One of the most frequent questions I’ve been getting asked lately is how can I sustain a healthy diet for performance and recovery that won’t break the bank? This is a great topic, and honestly one that I’ve given tons of thought to as the cost of groceries and eating has sky rocketed over the past 3 years. I came up with a short list of ideas as a baseline to focus on.
1. Plan your meals in advance
Planning your meals in advance will not only help from a dietary perspective of sticking to what you said you were going to eat, but it will also ensure that you avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store, or impromptu Uber Eats deliveries or expensive meals out. All of these extras add up. I challenge you to go through last months credit card bill and tabulate all of your “last minute” meals or deliveries and add those up to see how much you spend on unplanned meals.
2. Buy in bulk
When it’s possible buy in bulk. Stores like Costco, Walmart, and other big retailers have a wide array of healthy produce and protein items which can be bought in bulk at a cheaper rate. Especially for non-perishable items like rice, beans, and oats.
3. Look for sales and discounts
Admittedly so I’m guilty of not doing this. I really only spend money on food and travel, but for those that have more expenses, searching for discounts is a great way of saving money as well. One of my favorite ways of saving is purchasing frozen fruits and veggies which have a very similar nutrient profile, but last far longer and are much cheaper than their fresh counterpart. If I can afford it, I’ll always buy fresh because I prefer it, but frozen fruits and veggies are a great option for budget shopping.
4. Cook at home
Cooking at home will always have the dual added benefit of not only saving on expenses, but also saving on calories. I can produce a gourmet quality healthy meal for well under $10 at home. That same meal would easily cost double or triple that at a restaurant. This is why I plan my nights out in advance and usually limit them to 2 dinners per week.
Since the optimal diet is protein centric (in my opinion) opting for cheaper sources of protein such as ground turkey, organic chicken breasts and chicken legs are a plus. You can usually get several pounds for under $30 which is meal prep for the week. If you’re a red meat fan like me, you can buy grass fed organic ground beef in bulk at stores like Costco or Wegmans for under $9.00 per pound. This might be more of a splurge item for those on a budget but still something to consider.
Finally, don’t waste food! Use leftovers to make new meals such as lunch or dinner for the next day, or freeze them for later use.
Using some of these tips to plan meals in advance, and shop at the right places for the right ingredients, there is absolutely no reason that a single person cannot procure enough healthy food for a week for well under $100. The typical shopping list to accomplish something like that would include:
– 3lbs of chicken breast and legs
– 1lb ground beef
– 1 dozen Pasture Raised Eggs
– 10lb bag of White Rice
– 4-6 Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes
– Assorted Frozen Fruits and Vegges
The above list can make a multitude of healthy combinations for those looking to make gains on a budget. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach me here.
- Coach Chris