T Nation

Poor Man's Guide to Shopping


Hey everyone. I try to eat as much as i can but the problem is that i can't really afford a whole lot of food and as a result i havent been able to get any bigger than 185 and im hungry most of the time. so far ive managed to find some good cheap foods with a lot of calories. coconut milk is great, milk is expensive here but i get enough to add a good chunk of calories ,maybe 900-1000 calories a day on a good week, peanut butter and jelly come out to be nice and cheap when you consider the amount of food, calories and protein you get out of it. i also get tuna and plenty of ramen lol.

anyone else know good, cheap food thats relatively calorie-dense AND healthy, or at least reasonably healthy?

oh and i plan to get some weight gainer soon. say what you want to about weight gainer, it helps me, its what i can afford, and thanks to my metabolism it doesnt seem to add any fat to my frame. im aiming for 3500-4000 calories a day


eggs, grounds beef, chicken, peanut butter, oatmeal


canned fish: mackerel, tuna
find a cheap whey protein
start buying the 80/20 ground beef


Eggs, peanut butter, and oats are cheap foods that are hard to beat. Also, you can usually get massive quantities of rice for a bargain at asian / international grocery stores, invest in a rice cooker.


Buying in bulk is always your best bet, especially meats.

refried beans/other canned beans
beef/chicken/pork - in bulk, freeze what you don't use
sweet potatoes/regular potatoes
you can find clearance protein powder

this is pretty much all i ever eat.. usually only spend between 50-75$/week @ ~2500kcal a day, although i am cutting, and do buy organic, which drives the price up.


good advice in this thread. i x2 everything


thanks guys this is all good stuff.

heres what my shopping list is turning out to look like:
CARBS: rice, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, steam veggies
PROTEIN: ground beef, tuna, peanut butter, milk, eggs
FATS: well.. beef and milk has that covered i think lol
MISC: coconut milk, cottage cheese, greek yogurt

and of course weightgainer/ protein powder. where have you found clearance protein? ive never seen that
that all seems pretty cheap too :slight_smile: any more ideas? what about cheap recipes?


weightgainer powder is too much of a hassle imo. spend the money on food instead


A recipe you may like would be simply mixing eggs in your beef before cooking it (sounds weird, tastes awesome) the egg adds to the nutrients of course but it also thickens your burger, gives it chef/restaurant quality texture, and keeps it juicy in lieu of dried out fast food style.


Fish also can go in the protein and fats section, but don't waste time with the box fillets, get the bags of frozen fillets or the fresh fish from the deli/meat department, they're generally pretty hefty servings with great macro levels, and kinda to x2 what Holy Mac said, whole food is better than weightgainers, weightgainers are only good if you're in a rush, can't attain whole food sources, or you just wanna test the mass gain market.


Consider Pad Thai as well. Easy to cook in bulk with your ingredients.


Sardines are cheap and healthy too. Get Sardines in water, mix with yellow mustard.
braunschweiger too. Supermarket brand(generic) brick cheese. A little off the beaten path but decent tasting(IMO) and cheap!


Some low-fat quark is dirt-cheap here in the Netherlands, 0,60 eurocents (0.80 dollar cents) for 500 grams. Thats almost 50 grams of protein.


That's a damn good one, I've been meaning to try it myself but I don't variate my diet as much as I should.


Beans and Lentils.

Both are super cheap, and high in protein.

For a good meal/snack...boil a whole bag of lentils, then drain the remaining water. put a few tablespoons of butter over them, a few tablespoons of EVOO, a healthy dose of the following: Cumin, Aleppo pepper, Curry powder, Ancho Chille Powder, Kosher salt, black pepper. I would also recommend browned hot sausage thrown in there. Its awesome.

Dried beans are cheaper than canned, you have to soak them though. Beans and Rice ftw, put a bunch of different spices in there and go to town.


Any of your cruciferous vegetables are excellent of course, and if you can get your hands on it, get you some barley. Nothing beats whole grain whole foods, that's what the body is meant to eat, and while there is some amount of a "process" to every food, there's still no substitute for whole grain.


Here's my favorite bulking, cheap protein fix. It usually works for two servings:

can of salmon: 560cals. 84g protein
two scoops of whey: 240cals; 44g protein

Mix in a bowl. Omnom. Can do the exact same damn thing with canned mackerel. I knock out two cans a day minimum.


84? damn I'm getting the wrong salmon. What kind is that? Can we even digest/absorb that much protein in one meal? I'm not trying to be a dick. I just don't want you wasting your money, but if you're getting the results you want then by all means nomnomnom


MOst things have been said. Oats, PB, White rice, eggs ground beef, chuck steak





The mackerel is 2.25/can where I currently live (only a buck in my hometown). The salmon was 2.79/can when on sale where I live now. They have pretty much the same macros, 12g per serving of pro, with 5 servings in the can of mackerel and 7 in the can of salmon.