How To Build Muscle As A Vegan On A Budget. Penny Pinching Gains.
Building muscle requires food, lot’s of food.
That means calories, carbs, proteins, and healthy fats.
That comes to almost $40,000 a year!
Now I highly doubt you need to purchase and consume that much food, but if you’re going to build muscle, you need to be eating multiple times a day. You might even call it a part-time job.
There’s a common stereotype that a vegan diet is expensive. While this is far from true, sometimes you might not have all the cash in the world to spend on your nutritional and fitness goals.
No problem, here are some tips and tricks you can utilize in order to still make some solid vegan gains, even if you’re pinching for pennies.
Buy In Bulk
One of the oldest tricks in the book. For any business or individual who wants to save on money, buying in bulk is the way to go.
Getting a discount on purchasing large volumes is something many supermarkets offer. You just need to know where to look.
For example, rice is a great bodybuilding food, and it’s usually very cheap. But if you want to save money, purchase the large 10 or 20 pound bags.
It might seem crazy buying that amount of rice, but you won’t need to buy rice for months after that!
You can buy a 20 pound bag of rice for as low as $10 at some stores.
Now, it’s unlikely you’ll find food like this in such volume at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. You’ll have to go to Target, Walmart, your local Asian supermarket, or online.
At the end of the day, you can use this technique for multiple different products, not just rice.
- Dried Beans
- Nuts and Seeds
- Peanut Butter
- Protein Powder
Pretty simple, a lot of foods will have different volumes. Peanut butter will come in large or small tubs. Notice how the larger tub is only a little more expensive?
That’s because you’re getting a discount for purchasing more!
It might be tempting to go with the smaller cheaper option, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you purchase the larger tub.
Fruits are a fantastic food for bodybuilding.
Not only does it improve your overall health but they aid in your recovery from the gym.
Sadly, fruits are expensive even in small quantities. They also have a short shelf time as they go bad fairly quickly.
Even if you purchase fruits that are not yet ripe, you’ll only have a few days to eat them.
That’s why I always buy my fruits frozen!
Frozen fruits carry the same nutritional value, are much cheaper, and last forever!
You can get a large package of mixed berries at Whole Foods for only a few dollars which will last you as long as you want.
You can buy one small plastic container of raspberries or blueberries for $5.99 and it’ll last you two days.
As soon as a product has a brand attached to it, the price goes up.
Go generic and avoid purchasing branded food products.
This may be difficult since nowadays almost every company wants to slap their name on a product so customers can associate with their brand.
Regardless, if you’re buying food, always try and purchase it as is, rather than in branded packaging. (This is also healthier for the environment, since packaging uses lots of plastic.)
It’s usually much cheaper to buy fruit like bananas in the fruit section rather than purchase multiple packages of dried banana chips or other banana products. (It’s also much healthier too.)
This goes for vegetables, dried foods, and vegetables.
Tip: Always check prices first. Sometimes branded products will be cheaper! I can buy bulk dried mango from Whole Foods for $9.99 a pound but can go to Trader Joe’s and get one pound of packaged dried mango for $6.99
Extra Tip: If you do buy branded products or food, try to buy the generic or supermarket brand! These brands are usually the exact same as the large company brands but for a few dollars cheaper.
Another great tip to save money is by purchasing foods dry.
Beans and lentils, a fantastic source of protein for vegan bodybuilders, are available at Whole Foods and other supermarkets in bulk dry form.
You can fill up as much of your bag as you want and you pay by the pound.
Purchasing beans dry gives you the best bang for your buck.
You can get a 1 pound of dried beans for only a few dollars and which results in over 12 cups of beans after cooking.
The other more expensive way is to buy beans that are in a can and “ready to eat” which will only give you around 3 cups and will cost you around $4.00.
The only difference is that you’ll have to soak and cook the dry beans, which means more preparation time.
That being said, “ready to eat” canned beans are filled with salt and nowhere near as healthy as preparing your own dried beans.
So purchase dry beans and you’ll save money and reap the healthier benefits!
Less Steps To The Shelf, The Cheaper
Similar to purchasing foods that are dry and not yet prepared, it’s best to buy foods that take less preparation time for the companies to get it on the shelf.
For example, I can buy “ready to eat seitan” for $5 which will give me one meal. The company had to make the seitan from scratch, cook it, preserve it, package it, and ship it to the supermarket. That’s why so little seitan is so expensive, there’s a lot of steps involved!
I can buy a package of “Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten” for $6 and prepare my own seitan at home!
I’ll get 10 times more seitan out of preparing it from scratch and for way cheaper! Not to mention it’ll be way healthier and last me all week!
Cook From Scratch
Pre-made meals are expensive.
I know you may be tired from a long day but eating out or buying meals that are “ready to eat” are going to cost you.
TV dinners, frozen breakfast foods, frozen pizzas, will run up your grocery bill.
Cooking from scratch is also much healthier and tastier.
If you do buy meals that are ready to eat, do so sparingly.
The Nutrition Label
Some foods may or may not be worth the price based on what nutritional value they’re offering you.
Sometimes you’ll find a better deal!
For example, Trader Joe’s offers their own brand of Tofu, both which retail for the same price.
But one of those tofu is “extra firm” while the other is just “firm.”
The extra firm tofu offers 10 more grams of protein and 100 more calories. As a vegan bodybuilder I know which one I’m buying.
For the same price it’s a no brainer to take the ‘extra firm!’
This goes for all foods!
Check the nutritional label and really think if it’s worth purchasing for the price!
Is there a better deal somewhere else?
Grow Your Own Food
If there’s one thing I wish us humans did more of… it’s gardening.
Gardening is a fantastic hobby that gives you a sense of pride and worth.
But if you’re looking for more practical reasons, gardening is a fantastic way to save money.
Fresh produce and vegetables can be expensive, no matter the grocery store.
Not to mention, who knows all the pesticides, chemicals, and hormones that have been added to your food.
Some of the foods you see in grocery stores look so unnaturally bright and colorful.
You should really look into where your food comes from and what they’re doing with it…
That being said, it’s probably best you look into starting your own garden if you haven’t already.
You can save money by growing those muscle-building and recovery foods such as:
Best part is that everything you grow is all natural and free from pesticides and chemicals! (At least I hope you’re not adding that stuff.)
Stick To The List
If you’re bodybuilding, you should know exactly how much food should get you through the week.
Once you know this, make a list of all the foods you need.
But be careful, once you go grocery shopping…
STICK TO THE LIST!
It’s easy to get caught up searching every aisle of the grocery store for new foods.
But the more you see, the more you’ll end up purchasing.
Grocery stores are designed to make you purchase more.
So if you’re on a budget, stick to the list and only go the aisles for the products and food you truly need.
Extra Tip: Don’t shop while you’re hungry! You’ll end up buying so many things you don’t need!