Muscle on a Budget 1

10 Ways to Feed Your Muscles When You're Broke

If you want to pack serious muscle onto your bones, you need to
eat need massive amounts of good food. But good food costs
serious money, right?

I hear this all the time from my friends, and even here on the
forums: "I know I should eat right, but I'm a poor college student,
and I just can't afford it." Well, let me just say that's bullshit. I happen to be a poor college student, and I'm on
a pretty tight budget, too, but I believe I've solved the
difficult diet equation that many of us have to grapple

x - muscle building food = < 0

(x = money)

(That, by the way, is the only math appearing in this
article. I promise. Don't run away.)

Below is a list of the foods we need, copied in part from my
friend Dr. John Berardi's Lean Eating:

Muscle Food

Lean meat/poultry (90% lean meat, chicken, turkey,


Dairy (cottage cheese, low-fat string cheese)

Healthy fats (fish oil, mixed nuts, olive oil, flax seeds,

Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, greens

Fibrous fruits (apples, grapes, pears, blueberries, other

Oatmeal/other whole grains

Green tea

Protein powders (casein/whey blends, whey)

That's a pretty basic list, and keep in mind I didn't cover
all the supplements you might be taking (such as Surge or Power
Drive). So how do we get everything on that list into our
refrigerators and cupboards, and ultimately into our bellies,
without breaking the bank?

Ten Ways

1. Clip coupons from the Sunday paper

Yeah, I agree, this sounds pretty lame, but your mom has the
right idea when it comes to stretching the grocery money. I
regularly find coupons that save me twenty dollars or more at the
supermarket. Look at it this way: if you plunk down a two buck
investment to buy a Sunday newspaper at the newsstand, you'll find
you can realize ten- or even twenty-fold profits by using the
coupons buried within the folds of the paper. Of course, if you
live at home and your parents have the Sunday paper delivered, your
investment is free, but you have to be quicker than your

2. Buy Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually around half the price
of what they would be if they were fresh. Frozen fruit is
especially good in super protein smoothies. My favorite is 2 scoops
Strawberry Low-Carb Metabolic Drive, 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries
and 1 serving of berry Greens Plus, all frappe'd together in the
blender. A big mixed bag of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
goes for about two dollars, and you can sometimes get two bags for
three bucks.

Berry, berry good

The best tasting frozen vegetables are spinach, green beans, and
broccoli. Frozen fruits and vegetables are almost always fresher
than those found in the produce section because they're flash
frozen the day they were harvested.

One word of caution: avoid like the Bosu Ball any frozen
vegetables that steam right in the bag in the microwave. Sure, it's
quick and convenient, but it's also a great way to get a full days
supply of xenoestrogens in every serving. Read Naked Truth:
Xenoestrogens then ask
yourself whether you ever want to eat nuked-in-the-bag veggies
again. I don't.

Bad, unless you're into xenoestrogens

3. Buy discounted meat

Many grocery stores heavily discount meat by 30 to 70% as it
approaches its expiration date. Buy a few pounds and throw it in
the freezer, taking it out as needed. The only downside is that
sometimes you get one of those irresistible spur-of-the-moment meat
cravings that just won't wait for you to defrost a pound of ground
round. I usually deal with this problem by getting three or four
4-packs of 90% lean ground beef, and keeping one thawed for that
day's protein fix. The Foreman Grill is, of course, always standing

Indispensable item for satisfying those sudden urges for hot
grilled flesh.

It's a bit of a pain in the ass, but a good idea anyway, to take
the meat out of its styrofoam package and put it into ziplock
freezer bags. Freezer burn is not something you want in your

4. Buy the store brands

Most store brand products are just as good as their brand name
counterparts, and they'll always be cheaper. This applies to
almost all food purchases, such as eggs, fresh and frozen bagged
vegetables, cottage cheese, milk, and nuts. You can save even more
money with store brands because stores often put their bands on
sale, and sometimes even offer two-for-one specials. I'm always
buying two-packs of green beans for three bucks or

5. Join the store's customer card program

Two of the three cards in my wallet that get the most use are
grocery store membership cards. Many times stores will hold
"members only" sales, which are only available for holders of the
customer cards. There's no excuse for not having a card because
it's free and you can sign up in under five minutes. And some
stores' cards not only save you money, they give you
money, usually in the form of a gift certificate once you've
reached a certain spending level.

6. Shop at Wal-Mart and Target

I know these two stores aren't exactly famous for the high
quality of their food, but when it comes to things like eggs,
Splenda, non-stick cooking spray, and other little things, you can
save 35% or more. It's also worth knowing that Wal-Mart has started
carrying more organic, farm-fresh eggs, and other products, and
still they're dirt cheap.

7. Shop at organic foods stores

"Organic food" is becoming as popular as the Atkins Diet in the
media, and stores like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, and Wild
Oats have enjoyed a surge in popularity as well. These stores have
great organic products at great prices, so if you have one of these
stores near you, make it your first stop when shopping for

A light snack, courtesy of Trader Joe's

8. Shop for food every three days

If you have the time, this is your best option for saving money.
Why? Because you don't have to re-buy food that has gone bad from
sitting around unused in your refrigerator for a week and a half.
Yes, going grocery shopping twice a week is a bit of a pain in the
butt, but the food in my fridge is always fresh, so it's worth

9. Shop at the wholesale stores

Another great way to save money is to buy in bulk. Bulk eggs,
spinach, dried fruit, frozen vegetables, dried or frozen anything,really. If you have a lot of cupboard and freezer
space, then this option has your name written all over it. Just
compare prices first, and be sure you're actually getting a
discount. Sometimes all you're doing is paying three or four times
as much to get three or four times as much. Just compare volumes
and prices, and buy whatever ends up cheaper (okay, so I lied.
There was a little more math in this article. Sue me).

10. Order your supplements in big shipments

I always purchase my supplements in one huge order every
few months. I do this not only to get volume discounts,
but also because some places, like the online store here at T-Nation, offer
free shipping for orders over a certain amount.

Just dodging the shipping cost can save you up to 50 bucks per
order. The online store has special offers as well, like the recent
deal for Creatine
. Of
course, these offers tend to be on a "you snooze, you lose" basis,
so make sure to jump on these, and stock up while you have the

The other benefit of this method is that it reduces the risk of
getting ready to attempt a new personal deadlift record, only to
find you're fresh out of Spike Shooters. This should
never have to happen.

So what are you waiting for? Go

There you have it, my ten secrets for getting good grub on the
cheap. If you faithfully follow these methods, you may find your
wallet fatter, your body happier, and your muscles growing better
than ever before. If you have any tips of your own, be sure to
share them in the article discussion section.