Are you looking to build muscle and/or lose fat?
Are you also on a budget (see also: high school/college student; recent graduate; young family man)?
Trying to get fit and stay on budget may seem like conflicting goals.
Especially in a time when folks are pushing hoards of expensive supplements, high-priced luxury gym memberships, and “clean diets” chock full of organic super foods and wild caught meats.
But it can absolutely be done.
Below I've laid out an entire grocery shopping list and sample meal plan complete with cost per serving.
I've even thrown in some bare bones supplement recommendations.
While this won't support the most up-to-minute Paleo/Organic/Gluten-free diet, it's still a huge improvement over the way most people eat.
With this plan, you'll get a balanced, whole foods diet with a focus on increased protein content.
Budget Bodybuilding Diet Objectives
1. Work with a limited budget
2. Support muscle-building and/or fat loss
3. Taste good
4. Fit a busy lifestyle
This grocery list/meal plan should be viewed as a down-and-dirty plan to feed yourself when first starting out or whenever money gets tight.
The prices noted below are reflective of shopping at Aldi in Chicago, December 2014. While food costs in Chicago are fairly high, Aldi is a very affordable grocery chain so these prices should be similar to the rest of the U.S.
Categories and Price Per Serving
Naturally, this is the most important category as any bodybuilding meal plan has to be high in protein, but it can be misleading in terms of actual cost.
While egg whites are dirt cheap “per serving”, protein content per serving is fairly low, meaning cost per gram is rather high.
Therefore, I've calculated the cost per 30g of protein from each source, as that's a much more practical way of looking at things.
|Source||Serving Size||Price Per Serving||Protein Per Serving||Price Per 30 Grams|
|Cottage Cheese 1%||1/2 cup||$0.28||13g||$0.65|
|Chicken Breast||4 oz.||$0.63||23g||$0.82|
|Whey Protein||1 scoop||$0.56||20g||$0.84|
|Ground Turkey 93% Lean||4 oz.||$0.65||22g||$0.88|
|Egg Whites||3 tbsp||$0.20||5g||$1.20|
|Stew Meat||4 oz.||$1.25||25||$1.50|
|Ground Beef 93% Lean||4 oz.||$1.24||23g||$1.62|
As you can see, most of the starches are nearly free. Using them as a component to stretch most meals is going to be a huge cost saver and they're going to help you fill up.
- Rice – $0.04, 1 cup cooked
- Potatoes – $0.06, 8 oz.
- Oats – $0.08, 1 cup prepared
- Dextrose – $0.10, 20g scoop
- Pasta – $0.11, 3/4 cup uncooked (about 1.25 cups cooked)
- Whole Wheat Bread – $0.12, 1 slice
- Bananas – $0.12, 1 banana
- Apples – $0.33 each
- Sweet Potatoes – $0.35, 8 oz.
- Berries, Frozen – $0.46, 1/2 cup
- Butter – $0.07, 1 Tbsp
- Olive Oil – $0.09 1 Tbsp
- Peanut Butter – $0.10, 2 Tbsp
- Pasta Sauce – $0.17, 1/2 cup
- Vegetable medley, frozen – $0.25, 1 cup
- Broccoli, frozen – $0.30, 1 cup
- Green Beans, frozen – $0.34, 3/4 cup
Supplements (optional, but helpful)
- Multivitamin – $0.06, 1 tablet
- Creatine Monohydrate– $0.08, 5g
- Dextrose – $0.10, 20g
- Protein Powder – $0.56, 1 scoop
- Pre-Workout – $0.76, 1 scoop (alternately, check out my guide to French Press Coffee)
Budget Bodybuilding Sample Meal Plan
I'll use myself as an example here. This diet is suitable for a 190 lb. active male aiming for about 3,200 calories per day to maintain weight.
1 tsp Butter
2 Cups Cooked Oats
Totals – Calories 750, Fat 31g, Carbs 73g, Protein 35g – $1.13
1 Cup Cottage Cheese
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
Totals – Calories 560, Fat 18g, Carbs 64g, Protein 36g – $1.32
10 oz Ground Turkey, 2 Patties
2 cups rice
2 Cups Vegetable Medley
Totals – Calories 788, Fat 21, Carbs 81g, Protein 66g – $2.20
1 Scoop BSN Hyper-FX
Totals – Calories 14, Carbs 4g – $0.76
2 Scoops Whey Protein
5g Creatine Monohydrate
Totals – Calories 430, Fat 4, Carbs 60g, Protein 40g – $1.50
8 oz. Chicken Breast
16 oz. Baked Potato
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Cups Broccoli
Totals – Calories 704, Fat 19g, Carbs 84g, Protein 63g – $2.37
Grand Totals – Calories 3,247, Fat 93g, Carbs 366g, Protein 240g – $9.38
So in practical terms, this means that if you grocery shop weekly and prepare all your meals at home, you can expect to spend roughly $50-$60.
Depending on how many days per week you workout and what supplements you take on your off days, your monthly supplement order should be under $50.
While there are cheaper ways of going about what I've laid out above, like consuming only milk and peanut butter, who wants to do that?
This plan allows you to have variety at every meal – no more chicken and rice six times per day – and includes a lot of quality fruits and vegetables.
Call it the sane man's guide to bodybuilding meals and supplementing.