Bodybuilding on a Budget

Discussion in 'Diet & Nutrition' started by Simon, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Simon

    Simon Administrator

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    Bodybuilding on a Budget

    “You have to eat big to get big”

    You hear that phrase chucked around a lot on this forum because it’s true. Bad news is that food is expensive, especially high protein foods. Anyone seriously into training will find they are spending far more on foods than any supplements yet most never think about how much they’re really spending and would think nothing of picking up the odd packaged meal from their local supermarket for lunch most days.

    Let’s say you wake up and have half a dozen free range eggs bought from Tesco, couple of hours later you might have some high quality complex protein, followed by a chicken sandwich bought from the local shop, maybe another shake after workout, then a nice meal with steak and potatoes for dinner topped up with some cottage cheese before bed. All fairly basic stuff and nothing really that flash. But if you buy this from your local supermarket and don’t choose wisely, this diet could cost in excess of £300/month (that’s only just over £10 a day, or £1.65 a meal if you eat 6 meals a day).

    So here are a few tips that could cut your food bill in half when the time comes to save some pennies. It might be a bit bland but the amount you can save is substantial.

    Top Tips:
    1. Use Protein Shakes – Protein shakes, at least basic whey, is cheaper than solid food, fact. If you’re trying to save money then unflavoured whey is the way to go. This along could save you 50p plus 3 servings a day. That’s £30/month saved right there.
    2. Buy in Bulk – This is important. It’s going to be expensive at first but you can save a packet. Places like Makro, Costco and Westin Gourmet can work out considerably cheaper than the standard supermarkets like Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
    3. Keep it Simple – Don’t buy pre-cooked meat and other meals. That Rustler burger that you got for £1.50 that seemed like a good idea is likely to be twice as expensive as if you made it yourself, plus it’s probably going to be a whole lot worse due to all of the preservatives and E numbers added, and it will taste worse!
    Use Protein Shakes

    Whole foods are generally considered to be superior to protein powders but in reality the differences, as long as you don’t have a big deficiency in something, will be marginal and you’ll be able to progress either way, even with basic whey concentrate as long as it’s consumed regularly. 5kg of whey could set you back £40 but will give you 80 servings containing 50g protein. So that’s 50p a serving. If you wanted the same from protein content from chicken you’d be looking at least 50% extra, and that’s without adding any flavourings to the chicken.

    Buy in Bulk

    Obviously you can’t, or at least probably wouldn’t want to live off shakes the whole time. Not only would it not be good for your health, you probably wouldn’t smell too good either! So for solid food, try to buy in bulk as there are big savings to be had. A box of eggs at a supermarket costs many times more than what you could pick them up for in places like Makro. Last time I checked a box of 60 medium eggs in Makro, set you back less than £5 and even free range eggs are a fraction of the cost of supermarkets. That’s a great source of cheap protein.

    Chicken and other meats are also great value, and generally of a higher quality too. For example 5kg of chicken breasts currently costs less than £20, or £17 if you get them frozen. Fish is cheap too costing around £20 for 3kg of white fish.

    Carb sources are much cheaper than protein but there’s still savings to be had. A big bag of basmati rice and oats can be picked up at half the price of the supermarkets and you can buy giant bottles of olive oil too so that should take care of fats!

    Now you’re probably thinking this is all very well and good but I don’t have a Makro card or similar. It’s true that you need to own a business in order to get a card, at least in theory. But bear in mind they want your business even if you’re just buying meat ever month and they don’t care whether you run a business. I’m a business owner so applied for a card however was in between companies when applying so hoped that an incorporation certificate of a previous company would be good enough. Of course I didn’t tell them the company was no longer still going and they didn’t check! Now I’m not saying try and get a card through legally questionable methods but my point is that it’s really not that hard to get one!

    You could of course always borrow someone else’s card so there’s no excuses ;)

    And as I mentioned there are places online that offer good value meat. Our sponsors Westin Gourmet are very good, as are several other companies.

    Keep it Simple

    You pay a hefty premium for anything that’s already precooked, pre-flavoured or similar. Companies make money by increasing its perceived value more than the actual value. So if you want to add flavouring, buy the flavouring in bulk too and you’ll save a packet by cooking it yourself.

    Buying all of the food in bulk means that it’s going to take up more room in your fridge/freezer and also cost a fair bit initially so that means you may have to be a bit more limited with your food choices. After all, not many have space to store 10kg chicken, 5kg steak, 5kg fish, 5kg sausages, 10kg basmati rice and a box of 6 dozen eggs at once! So you might have to go through periods of eating one or two types of meat at a time, but you can turn the same food into different meals to keep things interesting.
    Buying frozen is often a good move and in the case of veg, will actually be more nutrient dense than the fresh variety anyway. Big value bags are usually the ones to go for unless you have very specific requirements.

    Follow all of the tips above and you could cut your food bill right down. It’s possible to get a diet with 3500 clean calories and 300g protein each day for less than £5.

    Below is a table that will give you a rough idea on cost of some items and show you what you could saving per portion. These were the best prices I could find back in 2010 (and off my own shopping list if the portion sizes seem a bit odd) but should be pretty close:

    Food Type Portion Size Cost (£) Calories Protein (g) Carbs (g) Sugar (g) Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Sodium (mg) Fibre (g)
    Apples Carbs 1 Medium 0.21 61 0.4 14.4 14.4 0.3 0 0 2.3
    Bananas Carbs 1 Medium (118g) 0.09 105 1 27 14 0 0 0 3
    Corn Flour Carbs 25g 0.04 90 0.1 22 0 0.25 0.05 0 0
    Grapes Carbs 50g 0.12 32.5 0.2 7.7 7.7 0.05 0 0 0.35
    Mixed Fruit Carbs 1/3 Tin 0.20 38 0.4 9 7 0 0 0 0
    Natural Yoghurt Carbs 1/3 Pot (167g) 0.26 91.85 9.02 12.69 12.69 0.2 0 167 0
    Oats Carbs 25g 0.05 97 2.13 17.68 0.2 1.98 0.33 75 2.2
    Pasta Carbs 50g 0.05 177.5 6.25 36.5 1.2 0.7 0.15 0 2.6
    Pear Carbs 1 Medium 0.17 42 0.3 10 10 0.1 0 0 2.2
    Rice Carbs 50g 0.08 175 4 38.5 0 0.5 0 0 0.5
    Sweet Potato Carbs 100g 0.14 86 2 20 4 0 0 55 3
    Wholemeal Bread Carbs 1 Slice 0.04 80 4 14.1 1.4 0.8 0.2 100 2.4
    Wholemeal Pitta Carbs 1 Pitta 0.08 145 6.7 26.2 2 1.5 0.2 200 5.2
    Chicken Protein 100g 0.34 110 23 0 0 1 0 65 0
    Cottage Cheese Protein 1/3 Pot (217g) 0.48 173.6 26.47 9.77 4.77 3.23 1.95 434 0
    Egg Protein 1 Medium 0.08 63 6 0 0 4 1 60 0
    Steak Protein 100g 0.50 135 21 0 0 5.2 2.1 100 0
    Tuna Protein 130g 0.48 100 23.5 0 0 0.6 0.2 300 0
    Whey Powder Protein 25g 0.18 98.33 19.67 1.45 - 1.75 - - -
    Cashew Nuts Fat 25g 0.17 149.25 4.03 6.2 1.5 12.05 2.38 0 0.95
    Mayonnaise Fat 20g 0.03 150 0.12 0.28 0.26 16.44 1.36 120 0
    Olive Oil Fat 1 tbsp (18ml) 0.07 119 0 0 0 13.5 1.86 0 0
    Peanut Butter Fat 1 Large tbsp (25g) 0.06 153.75 5.8 3.65 1.3 12.83 2.34 100 1.55
    Broccoli Veg 100g 0.09 24 3.1 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.2 0 4.3
    Green Beans Veg 100g 0.09 27 1.7 4.7 2.1 0.1 0 0 4.1
    Mixed Veg Veg 100g 0.10 35 2.7 4.6 2.6 0.6 0.1 0 3.6
    Reggae Ketchup Flavouring 15ml (2/3 tbsp) 0.06 14 0.13 3.38 2.96 0 0 60 0
    Tomato Ketchup Flavouring 20ml (2/3 tbsp) 0.06 24 0.27 5.85 5.32 0 0 270 0.13
    Pplein, A1243R, Gav and 27 others like this.

  2. Protein Pitstop

    Protein Pitstop Full Member

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    Great info! :)
    Simon likes this.
  3. Andre G.

    Andre G. Full Member

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    thanks this is great!
    Simon likes this.
  4. bulldog

    bulldog Top Contributor Top Contributor

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    Ironically, this is what I'm doing now...

    Icelands are great for cheap eggs (no pun intended) - 15 large eggs are £1.75, 500g lean beef mince that you can cook from frozen - £2.50, Large bag of mixed veg - £1!

    At Tesco, I get 1kg porridge oats for about 70p from memory and 5kg of basmati rice for £6.75!

    Agg into that a cheap protein powder from a bulk supplier and there you go!!

    As I'm struggling for money, this is basically my diet right now, simple but effective!!
    jbs2886, 19tom89 and Simon like this.
  5. 1Tonne

    1Tonne Top Contributor

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    Training Log:
    Click Here
    Couldnt find the other thread regards to offers. I know its somewhere, but brain isnt working.

    Morrisons are currently doing half price on Cod and Turkey steaks. Prob more , but bought what i wanted. Think i got around 3 weeks of evening meals for me an missus (200-250g turkey steak) for about £31. And grabbed a kilo of Cod too as they are good cuts and easy to eat when shes out.

    They do half priced salmon a lot too. Keep eye out if you have one near.
    Gav, Jamie555 and bulldog like this.
  6. pb118

    pb118 Full Member

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    Hi I own a diner in Birmingham I get trade prices on eggs chicken and loads more if anyone in the area b34 I would be happy to help

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    Alan York likes this.
  7. xKayteePooltonx


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    Awesome post :) Definitely shows you can obtain a good diet whilst on a budget! When I started training I realised it was an expensive game with getting food, I always shop at Aldi now with mum and I get everything I need within my budget each week :)

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    Simon likes this.

    FATBOY Age is just a number Competitor

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    5 kilo chicken breast £20
    180 eggs £19
  9. Mikail

    Mikail Formerly AK-26 Full Member

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    I get my chicken and beef every 2 weeks from my local butcher, he does a better deal than all the supermarkets.

    I do the same for fish, I go to the fishmonger and buy in bulk every 2 weeks. As long as they know you will come and buy regularly guaranteed, they will do you great deals.
    But if you don't they get shafted as most of the time they're small businesses.

    For things like oats I use morning foods. I've bought from them once and I've still got loads left. It's a big sack of oats either whole, rolled or milled and it's £20.

    Rice and pasta and other dry good I try and do the same, especially rice as I grab the big 20kg bags.

    Fruit and veg I get from the green grocers in bulk if there is good produce or I just go and buy a few bags of frozen broccoli and frozen green beans from Iceland for £1.50.

    There are loads of bargains to be had and it's fairly easy to eat a good diet with good quality whole foods... You just have to shop around :)

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    CS86 likes this.
  10. Ashley


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    My budget was this the other week for the last few months
    1kg of oats from aldi
    2kg protein lasts me ages,
    10 tins of tuna from aldi
    2.5g of cooked chicken breast matriz
    Bag of Potatoes from sainsburys
    Veg from sainsburys

    But now all im living on is.
    Peanut butter and bagels
    Super noodles
    Odd bit of chocolate

    All from aldi cheap and filling lol

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  11. Muscle Food

    Muscle Food Full Member

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    Can we repost out to MF members in our newsletter?
  12. ndphilly

    ndphilly Full Member

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    Hey bro,just a simple question,kind of the moment money is really low for food diet is usually on point,but lately I gotta go with what I got.I got a whole shit load of these turkey burgers but the fat content is 16grams a burger,I have protein powder to help supplement,but how many of these things can I really eat a day....and when supplementing with the powder I should be consuming carbs as well right,but what kinds?I got a lot of white and brown rice but how many meals can eat that with?u definitely gotta eat big to get big,but let me also say I can't train as hard right now cause of a hand injury.any advice would help

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  13. Con

    Con Moderator

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    Rice you can eat in massive amounts with no issue.
    I would really dab the turkey burgers down heavily after cooking to get as much of the fat out as possible.
    Normally some turkey fat wouldn't be an issue but lets say you eat 10 of these burgers per day that would be 160 grams of turkey fat!

    Buy bulk chicken breast, broccoli, olive oil, oats, whey.
    4 meals of chicken breast, broccoli, rice with olive oil on top.
    2 meals of whey and oats.
    You will be set....can't get cheaper than that IMO.
  14. ndphilly

    ndphilly Full Member

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    That's actually perfect for my budgetone more question lol,I'm at 186lbs,how many grams of fat should I be shooting for daily...

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  15. ndphilly

    ndphilly Full Member

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    I meant budget lol

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    vanman likes this.

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