An athlete’s fridge and cabinets should be stocked full of nutritious, muscle building, healthy foods. The biggest problem with that is the fact that today’s economy does not allow most of us to spend as freely as we used to in order to eat healthily but it’s definitely easier when you budget with a spreadsheet template. It is much harder these days to spend $200 a week on bodybuilding food than it was 10 years ago. Besides, most of us want to squirrel away as much loot as possible so we can retire early.
Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend an hour a day preparing food. I’m not trying to cook a chicken every day for lunch. I don’t have time to whip up a 7 veggie, 2 cheese omelet’s every morning. However, the reality is that we need lots of healthy foods to helps us build muscle and lose fat. That being said, let’s examine how we can eat properly while minimizing the grocery bill and food preparation time.
Here are 22 tips to help you to quickly eat healthy on a budget.
- Whole foods are cheaper and more nutritious than processed foods. Try to stock up on cheap protein sources, as they are the foods that will most likely build muscle rather than be stored as fat. Here are some examples:
- Proteins: frozen chicken breasts, fish in a can, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, whey protein, and milk.
- Carbs: whole grain pasta, brown rice, uncooked oats, beans, fruits, and veggies.
- Fats: olive oil, flax seeds, real butter, natural peanut butter, and assorted nuts.
- Frozen fruits are easy to thaw, and can be eating with yogurt, cottage cheese, or alone as a snack. Store them in the freezer and they won’t go bad, plus they were probably frozen fresh and so they are still packed with nutrients.
- Frozen vegetables are cheap, can be stored for long periods of time in the freezer, and are easy and quick to cook in a pinch. As with frozen fruit, save time with these pre-washed, pre-cut foods.
- Fruits and veggies in-season, are cheaper than any other time of the year. You will also find that food grown in season is more nutritious and tends to taste better. Check this link to find out when certain fruits and vegetables are in season.
- Supplements tend to be cheaper, quicker, and easier, although I have to admit that whole food is better. All the same, use supplements when you’re pressed for time, or if you just can’t afford the whole food version. Here are some examples of healthy supplements:
- Protein Powder: Optimum nutrition protein powder is the highest quality powder that you can get in bulk. I won’t offer a free trial on this one. Just take my word for it and buy Optimum Nutrition, you won’t be sorry.
- Essential Fats: Pharma Omega is high-quality omega-3 fish oil that you can pick up inexpensively online. There are also plenty of options at your local whole-foods store or even Walmart.
- Multi-Vitamins: I found an obscure, pretty tight multi-vitamin that is much better than your hard, white Centrum or generic vitamins that you can buy at Walmart. 12-in-One Soft-Gel Multi-Vitamin has everything you need, so you can fuel your body right with more than 117 nutrients, 72 trace minerals, and 47 fruit and vegetable concentrate. These soft-gels are much easier to swallow than many of the large vitamin pills I’ve purchased in the past.
- Anti-Oxidants: Read this article on the Extreme Acai Berry weight-loss superfood, and I think you’ll be able to understand why this is your best anti-oxidant supplement.
- Generic and store-brand foods are often much cheaper than brand name foods and are often secretly made by the same companies that make the brand named versions. Even if they taste slightly different, make the switch today and you’ll be used to the change within a couple of meals.
- Buying in bulk will save money every time. You will easily find such foods as pasta, rice, oats, and frozen chicken breasts for sale in bulk. Especially look for promotions and sales, where you can get twice as much food for the price of one. When buying online, you will get free shipping and great discounts when you buy in bulk.
- Calorie dense foods are great for gaining weight. Buy foods like whole milk, nuts, potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pasta & uncooked oats because they are filling, healthy and cheap.
- Buy age-discounted foods. After one day, grocery stores often discount bakery goods by up to 70%. After a couple of days, they will discount meat products by the same 70%. Buy several pounds of meat and bread before it reaches its expiration date, and store it in your freezer.
- Local farms or farmers’ markets will sell fresh, nutritious foods. Often when you buy in bulk you’ll get some extra free goods.
- Minimize travel time. Try to buy as much as you can from 1-2 locations, whether that location is online or the local grocery store or the local farm. Often you can order all your supplements and oils online, then get the rest of what you need at the Hannaford’s down the street, picking up some fresh fruits and veggies at the farm stand along the way.
- Filter and mix your own beverages. By filtering and drinking tap water, and by mixing up your own drinks like Crystal Lite and protein shakes, you’ll save a fortune. Bottled water is just glorified tap water anyway.
- Cut and save coupons. You will find them in newspapers, magazines, and on the back of supermarket receipts.
- Grocery stores offer special sales for customers with membership cards. I know for sure that Shaws does this. It only takes about 3 minutes to sign up, so just do it.
- Compare prices of competitive brands by checking the unit price. Often the biggest package by the store brand product will be the cheapest item.
- Plan to lose weight by eating fewer calories. Eat less, buy less, spend less.
- Make a shopping list so that you can shop with a plan. Write down everything you need for your diet, for the next 2 weeks, and buy only those items. Make sure to either shop alone, or shop with someone that shares your commitment to diet and savings. Avoid taking the kids into the store at all costs!
- Never shop hungry as this will make you want to buy items that are not on your list, especially junk food.
- Bring food with you rather than buying it when you’re out. Fast food is bad for you, and healthy commercial food is expensive. By preparing your own food, you can control portion sizes and ingredients. Bring whole meals and snacks too.
- Prepare your food in advance: for the week, all at once; or prepare your food for the next day, at night. You’ll find that you can save time by cooking meat for the week, on Sunday. Use spices and sauces with low carbs to make it all so tasty. Try some of the healthy recipes on Project Swole, or purchase a tight cookbook like Gourmet Nutrition.
- Start a garden! This way you can control chemicals and pesticides, and all you’ll ever have to buy is seeds. Invest in plants and trees that grow veggies and fruit, and you’ll be living well all spring, summer, and fall.
- The ultimate solution: start a farm! Grow all the fruits and veggies you need. Get chickens, pigs, and cows to supply you with free meat, eggs, and milk. Sell the excess food at the market to make money to buy what you can’t grow yourself.
The Harsh Reality
You can follow this list to a T and still end up spending over your budget. Face the facts: if you want to eat healthily you have to pony up the dough. If you don’t have enough dough, it might be time for a second job, a new job, or maybe a new career. If you don’t work, don’t go to school, are not disabled, and you don’t take care of kids full-time, stop reading my blog you lazy free-loader.