TLDR - The best food to cook for nanites is delicious vegetable stew.
This is a guide on how to cook food for nanites. This applies to normal mode. First let me explain my use of the word “lazy”. I hate mining. I have set up automated industrial mining farms for every element, metal, or gas in the game. I also hate gathering. When I see hexaberry or pulpy roots, I don’t want to pick them up. You do have to mine or gather initially to set everything up. But once everything is set up, you won’t have to mine or gather. With the exception of exploits; I think cooked food is the best way to earn nanites legitimately, if playing legitimately matters to you. It has been my experience that if you play legitimately, the game will have more meaning to you. I’ve tried doing missions, ship scrapping, larval cores; nothing has appealed to me. This does appeal to me. The cooking mechanic is exactly the same mechanic as refining metals. Some food you can make in one step, some require multiple steps. You want to do the multiple step foods. These will give you the most nanites. I’ve actually taken the time to go through every cooking product, step, or process in the No Man’s Sky wiki. Most of them require hexaberry, pulpy roots, etc; which of course I don’t want to pick up. Since there is no way to grow hexaberry or pulpy roots, you are limited to the plants you can grow.
I’ll start with the simplest farm. All you need for this farm is one biodome filled with only fungal mould plants and 4 food processors; that’s it, not a lot. A filled biodome with a door will have 13 fungal mould plants. Each plant yields 81 fungal moulds roughly every 4 hours. So 13 x 81 = 1053 fungal moulds in a single harvest. If you want of course you can have more than one biodome filled with fungal mould plants.
When you use the food processor, the most amount of food you can make is 50. Build 4 food processors. Put 50 fungal mould in the first processor, put 50 fungal mould in the second processor, put 50 fungal mould in the third processor, and put 50 fungal mould in the fourth processor. Now just follow the top flow chart. You have now used a total of 200 fungal moulds to make 50 delicious vegetable stew. You can speed up the process by using 8, 12, 16, 20, etc. food processors. Certain steps require the exact same item that you must place in two separate inputs, so watch for that. Your harvest of 1053 fungal moulds will yield 250 delicious vegetable stew with 53 fungal mould left over. Now take the 250 delicious vegetable stew, head to the Nexus, and give them to Cronus (the food critic). You can only submit 1 delicious vegetable stew at a time. This part will be tedious. On average, you will get 98 nanites per delicious vegetable stew. So this single harvest will get you around 24,500 nanites. It takes 50,000 nanites to upgrade an “A” class ship to an “S” ship. You can make 50,000 nanites in 3 harvests if you only use 1 biodome; this can all be done in less than a day. So this is it, this is the simplest farm you can make. And it really is the best multi-step dish you can make with no mining and no gathering. 50 delicious vegetable stew can also be made with only 200 gamma root (4 hour grow time) or only 200 solanium (16 hour grow time), the processes are all exactly the same. This is useful if you haven’t been to a planet with fungal mould yet.
There are two more multi-step dishes you can make that don’t involve mining or gathering and that is bread and herb-encrusted flesh. Bread is less complicated than delicious vegetable stew so consequently you receive less nanites. You can make herb-encrusted flesh if you use mordite for the meat ingredients, but it is also less nanites compared to delicious vegetable stew. You can sell the delicious vegetable stew for units instead, the amount you get isn’t bad if you are an early game player. And selling is only 1 mouse-click or button press. Here is a comparison:
50 delicious vegetable stew – 4900 nanites or 940,000 units
50 herb encrusted flesh – 4600 nanites or 940,000 units
50 bread – 2050 nanites or 260,000 units
Now let’s add animals. Most animals provide milk; some provide honey or eggs, but it’s mostly milk. Your farm needs to be in an area with lots of animals of course. Set up automated feeders and milkers. Most animals that provide milk will want enzyme fluid, fermented fruit, or scented herbs. These can be made with growable crops.
faecium + fungal mould = enzyme fluid
faecium + cactus flesh = fermented fruit
faecium + solanium = scented herbs
faecium + (enzyme fluid or fermented fruit or scented herbs) = sweetened compost
mordite + (scented herbs or enzyme fluid) = pheromone sac
This farm now needs more biodomes: 1 faecium biodome (required), 1 frost crystal (required), 1 fungal mould (not truly necessary but if you don’t feel like milking, you can make delicioius vegetable stew instead), and optionally 1 cactus flesh or 1 solanium or 1 mordite if your animal needs it.
I’ve painstakingly determined what you can make with milk that involves no mining or gathering and you can make some tarts, pies and donuts. All are similarly made meaning that all tarts, treats, and pies require a pie case; all donuts require a lumpen donut, etc. Meat dishes can be made with mordite. Here is what you can make with milk that require no mining or gathering along with their numbers:
50 cream of vegetable soup - 5050 nanites or 1,300,000 units
50 tangy vegetable stew - 4950 nanites or 1,800,000 units
50 thick meat stew - 4750 nanites or 1,300,000 units
50 cheese and flesh stew - 4650 nanites or 1,800,000 units
50 spikey tart - 5200 nanites or 2,000,000 units
50 jam tart - 4650 nanites or 2,200,000 units
50 fungal tart - 4800 nanites or 2,000,000 units
50 creamy treat - 5150 nanites or 3,100,000 units
50 high fibre pie - 3200 nanites or 2,000,000 units
50 fruity pudding - 5150 nanites or 2,000,000 units
50 jam donut - 4650 nanites or 2,200,000 units
50 honeybutter donut - 4400 nanites or 5,250,000 units
The best item to make with milk appears to be spikey tart. You need 50 frost crystal, 50 milk, and 50 cactus flesh to make 50 spikey tart. This item requires 3 food processors. Place 50 frost crystal in the first processor, place 50 milk in the second processor, and place 50 cactus flesh in the third processor. Now just follow the second flow chart.
Let’s compare delicious vegetable stew with spikey tart. Submitting 50 delicious vegetable stew will give you an average of 4900 nanites, submitting 50 spikey tart will give you 5200 nanites. Keep in mind your farm also needs animals that provide milk if you want to make spikey tart. You cannot get adequate amounts of milk if you milk your animals passively; meaning you just set up the feeders and milkers, go do something else, then come back an hour later. You actually need to set aside time to actively milk. So whether or not you want to do this is up to you. Another bothersome factor about spikey tart is that it requires cactus flesh, which takes 16 hours to grow. Fungal mould only takes 4 hours to grow. Taking the 16 hour grow time for cactus flesh into account, I would say the best item to make with milk is fruity pudding (flowchart provided) or creamy treat (flowchart provided). Fruity pudding requires an additional crop, creamy treat requires more milk. Since creamy treat requires more milk, this means longer milking sessions are necessary.
Here is how to actively milk your animals. You want 4 feeders, 3 milkers, and 4 food processors; and a way to power them, use solar panels or a power hotspot. You will most likely have to use solar panels since lots of animals near a power hotspot is kind of rare. Space the milkers and feeders in a straight line. Order them like this; feeder, milker, feeder, milker, feeder, milker, feeder. Place the food processors within reasonable distance. Fill all 4 feeders with bait. Nearby animals should now run to them. Animals have a milking timer. First they become tamed and then milked. Once they become milked, they cannot be milked again until about 40 seconds pass. But as soon as those 40 seconds are done, they are milked again. While they are tamed, they will not leave the area. Now here’s the trick, walk up to each feeder one at a time and fill it up again with bait as soon as it runs out. If you have a lot of animals, bait gets used up fast. Just stay in the area and cycle through each feeder and keep it constantly filled. There will be nearby animals that are out of the range of the feeders, draw them in with bait. In about 30 to 45 minutes you should have around 500 milk. When an animal is milked, white sparkly particles will flow from the animal to the milker. It’s quite amazing to watch when you have 20 animals around you. As soon as one gets milked, another one close by gets milked right after it. And there’s all these sparkly particles everywhere. Just keep the feeders filled with bait for about 30 minutes and you should be good. Try to draw in as many animals as you can, the more animals you have in your milking session the busier it will keep you. Again, this is amazing to watch when you have drawn in a lot of animals. You can seemingly do this for as long as you want.
I was surprised at the sell price of 50 honeybutter donut. Donuts appear to be the most complicated food item to make. To make 50 honeybutter donut; you need 150 milk, 100 cactus flesh, 50 frost crystal, 50 faecium, and 7 food processors. I have provided the flowchart. Cooking food for money is good if you are an early game player. Advanced players with billions of units would not bother. If you want to cook for money; I advise you to make 100 creamy treat instead of 50 honeybutter donut. 100 creamy treat require less resources than 50 honeybutter donut. And you can do it in less time if you use 6 food processors to make your creamy treat by running 2 parallel batches. And also, honeybutter donut requires cactus flesh which takes 16 hours to grow. If your animals provide eggs, this opens up more cooking options for you. With eggs, you can now make stuff that have “batter”. I didn’t look into this in detail because I rarely get eggs. It is possible that food which requires BOTH milk and eggs have very high sell prices. Of course you don’t have to use animals or mordite in the game if you don’t want to for whatever reason.
Conclusion - If you strictly want nanites and you want the least hassle, the least material, and the least amount of work I’d say the best thing to make is delicious vegetable stew. Making items with milk is not worth the extra effort to actually do milking sessions and will only appeal to completionists or cooking enthusiasts.