Author Topic: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?  (Read 21826 times)

drachma

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Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« on: June 02, 2014, 01:50:30 PM »
I am a 175lb male engaged in a lot of athletic training. As such, my dietary requirements are in the neighborhood of:

2500cal / day
180g protein
80g fat
260g carbohydrates

actual calories can go a lot higher than that but extra calories are made up with usually more carbs (add another scoop of rice or boil the rice with butter melted in; very low cost.) carbs and fat are cheap. the trouble is the high protein requirement. I also eat a lot of vegetables.

this is a pretty typical diet of anyone involved in bodybuilding, lifting, or other athletic endeavors.

I can get this down to 250/month for one person, but I need your help to get it lower!

1 week Grocery list -

Code: [Select]
boneless skinless chicken thighs 3 lb 2.00 /lb $ 6.00
london broil steak 3 lb 3.00 /lb $ 9.00
rice (bulk; weekly cost) 1 mo 15.00 /month $ 3.60
can black beans 4 can 0.70 /can $ 2.80
sweet potato 5 lb 1.15 /lb $ 5.75
frozen vegetables 6 lb 1.00 /lb $ 6.00
fresh vegetables asst $ 5.00
cottage cheese 2 tub 2.50 /tub $ 5.00
bananas 5 0.35 /lb $ 1.30
eggs 1 doz 2.00 /doz $ 2.00
protein powder 6 srv 0.69 /srv $ 4.13
beer 1 doz 10.00 /doz $ 10.00
fish oil 18 cap 0.03 /cap $ 0.59
multivit 6 cap 0.11 /cap $ 0.66
BCAA 6 srv 0.03 /srv $ 0.18
KITCHEN STAPLES ??? ??? $ 5.00 ???

TOTAL $ 67.01
Monthly TOTAL $  268.04
I have a hard time quantifying kitchen staples since I buy them in bulk and not very often. Things like butter, oil, flour, basic spices. Good to have on hand, and cheap even if they don't make it into my diet every day (or even every month). Maybe I'll try and separate out these items over the next 6 months but maybe this isnt the part of my budget to spend much energy quantifying as it already seems like all cheap stuff.

I don't particularly care to pay more for organic or free range or gluten free or any of that. Whatever's cheap. This is about as cheap as I can go here, the only ways I can think of to get lower are:

1. watching for coupons/sales, buying in bulk and freezing
2. buying dried beans, but no matter what I try I can't get them to come out smooth. my ROI on a $60 pressure cooker at $.70/can is something like 9 months... probably not worth it.
3. shopping around... i have already found the cheapest average cost grocery store for the things i buy and i get my runs done in < 20mins now. buying at different stores would require more driving and much more PITA
4. drop the beer. don't be silly, now.
5. or is this about as low as it gets without sacrificing grams of protein?


need some mustachian suggestions for optimizing my food budget!

apfroggy0408

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2014, 02:00:50 PM »
Not too bad. I'm at about $250 a month for food only on my powerlifitng food, this will eventually go up once I've stopped cutting and the trainer starts adding calories in. I average much higher protein intake though so you might be rock bottom on costs here.

I strictly eat non fat greek yogurt, store brand pb, ezekiel bread, apples, spinach, canned diced tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, chicken, milk, and EVOO.

I average about 1.44 lbs of chicken a day. $1.88/lb from sams.

Sebastian

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2014, 02:12:22 PM »
IMO you don't need that much protein. I used to follow the 1g/protein per body weight back in the day as well, but it's kinda bs...

I'm sure all the bros will come out and tear my head off for saying that but yeah... I still see gainz without that much protein as I'm a vegetarian now a days and there's no way I'm eating that much.


So just cutting down on some meat in itself will lower your cost by a ton.

Quark

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2014, 02:14:04 PM »
LOL wut? ;)

I am a 5'5 150lb 27yo female who bikes/walks/works out on playground equipment and my tdee is ~2900 Cals. (In other words I'm not an athlete)

I don't have advice on grocery shopping or foods sorry, I admit to spending way too much money at Whole Paycheck to eat. I just wanted to comment and tell you to Eat Some Moar Food! :)

Chuck

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2014, 02:29:55 PM »
LOL wut? ;)

I am a 5'5 150lb 27yo female who bikes/walks/works out on playground equipment and my tdee is ~2900 Cals. (In other words I'm not an athlete)

I don't have advice on grocery shopping or foods sorry, I admit to spending way too much money at Whole Paycheck to eat. I just wanted to comment and tell you to Eat Some Moar Food! :)
Seriously though. I'm 175 trying to get some modest gains (not competitive in the slightest) and I am eating close to 3500.

How the hell can you hope to gain on only 2500 a day? Do you sit in cryogenic stasis in between meals/gym??

SU

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2014, 02:37:46 PM »
For me, eggs are one of the best and cheapest ways to get protein (and yours are super cheap). I eat about 21 a week (3 per day), usually in an omelette but they're also snack size and come in their own handy container. For example, I'd pack a boiled egg and steamed vegetables with olive oil to eat after training. I suggest boiling a few at a time (don't ask me how - I can cook most things but I have no idea how to properly boil an egg) and using them in place of snacks and immediately after working out. Plus I ignore any warnings about cholesterol and eat both whites and yolks.

nereo

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2014, 02:43:11 PM »
overall I think you are doing a good job, and any of this will seem nit-picky, but since you are literally going after a dollar or so per day...
First, your protein consumption is much higher than mine ever was, even when I was an NCAA athlete.  I don't bodybuild though...
I've never used protein powder - but I've never wanted to 'bulk up'.  Eating 6lbs of animal protein/week I question why you'd need it.
Rice seems expensive to me - I just got a bag (15lbs?) at costco for $9.  Also keep learning how to prepare dried beans.  I soak them overnight and then they;re good to cook the following morning.  no pressure cooker required.  If you do want to go the pressure-cooker route, I seem to find one every single time I go to a flea-market, usually for under $15.
Personally I'd drop the fish-oil - the scientific literature on it is mixed at best for someone eating healthy.  Multivitamins are also only useful if you aren't getting something through your normal diet.
if you're willing to make a slight change, switch from cottage cheese to home-made yogurt.  Each quart of homemade yogurt costs about $1-1.50, which I'm guessing equals your 2 tubs of cottage cheese for $5.
I'm not going to suggest that you give up alcohol, but instead of beer, you might want to find something more economical.  MMM did home-made cider, but I found this article to be particualrly interesting:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/business/alcohol-buzz-per-buck/index.html
at least in VA boxed-wine and middle-shelf vodka/gin cost far less than even the cheapest beer.  This can vary wildly from state to state or country to country.

Finally, for variety you may find joining a CSA for produce can get you a variety of things for less than what you'll pay in-store.  Ditto for buying 1/4 or 1/2 a cow and freezing it.  The last time I went in on a 'cow-share' I think my price-per-pound was around $2.60 for just over 200lbs of meat.  I had a lot of ground beef but also lots of steaks and chops, etc.



drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2014, 03:27:51 PM »
to both of you: i said in the post that calories can go a lot higher, but protein much more than 180 is pointless even if i am eating 1500 more calories. i am cutting at -1.5lbs/week right now (right on target average loss for this month), so ~750cal defecit. this puts my maintenance cals at 3250-3500. when i was bulking i needed over 4000cals before i stopped bothering to track.

but thats all beside the point. cost optimizations given the constraints?!

@Seth if you quantify your gainz and training regimen w/ low protein i'd be happy to hear. but since you are not tracking your intake/weight it will be hard to make any quantitative conclusions. i've worked at 150g a day, might save $5/week.

@nereo Great suggestions. thank you.
* only reason for protein powder is its (1) a low cal snack pre-training that doesnt upset my stomach and (2) cheap source of protein in terms of g/$. but i might be over on the protein anyhow. next week i'll cut back to 150g, after a while of that maybe we'll see how 120g goes.
* yogurts a great idea, i heard you can skim the fat? i will probably need to to hit my calories/protein while cutting.
* i am already a purveyor of the "bargain whiskey" bin sometimes in place of beer. DIY cider/mead I would drink, but honestly i'd rather not drink than have any variety of plastic jug vodka or gin. and i like gin! I'll find some decent stuff on sale next time.
* good catch on the rice, i made a mistake in calculating. i get 20lbs for $20, the amont i eat works to 1.80-2.00/week, not 3.60. i may hunt around for better deals.
* i have thought on a cow-share but the only ones ive found are the free range/organic ones which worked out to $4-6 per lb. It's cheap for organic/free meat but not the cheapest solution. i also dont have a chest freezer, but if I found a cowshare that saved me money I would certainly start calculating my ROI on one.
* im kind of there on the fish oil but i supplement it when cutting since my fat intake is already low
* beans, well... I'll try... I have soaked overnight, i've double-cooked, no luck. got about a pound left for another attempt.

@SU definitely good call on more eggs. next week I will build more of these inexpensive morsels into the plan. i'm with you on cholesterol, heres a few sources about dietary cholesterol. TLDR; eat eggs. http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i  http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/a-primer-on-dietary-fats-part-1.html

« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 03:33:40 PM by drachma »

Sebastian

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2014, 03:33:01 PM »
drachma, i actually use to be OCD about it with my fitness pal. my dad thought i was nuts weighing out every ounce of my food lol.

i didn't realize you were cutting either... having that higher protein will actually help keep ya satiated and help retain the muscle (but you probably already know that).

honestly i stopped doing the whole "bodybuilding" thing because it is just so expensive to maintain :( more power to you to try and do this in an MMM kinda way!

one random thought too... have you ever thought of competing? if you won you'd probably get sponsorships to supplement companies and get free protein then you wouldn't have to worry about spending any money :)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2014, 03:37:16 PM »
Since protein is the most expensive, you need to get that sorted out first, then whatever calories remain you can get from cheap sources like rice and peanut butter.

Around here, this is how much protein costs:

cents/gram
2.18 Milk
2.22 Cottage Cheese
0.76 Lentils
3.40 ON Whey
3.12 70/30 beef
2.00 Eggs
2.10 Chicken thigh
1.79 Chicken breast
2.91 Tuna

Joggernot

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2014, 03:46:09 PM »
Hard boiled eggs...I eat at least 4 a day.

Put one layer of eggs in a pot that has a lid.  My pot holds 12 eggs.
Cover with water to about 1/4" over.
Add lid, set pot on burner, set burner to high.
Bring to boil.  My pot/burner combination takes 12 minutes to boil.
Turn off burner.  Don't move pot.  Set timer for 5 minutes.
When timer beeps, dump the hot water and add cold water.  Wait 5 more minutes.
More water and they are ready to eat or refrigerate.

drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2014, 04:30:32 PM »
@Seth
I used to count every day as well, it did drive me nuts. Now I guess I still count but I just figure out a whole weeks worth that meets my requirements once at the beginning of a cut or bulk phase. Then I just buy exactly that each week for a few months. I don't worry about the occasional holiday/work luncheon (comped of course)/few too many beers.

Also I wouldn't say I'm a BBer I just borrow their eating techniques for better body composition. I actually train for climbing. 175 is about as big as I ever intend to be, can't argue with more strength per lb though. Never want to try and maintain a lean 220 or anything, even if I could that'd be crazy expensive

@krieg that is an insightful analysis but for the MMMer I believe that total calories/$ is another dimension to optimize. Also I'd love to get all my pro from lentils but gotta have some variety. Maybe later tonite I'll do that for my list. Also, rice and beans are a complete protein and I bet they top the list for g/$. Or at least get close to lentils. Are lentils complete?

griffin

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2014, 05:49:35 PM »
@krieg that is an insightful analysis but for the MMMer I believe that total calories/$ is another dimension to optimize. Also I'd love to get all my pro from lentils but gotta have some variety. Maybe later tonite I'll do that for my list. Also, rice and beans are a complete protein and I bet they top the list for g/$. Or at least get close to lentils. Are lentils complete?

This article suggests that all proteins are complete proteins once you get above a certain amount of protein intake
http://www.schwarzenegger.com/fitness/post/the-protein-bible-part-1-introduction
Quote
If you are worried about complete or incomplete proteins, don’t be. To summarize briefly, we need a bare minimum of amino acids to live. Different proteins have different amounts of these amino acids. A protein is considered “complete” when, if taking only the bare RDA minimum, that protein will give you all the amino acids you need.


Since we are recommending taking 1.5g/kg of protein, worrying about complete vs incomplete is a waste of time. All the incomplete proteins become “complete” when you are taking 3 times the ridiculously low RDA. Keep your protein levels solid and you don’t need to worry about that.

nereo

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2014, 06:00:13 PM »
@drachma - if your beans are still not cooking right, you might have bad beans.  Even dried beans can go bad/stale - bad beans stay crunchy even after soaking overnight and hours of cooking.
I'd suggest going to a mexican market and picking whatever the popular brand of dried bean is (worry about price next time) and then try soaking and cooking those.  My guess is they'll cook up just fine.
You can also have problems if you have very hard water - the calcium in hard water keeps the beans from becoming tender.  You can use distilled water to solve this problem, but it seems kind of silly to use 50˘ of water to soak 25˘ of beans for a $2 meal...

DollarBill

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2014, 06:19:04 PM »
Please add some beano to the diet I can smell it from here (eggs, beans, tuna, whey)...maybe it's just my dog. Ahhh hahaha :)

Rezdent

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2014, 06:29:14 PM »
I'm not BB anymore but I used to use nonfat powdered milk instead of protein powder unless I was actively cutting.  At that time it was MUCH cheaper in bulk, even when I bought the better brands of instant.  Since I added eggs and a fruit to it I didn't notice a difference in taste.

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2014, 06:57:01 PM »
If you just replace some of the rice or other carbs with lentils (or to a lesser extent, beans), you'll up your protein, and can then decrease the animal protein commensurately.  There are many types of lentils, so you can get some variety while still eating them frequently.

Also, think about cooking whole chickens or turkeys - often under $1/lb.  The day after Thanksgiving I picked up a few turkeys for 39 cents/lb.

Pork can also be quite cheap.  Frequently $1.99 for boneless pork loin, which is pretty lean protein.  Chuck roast sometimes also gets pretty cheap, but if you're getting London broil for $3/lb, that's probably about as good as you'll do for maximizing the protein/$ on a beef cut.

PindyStache

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2014, 08:36:47 PM »
I will give you a QUINOAAAAA CHOP!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2014, 09:47:39 PM »
I don't keep track of protein, but my maintenance requirements are between 4000-5000 (endurance cycling, not competitive...yet). I eat a small fraction of the meat you do.

I am part of a family of 5, but altogether we spend $500-$600 a month. This includes fancypants free range meats and stuff. My primary source of protein is eggs, some cheese, high-protein carbs (oats, bread with high-protein flour, flaxseed added to smoothies).

Nuts aren't cheap, but at Costco/Sam's they are reasonable, and pack a lot of protein.

I feel better when I eat less meat, but more varied diets. (Big salads with lots of stuff in them, smoothies with the kitchen sink mixed in).

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2014, 09:52:00 PM »
Bone-in, skin on thighs are far tastier. I stockpile bones in my freezer to make stock. Even if you're not a big soup person, it can add a ton of flavor to rice or lentils.

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2014, 06:55:44 AM »
Why is your fat consumption so low?  Particularly when I was involved in competitive athletics (Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Judo, Boxing, Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments) getting a fair amount of fat in my diet was a priority.  Eat lots of good fats (nuts, olive oil, avocados, etc.) before training and yI guarentee you'll feel a difference.  Hell, even the 'bad' saturated fats aren't really that bad for athletes . . . they increase your testosterone levels which helps in muscle recovery and development, they strengthen your immune system, liver, lower your triglycerides, and positively effect your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

I've found that milk, eggs, almonds, yogurt, and cottage cheese end up being the cheapest sources of good quality protein . . . supplemented with lots of vegetable proteins (various beans, lentils, soy stuff, etc.)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 06:59:35 AM by GuitarStv »

apfroggy0408

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2014, 06:57:09 AM »
The hardest part for me when trying to do a cost reduction on my monthly groceries is changing food types since I've had such great success with the foods I currently eat.

Would hate to change something up for the sake of saving money then come to realize the food choice isn't an efficient substitute, therefor costing more in the long run!

drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2014, 09:37:17 AM »
Bone-in, skin on thighs are far tastier. I stockpile bones in my freezer to make stock. Even if you're not a big soup person, it can add a ton of flavor to rice or lentils.

I did the math on my boned, skinned thighs which I was using and found hardly any savings. the weight lost to the bone/skin offset the price increase of boneless-skinless variety to within just a couple cents a pound - this was a case of it actually not being worth my time to save 12 cents a week skinning chicken. Can't afford the skin calories while cutting, but during a bulk or maintenance phase I definitely buy the bone-in, skin-on variety.

Why is your fat consumption so low?  Particularly when I was involved in competitive athletics (Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Judo, Boxing, Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments) getting a fair amount of fat in my diet was a priority.  Eat lots of good fats (nuts, olive oil, avocados, etc.) before training and yI guarentee you'll feel a difference.

lots of trial and error. Less than 40g and I don't feel well. Much more than 50g and I don't get enough carbs to have energy when I work out. I do a lot of cardio. Again, when I gain I add fats back in first thing.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2014, 10:00:18 AM »
Replying to follow. My son -not a body builder- requires a diet high in animal protein and low in starches to minimize symptoms of autism, etc, and we definitely need help reducing the costs!

drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2014, 12:33:49 PM »
Doing some investigation:

nutritiondata shows http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4405/2 that lentils provide pretty much a complete protein. This is fantastic news, even given the above linked article from Ahnold that complete proteins dont matter once you are above a certain amount of complete protein.

Furthermore, there are 3 metrics that concern the frugal athlete in terms of food selection. I have identified these as:

1. protein per dollar (g/$)
2. calories per dollar (cal/$)
3. protein per calorie (g/cal)

That last one is what concerns me on a cut.

So, I took my diet and calculated these metrics (see OP).

1. (190 g * 7) / $67 = 19.8 g/$
2. 2500 cal * 7 / $67 = 261 cal/$
3. 190 g / 2500 cal = 0.076 g/cal

So, we can evaluate the usefulness of foods in the diet by comparing their 3 properties to my current overall diet breakdown (190g protein per 2500 cal at $67/week or $9.57/day)

Lentils, for example, have the following nutrition data per 200g serving

662 cal
48g protein
$0.44 / serving

(The cheapest I can find them on Amazon, just for academic purposes, is $20 for 25 lbs, or 9000g = $0.44/srv. I assume I can find them IRL for much cheaper)

thus,

1. 109 g/$ (0.9c / g)
2. 1504 cal/$
3. 0.0725 g/cal

to compare to a composite of rice & beans (also a "complete" protein):

rice per 100g:
cal 365
pro 7

can black beans per 100g:
cal 91
pro 6

I combine at 135g rice to 283g bean ratio
composite:
cal 492+257 =  749 / 418g
pro 8.1+19.8 = 27.9 / 418g
$0.68 / srv

1. 41 g/$ (2.4c / g)
2. 1100 cal/$
3. 0.04 g/cal

Rice and beans, the so-called cheap staples, fail on all three metrics! nobody explained to me what a wonder-food lentils are!

Code: [Select]
Per serving $ cal pro g/$ cal/$ g/cal
eggs 0.167 77 6 35.9 461 0.08
steak 3 753 100 33.3 251 0.13
cottage 0.833 163 28 33.6 196 0.17
chicken thigh 0.44 119 20 45.5 270 0.17
whey 0.69 120 25 36.2 174 0.21
rice & beans 0.68 749 28 41.0 1101 0.04
lentils 0.44 668 48 109.1 1518 0.07
sweet potato 0.252 86 2 7.9 341 0.02
bananas 0.077 89 1 13.0 1156 0.01
beer 0.833 177 0 0.0 212 0.00

please excuse the formatting. tables r hard

since protein is approx. 4 calories per gram, the max "g/cal" of any food would be 0.25 indicating pure protein. whey is closest.

so it turns out, lentils beat everything at everything. a diet of lentils and eggs would be almost perfect macronutrients.


SOOOOOO

my next step is to re-work my diet plan for next week and come up with a predicted cost savings. then I'll try a new, lentil-heavy diet and see how i feel throughout the week during training. if I feel good, this could become my new thing unless I start to notice adverse effects from it after a while.

whos got good lentil recipes?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 02:46:56 PM by drachma »

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2014, 01:24:52 PM »
I have two recommendations.  One would be to look into whole chickens.  They are fairly easy to cook and the carcass can be used for stock.  They can be done in a slower cooker during the day, or oven/grill if you have 90min.  Most meats that contain bone will be cheaper.  I usually go with pork/beef ribs or whole chickens.

The other would be to look into liquid fish oil.  Caps are way more expensive and most brands you need 8 or so to actually get sufficient amounts of DHA and EPA.  Sometimes the taste can be a bit much to handle, but mix it with something acidic and it is masked fairly well.  I mix it with my last sip of coffee in the am.

amicableskeptic

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2014, 01:29:42 PM »
Good thought on lentils being cost effective drachma, Post Punk Kitchen has a bunch of great lentil recipes.

http://www.theppk.com/2011/05/ancho-lentil-tacos/
http://www.theppk.com/2010/12/olive-lentil-burgers/
http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/snobby-joes/

Also if you just want high protein at low cost you might consider buying Vital Wheat Gluten in bulk and making seitan with it.

You can get a 50 lb bag of wheat gluten for $90 (maybe less if you search more but I just quickly found this at http://shop.honeyville.com/vital-wheat-gluten.html).  One of the pics on the link there has nutritional info that I'm assuming is from the 3 lb can they offer.  This can has 45 servings with 140 cals and 26g of protein each.  This means that 3 lb can has 26*45 = 1170 g of protein in it, and thus the 50 lb bag will have 26*45/3*50 = 19500 g of protein total for just $90 so 9000/19500= 0.46 cents per gram which is even cheaper than lentils if you're just going for protein.

Here's a basic seitan recipe that shows how easy it is to turn this stuff into food (http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes_detail.php?rid=1155).  You can replace the spices they have with whatever you want and make it taste the way you like or further cut price by not seasoning it at all and just powering through the taste (not recommended).  The key thing I've found is to make a bunch of seitan as described in the recipe and store it in your fridge, then either bbq a piece, or fry it, or do some other final cooking stage to give it some crispness on the outside before serving.

MidwestGal

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2014, 01:56:44 PM »
This was a very timely post, I'm slowly getting back into lifting during the break before classes start again.  Finding budget-friendly food items and recipes had always been a challenge for me in the past.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2014, 03:26:15 PM »
Lentils are pretty incredible. I keep forgetting I have them in the kitchen this time of year, but they make good (not great) tacos and tend to get added into all of my cold-weather soups/stews/whatevers.

Emg03063

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2014, 03:56:38 AM »
You can get a pressure cooker for $15-$20 on Craigslist, and a 9 month payback is totally worth it, but I'm guessing you didn't factor in energy savings in that ROI calculation, which will make it pay back even faster.  You can do lentils in minutes in one, and beans come out fully cooked with ease.  Much better than canned, IMO.  I like your analysis, btw.

http://earlyretirementextreme.com/a-tribute-to-my-pressure-cooker.html

drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2014, 05:29:39 AM »
@emg yeah i did not figure energy savings. too hard to estimate for me right now. i've been hunting goodwill and flea markets. will definitely be worth it if I add more lentils etc. to the diet.

----------------


okay, so using optimal food suggestions from this thread I have devised a new, apparently meatless, cost-efficient diet:

daily: 2400 cal / 295 carb / 60 fat / 186 pro

400g raw lentils - $1.36
5 eggs - $0.28
2 cups homemade yogurt, full fat - $0.36 (estimated using price of milk @ 2.50/gallon)
1 large banana - $0.14
1 scoop whey - $0.69

Totals:    $2.83 /day     ;      $19.81 /week     ;     $84.90 /month

Adding in stuff from the old list that I wont give up, such as vegetables, supplements and kitchen staples

$102.33 /month

Finally, alcohol (which I don't count the calories for...)
Let's assume some kind of homemade hard cider, since that sounds appealing right now. What is raw cider these days, $4/gallon? I doubt I'd drink a gallon a week but lets use that as an assumption.

$ 106.33 /month
$ 26.58 /week
$ 3.54 /day


Metrics:
1. 52.5 g/$
2. 677 cal/$
3. 0.078 g/cal

Wow. I did not expect to see this much of a drop. This would be almost the most cost efficient diet I can think of. It is 2.5x more cost efficient and keeps the same protein! I doubt I will go entirely meatless but this just shows what is possible. I can easily cut my meat consumption in HALF (grudgingly... just for the $$$).

Can I handle 400g lentils per day? is getting almost all of ones protein from this source advisable? Will my cubemates have to don hazmat suits? I don't know but I'm going to find out. Wish me luck.

My target was <200/month but it looks like I can achieve 150/mo even with a fair amount of meat. This really is amazing. Now it's up to me to match the theory with the practice.

I think my target meal will be a healthy helping of spinach dal over a smaller amount of rice with some chicken on the side.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 07:37:43 AM by drachma »

drachma

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2014, 10:02:51 AM »
Last thing - recipes and options

Spinach Dal w/ chicken & rice


creatine - 39.70 / 2000g --> 5g/day --> $0.09/day
Since I am not eating red meat I would start supplementing creatine again.

2500 / 289C 77F 175P

300g lentil - $0.66
1 lb frozen spinach - $1.00
4 tbsp butter - $0.25 ??
Onion, pepper, garlic - $1.00 (per meal, x14)
90g dry rice - $0.19
1 lb chicken thighs - $2.00
indian spices - $0.05 (real cheap from indian grocer)
creatine supplement - $0.09

TOTAL       $5.24 /day    ;   $36.68 /week    ;    $157.20 / month


Metrics:

1. 33.4 g/$
2. 477 cal/$
3. 0.070 g/cal

This still includes a whole pound of meat every day.
The trouble with lentils is that, while high in protein, they are also high in carbs. So you can't also have rice, fruit, etc. without replacing some of the lentils with a higher g/cal protein source such as meat.

Solutions:
homemade seitan
eggs
homemade yogurt

assume:
seitan = wheat gluten 1lb / $8.70 = 4 cups = 4lbs of prepared seitan. using nutrition for "westsoy" seitan
yogurt = 1 gallon milk = $2.50 / 128oz. Assume 128oz of milk = 128oz yogurt. using nutrition for "chobani" 8oz yogurt. this is probably lower than the real cost.




2520 cal / 284C 70F 197P

300g lentil - $0.66
1 lb frozen spinach - $1.00
3 tbsp butter - $0.19 ??
Onion, pepper, garlic - $1.00 (per meal, x14)
90g dry rice - $0.19
200g seitan, homemade - $0.96
8oz skim yogurt, homemade - $0.15
5 large eggs - $0.83
indian spices - $0.05 (real cheap from indian grocer)
creatine supplement - $0.09

TOTAL   $5.12 /day    ;    $35.8 /week    ;    $153.6 /month

This replaced the chicken ($2.00/day) but with virtually no cost change.
This is because the cost of homemade seitan, eggs, and yogurt are not too different from chicken.
If I skipped the seitan and made 4x the yogurt it might be more effective. but i really really enjoy a "meat like" texture in my dishes.

For now I am happy with a pound of meat a day and saving over $100 a month on my bill. if that works out I'll optimize further.


Another No-Meat option... getting cheaper!

2520 cal / 290C 70F 197P

300g lentil - $0.66
1 lb frozen spinach - $1.00
3 tbsp butter - $0.19 ??
Onion, pepper, garlic - $1.00 (per meal, x14)
90g dry rice - $0.19
16oz skim yogurt, homemade - $0.30
6 large eggs - $1.00
indian spices - $0.05 (real cheap from indian grocer)
creatine supplement - $0.09

TOTAL   $4.48 /day    ;    $31.36 /week    ;    $134.4 /month


Half Meat Option (0.5lb/day)
needs some tweaking... too much P not enough F

2520 cal / 296C 57F 213P

300g lentil - $0.66
1 lb frozen spinach - $1.00
3 tbsp butter - $0.19 ??
Onion, pepper, garlic - $1.00 (per meal, x14)
90g dry rice - $0.19
24oz skim yogurt, homemade - $0.45
1 large egg - $0.16
0.5lb chicken thigh - $1.00
indian spices - $0.05 (real cheap from indian grocer)
creatine supplement - $0.09

TOTAL   $4.79 /day    ;    $33.53 /week    ;    $143.7 /month

Welp that's all I'm good for. I'm quibbling over $10 theoretical dollars a month, and its probably in the noise since my estimates are likely flawed somewhere. And how much soupy yogurt I want to eat. It's really hard to get under $130/month without doing straight, plain lentils, eggs, and yogurt/milk. You likely start to approach the average commodity price of pure protein.

spinach dal with chicken and rice is absolutely acceptable and sounds quite delicious actually.


Kriegsspiel

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2014, 11:21:09 AM »

@krieg that is an insightful analysis but for the MMMer I believe that total calories/$ is another dimension to optimize. Also I'd love to get all my pro from lentils but gotta have some variety. Maybe later tonite I'll do that for my list. Also, rice and beans are a complete protein and I bet they top the list for g/$. Or at least get close to lentils. Are lentils complete?

You can easily eat a lot of calories very cheaply, if those calories don't come mostly from protein. Cheap protein sources usually have tag along carbs/fats (usually carbs). Therefore, figure how how much of your "protein foods" you need to eat to hit your daily protein goal, without going overboard on calories. Obviously this applies when you are eating below maintenance, rather than trying to put on weight or maintain a high activity level. That is why I said to figure out your protein first, then add in the remainder with cheap calories.




DoctorOctagon

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2014, 11:45:07 AM »
Buy a shit ton of quinoa in bulk, the stuff is a complete protein with higher nutrient/protein than brown rice.

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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2014, 09:07:34 PM »

Can I handle 400g lentils per day? is getting almost all of ones protein from this source advisable? Will my cubemates have to don hazmat suits? I don't know but I'm going to find out. Wish me luck!

If your diet is too musical, soaking the lentils in water with a little acid (vinegar or lemon juice is what I use) adds flavor and helps take some of the indigestibles out. No need to soak as long as beans, but even an hour helps quite a bit.

HSLmom

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2014, 09:29:41 PM »
I used to add lentils half and half to ground beef in chilis, taco 'meat', even meatloaf.  The ex wasn't impressed, but I thought it worked well.

For beans when cooking, try adding baking soda one pinch at a time, if it foams, add another pinch, until it stops foaming.

I sprout lentils to add to salad and make into lentil burgers, but that might be too high maintenance for you.

Rudem3

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2014, 10:52:39 AM »
Intermittent Fasting works for me. Fasting for 16-20 hours a day with only water/coffee really saves $ on breakfast and lunch. Dinner is for wholesome food like steak, frozen veggies and eggs. Cheap stuff for the most part.

FastStache

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2014, 12:43:42 PM »
I am a 175lb male engaged in a lot of athletic training. As such, my dietary requirements are in the neighborhood of:

2500cal / day
180g protein
80g fat
260g carbohydrates

actual calories can go a lot higher than that but extra calories are made up with usually more carbs (add another scoop of rice or boil the rice with butter melted in; very low cost.) carbs and fat are cheap. the trouble is the high protein requirement. I also eat a lot of vegetables.

this is a pretty typical diet of anyone involved in bodybuilding, lifting, or other athletic endeavors.

I can get this down to 250/month for one person, but I need your help to get it lower!

1 week Grocery list -

Code: [Select]
boneless skinless chicken thighs 3 lb 2.00 /lb $ 6.00
london broil steak 3 lb 3.00 /lb $ 9.00
rice (bulk; weekly cost) 1 mo 15.00 /month $ 3.60
can black beans 4 can 0.70 /can $ 2.80
sweet potato 5 lb 1.15 /lb $ 5.75
frozen vegetables 6 lb 1.00 /lb $ 6.00
fresh vegetables asst $ 5.00
cottage cheese 2 tub 2.50 /tub $ 5.00
bananas 5 0.35 /lb $ 1.30
eggs 1 doz 2.00 /doz $ 2.00
protein powder 6 srv 0.69 /srv $ 4.13
beer 1 doz 10.00 /doz $ 10.00
fish oil 18 cap 0.03 /cap $ 0.59
multivit 6 cap 0.11 /cap $ 0.66
BCAA 6 srv 0.03 /srv $ 0.18
KITCHEN STAPLES ??? ??? $ 5.00 ???

TOTAL $ 67.01
Monthly TOTAL $  268.04
I have a hard time quantifying kitchen staples since I buy them in bulk and not very often. Things like butter, oil, flour, basic spices. Good to have on hand, and cheap even if they don't make it into my diet every day (or even every month). Maybe I'll try and separate out these items over the next 6 months but maybe this isnt the part of my budget to spend much energy quantifying as it already seems like all cheap stuff.

I don't particularly care to pay more for organic or free range or gluten free or any of that. Whatever's cheap. This is about as cheap as I can go here, the only ways I can think of to get lower are:

1. watching for coupons/sales, buying in bulk and freezing
2. buying dried beans, but no matter what I try I can't get them to come out smooth. my ROI on a $60 pressure cooker at $.70/can is something like 9 months... probably not worth it.
3. shopping around... i have already found the cheapest average cost grocery store for the things i buy and i get my runs done in < 20mins now. buying at different stores would require more driving and much more PITA
4. drop the beer. don't be silly, now.
5. or is this about as low as it gets without sacrificing grams of protein?


need some mustachian suggestions for optimizing my food budget!

That seems like way too few calories if you are really active. I found the about 1.25 grams/lb to work well if you really hitting the weights hard. if you working out three days a week then do what you are doing. If you are hitting the weights hard 6 days a week then you are severely undereating.

A lot of people call different things bodybuilding and lifting, so that is why some people call bs on the 1 gram/lb rule.

griffin

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2014, 04:44:28 PM »

That seems like way too few calories if you are really active. I found the about 1.25 grams/lb to work well if you really hitting the weights hard. if you working out three days a week then do what you are doing. If you are hitting the weights hard 6 days a week then you are severely undereating.

A lot of people call different things bodybuilding and lifting, so that is why some people call bs on the 1 gram/lb rule.

It seems pretty reasonable, in terms of calories. The IIFYM calculator ( http://iifym.com/tdee-calculator/ ) puts his TDEE at 2730 (I assumed OP is 23 and 5'11, since I didn't see these things mentioned). Also, OP says above that he is cutting currently. I believe many people grossly overestimate both their TDEE and how many calories they eat each day (which does, I suppose, tend to balance itself out).

Also, there has been very little research done on diets that go above 1g of protein per pound of body weight. 1g/pound should be fine.

Daisy

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2014, 05:35:38 PM »
Good thought on lentils being cost effective drachma, Post Punk Kitchen has a bunch of great lentil recipes.

http://www.theppk.com/2011/05/ancho-lentil-tacos/
http://www.theppk.com/2010/12/olive-lentil-burgers/
http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/snobby-joes/

I had bookmarked these recipes and just tried out the Olive Lentil Burgers. They don't have a lot of taste and seem very "bread-crumby". The texture is good but it could use some more taste. Maybe I can add some roasted red peppers the next time.

Any other advice to make these into awesome burgers? I'm not a vegetarian, but I like to minimize meat and eat vegetarian for a lot of my meals.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 05:37:33 PM by Daisy »

GuitarStv

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #41 on: June 17, 2014, 05:42:17 PM »
I like to make 'meatballs' of drained cooked lentils mixed with a few eggs and Italian seasoning (garlic, oregano, basil) a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt + pepper to taste.  Then you fry up the balls in some oil until they're brown on the outside and have 'em in pasta sauce on your favourite noodles.  The texture comes out a bit different than real meat, but they pass the delicious test.

Daisy

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #42 on: June 17, 2014, 05:54:25 PM »
I like to make 'meatballs' of drained cooked lentils mixed with a few eggs and Italian seasoning (garlic, oregano, basil) a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt + pepper to taste.  Then you fry up the balls in some oil until they're brown on the outside and have 'em in pasta sauce on your favourite noodles.  The texture comes out a bit different than real meat, but they pass the delicious test.

Mmm...sounds good.

Yeah it could be a seasoning thing as well. I don't use thyme and tarragon that much (the featured spices in that recipe), but I do love garlic, oregano, and basil. I boiled a whole bag of lentils and I have some leftover so I will try this meatball/lentil ball recipe. For me, it wasn't the texture as much as the taste that I didn't like about the burger in the recipe above.

GuitarStv

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #43 on: June 18, 2014, 07:29:38 AM »
Yeah . . . garlic, oregano, and basil are my holy trinity of cooking.  They turn 'edible' into 'food' pretty often in our house.

Make sure to drain the lentils well, and add enough eggs or they won't stick together properly.

Daisy

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Re: Athletic / bodybuilding diets for <$200/month?
« Reply #44 on: June 18, 2014, 07:35:44 PM »
Crisis averted!

Roasted red peppers to the rescue... Somewhere on these boards I had seen a video of someone making homemade mayonnaise with an immersion blender. I had some roasted red peppers in the freezer, so I made my first-ever homemade mayonnaise and added roasted red peppers to it. Yum-my. Thanks to the person that posted the recipe.

I added this freshly made mayo to the olive lentil burger and it was delicious! I had previously eaten the burger alone which was a big mistake. I guess even a beef burger can taste bland without some mayo or ketchup.

This isn't the first time roasted red peppers have saved the day. They are a miracle ingredient!

This is a good thing because I made a huge batch of those lentil burgers (froze a lot of them) and was going to make my way through them one way or another since I hate throwing things away.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 08:05:22 PM by Daisy »