Frugal-licious?

In order to become financially independent you have to be frugal to some degree (otherwise you cannot live below your means and invest the associated savings). You furthermore need to step outside your comfort zone and invest all your savings into various assets. This always involves risk, but these generally decrease the longer you keeps these assets. The key thing here is risk awareness, assessment and management, by doing research into the assets of your choice you can reduce the risk and increase profit. Hereby obtaining financial independence over time and maintaining it in the long run.

Another (big) portion of the strategy to become and maintain financial independence is to be, and stay, as healthy as you possibly can. Healthcare is expensive, and is poised to become even more expensive in the future (unfortunately due to our own doing as we generally live unhealthy lives as a species). We calculated the other day that healthcare cost (per capita) in the Netherlands averaged a whopping 6% per year increase over the last 30 or so years (see figure below), compared to an average inflation during the same period of only 3%! The best way to limit these cost is to maintain optimal health. But how do you do this?

health care 2

(See how high the Netherlands ranks…..not nearly as expensive as the US, but still!)healthcare cost per capita

We have done a fair bit of digging into medical science and literature to find out what generally decreases risk and found that food/beverages are the single largest overall risk factor (noteworthy mentioning is smoking, but this is a risk primarily for long cancer). Physical activity is crucial, obviously, but food appears to have a bigger impact on overall health risks. For example the risk of dying from coronary heart disease while being very fit but eating poorly is larger (for most people) than being a couch potato who eats very healthy, go figure…..

So, purely based on science and populations studies (see below for a list of several references, some with medical references included), what foods decrease health risks:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Water/green tea

The following increase health risks:

  • Junk food (fried foods, cake, candy, soda, etc.)
  • Animal products (i.e. meat, fish, eggs, dairy)
  • Processed foods (i.e. non-whole foods)
  • Alcohol
  • Salt

Now, this isn’t to say that you should not eat/drink the above, but the fewer you eat/drink the lower your risk of disease and disability (and associated cost and inconvenience). It’s up to you to decide how much risk you are willing to take.

The interesting thing thou, is that these risks are commonly underestimated and/or overlooked, as it takes a long time for the effects to manifest themselves (e.g. stroke, heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer, etc.), but once they do it is often too late to correct/reverse or is even fatal. Prevention is key!

By eating a healthy and balanced (primarily) whole-food plant based diet, you also save some money on the grocery bill, as most plant based foods are cheaper than pre-packaged foods, meats and fish. Albeit commonly not cheaper than most processed foods, which is not a good thing. So, eating (very) healthy should also be a frugal practice by lowering once grocery bill and limiting ones medical bill, there is a serious win-win scenario here.

To help with this frugal and healthy (did someone say “new year resolution”?) lifestyle, we will post some of the recipes that we enjoy, eat on a regular basis and are relatively cheap to make.

Lentil Loaf

(not our actual lentil loaf, should make a photograph one of these days!)

Frugal-licious: The Lentil Loaf

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils (you pick the colour)
  • 3 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 2-4 cups of chopped spinach and/or kale
  • Optional: 1-1.5 cupd crushed walnuts

How you do it:

  • Pre-heat oven to 175-180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • In a large soup or stock pot, simmer the lentils in water or vegetable broth until cooked, about 30 minutes. Make sure they are very soft so that they will mash up easily.
  • Drain thoroughly then mash the lentils.
  • Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil or another cooking oil (canola, sunflower or vegetable oil) for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft.
  • Combine the onions, garlic and olive oil with the mashed lentils and add the rice, ketchup or barbecue sauce, sage, and Italian seasoning (and optionally the spinach and/or kale and/or walnuts).
  • Gently press the entire lentil, onion and garlic mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Drizzle a bit of extra ketchup on top if desired.
  • Bake your lentil loaf for about 45-60 min (the longer you bake, the stiffer the loaf). Allow to cool slightly before serving, as this will help the lentil loaf to firm up.
  • Note: you can also make great burgers on a baking sheet as well! Baking time is shorter at around 20-30 min, flip halfway.

References

Here are a few references that hint on the use of healthy food and beverages on risk reduction/prevention, there are obviously many more such sites:

http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483919/k.EB14/Heart_disease__Prevention_and_risk_factors.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia/alzheimers-and-dementia-prevention.htm

The following site includes links to all medical literature used for the text and short/long video clips:

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-based-diets

Enjoy!

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Hey team cf,

    You touch upon an interesting subject: the cost if health care.
    My main concern here is to figure out how to get decent health insurance when no longer working. As an employee, we have good coverage from our employer. Once we retire early, we will need to find a solution. I still have time to figure it out. In the mean time, we subscribed to a pretty payment plan already…

    At

    1. Hello AT,
      Healthcare in the Netherlands is commonly no longer part of employer benefits (albeit you may get a discount at certain insurers), so it does not matter if you are employed or unemployed as to your healthcare coverage (you can pick want you want, but the price goes up with more coverage obviously).
      There are government benefits if you have a low income. However, there are wealth restrictions to be able to apply to those benefits (in short, if we are financially independent we will not receive any benefits). That is why we have a fairly large budget for healthcare expenses.
      Good luck with your research, curious to see how the Belgian system works.
      To good health!

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