Tip: How to Make Trashcan Chili

Follow these simple steps and make a muscle-building meal that tastes so good you'll forget it's good for you.

Canned Chili Sucks

Here's a little nutrition rule to keep in mind:

When large food manufacturers prepare your food, they're going to replace a lot of healthy ingredients with really cheap crap and charge you more for the convenience.

Take chili for example. It's inexpensive, it's fast, it's simple, and it can be made with stuff that supports your fat loss goals and fuels muscle gains. Yet most people buy it in a can. What's wrong with that?

Canned chili makers often add sugar, flour, soy, MSG, inflammation-causing oils, hydrolyzed corn, and corn syrup. Oh, and the meat is usually of the mechanically separated variety. You know, grisly scraps they used to reserve for pet food. So just make it yourself.

Basic Chili

Bean Chili

Most chili recipes start with the same base: meat, tomato sauce or canned tomatoes, beans, and chili powder. You can have a lot of tasty fun with it after that. My favorite variation is called trashcan chili, and it's basically a leftover user-upper. This isn't a recipe really, more like a template. You really can't mess this up.

Trashcan Chili: A Template

This is "volumized" chili, meaning we're going to pack it full of nutritious stuff that really fills you up.

  1. Brown some fresh or frozen onions in a big pot. Use spray coconut oil, avocado oil, or just olive oil in a pinch.
  2. Brown 1 pound of ground meat. Go with quality beef, turkey, bison, or chicken. Within those choices, you can use grass fed, extra lean, or whatever your carnivorous heart desires.
  3. Add a can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Check the ingredient list and don't use it if see sugar or added oils. Get organic if you'd like, but that doesn't mean they don't throw in some organic sugar and junky fats. No need for either.
  4. Add two cans of beans, drained. Try kidney beans, black beans, pinto, garbanzo beans, or whatever is handy. Use two different types.
  5. Raid the spice cabinet. You'll definitely want chili powder, salt, and pepper. Garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin are awesome. No spices on hand? Throw in whatever hot pepper sauce or salsa you have in the fridge.
  6. Now raid the vegetable bin or freezer. Toss in a handful of spinach (fresh or frozen), bell pepper strips, okra, squash, and damn near anything else. This is an easy way to sneak in more nutrition, even if you dislike veggies. It's also an easy way to clean out your fridge of odds and ends. Got a leftover carrot? It goes in. A quarter bag of frozen zucchini? Into the pot it goes. A slice of cold pizza? Yeah, don't use that.
  7. Add water or stock to thin it out if needed. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker it'll get.

Depending on how many veggies you add, you'll get 5-6 meals out of this.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram