Gains for your Wallet: Bulking on a Budget

bulking-dietLet’s talk nutrition for a minute. Healthy eating is associated with purchasing costly “whole foods”. Is it really necessary to fork over hundreds of dollars each week to eat food that’s healthier? Is it possible to eat meals that don’t break the bank and provide our body with quality nutrients?

Of course it is!

On Shortcut to Size I’m required to consume about 3,700 calories/ training day and 3k calories on rest days. This breaks down into:


  • Protein: 2,110g
  • Carbs: 2,250g
  • Fat: 630g
  • 23,110 Total calories a week!

That’s a lot of food!

And I love my food! Sure I can muster up the discipline to eat only boiled chicken and rice every day for weeks on end but why would I do that when I can cook delicious healthy food on the cheap! Take a little trip with me to my local grocery store and see what sort of foods we can get with our bulking budget.


By far protein is the most expensive part of the bulking diet. I am the farthest thing from a vegetarian so let’s head straight for the meat department! I let the weekly sales determine my meat choice. This week chicken and beef was on sale so I grabbed 5lbs of chicken and 3 lbs of 73/27 ground beef for a cost of 17 bucks! When cooking beef with higher fat, strain and paper towel dry the meat. The fat cooks out and you can minimize your fat intake.

I love that iconic Rocky scene where Sly slurps downs 5 raw eggs before his morning run. Eggs eggs eggs, a bodybuilding staple! 6g of protein per eggs! I’ll have 3 whole eggs and 3 eggs whites every morning so let’s grab 4 dozen. You do lose some of the protein by cutting out the yolk but you the fats drop down to almost 0g/egg!

Finally, before bed I like to give myself a slower digesting protein such as casein. This study shows casein before bed will better provide protein synthesis and absorption while I sleep and repair my sore muscles. Cottage cheese is my go to choice. 4.5lbs of low fat cottage cheese get in my cart!


Blah blah blah whole grains… I’m sure you’ve heard it all before whole grains are better than simple carbs. While this is commonly accepted I’m personally still on the fence. Luckily, I love rice quinoa, oatmeal, flax-seed bread, sweet potatoes and all the other “clean” carbs so typically I eat clean anyways.

I’ll start my morning off by getting my carbs up with a slow digesting carb oatmeal. It’s quick, filling, and provides you with sustained energy. One tub of oatmeal should last me 2 weeks so I’ll be ahead of the game next week.

For this week, I’m honoring America’s birthday. I’m going full on poor man’s meal… All American Idaho grown potatoes!! An 8lb bag for 4 bucks!? Yes please! I love potatoes! Mash them, bake them, microwave them, scalloped.. Like Bubba loves his shrimp, EG loves his taters!

Potatoes are so versatile… I’m not even sure I needed another carb but I grabbed 2lbs of whole grain noodles just to be on the safe side! Noodles, beef and pasta sauce are a quick and easy meal that has a great macro count.

The rest fill with fruits and veggies! I prefer bananas and broccoli but feel free to substitute your favorites. As a rule of thumb, the greener the veggie the better it is; Spinach, broccoli, or romaine would be better than iceberg corn and peas. For the budget bananas are cheap and I can buy broccoli in bulk.


To be honest I don’t worry too much about fats. Since I buy my meat by sale prices I find that I get enough fats from my meat. My personal preference tends to keep my fat count low so if I need an extra boost nuts are a great choice. For this budget bulk, Peanuts were on sale. I also grabbed a tub of peanut butter to eat with my bananas. It’s a delicious afternoon snack. Almonds or walnuts would have made a great alternative.


Bulking Budget

I went into the store shooting to spend around 50 bucks. I overshot my goal slightly with a total spending of $61.50, still almost 20% less than the average Americans spending of 75.25/week/person not including going out to dinner! This will cover 7 days’ worth of home cooked meals plus some of next week’s food too!

What I’m trying to prove is that eating healthy and almost twice the daily recommended calorie intake doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars a week at Whole Foods. If you look for sales, clip coupons, and shop around I have no doubt in my mind that you can beat my numbers!

Bulking Diet

Plugging everything into myfitnesspal see that I am pretty darn close to where I needed to be. Strictly the food without any protein supplement we get:

  • Protein: 1,719g
  • Carbs: 2,220g
  • Fats: 667g

Supplementing with protein powder per Shortcut to Size’s nutrition guide gives us:

  • Protein: 2,094g
  • Carbs: 2,280g
  • Fats: 682g
  • 23,600 Calories in total

Pretty damn close if I do say so myself. Fats may be slightly higher than I’d like but trimming fat and straining my meat should help reduce that and if I add in some extra protein I’ll be right on the money since I’m down 15 grams for the whole week (2g/day)

Let me know some of your favorite healthy foods to prepare! Do you have any questions about the food choices I made? How do you keep healthy food fun and tasty in your kitchen? Leave a comment in the section below!


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