If you train hard day in and day out you need to eat big in order to build muscle. But that grocery bill can get rather expensive. Trust me I know. Standing tall at 6’5” weighing 260 lbs it takes a lot to feed this furnace. When the wallet is tight we have to be savvy at the grocery store. Here are some of my tips that I have learned along the way.

To Build Muscle on a Budget We Need a Plan

The first thing we need to do is put together our plan of action. In order to stay within our means its going to be very important to know what we can spend. To know what we need to consume. And to know how often.

In order to build muscle we have to be in a caloric surplus. If you haven’t read my article on bulking check it out. It explains simply and easily how to calculate your daily macros and establish your needs for the day. Once you have that information then you’re ready to rock and roll.

The simplest way to diet for building muscle is using the flexible dieting method, more commonly known as IIFYM or If It Fits Your Macros. I began to write a multi part series explaining what that is. But to sum it up you take your caloric surplus, factor how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat you need based on simple formulas, and then make sure you hit those targeted numbers each day. It doesn’t mean eat like shit. But it makes dieting much easier. And you can have a social life.

Knowing what to eat and how much is important. And now that you have that figured out. Know when and how often to eat is important as well. Up until now I used to feel like I had to eat 6 meals a day or else. But as of recently and due to my adaptation of flexible dieting. Along with some logical thinking I began to adjust my views on that idea.

I personally believe 4 solid meals a day is a good starting point. Especially if you’re pressed for time. But I also don’t see anything wrong with 3 meals a day. Hitting your macros is your main goal. So find out what is going to work best for you. During the weekdays I tend to have 5 to 6 meals and on weekends usually 4 to 5.

Shopping Smart is the Key to Building Muscle on a Budget

By being a savvy shopper we can stay on our budget and meet our macro-nutrient needs. There are a ton of foods out there that we can buy. But if you’re ok with eating the same things or very little variety you can fill your fridge without spending a ton of cash.

When I first started out lifting with serious regard I was only out of college about 2 or 3 years and wasn’t making a ton of money. That is when I was super budget conscious about what I spent at the store and made sure I got everything I needed. What worked for me at the time was shopping at my local Walmart and getting as much as I could in bulk.

Carbohydrates are going to make up a solid chunk of your macro-nutrient goals. Most carb sources you can buy in bulk and a relatively inexpensive. I would recommend getting:

  • Breads
  • Rice (White or Brown)
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Top Ramen

As far as protein sources stores like Walmart usually sell them in bulk as well. The easiest sources to get your protein needs cheaply are:

  • Chicken
  • Tilapia
  • Canned Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Beef

Most of our foods will have fats in them. However we want to make sure that we hit our fat mark. Because fats play a big role in muscle building and fat loss, believe it or not. Some great sources of fats are:

  • Milk
  • Yogurts
  • Cheeses
  • Peanut Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Nuts
  • Heavy Cream

Keep an eye out for sales and coupons those really help. Get creative. Check prices and read labels. Nine times out of ten you can get by with very little groceries in your cart. I know of one really wild diet called the Farmers Diet and essentially all you consume are 3 slices of bread, 2 to 3 hard boiled eggs, and a 21 oz glass of milk six times at day. Which would give you about 4496 calories, 236g protein, 434g carbohydrates, 213g fat all for around $10 a day.

Being Educated is the Critical to Building Muscle on a Budget

Knowledge is power. Educating yourself and taking the time out to do research on your nutritional goals will empower you to stay ahead of the curve, build your body, and keep the cash in your pocket. I hope this article will serve as a guiding point for helping your build muscle on a budget.

If you have any tips or suggestions put them in the comment boxes below. I would love to hear what other ideas and tactics you have used in your quest to building muscle!

About the author, Steve Hall

Steve is a strength training fanatic who geeks out over the best, most efficient workouts, nutrition and gear to help get you stronger and healthier!