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Bar-Gains! | How To Build Muscle on a Tight Budget

Bar-Gains! | How To Build Muscle on a Tight Budget

If you’re reading this, then I am sure that you are either a college student or someone who is curious about how someone can eat enough foods to allow proper muscle growth, whilst on a tight budget. I have heard people say all the time, “I’d eat to get big but it’s too expensive”.

This is FALSE. I am a current college student and I don’t have the luxury to spend excessive amounts of money on food to help with my bodybuilding career. However, one thing I have learned is how to buy the right foods and how to avoid the foods that aren’t going to help me reach my goal.

Figure Out Where To Shop!

My local grocery stores consist of Walmart and another local grocery store. The first thing I usually do is find out who has the better deals for the week, which usually is Walmart. I try to look online at the local Walmart’s grocery deals and specials of the week. The foods that I try to focus on are ones that are a great source of protein, fats and carbs. The best selection of foods for the cheapest prices are:

how to build muscleOats

These are a great source of carbohydrates and excellent for breakfast or in a protein shake. In 1/3 cup serving of oats it contains roughly 100 calories, 3g of fat, 16g of carbs and around 4g of protein. Oats are very slow digesting source of carbs, so they will help keep you full much longer when compared to easier breakfast choices, such as cereal or pop tarts. A large container of store brand oats costs around $4 or less and will last around 2 weeks, or a scoop of Instant Oats can last a little longer for $7.


how to build muscle

Chicken breast is often referred to as a staple in a bodybuilders diet. My local store sells boneless skinless chicken breast at $1.99/lb, although this is a great deal already, sometimes I am able to find boneless skinless tenderloins for $1/lb, which is one of the best deals I can find on meat. Chicken breasts are a great source of protein. With the average 8oz of chicken breast containing around 45g of protein, 5g of fat and 0 carbs. This choice is great for trying to gain muscle mass and avoiding adding on any extra body fat due to excess carb intake. A 5lb package of fresh chicken breasts usually costs around $10 and will last an entire week of meals.


how to build muscle

Eggs are without a doubt one of the best sources of protein available to anyone. A single large egg can yield around 80 calories, 6g of protein, 5g of fat and less than 1g of carbs. This is one of the bodybuilding superfoods. A dozen eggs at the local store costs around $3 a dozen or less, however Walmart does sell a large 60-pack box of eggs and it costs around $10. That many eggs is enough to make around a dozen meals, each meal averaging to under $1 per meal.


how to build muscle

The next food I consume a lot of is bananas. The reason is that 1 large banana contains around 100 calories, less than 1g of fat, 1g of protein, and around 25g of carbs. This is a great food product to help you feel fuller for a longer period of time and contains a large amount of carbs to help with energy. Bananas are also known for their high levels of potassium, at average containing well over 400mg of potassium in a single medium sized banana. Potassium is helpful for maintain nerve and muscle functions in the body. I usually try to buy 7 whole bananas for the week, costing around $0.60/lb, so a week’s worth usually is around $1-2 at most.


how to build muscleNext on my grocery list is milk. When trying to build muscle, I try to focus on drinking around ½ a gallon of 2% milk per day, split up among my meals as I please and in my protein shakes. Milk usually is my most expensive item on my grocery list, with a gallon costing around $3 per gallon. Although it can be a little expensive, it goes a long ways considering the benefits milk has to offer. Buy 3 gallons for the week and it will add up to around $10 or less, depending on where you buy from.


how to build muscle

Lastly we have rice. Rice is a huge staple in every bodybuilders’ diet due to its high amount of carbs it has to offer. Rice is also the cheapest form of carbs we can find – with pasta being right along the same price range – a large 10lb bag of rice usually will cost around $3-5 and can last for well over 2 weeks. You can never go wrong with buying rice and I strongly recommend eating it for your carbs. Rice also has its benefits, such as being a great provider of Vitamin B1, calcium, Omega-3, Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as fast and instant energy. 1 cup of steamed white rice contains around 4g of protein, 200 calories and 45g of carbs.

Take-Home Message

By sticking your diet to the staples listed above and shopping smarter, I promise you that you will easily be able to afford a diet like this, which will help provide you with all of the basic and essential nutrients needed to grow to gain size as you need. A typical grocery store trip for all of these foods, when shopped correctly, can average around $50 or less – even supplements can be well-priced, especially during Black Friday.

Although this might seem a little high, when you do the math, at 7 days a week and 4 meals a day, this averages out to less than $2 per meal. Incorporating protein shakes into your diet for that extra bit of protein as needed can.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Logan Berman

Logan Berman

Writer and expert

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