T Nation

Eating on a Budget?


Well Lads, I'm a newbie here on the forums but have been a t nation reader for about 6 months! I'm from Ireland but in Massachusetts this summer on a J1. Iv been working part time at landscaping and tree care so really physical work in the heat and iv been lifting in the evenings when I have the time/energy! Ill prob end up doing labor for the summer and was just wondering what foods ye recommend?

Im generally a primal eater (paleo + some dairy), but i think i need to get more carbs in to hit the cals ill need. Im looking to stay strong and get lean. My stats currently are 5ft 10" 170ish lbs and around 12% bf. I was prob a bit leaner getting here but i had no gym for like 2 weeks and was eating everything! Any help appreciated!


Give me your address and I'll send you some of my homemade bread and energy bars from Maine.

Welcome to New England!


Some useful info in this recent thread:

But a big part of it is just going to be planning as best you can, and preparing stuff ahead of time whenever possible. This article has some good tips on that:

I don't know what your schedule's like, but keep it simple. Shoot for three big meals a day and throw down quick snacks whenever possible during the day. Not sure what else to tell you.

So what "can't" you eat? And what did you eat yesterday?


Thanks for the replys! Primal is how I usually eat when im in college or home. I wouldn't eat any grains or starchy veg like potato. I was not working yesterday but I got up (7:40am) and had a protein shake then had some egg beaters and green beans with reduced fat grated cheese on it. Iv been getting carbs from puffed wheat and oats as my 2 sources, so I had about half a bag of puffed wheat (85grams) with skim milk and some protein sprinkled on it (habit of mine) throughout the morning/afternoon.

At around half 2 I had about 3/4 cup cottage cheese 1% curd with some lettuce and salsa. I had 1 scoop of ripped freak pre workout at 4 and headed to gym. I did bench press, bent over db rows, rotators, lying rear delt ext., and pull overs lying on bench. I had a shake then at 5:40. I then did a crossfit class which was my hiit for the day. got home and had dinner at 7 45 of pork sirloin, cottage cheese, green beans, lettuce, salsa.

I have a pretty strange diet I know! Im kind of snack with small meals more than a BIG MEALS kind of person. Show me the way!
When I have been workin, i get up (5 45) have some porridge with a shake and some greens (6 00), then I bring 2 chicken fillets with green beans in lunch boxes (2) and have one at 10 or 11 and the other at 1. then I get home have a snack and head to gym if iv the energy, have shake and maybe do hiit (crossfit type) head home and have a dinner like the one i had yday.

I do the hiit type 3 times/week and lift 4 times
my diet isnt THAT consistant everyday and i did eat lots of carbs for the 2 weeks i had no gym

Also the only things I don't eat is pasta, rice, potato, etc. I will eat oats and some puffed wheat but no bread or crackers


Puffed wheat and oats are grains aren't they? And if you want to avoid grains then what's wrong with starchy veg like peas and potatoes that have other nutrients?


Yeah these are the grains iv introduced to try get my carbs up a bit. I dont think primal will give me the energy i need for working long days and getting the gym in too. I eat green peas generally too but never really eat potatoes. Not a huge fan
Would you have any advice on how many cals i would need to be hitting and the best and cheapest ways to get the macros in? I don't mind introducing foods that I wouldnt generally eat, as I wouldnt generally be working a physical job on top of getting my gym in!
Also Beth where is the best places to shop? Im in Norwood and theres a shaws where I do my shopping, but its not the cheapest place. Any tips appreciated, or meal plan ideas.


As far as price goes, rice, dry beans, and oats will be your cheapest form of carb. See if you can get to any outdoor markets, sometimes you can haggle. As close as you are to Boston I don't think there will be anything cheaper than Shaws unless you can get to a Hannaford. Super Walmarts are cheap but their produce looks like GMO stuff. Bananas and sweet potatoes are usually pretty cheap.


Cool! yeah i gotta get over my carbophobia :stuck_out_tongue: start getting some good stuff in! I was thinking maybe decent carbs at brekkie (oats) and then get some in my post work out shake? Could I use oats for this or would you advice fast absorbing high gi carbs like banana or some sugars. Iv always fallen into the carbs pwo prevent fat burn trap but I know research shows it makes f**k all difference!
Anyways I'm keeping a log today so will update as I go.
Working at Tree Care (dragging trees to chipper, using chainsaws etc.)

Breakfast: (5:40) 1 scoop (1/2 n 1/2 Morning MP Combat + tru Nutrition Cold Filtered Isolate) w/2-3grams glutamine,bcaa and creatine. 1.5 cups cut green beans w/ 2tblsp salsa. Left carbs out as I ate a load of carbs on rest day yday (220g+) mainly from puffed wheat :slight_smile:
Meal 1(10:30)- 5oz pork sirloin with cup cut green beans
Meal 2(13:00)- 5oz pork sirloin with cup cut green beans


Dragging trees and cutting them down is going to suck up your energy alot. I know because I do it on a weekly basis. If you get your carbs from fruit and veggie its not gonna get turned to fat with the kind of work you're doing, and it's going to keep your metabolism up while providing needed nutrients. Get some fat in your diet too, or you're headed for burnout. Almonds, brazil nuts, and walnuts are good. Olive oil is cheap and good too.
Are you trying to build muscle? What are your goals exactly?


Solid info from Beth so far.

Nate Miyaki has written about paleo-ish type diets. Give some of his stuff a read to see what makes sense and what you can make work:

Depends on the person, their muscle/bodyfat makeup, their training and daily expediture. A lot of variables. Basically look at what you've been eating the last week or so, see what's happened to your weight in that time (generally weighing yourself once or twice a week, on an empty stomach), and tweak as needed.

And x2 on what Beth said about fats. Not only are the essential for a bunch of functions (growth, repair, health, etc.), but if you are on the lower carb side, you need enough fats in your diet as a basic energy source and to prevent protein/muscle from being burned.


Sound advice Beth! Really helpful! I would like to get below 10% BF and remain strong! Deadlift, bench and front squat are currently 152.5kg, 102.5kg, 112.5kg (respectively) for 5 repetitions. front squat is to 13" off floor using plates. I would like to keep respectable stats while doing the work and my future goal is DL, Bench, F/Squat to be 200kg, 120kg, 140kg, for 1 by Christmas. Is this a lot to ask?

The work today was extremely tough and in the pouring rain even tougher! I didnt bring enough food at all and had the two meals i mentioned and that was it! Just in and Had a small bowl of porridge as I was starving and now Having a big salad with tuna, cottage cheese and salsa! Gonna have some PB after for fats! No training today as I haven't time >:(! I will be better prepped tomorrow!

Realistically i will get to lift 3-4 times MAX so advice on training is also appreciated. I am used to having the freedom to gym 7 days a week when in college or home. Ill focus on the big 3 and like to do cleans as well for some power.
Do you think i will need to do HIIT as well i.e. crossfit or interval training for leanness?
Again I really cant thank you enough! Very welcoming and I love all the info! Will I post a pic of my current and see what you think?


Thanks Chris! Really helpful stuff on them articles! I am feeling hungry a lot and definitely need to up the intake of food but I have the FEAR of getting fat! As well as the FEAR of losing muscle.....its a shitty crossroads to be at


Based on your height and weight and the relative consistency whereby you lift weights, I would hazard to say that you shouldn't worry about getting fat. Keeping an iron grip on your caloric intake may lead to binge/compulsive eating down the road. You really have to listen to your body on this. When you feel that hungry get some complex carbs and fats.

If I were you I'd focus more on the building muscle because even if you do gain a wee bit of extra fat, it will be so much easier to take off if you have the extra muscle mass. HIIT 2-3 times a week is reasonable for no more than 20-25 min sessions. If you keep your calories too low your body will retain fat for survival. Feed your body what it needs and it will grow and be lean, not to mention you really need carbs to get through those workouts - especially mentally.


Ha, man, I'm pretty sure that describes a good amount of folks around here. Don't sweat it, but also don't mindfuck yourself into a lack of progress.

Again, a big x2 on this. You should not be feeling hungry. If you are, it's a loud sign that you're undereating and that is what leads to muscle loss.

Depending on what the weekly training and work schedule is like, it might even be best to drop the HIIT and sub in some lighter to moderate intensity work. Even just high incline walking right after training would be a good substitute without increasing recovery needs.

And I don't know exactly what the lifting looks like, but consider reducing the total volume, again to slightly improve recovery.


Cool guys I think that's the best approach! Try make some gains, as I just cant be lethargic at work due to dieting to get lean! This week is gonna be all messed up though as its my first with the new job doing trees. lifted monday and tuesday when wasnt working and some hiit but the gym here is closed tomorrow and Sunday when i planned on getting 2 more lift days in! I reckon weekend is best for Legs and the hardest workout as I wont be trying to do it after a 12hr day.

Im gonna get workin on a 3-4 day routine that I feel is do able after this work. Motivation is never an issue with me, the only issue is getting to the gym and getting there before it closes. I have no car so its a 20 minute walk, and so far this is earliest iv finished and will be home by 7. gym closes usually at 9 as its an MMA gym, but tonight at 8 as they are gettin prepped for an event the weekend. The conventional gyms are across the highway so i need a car to get there :frowning: need a mate around here that's a gym goer BADLY!

Today was much better though. Had oats for brekkie with a shake, brought 100+grams of peanuts to snack and begger portions of pork and veg along with cottage cheese n salsa! Didnt feel lacking energy or lethargic in the slightest so really happy about that!!