Are you burning to build muscle?
Add weight to your lifts?
Tired of being the smaller one amongst your friends?
You already know the answer, everyone is telling you…just eat more!
You’re getting frustrated because food is so expensive,
Protein is a must but quality meat is exorbitant, overpriced…
What should I eat to get the most of my diet, but not make myself go broke in the process???
Tips to save money on food
Planning is always essential for victory and achieving goals. Similarly, you should have a meal plan or at least a list of foods that you plan on consistently buying so that when you arrive at the store, you know exactly what you want, and don’t spend too much time just browsing around. Never go into the store and be like: “This looks good…I like this food…This would taste good now…”, etc.
Maybe initially scout the stores for potential foods that you want to get as well as their prices so that you can plan which foods are cheapest, which are good options, etc. Compare prices between different stores before deciding where you’re going to buy in bulk. Some stores might offer discount more often on the foods that you’re going to buy than others, so also keep that in mind.
Bottom line: Get a meal plan according to the foods that you’re going to eat, know where you’re going to buy what, and then go get only that.
Getting fresh produce from a farmers market can also be cheaper than buying it in the shop. You can easily buy bulk there and can even negotiate with the seller to bring the price down even further for you.
Two for one macro food
A two for one food are foods that are rich in two macros, instead of one. The best foods to get that are two in one is to get foods that are high in carbs and protein, instead of carbs and fat.
Good two in one food:
- Beans – black beans, navy beans (15g protein per cup), etc.
- Lentils – mixed lentils (18g protein per cup)
- Grains – Seitan (75g protein per 100g), oats (13g protein per 100g), whole wheat bread (12.5g protein per 100g)
- Potato – 20g protein per 1kg.
- Pasta – 14g protein per 100g dry weight
- Nuts – peanuts (25g protein per 100g), almonds (21g protein per 100g), etc
Seasonal fruits and vegetables
When the season comes, the farmer markets or local fruit and veggie shops will be flooded with new fruits and veggies fresh from the harvest. Most of the time the prices will be low and there will be lots of specials going on to encourage people to buy as fast as possible. This is the best time to get lots of produce for a really good price.
Once most of the produce has been bought, prices go up again. So make sure you’re there fast to grab as many specials as possible.
Buy meat just before/on the expiration date
Most shops will put the meat that is about to expire on half price or really steep discounts to encourage people to buy. If no product is bought, they are at a loss, so they really want people to have it, even if it’s for half-price. A little money is better than no money, right.
This is the prime time to show up and buy in bulk. Make sure when the shop’s meat usually expires and save money for that time, or always have some money put aside for when that happens.
After you bought a lot of meat in bulk, just pop them in the freezer, and you can keep them as long as you want there and prepare it whenever you want to have some. I weight the meat in the portions I’m going to eat and put them in ziplock bags before I freeze it all. This saves me the headache of having to try to break frozen meat into edible portions later.
Skip the middle man
If you want to get meat much cheaper, get it straight from the butchery. And I’m not talking about the regular butchery, I’m talking about where the butchery gets their meat from.
Lots of shops and butcheries order from a supplier somewhere. Track that supplier down and order directly from them. They usually sell only in bulk, but it’s totally worth it if you have a big freezer. They’ll also usually make your orders fresh, for instance, if you order ground meat, so then you can easily package it before putting it in the freezer.
Low budget food choices
Peanuts and peanut butter
If I would have to choose between the two, I’d go with the raw peanuts, not because it tastes better (it tastes really bland), but because it’s in its natural form free from additives, artificial flavourings, preservatives, sugar, etc.
100g of peanuts contains 25g of protein and 50g of fat. It’s also rich in good vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B1, B3, E, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, etc.
My grandpa once told me to eat about a handful of raw peanuts after each meal to gain size real fast. It’s one of the things he did when he was doing WWE style wrestling. I did it and I gained strength and size faster, but I also gained fat…mainly because I was in a pretty big surplus because of it. But if you’re not in a surplus yet, add some raw peanuts as snacks or after meals.
If you cannot get raw peanuts, use peanut butter instead that is free of sugars, etc.
Not a lot of people like to buy organ meat, and organ meats have exceptionally more good nutrients compared to normal meat. Organ meat is also sometimes half the price of other meats. If you can make a nice strew of it, you won’t even taste the odd new flavours.
Some of the most common available organ meats are liver, kidney and heart. Stick to only a small amount of liver daily/weekly and try to get mostly kidney and/or heart and make a nice stew with it.
Quick, simple, yet effective recipe:
- Fry 100g beef/lamb kidney and 100g beef/chicken heart in 1 tbsp butter
- Add cooked meat to 2 cups rice
- Add mustard, chilli, salt and any other spice of choice
Dairy and eggs
Dairy is relatively cheap and can be bought in bulk. A general rule in the bodybuilding and powerlifting community is that; if you struggle to gain muscle or strength, drink a gallon of milk a day (GOMAD). That will have you gaining muscle and strength really fast.
If you are afraid of the hormones in the milk, try finding an affordable brand that gets their milk from free range grass fed cows only, and preferably organic if that’s possible.
Or you can get low fat or skim milk because the hormones are in the fat, that way you don’t get the hormones. But if you get a good quality milk brand, drink full cream milk, as full cream milk has been found to boost muscle and testosterone more than skim milk.
Eggs are also relatively cheap and are a great source of protein, cholesterol (precursor to testosterone) and other nutrients. Vince Gironda and other trainers had their trainees eat lots, sometimes dozens, of eggs daily to put on mass really fast. I can vouch for this technique, it works really well…if you can stomach all those eggs.
It’s definitely best to get eggs that are free range as possible because you don’t want to be guzzling lots of eggs from sickly grain fed, caged birds. The farmers market might be a great place to find these good quality eggs for a lot less than what the shop asks for.
Fresh and dried fruits
Fruits are a great source of calories and nutrients and can easily be eaten without preparation anywhere or be used in a smoothie to make it taste better.
Cheap good fruits include pineapple, banana, papaya, apples (too low in nutrients to be considered a main source of calories), mango, grapes, etc.
Not all dried fruits are cheap, but dates and raisins can be relatively cheap. Get bulk of both for discount. You can add the dates or raisins with the nuts your eating to make it taste better. You can also blend the dates with desiccated coconut and roll it into mini balls for a quick snack. It tastes really good and is high in good carbs and fats.
Some of the cheapest, most nutrition and filling carbs include rice, whole wheat, potato, yams, beans, lentils, and oats. All are good options and can be eaten in bulk if they don’t cause you any stomach issues.
If you want to maximize muscle growth and strength, my Ultimate Strength, Size and Skill Program is a no brainer.