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When my friend was a toddler, she loved butter. One day, her family couldn’t find her. When they finally did, she has tucked away in a corner with a butter stick in each hand, eating them like they were chocolate bars.
While I think healthy fats are vital to a healthy life, there’s always some question in the modern world about what those fats actually are. I choose to believe the fat that occurs naturally in real food is likely best – nuts, avocado, olives, animal fats, eggs, etc.
Here are the fats you’ll find in my Frugal Kitchen:
We eat all kinds of nuts here. Aldi keeps our cupboards stocked with peanuts, cashews, and almonds. Occasionally I buy pistachios – shelling them keeps my kids happy and busy for 5 minutes straight. WIN.
Generally, I choose nuts that are either raw or dry roasted (no added oils). This isn’t always cost-effective, so I try to stay balanced.
Peanut, almond, and cashew are our favorites. However, buying the actual nut butter is expensive. With a food processor(affiliate link), I simply buy the roasted nuts and make my own (I use roasted nuts and skip the roasting step in that link). It takes a couple minutes and I avoid the added sugar, oils, and extra cost.
Stock up on sales (Aldi regularly has them for 50 cents each), then freeze them for smoothies.
This is my favorite no-fuss guac recipe.
Eggs are amazing. Easy protein. A bit of fat. Real food. We try to buy from a local farmer, which means they cost $$$, so we don’t eat them every day.
When we can, we use flax or chia eggs (easy to make if you have a coffee grinder or Nutribullet with a dry attachment – affiliate link) in our baked goods. This helps stretch the fancy, healthy eggs even further.
Butter. ‘Nuff said.
If we cook good quality meat that leaves a lot of fat in the pan, I save it in a jar and use a little bit in place of coconut oil or butter for sauteing. It’s free, flavorful, and from a healthy source.
Bone Broth and Chicken Stock
If you make it right, the proverbial “they” say that bone broth is extremely healthy for you – full of quality fats, calcium, and other good nutrition words. When I have leftover chicken bones and skin, I toss it all in the crockpot with some water and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Cook it on low for 12 hours, then strain it and refrigerate it. People pay top dollar for bone broth and chicken stock. I just told you how to make it for free. Here’s an actual recipe (I don’t always add the vegetables).
I haven’t done much in the way of organic here. We buy condiments at Aldi, and occasionally that involves black olives for taco salad, kalamata because I married a good Greek boy, and green olives because they’re cheap, and my kids love them.
Most baking fats and oils – butter, coconut oil, palm shortening, etc. – are questionable, in my opinion. Research keeps saying one thing, then years later says another. I’m not going to bank my health on beliefs that are known to be inconsistent and conflicting at best.
That being said, life without butter is sad. If you’re dairy-free, palm shortening and coconut oil put cookies and pies back on the table. I eat a little of these foods, but I don’t swim in any of them.
We Always Have:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil (affiliate link) – I try to buy organic, raw varieties. Occasionally expeller pressed. Here’s more info.
Unlike some people, we don’t use coconut oil like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding uses Windex. Since I’m dairy-free, I use it for sauteing or greasing pans. I use a little in some dessert recipes. And we occasionally use it as lotion and diaper cream.
We Sometimes Have:
- Palm shortening (affiliate link) – a non-hydrogenated vegan alternative to shortening and butter for baked goods
- Grapeseed oil (affiliate link – but so much less expensive at Sprouts or Aldi. I’m just linking here to give you an example of what it looks like) – an oil with a very mild flavor
- Avocado oil (affiliate link – same) – another mildly-flavored oil
Oils We Don’t Buy
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little crunchy. I avoid highly processed oils, including vegetable, vegetable shortening, and even canola – except as a cooking spray for waffles, because nothing else works!
Those are the fats we keep in our house. I try to focus on the frugal, naturally occurring ones – nuts, avocado, eggs, and animal fats. We supplement with slightly processed, more expensive ones – butter, olive, coconut oil. And I try to avoid highly processed oils like vegetable and conventional shortening.
I’m not legalistic about it. I expect research to eventually say I’m doing something wrong – as healthy eating and fats usually go. However, this is our balance right now. I’m open to different opinions.
As long as you are being intentional and not blindly following someone else’s opinion, I think you’re on as good a path as anyone. Just keep an eye on your toddler if she loves butter.
What You Can Do Now:
How do you save money in this area – especially on the more expensive fats?
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