First steps first: we need to not get caught instantly. The only way to do that is to juke the Stickotaur into the top right corner. To do that, we must poke our head up on the first row, and eat an apple to get the rhythm correct. We can choose either of the top two apples in column 4. To keep things simple, let's choose the apple on row 2.
Then, we are ...
Here's how I reasoned through this before posting it. Others' methods turned out to be much simpler, though:
Looking back, I think I know why my solution is longer now: I was originally going to specify that there must be three numbers in each group in the description, but I realized this would make the puzzle too easy. I then grafted steps to derive that ...
EDIT: Finished product first.
For the logic on how to get there, read on.
Let's start by figuring out the general steps, without taking the action limit into account.
Obviously, we need to start by trapping the Stickotaur by taking a step right. Now we can clean the bottom 5 rows safely. Then, we can eat the apple in the top left (that seems to be the ...
Not an answer, but I would like to share my initial approach, before I figured that it's as helpful as I thought it was going to be.
The idea for this kind of problem usually is to convert it into a graph, then usually its easier to visualize the solution. But not for this case, apparently.
In the graph below, each node represents a square, and the edges ...
With the new edit removing the optimization constraint, I'll give it a shot. I am not sure if my solution conforms 100% with the rules, since there are some parts that seem real cheaty but nonetheless obey the rules in my eyes.
Seventh (last) step: