Eat to get big without a lot of money? Solutions you need!

January 28th 2019

In front of my bowl of oatmeal and I thought to myself, how can I eat to get big without a lot of money. Money will always be spent trying to buy food to get big. We need to eat to sustain progress. Can we do that by going on a budget?

For now, protein and fresh vegetables are the most expensive items on your list, especially if you want to eat with variety. However, it is possible to eat on a budget if you can stomach eating the same foods over a long period of time. Carbohydrates and fats are cheap and abundant in the Western world. So, it is not difficult to build muscle on a budget but you may get sick of eating the same foods.

Frugal Shopping

Shopping does not need to be expensive. Keeping a weekly budget will greatly help control your finances. Best of all? Your gains will not suffer as much as you think. You can still eat great on a cheap budget. You just need to be more creative and figure out the logistics of how to create many dishes you can enjoy.

Love your kitchen

This goes hand-in-hand with frugal shopping. If you want to spend less money on food, you will need to cook more often. Eating out is one of the most expensive habits you can have. Sure, it is convenient and very relaxing. You do not need to think about anything other than having a great experience.

On the other hand, it is not good news for your wallet. So, start cooking more of your meals. If you are on a strict budget, you will find that cooking all your meals is not that difficult. We have a perception that cooking and prepping meals takes a lot of time and is tedious. While it can be frustrating and boring, these are some of the trade-offs you will need to make.

Besides, cooking all your meals can be a great experience. You will know EXACTLY what goes in your meals. You will know what you enjoy and what you prefer. You become more independent and continue to grow your cooking skills. There are very little drawbacks of learning how to cook but you face adversity without this key skill.

You do not need to be perfect

Sometimes, budgeting and planning are painful. You want to enjoy life but at the same time, you know you should save more money. You know you are eating out too much and it is affecting many areas of your life.

Start small. You do not need to be perfect the first time around. So, for example, if you are eating out three times a week, cut it down to once a week. Prepare your meals ahead of time to replace the days you would have eaten out. Using less money for food does not drastically drop your quality of living. You can take small strides in the right direction and adjust accordingly. Remember, the best habits are not the most aggressive ones done. The best habits are the ones that are done consistently for a long period of time.

For instance, you can pressure yourself to save an extra $40 dollars this month but if you felt miserable and reverted back to your old spending habits, what is the point of trying to initiate that massive change? You can take appropriate steps. This is nobody else’s business except your own. If you are a goal reacher, you may find that your goals are loftier. And for others, they can go at their own pace. It is perfectly okay to do.

Keep it simple

When we learn new habits, some characteristics that enable us to retain more information are simplicity and clarity. This is no different than trying to spend less money on food. If you are currently spending $200 dollars on groceries a week, can you try to cut it down to $180? This will involve some creativity, flexibility and sacrifice.

For some families, this is do-able. For others, it may not be. The main point here is that you should have a clear goal to work towards. There is no need to try and create a fancy plan where you vary the amount you spend on lunch on a few work days and eat at home on certain nights. It will be difficult to track but if you want to mentally juggle all these different events, who am I to stop you?

The best plans are the ones that work for you. What works for me may not work for you. But one thing is a fact, we humans do not like to do a lot of work. We are great at adapting to change, but it sucks to start change. So, it is best to figure out the most simple solution and go from there.

Affordable protein

Steak, shrimp, lobster, salmon… all these great tasting protein can quickly add up if you purchase them regularly. One way to immediately cut down costs is to buy affordable protein. Canned tuna is $0.50 to $1 a can. A can has about 20g of protein. Peanut butter is extremely affordable. Eggs are super affordable and can be made into many different dishes. Yummy. When I was in college, I would eat ground turkey, which was cheaper than ground beef in my Trader Joe’s. Also delicious.

Depending on which supermarkets you go to, you can get a great deal on chicken. You can also get meats on sale, but there are complains from many lifters about the quality of “on sale” meat in the supermarkets.

Getting a membership at Costco can a solution for you. They have very high-quality meats at an affordable price. Their prices are better than the supermarket’s prices. Many lifters recommend getting your meats here for those two reasons alone - quality and competitive prices. I do not disagree. It is really the best of both worlds and Costco is really providing lifters the opportunity to eat on a budget.

Don’t forget about your carbs

Carbohydrates are cheap. They can also be very filling as well. I can get 25lbs of white rice for less than $20 dollars in New York City. That is enough rice for at least a month or two, depending on how much rice you are going to eat.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also inexpensive. They can be made quickly as well, so you can never run out of carbs for your day. For example, when I was on a business trip, I had to live in a hotel for 8 weeks. I could have eaten out every day but I wanted to save some money. A friend suggested that you can cook your sweet potatoes in a microwave. I decided to follow his advice; it was not the best thing I ever ate but the sweet potatoes were cooked. Poke a few holes into the sweet potatoes and cover them with a wet paper towel. Microwave for a few minutes, between 5-8 minutes, depending on how big your sweet potatoes are. Salt and pepper afterward if that is available.

“Eat to get big” myth

With that being said, do you need to eat to get big? Is it a myth or is there some factual proof behind it?

The basics will always go a long way. Your macro and micro nutrients come from the foods you eat. This is why many athletes track their macro intake so that they know how much fuel they are supplying their body with. This serves as a benchmark for future changes and plans.

If you have aspirations of growing more muscle, you will need to eat. There could be some shortcuts to avoid eating massive amounts of food but at the end of the day, you will need to consume food with respect to your goals. Gaining 30 lbs of weight from 160lbs body weight will be different from someone trying to gain 20 lbs from 200lbs bodyweight.

Eat how much protein to build muscle?

I am also assuming that you are working out as well, or at least doing some form of resistance training. Studies and opinions widely range on how much protein you should eat to build muscle. If you eat too little protein, you risk not building any muscle and may actually cause your body to atrophy. If you eat too much protein, you may feel constipated or bloated.

So, what is the sweet spot? I decided to do some research on this topic as well. Eating 1g of protein for every 1lb of bodyweight or 1kg of bodyweight is a good min-max range. For example, if you weigh 150lbs (68kgs), you should be eating 68-150g of protein daily to build muscle.

Like all general recommendations, this should be taken with a grain of salt. You need to examine your own eating habits prior to making any adjustments. For the most part, most people are not fully conscious of what they eat; they just go through the motions of life. With building muscle, however, that mentality will change immediately.

So, if you weigh 150lbs and are trying to eat on a budget, the best result would be that you aim to hit 150g of protein daily. You want to get big, so you need to eat appropriately to suit your goals.

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