Eating Healthy On a Tight Budget

Hey guys, whats up. I’m attempting to gain lean body mass; bulk up without gaining a lot of excess fat. To do this I read a lot of great articles (most notably any JB article on nutrition). The problem is that I’m on a fairly tight budget. To eat a lot of healthy foods requires money. I’m wondering if you guys have any relatively cheap foods you can recommend that are nutritional powerhouses.

Currently I have 5 meals I eat a day; all of which I consider “magic bullet meals”. I basically eat the same thing every day:

Morning (Oatmeal)
2.5 cups 1% Milk
1 cup of Blueberries
0.5 cup of Oatmeal
1 Large Grapefruit

2nd Meal (Omelet)
3/4 cup Egg white
3 Large Omega 3 Eggs
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup of Mushrooms
1/4 cup of Red Peppers
1/4 cup of Green Peppers
1 Fruit (Apple, Banana, etc)

3rd Meal (Cheeseburger)
200 g Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 Pieces of Multi-grain Bread
2 Medium Mushrooms
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese

4th Meal (Chicken Breast)
10 ounce Chicken Breast (skinless)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Broccoli

5th Meal (Yogurt with Peanut Butter Shake)
2 Tablespoon 100% Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup 1% Milk
1 Cup 0% Fat Yogurt
3 Tablespoons of Ground Walnuts
2 Tablespoons of Flaxseed

This is the bare minimum I eat a day (on days I workout I usually add a can of Tuna or a Powerbar Triple Threat)

Using this diet I eat 2837 calories minimum per day and on workout days I eat about 3100 calories. The breakdown from the past two weeks:

Average Calories
grams cals %total
Total: 2837
Fat: 115 1034 38%
Sat: 36 327 12%
Poly: 28 250 9%
Mono: 37 330 12%
Carbs: 206 713 26%
Fiber: 28 0 0%
Protein: 247 988 36%
Alcohol: 0 0 0%

The problem is that JB recommends 3600 calories. I’m 5’10, 155 pounds. I’ve been on this eating regiment for 2 weeks, eating 2800-3000 calories a day. I’ve seen results but I would like to hit the amount of calories JB recommends without making me go broke. Any recommendations would greatly be appreciated. Thanks.

Eggs are pretty cheap. So is olive oil. A tablespoon of olive oil is 110 calories, I take one with each meal and I get 500 calories of good fat per day extra.

A tub of quick oats at wallmart go for about $1.89, a half cup serving has 150 calories. You could try adding a half cup or even a full cup of uncooked oats to you drink each meal. Might taste like shit… but if your serious about a cheap ass solution this will help (30 servings per container at 1/2 cup a serving.

[quote]Smooth_Serb wrote:
Hey guys, whats up. I’m attempting to gain lean body mass; bulk up without gaining a lot of excess fat. To do this I read a lot of great articles (most notably any JB article on nutrition). The problem is that I’m on a fairly tight budget. To eat a lot of healthy foods requires money. I’m wondering if you guys have any relatively cheap foods you can recommend that are nutritional powerhouses.

Currently I have 5 meals I eat a day; all of which I consider “magic bullet meals”. I basically eat the same thing every day:

Morning (Oatmeal)
2.5 cups 1% Milk
1 cup of Blueberries
0.5 cup of Oatmeal
1 Large Grapefruit

2nd Meal (Omelet)
3/4 cup Egg white
3 Large Omega 3 Eggs
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup of Mushrooms
1/4 cup of Red Peppers
1/4 cup of Green Peppers
1 Fruit (Apple, Banana, etc)

3rd Meal (Cheeseburger)
200 g Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 Pieces of Multi-grain Bread
2 Medium Mushrooms
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese

4th Meal (Chicken Breast)
10 ounce Chicken Breast (skinless)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Broccoli

5th Meal (Yogurt with Peanut Butter Shake)
2 Tablespoon 100% Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup 1% Milk
1 Cup 0% Fat Yogurt
3 Tablespoons of Ground Walnuts
2 Tablespoons of Flaxseed

This is the bare minimum I eat a day (on days I workout I usually add a can of Tuna or a Powerbar Triple Threat)

Using this diet I eat 2837 calories minimum per day and on workout days I eat about 3100 calories. The breakdown from the past two weeks:

Average Calories
grams cals %total
Total: 2837
Fat: 115 1034 38%
Sat: 36 327 12%
Poly: 28 250 9%
Mono: 37 330 12%
Carbs: 206 713 26%
Fiber: 28 0 0%
Protein: 247 988 36%
Alcohol: 0 0 0%

The problem is that JB recommends 3600 calories. I’m 5’10, 155 pounds. I’ve been on this eating regiment for 2 weeks, eating 2800-3000 calories a day. I’ve seen results but I would like to hit the amount of calories JB recommends without making me go broke. Any recommendations would greatly be appreciated. Thanks.

[/quote]

First suggestion I have is find a Costco if you can so you can buy in bulk. Agree with the comment about oats, can’t hurt to add some more servings. I know this probably isn’t what you’re wanting to hear but depending on how badly you want to maintain your diet, you could cut expenses down on other items, just an idea.

Another idea is to get some huge ass containers of mixed nuts, peanuts, whatever kind of nuts you like. EASILY can add 500-1000 calories a day with this. No, nuts aren’t the cheapest with price, but they are “cheap calories.” Can also buy a gallon of skim milk at costco for like 2 bucks.

Remember milk does the body good so you could add a few more glasses. Another thought is buy regular eggs instead of omega 3, at least where I shop at omega 3 eggs are like 2 dollars more so you could buy regular eggs and add even more servings of them into your diet.

Hope something works for ya, good luck.

Eating healthy on a budget is pretty rough. I do OK for myself but I’m still a tight-ass so i often try to find ways to save money with food.

I go to Costco religiously. If you don’t have one of those around I suppose a sam’s club would do, but have never really been to one.

A lot of times i’ll look at how many calories an item has and how much it costs and then just do a calorie/dollar comparison. I think you are doing well so far. Peanut butter (i suggest putting up the extra for natural if you can) is a good, cheap bulking food. Also, eggs are great as mentioned before.

have you purchased JB’s precision nutrition or just his gourmet nutrition?

He’s got some really good recipes in gourmet nutrition in there that aren’t all that expensive to make especially when you do them in bulk like me.

lean ground turkey and tuna…the shit.

What about adding protein powder to your oatmeal and to your shakes. Not all protein is expensive. And if you really want your bang for your buck with calories, go for something like Muscle Milk. fitnessone.com has it for pretty cheap.

Or when Biotest gets their whey back, order a big tub of that.
I know other people have said they do this, but one of my husband’s favorite things to eat is a scoop or two of chocolate protein powder, mixed into a big glob of peanut butter, and just enough milk to make it kind of like a thick pudding.

You can put it in the fridge or the freezer until it gets cold and eat it like a dessert. This can easily be 500 calories or better.

Am I the only one that picked up this dude is 155 lbs? C’mon man 3100 cals is fairly low. I am a huge advocate of a slow bulk with steady muscle gains and minimal excess fat but you weight 155.

This is where you should take everyone’s advice of JUST FUCKING EAT. To avoid added fat gain just cut carbs after 5 or 6 assuming you train before that. Nutrient timing is what you need not nutrient restriction.

Increase cals by buying whole milk rather than 1%. Drink a gallon of whole milk a day, and you’re bound to put on some weight one way or another.

“SQUATS AND MILK!”

buy in bulk I buy almost all my food at costco

chicken breast 2.99lb
lean ground beef i think 88% lean? 2.25 lb
tuna
big boxes of oatmeal
3 lb tubs of cottage cheese 4.80 or so i think
big liter containers of extra virgin olive oil
also really good deals on almonds and walnuts at costco

[quote]rrjc5488 wrote:
Increase cals by buying whole milk rather than 1%. Drink a gallon of whole milk a day, and you’re bound to put on some weight one way or another.

“SQUATS AND MILK!”[/quote]

Ugh. I can’t drink whole anymore, it’s like white motor oil. I’ve been gaining well with the 1%, and I usually drink a gallon of it, or close to it. Peanut butter, eggs, milk, and meat have been mainstays for me. Also PBJam sandwiches. Two of those with a tall glass of milk adds up to an easy 700 cals or so.

[quote]E-man wrote:
Am I the only one that picked up this dude is 155 lbs? C’mon man 3100 cals is fairly low. I am a huge advocate of a slow bulk with steady muscle gains and minimal excess fat but you weight 155.

This is where you should take everyone’s advice of JUST FUCKING EAT. To avoid added fat gain just cut carbs after 5 or 6 assuming you train before that. Nutrient timing is what you need not nutrient restriction.[/quote]

Do you even read what the OP actually asked? He asked how to eat healthy on a tight budget, not how to bulk but how to do it on a budget.

But as for the OP like has been said peanut butter is great, and nuts. Personally I like sunflower seeds but if you dont work outside its kind of hard to eat those and spit the shells all day long. Some other good ideas and deals I’ve come across in Cosco are the big blocks of cheese.

powdered milk may be alot cheaper than “real milk” doesn’t taste quite as good, but it may free up some money to be used to but other foods or more foods. I found a good basic protein supp. called Matrix 5.0. It’s $25-30 for 76 servings. 110 cal/23g of protein. Micellar caesin, whey concentrate and albumin sources. Not the best proteins, but a good price, and tastes great.

Invest in a Wok (Any thick pan will work). Possibly one of the cheapest, easiest, and healthy meals is stir-fry. Shop for sales on veggies and meat, you can add healthy calories easily. I make stir-fry once a week and eat off it for the rest of the week.

PLECLAIRE

Thanks for all the great advice; I’m looking at getting a Costco membership. I looked over my eating regiment and made a few updates; let me know what you guys think (basically added more peanut butter, milk, and olive oil).

Morning (Oatmeal)
1 liter 1% Milk
1 cup of Blueberries
1 cup of Oatmeal
1 Large Grapefruit

2nd Meal (Cheeseburger)
200 g Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 Pieces of Multi-grain Bread
2 Medium Mushrooms
Half of one small onion
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese

3rd Meal (Omelet)
3/4 cup Egg white
3 Large Omega 3 Eggs
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup of Mushrooms
1/4 cup of Red Peppers
1/4 cup of Green Peppers
1 Grapefruit

4th Meal (Chicken Breast)
10 ounce Chicken Breast (skinless)
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Broccoli

5th Meal (Yogurt with Peanut Butter Shake)
3 Tablespoon 100% Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup 1% Milk
1 Cup 0% Fat Yogurt
2 Tablespoons of Ground Walnuts
4 Tablespoons of Flaxseed

Nutritional Breakdown:

   grams  cals %total 

Total: 3413
Fat: 151 1358 41%
Sat: 43 384 12%
Poly: 31 277 8%
Mono: 61 552 17%
Carbs: 267 916 28%
Fiber: 38 0 0%
Protein: 261 1043 31%

Using this diet I now eat 3450 calories minimum per day and on workout days I eat about 3650 calories. JB recommends 3600 calories. Any further ideas on what I should add? Please comment on the nutritional breakdown and feel free to give any advice. You’ve all been a great help.

Unfortunately if you are really stretched for cash you might have to eat around both your budget and your goals, which can make it tough.

Ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey or whatever) can be pretty cheap. Often though, you’ll find sausages are extremely cheap. Oats, sacks of beans or rice, perhaps pasta can really be stretched a long ways.

Find a sale a stock up on cheap eats, filling your freezer if you scored a good sale on a quality cheap meat. If you go for money savings, you may have to work hard to avoid eating carbs with a fatty meat.

However, if you had to you could eat cheap ass rice and beans or something at one sitting (mixing vegetable protein sources can of course give you a complete amino acid profile), then just chow down on the meat later.

It really depends on where you are and how strict you need to be, as it would probably be easier just to eat small portions a few times. Anyway, it’s easier to be cheap if you aren’t worrying too much about specific composition goals. You can always address goals easier when money is a bit looser?

Hope this wasn’t too disorganized.

how much is a case of the big cans of tuna 10 oz i think at costco?

Tuna is cheap. Canned salmon (or even mackeral) is cheaper. Sometimes I’ll see ham for $2/lb or less and it can be leaner than you expect (4 or 5g protein : 1g fat). Beans are also a good deal. Like earlier posts said oats, eggs, milk, beef, and natty peanut butter are all good bargains. Also canned pineapple can be fairly cheap.

If you add frozen vegge’s to that list you pretty much have my shopping list.

Amigo, you have no idea how much money Costco and other bulk places will save you. Buying shitloads of chicken, frozen fruit and veggies, beef and so on will be initially expensive but pound-for-pound, it’s cheaper.

Here, at a local superstore, it’s like 8 or 10 bucks a bag for frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower mix but it’s a huge bag. Buying whole chickens is also cheaper. Sometimes you can find Halal meat for cheap too…it’s exactly the same thing. Chicken with skin on and bone-in will save money.

Look for specials when you can, drink lots of chocolate milk as your post-workout drink if your strapped for protien money. You can get big canisters of powedered no name stuff. Peanut butter and those raw walnuts, almonds and peanuts you can by that are all natural…but those by the bag. Sure you have to shell them, but it’s cheaper.

HUUUUUUUGE bags of oatmeal are your best friend, btw. Also those tuna specials I see all the time, i.e three cans for 2 bucks or w/e.

[quote]Smooth_Serb wrote:
Hey guys, whats up. I’m attempting to gain lean body mass; bulk up without gaining a lot of excess fat. To do this I read a lot of great articles (most notably any JB article on nutrition). The problem is that I’m on a fairly tight budget. To eat a lot of healthy foods requires money. I’m wondering if you guys have any relatively cheap foods you can recommend that are nutritional powerhouses.

Currently I have 5 meals I eat a day; all of which I consider “magic bullet meals”. I basically eat the same thing every day:

Morning (Oatmeal)
2.5 cups 1% Milk
1 cup of Blueberries
0.5 cup of Oatmeal
1 Large Grapefruit

2nd Meal (Omelet)
3/4 cup Egg white
3 Large Omega 3 Eggs
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup of Mushrooms
1/4 cup of Red Peppers
1/4 cup of Green Peppers
1 Fruit (Apple, Banana, etc)

3rd Meal (Cheeseburger)
200 g Extra Lean Ground Beef
2 Pieces of Multi-grain Bread
2 Medium Mushrooms
30 g of Mozzarella Cheese

4th Meal (Chicken Breast)
10 ounce Chicken Breast (skinless)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Cup Broccoli

5th Meal (Yogurt with Peanut Butter Shake)
2 Tablespoon 100% Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup 1% Milk
1 Cup 0% Fat Yogurt
3 Tablespoons of Ground Walnuts
2 Tablespoons of Flaxseed

This is the bare minimum I eat a day (on days I workout I usually add a can of Tuna or a Powerbar Triple Threat)

Using this diet I eat 2837 calories minimum per day and on workout days I eat about 3100 calories. The breakdown from the past two weeks:

Average Calories
grams cals %total
Total: 2837
Fat: 115 1034 38%
Sat: 36 327 12%
Poly: 28 250 9%
Mono: 37 330 12%
Carbs: 206 713 26%
Fiber: 28 0 0%
Protein: 247 988 36%
Alcohol: 0 0 0%

The problem is that JB recommends 3600 calories. I’m 5’10, 155 pounds. I’ve been on this eating regiment for 2 weeks, eating 2800-3000 calories a day. I’ve seen results but I would like to hit the amount of calories JB recommends without making me go broke. Any recommendations would greatly be appreciated. Thanks.

[/quote]

Adding in some almonds or peanuts, and drinking more milk would be a good idea.