You need lots of healthy food to build muscle and stop getting fat. Protein for muscles and bones, carbohydrates for energy, fruits and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and fibre, water to stay hydrated and lastly ‘good’ oils and fats for brain function and mood control.
However our modern diet tends to be high in carbohydrates or sugars and generally leads to weight gain especially from processed foods. Avoid anything that comes packaged as much as possible – aim for fresh food as much as 80% of the time.
1. Buy Whole Foods as unprocessed foods are cheaper and more nutritious than processed foods.
• Proteins. Minced beef, chicken pieces (thighs are cheaper than breast meat), cans tuna or salmon, cottage cheese, plain yoghurt, eggs, milk, whey … Note that eating whole protein with each meal helps with weight loss as protein is more dense and satisfying than other foods.
• Carbs. Pasta, brown rice, oats, potatoes, beans, apples, bananas, raisins, broccoli, spinach, cabbage
• Fats. Olive oil, fish oil, flax seeds, real butter, mixed nuts
2. Buy Cheap Proteins.
• The cheapest sources of protein are canned tuna or salmon, whole eggs, minced beef, chicken thighs, cottage cheese, milk and look out for nuts (avoid peanuts) on special.
• Bonus Tips. Buy generic food. Buy in bulk to get discounts and freeze. The following meal plan gets you over 200g protein per day.
- Breakfast: 3 whole eggs with spinach
- Snack: 200g cottage cheese with apple
- Lunch: 1 can of tuna with bok choy
- Snack: 500ml raw milk and banana
- Post workout: 1 scoop whey with oats & 500ml milk
- Dinner: 150g chicken breast with pasta & broccoli
- Pre bed: 200g cottage cheese with berries & flax seeds
4. Alternatively buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies. Fresh fruit and vegetables are better but when the budget is tight there are benefits to frozen.
• Saves Money. Often half the price of fresh. Almost infinite shelf life when kept in freezer. And you can buy in bulk to get more discount.
• Saves Time. Frozen fruits & veggies are pre-washed and pre-cut, which saves preparation time. Time is money.
• Nutrient Dense. If frozen right when picked, frozen fruits and veggies can contain more nutrients than fresh ones.
Suggestions: Unfreeze berries in microwave and eat warm with cottage cheese. Try also frozen beans & broccoli added to stirfrys.
Put frozen spinach in a colander the night before and try a recipe like this:
Chicken Pasta with Spinach.
- 250g pasta
- 300g chicken breast (or turkey)
- 300g spinach
- Chicken spice, sea salt, pepper
5. Buy in Bulk and buy generic brands. Especially when you have promos running. Foods like pasta, rice and oats are easy to stockpile. If they’re on sale, buy as much as you can afford and store to last you until the next sale. Find 1 or 2 places that get you cheap prices for most foods you need and buy everything there.
• Side of Beef/Lamb. Share with another family or check wholesale butchers.
• Supplements. You often get free shipping and discounts when buying in bulk. Make a 4 month order for you, friends and family and split the costs.
• Frozen Fruits and Veggies. Saves money, saves times and nutrient dense. Buy mixed berries, spinach, broccoli, beans, etc.
6. Buy From Local Farmers. Or farmer’s markets. They aren’t always cheaper, but you get tastier and better quality food and they often give away or sell cheaply what is left if buying at the end of the day.
7. Drink Tap Water rather than bottled anything. Get a filtered water jug for your tap water. It’s cheaper than bottled water, soda or orange juice.
8. Avoid Impulse Buying. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to prepare yourself before you do the grocery.
• Make a List and Stick to It. Plan your meals ahead, including portion size. List all foods you need for the next 7 to 14 days. Go the grocery store, get what’s on your list and get out.
• Eat Before You Go Shopping. This prevents buying foods not on your list because you’re hungry. Eat a solid meal before doing the grocery.
• Shop Alone. Prevents impulse buying from wife/husband and/or kids. Leave them home. Take them to more fun places when you get back.
9. Stop Buying Food Outside the Home - Prepare Your Own Food. Preparing your own food gives you total control over the ingredients and is cheaper than buying food at work/school. Cook all your meals for the day on waking up or before going to bed. It takes 30-40mins, saves you stress about what you’ll be eating the rest of the day and you eat healthy while saving money.
• Learn to cook and take Food with You. Food containers for work/school, protein shakes (whey, oats and water) for the gym, bag of nuts when you go to the movies
• Eat Before Leaving Home. Eat breakfast, eat before doing the grocery, eat before going out with friends/family
• Stop Buying Processed Food. Buy oats instead of cereals, make home made breakfast bars, home made tomato sauce, home made pizza
• Keep it Simple. Make double portions, take leftovers with you, use cans of tuna and mackerel, rice and pasta, frozen veggies
10. Grow Your Own Food. Cheaper than frozen, tastes better and you control what you put on them to keep bugs off. Plant your own trees that grow berries, walnuts and apples. Buy chickens for free eggs and meat.
• No Dig Gardening. Build a raised bed with straw, create holes, fill with compost and plant into these holes directly.
• Container Gardening. Grow vegetables in containers on your balcony or doorstep. Great for green veggies such as lettuce, spinach and kale
• If you live in the city try to find a local community garden. If you don’t have a yard, some cities rent garden plots.
Healthy and Budget do go together if you approach it seriously, plan and stay focused.
(Thanks to Stronglifts.com)