T Nation

Cheap Food Plans for Beginners

Hey guys, I’m a poor college student and I’m looking for ways to create a good food plan at the cheepest price possible. I don’t have a lot of time to prepare food in the kitchen or at work so I perfer foods that I can stuff in the microwave or eat strait out of the fridge. I’m looking for healthy food… I’m a beginner so I’m trying to develop good habits for my training and an easy plan to stick to. I’m looking at taking in around 4500 cal. a day. Any sugesstions?

Right now my plan includes:

1 protein shake in the AM

morning snack of yogurt and granola

1 “subway” sandwich at lunch(daily special) loaded with extra veggies

High protein microwave dinner

1 protein shake for night snack

I know I’m not eating enough, but like I said… I’m a poor 23 y/o. I started training pretty heavy about a month ago and now my appetite is raging.

Thanks guys!

Have a few tips for ya:

  1. Fruit & Veggies! Carrots, broccoli, lettuce etc. Look at the prices and go from there (blueberries are expensive most of the year, but bananas are always cheap). Eat’em raw as part of your meals and as snacks.

  2. Cottage cheese - cheap and great protein source. I love it plain but others add anything from fruit to hot-sauce to it for flavor.

  3. Eggs - boil a bunch on sunday and store in fridge for snacks.

  4. Tuna - it’s meat…and it’s cheap!

  5. Ground beef - learn to cook chili (I hear Kuz has an awesome recipe, haven’t seen it yet tho). Make a bunch and freeze in meal sized containers. You can add ground beef to almost anything, cheap and it’s meat.

  6. Invest in a George Foreman grill (or one like it). Can’t afford one? Ask for one for birthday/christmas from parents. It will save you money in the long run! Buy your meat in bulk to save and grill your way to better eating.

Freeze the meat you don’t use (just takes a second to take from freezer in the morning to be ready for grilling at night…or if you forget soak in warm water for 1/2 hour or so…but make sure it’s in something waterproof. ie frozen baggie). The microwave is also your friend in these cases.

  1. Frozen veggies - cheap and easily heated up to go with the meat you grill up.

Just a few things off the top of my head, I believe Dr. Berardi has some articles on the site with recipes and such…look them up (I believe he also has a cookbook, but don’t have a link). Also, don’t be lazy when it comes to your health. Learn to cook, it takes preparation (planning) ahead not a significant amount of TIME. It will give you a better body, with minimal real effort. It’s an investment in yourself that you can’t afford not to make.

Good luck!

Thanks for the great ideas Bro! I’ll have to save up my pennies for that GF grill.

you need to eat more… you should not substitute a shake for a meal. if you are training heavy and want to make gains you need to eat alot more even if you are not hungry.

Lots of whole milk and peanut butter!

[quote]NateN wrote:
Lots of whole milk and peanut butter![/quote]

Aye I agree…I think if your looking to get 4000 cals this is pretty good bet also pretty easy to add to any meal.

Are you buying that “subway” sandwich cause I’d take that 5 bucks and spend it on some ground beef or a bag of chicken breasts.

Drink milk all day, cheap and easy way to get some calories. Buy those $5 bags of chicken tenderloins, that’s 200+ grams of protein. Buy some cereal and a big tub of oatmeal. Eggs are cheap too.

[quote]NateN wrote:
Lots of whole milk and peanut butter![/quote]

Oh yes. Great advice here. I started drinking whole milk again the last couple months for the first time in about 20 years. A tall glass of whole milk w/ a whole wheat peanut butter and banana sandwich is hella good!

Great Idea about the pb and banana sandwich. Not a milk guy here (by genetics, not by choice), and I’ve heard that soy milk is one of the worst things for a guy to drink. So far I’ve got a good shopping list going… Tuna, PB, Veggies, Fruit, Eggs, Ground Beef, Chicken. My budget is around 300/month including supplements. Right now I’m downing 2 muscle milk shakes a day. I’m not quite sure what the best bang for the buck as for the protein powder would be, I’m pretty sure it’s not the MM.

I have to take it with water so I’d like whatever I buy at least tolerable without milk… any suggestions on what supplement(s) I should go for on this budget? Keep the food ideas coming, thanks for the help!!!

For protein powder I think most here would recomend Grow! (you can order right off this here website). If I lived in the states you’d have to pry that stuff outta my cold dead hands!

As a student, with your budget I personally wouldn’t recommend other supplements besides protein powder, multi-vitamins and possibly fish oil/flax seed oil.

You want as much as your diet to come from whole foods, once you have that under control see how much spare cash you have and then think about other supplements.

I am also a poor 23 year old collge student!

Here are the best tips I can offer to you;

  1. Shop around for the best prices.

  2. Get weekly ads from each grocery store in your area.

  3. Buy in bulk when an item that isn’t frequently on sale anywhere goes on sale.

  4. Buy all of your supps/ protein online and save 50%.

*MOST IMPORTANTLY
5. Get a lock on your own mini-fridge(or your own room) so that your ROOMMATES DON’T STEAL YOUR DAMN PROTEIN!

the cheapest high quality foods I have found are;

canned tuna
canned salmon
milk
oatmeal
potatoes
brown rice
dry beans
frozen veges
protein powder (online)
apples
oranges
bananas

GOOD LUCK! :slight_smile:

Rice is so cheap it’s almost free.

Mixed vegetables come in 5 lb. bags in the supermarket or at your local Costco or similar store, and are often on sale at the rate of 50 cents a pound. That’s a lot of great nutrition dirt cheap!

Combine the two in a steamer, come back in 20 minutes, and you’ve got a big meal even a poor kid can afford, with lots of nutrition. Add an onion and other veggies if you like. I find the thicker kind of sprouts add a lot of flavor very cheaply.

Alternatively, use a big non-stick pot with a lid. Dump the rice and veggies together, and once they come to a boil, let them steam until the water is gone. If you want your vegetables crunchier, add them just a few minutes before the dish is done. If you want more flavor, fry an onion and some garlic separately, and add them to the rice and vegetables when they’re done.

Soy sauce, olive oil and/or butter, and garlic or garlic powder, and lots of black pepper make a strong sauce to lend flavor to the whole enterprise. You can make a very big healthy meal like this for something like 50 cents.

[quote]fedorov91 wrote:
I am also a poor 23 year old collge student!

Here are the best tips I can offer to you;

  1. Shop around for the best prices.

  2. Get weekly ads from each grocery store in your area.

  3. Buy in bulk when an item that isn’t frequently on sale anywhere goes on sale.

  4. Buy all of your supps/ protein online and save 50%.

*MOST IMPORTANTLY
5. Get a lock on your own mini-fridge(or your own room) so that your ROOMMATES DON’T STEAL YOUR DAMN PROTEIN!

the cheapest high quality foods I have found are;

canned tuna
canned salmon
milk
oatmeal
potatoes
brown rice
dry beans
frozen veges
protein powder (online)
apples
oranges
bananas

GOOD LUCK! :slight_smile:

[/quote]

I’ve had dozens of roommates, and rarely had one that didn’t steal food. Good advice.

Locked up protein… a classic!

I used to have to drill a hole and padlock the lid of my protein to protect it from my brother, the Yeti.

He got into it once anyway by smashing it on the ground and slopping it up like a fool. I “helped him” finsh it off with gentle pressure to the back of his greedy head… the rug burns faded from his face in time.

:wink:

I was wondering if these foods would be better for eating right after a work out or just for eating all the time?

Also, you said pb was good protein gain, is it ok to eat alone, say if I’m out of bread? Or would it be best to eat with ww bread?

Great advice about the steamer K… sounds like a good dish. I’ve been grubbin on hard boiled eggs all week and tuna like crazy. These ideas are great and are awesome for the wallet!

Hey guys…

With the holidays coming (and lots of hand outs from the table) what are some good foods to grub on during the season?

Yams, cranberries, turkey?

im also a student, i always get the best deals buying, P.B, eggs, cottage cheese, oatmeal,beef mince or beef patties, whole milk and the cheapest of the all, which I think are great, canned beans, and tuna. nothing beats this, u can take them anywhere… LOL. try to stick to this basic foods and ull be fine… never by the light, or reduced fat sh**. If ure trying to gain weight, u have to get the most calories out of the food ure taking in

First article I ever published (yes, I was a poor undergrad back in the day):

http://www.johnberardi.com/updates/sep272002/na_budgeting.htm