Bulking on a Budget: Cheap Bodybuilding Recipe Ideas

Who doesn’t love eating? I know I do, and it’s a large reason why most guys even work out in the first place.

If your strength is stagnating or you’re not gaining the mass you have hoped, maybe it’s time to start bulking. Bulking is when you eat over your daily maintenance calories in a way to gain weight, which also means muscle (and the dreaded fat gain).

You’ll also have a much better chance of increasing your overall strength on a caloric surplus. Bulking is eating at a caloric surplus to gain weight. If done successfully, the fat gain would be minimal. There are reasons why you’re not growing, read my other post on Why You’re Not Growing.

The fun part: grocery shopping. You’re going to be eating a lot more food, which means buying a lot more food. Having said that, your grocery bill will most likely double or even triple (depends if you’re rich enough to buy organic). Bulking shouldn’t be so expensive, but it’s not easy.

There are many different types of lean protein to choose from, never mind vegetarian options as well. The typical bro diet you’ll come across is boneless, skinless chicken breast along with white rice or sweet potatoes. Depending on where you live, that is one of the most expensive forms of chicken. It’s a very lean cut of meat, as opposed to a fattier chicken. It’s more processed (in a good way) which is why it has a higher price tag.

The easiest way to bulk is to stick to staple foods and alternate the protein and carbs for variety. You’re also a lot more inclined to eat healthy if you have meals ready to go in the fridge. Check out my Guide to Painless Meal Prep, it’ll make your life a lot easier in the long run.

Still with me? Now let’s jump into the best bulking on a budget recipes.

Potatoes + Ground Beef

Potatoes: 77 calories/100g

Ground beef (75% lean): 293 calories/100g

Apart from the next recipe, this is pretty much the cheapest meal you can make that is full of delicious carbs and protein. Potatoes are a rich source of low glycemic index carbohydrate, that contains a potent amount of potassium. Plus, you have choices of colour! Meals are even more depressing to eat if it all has the same colour (thanks middle school cooking class).

You’re bulking so you can afford the standard ground beef, non-lean. Most ground beef is 30/70 fat:protein ratio, versus 5/95 for extra lean. You’re going to get more fat which is an excellent way to increase your calories. Another suitable option is lean ground pork. Similar protein content, more or less fat content, but usually less expensive than beef. 

Rice + Beans

White rice: 150 calories/100g

Kidney beans: 330 calories/100g

These are literally the two cheapest items you can buy in general. I can’t stress this enough, this is most likely the cheapest food item you can purchase at the grocery store. Entire civilizations were fought over rice and beans (I don’t know about that, but it’s probably true). The fact that both of these ingredients come from third-world countries says something.

Easy to adjust carb vs protein ratio, and also vegetarian friendly, this should be a staple of your diet if you’re on a strict budget.

You can opt for whichever least expensive rice is on sale, as well as either ground beef or pork. Stay away from high-end retailers, rice is and should be cheap. Visit a local ethnic supermarket instead, you’ll find a much better deal there.

Beans pack a punch with a high amount of protein and fibre, something that you should get a large amount of. Multiple shapes, from the kidney to garbanzo, there’s a bean out there for you.

Oatmeal + Eggs

Oatmeal: 68 calories/100g

White egg: 50 calories/each

If you’re a normal human being, you most likely enjoy having breakfast food for dinner. There’s something comforting about eating breakfast food for dinner that you just can’t place your finger on. The best part is that it’s super easy to make.

Oatmeal, like potatoes, is a low glycemic index food. What that means is that it’s less inclined to spike your insulin. Eating high glycemic index food can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which is bad for muscle growth.

Easy to dress up too, you can cook your eggs scrambled or sunny side up, or even in an omelette. If you’re going the omelette way, this is a great time to add more ingredients. You’re bulking, let’s add in some fattier cuts of meat like honey ham or delicious breakfast sausage.

Wrapping up, these recipes will give you an idea for easy-to-make bulking foods. Easy to modify and change to your taste, you just can’t beat staple foods. When you’re bulking, the amount of food you’ll be eating is immense (or at least should be ) compared to when you’re cutting. Don’t be afraid to keep eating, within reason of course, rather than leaving gains on the table.