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Best Food Combos
Food is the most important source of skill points in ECO. The better your diet the more skill points you get from nutrition. It's not only about calories but also about balance. I revived this algorithm I wrote two years ago to provide my knowledge to the community. This guide tells you what to eat and how to eat and it will help the provisioners to sell the most efficient meals.
When you enter the world for the first time you don't have a choice, you're bound to eat raw food you find growing somewhere. Raw food gives the least skill points and usually plants don't regrow fast enough to support a large number of players for a long time. So your first way is to build a campfire and cook your first food. In the beginning your choice mostly depends on the available ingredients. But as a provisioner you should settle somewhere near a farmer of trust or start with planting your own ingredients. Campfire food gives a good bonus over raw food and should be considered one of your first priorities. With more skill point coming along you'll progress to Advanced Campfire Cooking quite fast which gives another reasonable boost to you skill point gain. Then you'll have to decide if there's a miller near by to help you in gaining Baking skills or if you just progress into Cooking and Advanced Cooking leaving Baking aside for now. My personal favorite is to gain Cooking specialization as soon as possible and stay there for a while with my favorite food combo of 1 Simmered Meat and 2 Basic Salads. The skill point gain will enable you to acquire some additional knowlegde to support your chef's skills. Sometimes I even omit the Advanced Campfire Cooking stage.
When to Eat
Always carry a whole meal with you and eat it en bloc when you're hungry. This way you avoid a drop in skill point gain when a single food is removed from your stomach (after 24 hours) leaving an unbalanced diet and you have to wait for some minutes or even hours until the next food is removed that you've eaten to balance out the previous one. Sometimes it happens to me that I accidentally eat a Camas Bulb or a Bean instead of planting it. Don't try to balance it out (unless these raw foods are a part of your diet anyway). After 24 hours the Bean is gone and balance is restored.
Meals aka Food Combos
When it comes to the personal diet it usually depends on availability. But as a chef you have the power to provide the best food combos one can get and thus you are responsible for progress on the server. The following table gives an overview which food combos give the highest skill point gain a chef with the respective skill level can provide. The values are based on a default configuration of 12SP Base Skill Gain and a Skill Multiplier of 2.0x. Changing Base Skill Gain and/or Skill Modifier won't change which food combos work best (at least from my experience). I computed these values based on a stomach size of 3000cal which is the start size. The two numbers on the end of each line are nutrition balance/skill point gain. For completeness I added two tables, one wihtout baking skills and one without cooking skills. And: Sorry, veggies, in this game you're disadvantaged.
The guide was first written for 0.7. With 0.8 the levels for a skill are gained with practice. The SP multiplier is taken into account and increases the speed of leveling.Thus I stick to computing levels 1 and 2 because you'll want to practice with useful meals.
Some of the raw foods are harder to get than others. The above combo is the best I could find in 0.7 but you really should get a campfire soon so you don't have to gather different meal parts only to gain a ridiculous 50something skill points.
There's a catch with Cooking 3 as Stuffed Turkey needs Bread which needs Advanced Baking 1. However I added it for completeness.
To all Metalworkers: Please sell Cast Iron Stoves so your chef can provide the "better food" you're constantly crying for. With 0.8 chefs can also use the anvil but at a very high material cost