiest foods that I'll use to create my menus.

The Healthiest Foods

  • Almond
  • Walnut
  • Steel-cut oatmeal
  • Cashew
  • Egg
  • Broccoli
  • Beats for dancing
  • Beets
  • Curly Kale
  • Sweet Potato
  • Onion
  • Bean
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Mushroom
  • Asparagus
  • Watercress
  • Peppers
  • Snow pea shoot
  • Garlic
  • Lentil
  • Edamame
  • Carrot
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Grape
  • Apple
  • Watermelon
  • Blueberry
  • Yogurt
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Sashimi
  • Oysters
  • Steak

If I stick to these foods, I'm confident I'll be able to provide healthy and yummy meals for my family. These foods have been identified as the best foods we humans can eat according to every single medical group in existence.

We should be eating a Mediterranean-style diet made up primarily of fruits and vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, seafood, whole grains and small portions of red meat. Good thing San Francisco is like the Mediterranean of America.

By passionately taking on my new responsibilities as Chef Sam, I hope to not only inspire my wife to cook more, but to also teach my son the importance of eating healthy foods.

The Healthiest Foods To Make You Fit And Rich
Chef Sam's Grilled Scallops In A Beet Purée

The Importance Of Knowing Your Food

It's imperative we learn about the healing and destructive nature of various types of foods. Further, once we know what goes into food preparation, we'll be able to make better decisions about what we eat.

At the very least, I want my son to know what type of food sits well with him and what type does not.

When I was in high school, I often suffered tremendous stomach pain during the first period of class. Sometimes, I'd even have to go to the bathroom during first period to relieve myself. This happened a couple of times a week for years.

It was only after I became an adult that I learned that having milk with my cereal really blew me up. If I had been more aware of what I was eating as a kid, I would have not only felt better, but been less disruptive in school, and learned more.

If I got better grades and test scores, I might have gotten accepted into an overpriced private university to boost my self-esteem and make my parents proud! Who knows how fabulous my life would be if I didn't go to The College of William & Mary. There's always the next life I guess.

In a more recent example, in 2017, I gained five pounds over six months and couldn't understand why. Then I realized that it was because of my love for taro milk bubble tea with extra taro chunks inside. Each 20 oz cup had over 1,200 calories! Once I cut bubble tea out of my diet, I slowly lost the extra weight over the next 10 months.

Being aware about food is key to a healthier lifestyle. And one of the best ways to be aware of food is to prepare your own food.

The Ideal Weight For Men And Women

The Ideal Weight For Men And Women

I think we can all agree that if we don't have our health, wealth doesn't matter. Yet, for some reason, so many of us take our health for granted until it's too late.

Being an ideal weight doesn't guarantee good health. But being an ideal weight will help improve our chances of being healthier. Our goal should be to live as high a quality of life as possible for the longest time possible.

My goal is to live until the year 2050 or whenever my kids become independent adults, whichever comes last. I know I'll be able to die more peacefully once I know my kids are financially stable and have someone who loves them as much as my wife and I love them.

But if I do die young, at least we've got a revocable living trust set up. Every parent, no matter your wealth, needs to talk to an estate planning lawyer and set up a revocable living trust.

Below is the ideal weight for men by height and frame.

Ideal Weight Chart For Men

Below is the ideal weight by height and frame for women.

Ideal Weight Chart For Women

For those of you now complaining the above weight charts are wrong, I empathize with you. As a tennis player, I've got larger, sexier, and more muscular legs than average. As a result, I'm 5 pounds heavier than the ideal weight for a medium frame man who is 5′ 10″.

But the reality is, I should lose 13 pounds to get down to 155 pounds to look and feel my best. Pictures don't lie, but sometimes my memories do.

For the frustrated, here is a more comprehensive ideal weight table with the Devine Formula, Robinson, Formula, Miller Formula, and Body Mass Index. Unfortunately, you'll find the suggested weights to be even lower on average.

Ideal weight table

Getting Rich Being Fit

I'm confident that if we all eat better and get into the ideal weight range, we will become richer. The reasons why are plentiful:

  • We'll feel better
  • We'll look better
  • We'll have more energy
  • We'll have more self-confidence
  • We'll have a more positive attitude
  • We may live longer
  • Other people may treat us better
  • You'll get less jealous of other people
  • You'll hate other people less
  • You'll take more responsibility for yourself

By being in better shape, not only do we do more to build our wealth, we get more opportunities to build wealth thanks to other people providing us more job opportunities, freelance opportunities, investment opportunities, and networking opportunities. Positive thinking does wonders for improving happiness and fortune.

Invariably, the people who are most bitter and hateful of others are either out of shape physically, financially or both. The first step we can take to improving our lives is to stop hating ourselves by eating better and getting in better shape.

Even if you cannot get into great shape, you've got to learn to love yourself. Learning to love yourself starts with accepting who you are and making incremental positive changes each day. Once you adopt an abundance mindset, everything around you will get so much better.

A 1% decline a day will destroy you in one year

I want to thank readers for giving me a boost to start focusing more on my physical and mental health. Although many of the comments from the “dont bother cooking” post weren't kind, I appreciate the motivation to change. For too long, I've been grinding away, doing the same thing over and over again.

My first step is to cook more at home and step away from the food delivery app. My second step is to find a way to get someone to do more of the heavy lifting on Financial Samurai. My final step is to learn how to prepare a mean steak tartare without poisoning my family!

The Healthiest Foods To Make You Fit And Rich

Although I will end up spending 40 more hours a month grocery shopping and cooking, I'll be able to save $500 – $1,000 on food. That's a healthy $12.5 – $25 an hour.

Thanks for all your support!

Looking for a grocery rewards credit card? Check out the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. It provides 4% cash back on dining and entertainment and 2% cash back on groceries compared to only 1% for the average cash back card. You also get a $300 cash bonus if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening.


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For those who are master chefs and health nuts, I'd love to hear some tips from you on creating my four seasons menus, health food tips, and other health tips. If you could provide some background about yourself as well, that would be helpful for context.

About The Author

83 thoughts on “The Healthiest Foods To Make You Fit And Rich”

  1. MillennialDadHK

    Sad to hear the post frequency will drop but it sounds like it’s for a good reason. Health is super important and I like how you link it back to the financial benefits. As a dad I’m sure staying fit helps you keep up with your kid also. I know that’s the reason I’m trying to get fit again. Cooking also seems like a great bonding experience for your family. It’s quite a personal experience to serve someone food and be able to enjoy it together.

  2. Congratulations on your decision Sam, I m sure you ll be an excellent cook.
    We are a family of five and we ve been frugal all of our lifes. Its so very expensive to dine out with three kids! Not only that, but its also less relax as we re all the time managing our kids to eat their plate, drink and not spoil everything, dont run around the restaurant…(they get excited when we go out), so for those reasons, we only very seldomly go out for dinner.
    We always homecook the meals. Maybe not every day is as healthy, and we sometimes even eat French Fries or Pizza, but I m sure mostly our meals ar way better than what most kids would eat.
    Our kids start their day with oatmeal and banana, they lunch with bread and vegetable soup, they have fruit during school break and for dinner we usually prepare something with broccoli, brussels sprouts, mais, zucchini or beets, carrots, raw tomato and paprika. We have a list with favourite meals that all kids and adults like and we usually just cook something from that list.
    This makes the cooking job a lot faster and its more fun for us, because we know the kids will like what we make (its so frustrating to cook when the kids hate what you prepared!)
    I m sure this list of favorite meals has saved us a ton of money!
    Mostly we can make a healthy meal for the family in 25-30min.
    When we make something ‘new’ for the kids, something only we adults like, I make them taste one spoon of it, and for the rest of the meal I just give them raw tomato\paprika\carrot whatever they like.
    Hope this might help you!

  3. Hi, Sam! Thanks for another wonderful article. I mainly cook homemade meals for my husband and me because I really enjoy cooking (I find it relaxing) and I think the quality is much higher than most restaurant food and I enjoy eating good quality meals. The cost savings is actually inconsequential given that we shop at higher end stores like Wholefoods and buy organic foods whenever possible. Full disclosure is we don’t have kids so that, I realize, makes it much easier for me to spend the time and energy to cook at home. I must also add that I’m a lawyer and my husband is in finance so we are pretty busy work wise. I learned a lot about cooking skills by watching cooking shows and by trial and mistakes. Thanks again for giving us another interesting article. Please just ignore the rude, snarky, mean commenters. They are lame.

  4. Something you should try is a CSA box. Where I live I can get one that’s income-based- but in general there are a lot of affordable options nowadays. My preference is to get something local and to be more in touch with where this stuff I’m putting inside my body is actually coming from – but there are online ones now too like Misfits Market. I pay $65/mo and get 2 boxes, 1 every 2 weeks. The first box has a meat share in it also.

    It really challenges your cooking skills since you will get foods you have never tried before (Tokyo Bekana? Kiwiberries? Groundcherries?) and inspire you to try some new things. Also you feel worse wasting stuff.

    I get another bi-monthly box for fish too, which is also income-based, it’s basically $19 for 2-5 lbs of fish each time. All of it is local and a chance to really expand the repertoire of cooking skills.

    Needless to say I am saving money here. I still definitely use food apps- maybe as much as ever- but I have really saved so much money that I don’t mind to do it a couple times a week (granted, I only do it if there’s a good discount like the Ritual $5 off one- and that seems to have disappeared last week).

    Definitely have saved a lot- made me able to save an emergency fund and start investing for the first time in my life.

  5. TheEngineer

    If you are sincere about the idea of cooking foods at home and the value beyond money, make sure you involve the entire team – the wifey and the kiddy.

    She can be your prep-chef and the kid can be play-chef!

    Since you seemed to be the fastest, smartest and most competitive member of the team – it is your natural tendency to take on the entire project on your own.

    As the leader of the team, one of your critical responsibility is helping your teammates to grow strong and smart through putting his/her skin into the project.

    Otherwise, DON’T have any resentment if they just show up and enjoy the fruit of your labor!

    1. Absolutely.

      No resentment at all. I believe the man should cook, clean, earn money, manage the investments, and provide for the best life possible for his family. If a woman wants to do the same, that’s most excellent!

  6. Part of this post seems pretty snarky (your new job making $12 -25 an hour), but otherwise, I hope this means that you may have started changing your mind about the health aspects of eating out. It really doesn’t take that long (I’m a crock pot queen for my pastured proteins), and you can really make a lot of stuff better than restaurants. I very rarely eat salmon out since I get a 9 month seafood share (CSF) from . I’ve been a happy customer for years. It’s restaurant quality, and the sablefish is to die for. I’m not sure if they deliver to your neck of the woods, but they are worth every penny, and they have a great environmental agenda as well.

    I did want to bring up the obesity/eating at home link you refer to… I believe that it’s because we eat so much processed food at home. The best way is to shop the perimeters. At times I walk through the aisles marveling at all the ways we can put together seed oils, wheat, and sugar to make so many different concoctions.

    Also – define ‘eating at home’. My parents will pop in a frozen pizza for dinner, and while that would be included under the category of eating in, I wouldn’t call it a healthy choice.

    1. So many people tend to buy into the fact that if you’re poor, you can’t afford to eat well. Yes and no. Frozen veggies are much cheaper, and in many instances even healthier, when compared to ‘fresh’.

    You can buy a big bags of chips for $3.50-4.00 or 5-10 pounds of potatoes for $5. Guess which will last so much longer, fill you up more, and be the healthier choice.

    (Pls note – prices are Chicago metro, which I’ve found to be the cheapest in the country.)

    2. Correlation causation. Many people have studied the increasing obesity rates in the US over the decades. Yes, we’re eating more calories, but the food has changed too. HFCS is in everything! Try buying ketchup (for example) without added sugars. As the amount of processed foods available has increased, and the rate of consumption of such foods has increased, so have the obesity rates.

    Besides, as a kid growing up in the ’70s, I can tell you that very few people ate out as much as we do now.

    While I am single, I do travel a lot for work (so eat out a lot) but on the weeks I work from home, I eat a lot healthier. So while it may be a lot more challenging time and energy-wise, perhaps it might be better for your son’s long term health?

    While many people jumped on you about the money in your earlier post, I didn’t because my concern is with health. I spend a lot on my food but I view it as a critical component for my long term health.
    I consider myself to be a decent cook (and make certain things better than restaurants), and I didn’t grow up with parents that cooked. Once you start it’s pretty easy, and you can certainly think about finance topics for blogging while you perform some of the more mindless tasks.
    If nothing else – maybe hire a PT personal chef to come in a couple of times a week.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! One of the hardest things a working parent can do is work all day, and then come home to cook and clean. I know so many people who hate it and who are exhausted and resentful for it.

      As a single person without kids, you have the luxury of time. And time is absolutely the most valuable asset one can have. Parents are starving for time, so they value convenience more than someone who has more time and energy.

      $12-$25 an hour is not bad. It’s what I made hustling in the early mornings and at night driving for Uber for a whole year. never take money for granted or your ability to make money.

      Check out this post:

  7. Congrats Sam!

    Although not a B2C company, check out Zipongo (food as medicine company- headquartered in San Francisco). I was impressed with them.

  8. I can see that a few folks seem to think this is a joke, but if not, congrats about taking an increased interest in your family’s health and eating well!

    I’ll be sad if you really do cut down to 1 post a week, as I really look forward to all your posts, even when I disagree with a few points. They are very informative, interesting, thought provoking, and humorous!

    I’ll echo someone else’s suggestion to get an Instant Pot. They are amazing and make it very easy to get a piping hot meal ready. You can dump all the stuff in, hit go, and walk away and get some chores done, drink a glass of wine, hang out with your family, etc.

    I’d also recommend the book and website ‘Perfect Health Diet’. It is how I’ve tried to shape my diet and lifestyle over the past 5 years with great success. I’m a little looser on the dietary recommendations, but the whole point is hitting the sweet spot on your nutrition with your macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients while eating real food and minimizing your toxins. He also talks a lot about circadian rhythm and intermittent fasting. It is very interesting and thought provoking, with a healthy dose of science.

    Best of luck with the new endeavor. We all expect updates with your cooking progress (along with more regular financial posts)!

  9. One of the foods I HIGHLY recommend is Oatmeal. I’ve been eating Oatmeal (Rolled Oats and hot water) for breakfast at work for years now for a variety of reasons:

    – Low cost ($4 container = 10 meals)
    – Easy to make – I put rolled oats in a paper cup and pour hot water over it – ready in 5 min
    – Health benefits – keeps you full, prevents heart disease, etc.

    I have mine plain, so one caveat is that it isn’t as healthy if you load it up with toppings. It’s not low in carbs, but it’s high in fiber and pretty good for you!

    1. Katja Srbinovska

      Oatmeal is a good recommendation – I have it 3 or 4 times a week. I don’t like it plain; it’s just too bland. But I don’t let myself add sugar or dried fruit to anything, so what to do? Add spices, chopped nuts, fresh fruit. Ripe pear, ginger, and walnuts make a terrific topping for oatmeal.

      For busy dinner nights, experiment with sheet pan dinners – you can put seasoned chicken and some chopped onion on a sheet pan, and start it roasting while you chop your other vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and zucchini are great. I chop the veggies in the order I want to add them – I just take the pan out, add the next vegetable, and toss it right on the sheet pan. No prep dishes to clean up.

      1. That’s tough, because fresh fruits and sugars are my favorite sweet oatmeal mixins!

        Have you ever tried a SAVORY oatmeal though?
        Cheese, seasonings, crumbled bacon, a poached egg, diced bell peppers… ANDOULLIE SAUSAGE?
        The sky is really the limit and it satisfies my craving for something hearty while still being relatively inexpensive.

  10. To lose weight, I had success with 4 simple ideas: cook at home, limit processed foods, limit sugar, and eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day.

  11. I mostly agree on that list but you can keep the sardines, sashimi, and oysters.

    Probably should differentiate on the tuna. Sadly, the albacore is many times higher in mercury than other tuna. Also, you might be better off with salmon when you can (pun unintentional, I like it grilled from fresh fillets).

    Probably should have olives on there, green and black both (but never those rubbery things from cans). They are fantastic in any number of things and highly nutritious. We’ve been eating them so long we’re probably selected for it by evolution at this point.

    Celery seed is also exceptionally healthy and adds a lot of flavor on the right items. I’m also very partial to capers, which some research is showing to reduce cancer and heart disease risks from meat.

    I must confess, I am at a complete loss on what to do with the “beats” you allude to.

  12. My kids are killing my diet. I work out 6x a week, I try to try to eat clean, but I cant stop eating my kids leftovers.

    My son (2) also had a cookie obsession and I always break down and have a couple oreos a week.

    How tall are you Sam? I’m 5’8 and I will go up to maybe 170 in the winter and then I will cut down into the high 150s for the summer…

      1. I firmly believe weight loss and staying in shape is 80% food and 20% exercising. Working out makes you hungrier, which opens up the risk of eating past your caloric count for maintenance.

        Of course regular exercise is great. But don’t expect regular exercise to help you lose the most weight. It’s the diet.

  13. Suggest not to restrict the food list, try out lots of things, whatever is in season and fresh. The experimentation is what makes cooking fun and rewarding (and if it all goes wrong the results are at least interesting…). Would you do the same 10 workouts everyday for the rest of your life? So why restrict the food list?

  14. You live in SF, a city with an unlimited number of great restaurants and cooks/chefs. Eat out and enjoy all your city has to offer. Eating in is overrated.

  15. Sam, I am also a boba tea addict! Glad you were able to stop your habit. I must drink a jasmine or oolong milk tea with grass jelly in Size L at least 2-3x a week. However, I try my best to select 0% sugar. Do you have any tips on cutting off boba? What drinks did you drink In place of boba/your taro drink?

    Note: I do exercise 5-6x a week in classes such as spin or Circuit training. So I’m not quite sure if the boba ha it is affecting me. And I eat clean-ish otherwise.

  16. Sam, the option that works well for me is

    1) grocery delivery – Now with Amazon buying Whole foods you can get everything home delivered and save time.

    2) Instapot – Has some great recipes which makes it easy to cook complicated dishes.

    Excited to see what Chef Sam has in store.

  17. Sam, you make me smile and I think you are a fantastic thinker and writer.

    Thank you for the always excellent content and point well stated. I do get both sides of not cooking or cooking, although I am a terrible cook.

  18. Good for you! Love the focus on your health. Food impacts our physical and mental health. It’s great to be wealthy, but it didn’t matter when I was eating “healthy”, not realizing that dairy and gluten were impacting my health. After spending $1500 on specialists that focus on naturopathic health, my diet changed for the better. It’s a bit tougher to eat out, but it’s fun when we do. Love having my health back, feel so good mentally and physically. Food makes a huge impact on it.

    Look forward to seeing what you cook up

  19. Once you learn to cook dishes really well… it’s hard to go back to eating out a lot or delivery or boxed anything. Enjoy!

    1. Yeah, I just got to put some time aside and practice. Just gonna attack new dishes one at a time, like learning a new song on the guitar so that with enough practice, creating the dish becomes automatic.

  20. We use sun basket and love it. We have been able to save an extra $200 a month on non food wastage. This also solved our fundamental problem of selecting different foods each week.

  21. Fun post! And good idea on creating menus. It’s like a goal list to work towards.

    I’m sure if anybody just add the following healthy foods on your list, they would lose a lot of weight. In fact, if all of America it within these confines, we’d all be much healthier and reduce the burden of healthcare costs.

    Enjoy cooking more! But not too much to hurt your joy of writing.

  22. Hey Sam,

    You might also want to add steaming and hot pot. Much healthier than using
    lots of oil and frying.

      1. I agree and cooking can be simple. Put some chicken and sweet potatoes or squash in the oven and while it’s baking do other things. When it’s almost done cook a vegetable or make a salad and you have a meal.

  23. Sam – this sounds fantastic! I always enjoy reading your posts, which I always find either enlightening, or inciteful… lol (but typically the former).

  24. Excellent plan Sam! Since retiring last year, one of the things I truly enjoy is cooking 4-6 times a week. YouTube is a great source of ideas and techniques. I’m a bid fan of “Sam the Cooking Guy” there–maybe “Sams” have a knack for it? :)

    1. Thanks for the tip! Will check it out. I now realize that it must feel gratifying and satisfying to create a yummy meal, especially if others like it too. Maybe that’s what helps get people hooked to cooking.

  25. I enjoyed both articles on eating out this week! Thanks for always providing an interesting read and a few things to learn. This post is a great followup to ‘Why you shouldn’t bother cooking … ‘ post. I had a few smiles, a few things to think about, I raised my eyebrows at the some of the comments and I enjoy your alway positive mindset.

  26. Hahahaha wait, are people not realizing that this is classic Sam satire?!?

    C’mon, you guys — if Sam does want to eat healthier, it would make more financial sense for him to hire a personal chef than to cut his posting rate! Seriously. With his income, it really would.

    Look, for millions of Americans, it makes total sense to cook at home. But for people who make a very high hourly income, and for whom time is in much shorter supply than money, it makes absolutely no sense to shop and cook unless that is something they actually enjoy doing with their time.

    Part of what makes Sam fun is that he likes to make provocative posts — sometimes very satiric, sometimes semi-serious with a little dose of passive aggression, sometimes just flying a random idea up the flagpole and seeing who salutes.

    But if you really think Sam’s going to post a lot less so he can cook a lot more, you definitely need to brush up on your irony detection skills!

    1. Always good to learn, educate, and have some fun! Life isn’t worth living if you’re not having fun. I’m pretty focused now on eating well and saving money on food.

      We’ve been spending too much.

      I even played an intense 1 hour 40 min match and lifted weights after. Feeling great!

      1. Haha good for you: that is badass to lift after an intense match, and probably a good idea too — especially if you’re keeping focused on core strength to keep that lower back healthy!
        Eating well is obviously essential for all of us who want to stay super fit and active as we get older, but I predict there’s no way you’re taking time away from blogging or family time to save a few bucks on food — unless the frugal food prep becomes a family activity and/or fodder for future blog posts!

  27. Laura McAughan

    Few things make folks more defensive than diet, for some reason! As a retired (of course!) integrative health coach, my opinion is the most important thing you gain by cooking at home is knowing what goes into food. I like your list but might switch out the tuna for some other type of fish, as tuna is known for having a rather high mercury content. Wild salmon and (especially) salmon roe will give you the protein and omega 3s you’re looking for in a somewhat less contaminated way. Go, you!

  28. It seems like we’re on the same wavelength as I’ve been focusing more on fitness and nutrition lately along with Personal Finance in my life. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

    Intermittent Fasting: my eating window is 11am – 7pm, it helps with fat loss among other things inside your body.
    Eat broccoli at least 2-3 times per week, buy vegetable seasoning and use a lot to spice it up.
    Eat salmon at least twice per week, buy various premade seasonings and be generous using them. In a nutshell, seasonings don’t really add up the calories, but can help enhance the taste bigtime!
    Use organic salsa instead of sauces and dressings since salsa has veggies and seasonings.
    Use a food tracker initially (e.g., my fitness pal) to help ensure you’re at a caloric deficit if you’re trying to lose weight.
    Pre-Plan what you will eat next so you don’t find yourself wandering in your pantry. And even donate junk food you have (out of sight, out of mind). I can’t cause my wife is preggo and she’ll kill me.

    I’m in my late 30s and am targeting to achieve a six-pack for the first time in my life by year-end, wish me luck!

    1. Good luck! I had a 4-pack in high school and freshman year in college. Ah, the good ol days.

      I like your no food before 11am and after 7pm tip. I’m gonna to at least try and follow the no food after 7pm. I find myself eating later b/c my wife eats later all the time. But she has a very high metabolism.

      Congrats on the little one!

  29. Christine Minasian

    Great and different post Sam! Why are we as Americans taking SO many pills and NOT focusing on what’s being put in our bodies. It’s crazy how much you can improve your health and medical bills if you worry about your diet. Plus it’s important to show your children how to take care of yourself. Too many people overweight in our country!

  30. Sounds like a fun challenge and a fresh way to mix things up. The hardest part with cooking for me is planning, having all ingredients on hand, and setting aside the time to cook everything while the ingredients stay fresh. If you don’t mind grocery shopping 2x a week this may help save on produce waste in case you run a little behind on meal prep.

    Some companies like Good Eggs deliver local meal kits that have all the ingredients you need and just require prep. There’s less packaging to deal with vs some of the other companies like Green Chef that come shipped from out of state. I tried Green Chef for a couple weeks but got tired of having to break down all the packaging stuff and wasn’t satisfied with the meals.

    1. Yeah, the grocery shopping and prep work takes so much time. My hope is that once I got several “signature dishes” down, everything will come easier and quicker. I’m sure it will. Just have to focus!

  31. I think you are on the right track. You need to find what motivates you amd what speaks to you.

    I love the Alton Browne cook books. I also love his shows. His books got me and my wife cooking more often at home. The NY times how to cook anything is another great one for us.

    I love red meat. I recently purchased a cast iron grittle that I put on my propane grill. Its 5/8 in thick with upturned sides. Steaks, burgers, and such, particularly when one adds a bit of butter, come out restaurant quality. The caramelization is incredible. Cheap steaks taste good. Good cuts taste great. I was amazed. It cost $30.

    My point in this is that we saved money by finding tools that speak to us. (We don’t always eat red meat, but when we do it tastes a lot better!)

    One thing I also do is buy more expensive, higher quality ingredients that help convince me to spend the time to put them into great meals. That saves us money by not ordering out. Sure its not as cheap as buying the cheapest, but the question is not perfection but the alternative.

    1. Concur on the higher quality ingredients.

      Today, I bought a wagyu ribeye steak from Snake River farms. $29/lb. But worth it. I need to work on this special cilantro/onion grizzle sauce my dad used to make.

  32. I was thinking this cooking thing was a joke and the comment about attending The College of William and Mary convinced me of this. I too attended that wonderful school and have reaped the personal and financial benefits. Thanks for all the great info you continue to provide.

    1. Not a joke! The list of foods in this post are the healthiest super foods we can eat. I spent lots of time researching them. Gotta cut out sugar as well.

      Perhaps I just write with a flair? I like to have fun b/c fun writing is more fun to read.

      1. Well I agree about the food. I started eating a whole food plant based diet – no salt, no sugar, no oil 5 years ago and feel great. It is not expensive and easy to prepare. Good luck!

  33. Who knew food preparation would stir up so much action on your blog?!

    Do all the parents on here preaching about home cooked meals have athletic kids or babies/toddlers? My oldest has sports practice 3-4 nights a week after school, and my littlest is hanging all over me when I try to cook after a long day of work.

    Both my husband and I work full time and the economics certainly don’t favor spending more time on food prep and less on work.

    We still manage to eat healthy, clean foods, we’re all still athletic, within the ideal weight range, and we sit down for dinner together as much as possible (even if it’s often restaurant food plated at home). With the extra 1 hour I’d spend cooking and cleaning each night, I can read with the kiddos and do a home workout.

    Also, check out Tovala. Tasty fresh meals you get delivered to your home that you scan into a smart oven. Better than competitors because there’s no clean up and less than 2 minutes of preparation.

  34. You’re starting to sound like a jerk. Just because I’m overweight and cook at home gives you no right to highlight healthy foods and talk about what you’re going to do to provide for your family and make your life better.

    Are you okay?!

  35. What do you say is totally true about the most bitter and hateful people tend to either be out of shape, struggling financially, or both.

    There is a female mob on Twitter in thr personal finance space who like to gang up and try and bully people, particularly men, Who think differently from them. But you take a good look at them and they are all fat and have income on the lower range.

    They totally need to get food and love themselves first. People who love themselves don’t hate on strangers on the Internet!

    1. It’s weird. I don’t see men form mobs on Twitter and gang up on other people, or at least not in the same size and vicious way. I’ve got a couple female haters who follow everything I write and do and try and tell me what to writ and how to think. It’s fascinating! Like, how about focus on improving yourself instead of policing the world? No wonder why they have so much anxiety.

  36. Some quick tips:

    Read the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. Can read this in an hour.

    Check out and focus on Gut Health.

    The healthiest diet is the Mediterranean Diet, so that’s a great place to start when figuring out food choices and building from there.

    Have 5-10 healthy meals that you can cook quickly.

    It’s easier to eat healthy foods when they’re readily available.

    Get rid unhealthy foods.

    Find healthy alternatives for the foods you love. For instance you can make pizza with fresh sauce, whole mozzarella cheese, whole grain.

    Get good sleep! Poor sleep can affect Ghrelin levels (which is the hunger hormone) and also willpower, which can make eating healthy a tougher task.

  37. Foc Finance

    Our transformation – relating to food, health and finances – has come from focusing on REAL food. Enjoy a wide variety of REAL food and the nutrition takes care of itself…no need to go on a restrictive diet. Plus, simple preparations of the right ingredients are delicious, affordable and can be truly life-changing. A great resource is There is a lot of overlap between healthy eating and personal finance, including having a plan, keeping it simple, ignoring the noise and confusion and so much more. Plus, eating healthy, REAL food directly improves your finances (less spending on food, less spending on healthcare and more).

  38. Try emeals. I love it! Great recipes and a presorted shopping list. Scratch the ones off you don’t want buy the groceries you do, and you have creative meals in no time at all

  39. Hi Sam,

    I’ve been a long-time reader of your blog so I’m sad to see that you’ll be decreasing the amount of articles each week! It’s really helped me establish my finances right out of college which was not too long ago.

    If I went out to eat every day, I wouldn’t have been able to save and build my net worth to the point that it surpassed the number listed in ‘The average net worth for the above average person’ for my age. It wasn’t easy… I’m a huge Chipotle fan! I dream of owning my own Chipotle franchise one day but I’d just be my #1 customer.

    For now, I cook at home. Eating well has allowed me to be more alert and positive in my every day life. I follow YouTube cooking videos and honestly it cannot get any simpler than that! Maybe you can cook in large batches and freeze leftover? That ought to save you time!

    What are your thoughts on start-ups like HelloFresh and BlueApron? I’m getting my first delivery for HelloFresh next week. I used a promo for this because honestly, the math works out to be $10/meal/person if you pay full price! That’s nuts!!! Might as well go to Chipotle instead if that’s the case!

    Money Engineer

    1. We tried BlueAprol and HelloFresh for a while. Then gave up after six months b/c the prep work still took 30-40 minutes and we didn’t like what we made lol. Got boring after a while.

      But, we may try again.


    Great information here – Thanks FS! I’ve working completely from home now and trying to keep myself in shape (was previously riding my bike to work daily). I’ve always been a healthy eater, but it is tougher for me now that I’m not exercising quite as much. I’ve noticed when you exercise a lot you’re more likely to want to eat healthy.

  41. Hi Sam, first of all, love the positivity of this post and secondly, that Chef Sam’s Grilled Scallops In A Beet Purée looks amazzzzzing!

    To be honest, I wouldn’t trade off cooking at home with making more money like putting the time in blogging etc. I guess it really depends on where our value lies. To me, a home cook meal has a high significance on kid’s experience and health. Like you said, if you paid more attention to what you eat as a kid, you might do EVEN better as an adult (you’re doing great though). I realize only as an adult that schools tend to give out free certificate to fast food for getting good grades. This is really bad as it gives kids the notion that eating fast food is a reward. I want to schools to stop doing that one day… we can have better ways to reward kids for good grades.

    Anyway, I love your blog and I’m sure that even if you hire someone else to write for you, you will find the right person who can emulate your writing style. And your blog will still do great since you already got valuable existing contents. But the best outcome would be that you take the pressure off to not push yourself to write 3x just because you « have to. »

    On a final note, it’s easier to make a mean steak tartare if you can get FRESH meet. That’s the most important criteria. Here in Switzerland we have great quality meat and I have made steak tartare several times myself without getting sick afterwards :) looking forward to your new lifestyle blog and recipes ;)

    1. love your column.
      btw, do you have a reference for your ‘best foods’ list? lately, there’s more controversy than agreement; some of us do well w higher fat and higher salt; tho most agree highly palatable and processed not helpful.

    2. I’m going to host more guest posts and sponsored posts that are informative going forward. It’ll be a win-win.

      I wonder how does one determine whether meat is “fresh” or not. I feel, making steak tartare is like gambling. Could be good. Or could be really bad! But perhaps that’s the fun of it.

      1. Great question! So it’s all based on trust which has been slowly eroding over the years when it comes to the meat industry in the states. In Switzerland, I buy the meat at a local supermarket and there’s always a bucher at the « fresh meat and seafood » section. Since steak tartare is not an uncommon dish here, all I gotta do is ask for a kilo of meat for steak tartare preparation, and voila! I get fresh meat. The butcher does remind me each time that I must consume it within 12 hours, and there is just this indescribable trust in Switzerland when it comes to Swiss made products. May sound like a cliche but it’s my experience here as an expat for the past 6 years.

        Btw, I would love to write a guest post for you since you inspired me to create a blog of my own! I literally followed your links to set it up :) so how do I submit a post for you?

        1. Mama Bear Finance

          P.S. Forgot to add that personally i wouldn’t dare to make steak tartare from using the meat in the states. That would be a gamble. BUT, if you do accomplish, I would love to hear how you did it as it’ll be one of the dishes that I’ll miss most when I move back.

  42. I think we share a common vice since I too am a big fan of taro bubble tea (I personally think that is the best bubble tea flavor out there). Fortunately there are not many bubble tea places in my area (but when I do find one I do indeed order one).

    As far as cooking tips, I am a huge fan of sous vide. The setup is relatively inexpensive (can get everything needed for under $200) and it allows you to make restaurant quality food at home.

    In fact I made a salmon sous vide dish that has spoilt my fiancee so much that she rarely eats salmon at a fine dining restaurant and says it is better than mine (I share the recipe in my blog and it really is simple to make).

    The other contraption I use a lot is an air fryer. Really cuts down on the oil usage making it a healthy alternative without sacrificing that fried taste.

    Good luck with your cooking ventures. Really do check out the sous vide method of cooking. It’s the easiest, healthiest, and best way to cook in my opinion.

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