It can seem tricky sometimes to keep your fridges full of quality, high-protein food when you're on a tight budget. Throw in a tub of protein powder, any supplements you may be taking, gym costs, and all the new shirts you have to buy because your arms are getting too big and you may find yourself wondering if you can even afford this new lifestyle. But not only is it possible to bulk up on a budget, it will probably even help you.

1. Set priorities: If your money is running out and you're serious about putting on weight, consider dropping something else for a while. Putting on muscle takes commitment and a strong work ethic. You're devoting a lot of time in the gym so don't make sacrifices when it comes to nutrition. Put it at the top of your budget list.

2. Write it down: Take some time to figure out exactly what you need to succeed. Set your daily protein requirement and plan out your week in advance. You'll stay ahead of your needs, and it will be easier to keep track of exactly what's entering your fridge and your mouth.

Cheap foods can be nutritious: After shopping on a budget for a while, you'll discover that some of the least expensive foods are often the best for you. Buying whole, unprocessed foods is easier on the wallet than buying pre-made meals or eating out. It's also better for your health. Whole, unprocessed foods are lower in sodium and other preservatives, have higher nutritional content, and less sugar. You may also learn to cook as an added bonus.

Foods For Bulking Up On A Budget Slideshow



Eggs should be the staple of your protein intake if you're not concerned about dietary cholesterol. If you are, you can always switch to egg whites. An egg contains around six grams of protein, and a dozen cost around three dollars. You can look for trays of 30 for even more value. Eggs are also high in vitamins and a good balance of the different types of fats.


Canned Fish

A small can of tuna can fill you up with about 30 grams of protein and can be had for around a dollar. Don't limit yourself to tuna. If you like the taste of fish, canned salmon is more expensive but also contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Other good choices are sardines, mackerel and herring.



It turns out that priced per gram of protein, whey is one of the least expensive sources. It can cost anywhere from forty to fifty cents for 30 grams of protein depending on how much you purchase at one time. You can make a tub of whey your first purchase when a paycheck comes in.



In the cost category, milk falls somewhere between eggs and protein powder as far as value. If you can tolerate the lactose, don’t be afraid to add a hearty dose of milk to your daily diet. It’s also high in vitamin D and calcium. If you’re afraid of the fat, go for skim milk, but if your interest is weight gain, whole milk will provide you with an abundance of mass-building calories.



Red meat and chicken are the heart and soul of bulkers everywhere. They are complete proteins, filling and delicious, and luckily not as expensive as you think. While it's on the higher end of the cost spectrum, you can fit a significant amount of meat on even a small budget. Check for sales whenever you can. If meat is about to turn, the grocery store has to lower its cost, sometimes dramatically. Buy meat in bulk and freeze it to get a better deal. Boneless chicken may cost more, but you're also not paying for the weight of the bone. Learn to check the unit prices on nutritional labels and find the best deal.



The cheapest source of protein by weight, beans are also packed full of fiber and are a good source of carbohydrates. Overall, they are a great food choice for someone looking to put some size on without breaking the bank. They are an incomplete protein, but more on how to fix that below.



High-protein foods should also contribute your need of dietary fat. The good news is the most expensive portion of your budget is already finished. Round out your diet with inexpensive carbohydrates. Combine rice with your beans and the foods will work together to become a complete protein, providing your muscles with essential amino acids. On its own, rice is high in vitamin B and is a great source of starch and energy. A huge bag of rice will last you a couple of weeks. Fill your pantry with a few other staples like potatoes, yams and oatmeal, and you should have plenty of fuel available.


Fruits And Vegetables

Of course, don't miss out on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. They're full of vitamins, fiber and can help round out any meal. Look for produce in season to save money. If you live near a farmer’s market, buy your produce for the week there. Avoid packaged produce. It may be a little more convenient, but it comes with a price.



By treating whey as a food and not a supplement, you may of course leave this area empty. If you've met your nutritional needs and still have some cash left over, you can add in inexpensive supplements like creatine and a multivitamin. As you gain more control over your budget, slowly add other products you may like to try.

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You don't have to be rich to get huge. You just need to make a plan and stick to your guns. Hit the grocery store with a strategy.

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