When cutting on a budget, it can become difficult to select the right foods for optimal macros without spending a lot of money. Protein tends to be more expensive than carbohydrates when shopping making it more difficult for weightlifters than the average costumer. Foods like rice and beans can be purchased for under $2 however foods like chicken breast and fish cost 2-3 times this amount. Since keeping protein high is one of the major priories of a well-designed cutting diet, all the foods you are eating need to be cross referenced between both cost and protein amount.
Before going over the foods to buy when cutting on a budget, this post on what the best macros are for cutting would be helpful to reference.
For this grocery list example, I am going to list inexpensive foods that could be purchased in one grocery store trip which would supply a weeks worth of eating at 2,800 calories a day. The macros per day are going to be 230g protein, 65g fat, and 330g carbs.
The price target per week is going to be $30-50 which is a little ambitious but doable depending on the outlet you shop at.
The main source of protein is going to come from eggs. For an in-depth analysis of eggs and all the reasons to eat them, check out this post.
Eggs, on average, are 50-70 calories and supply around 6-8 grams of protein. You can buy eggs at some stores for $2 for 18. This isn’t always the case, depending on store, so for this diet, it is going to be assumed that eggs can be purchased for $2 for 12. At $2 per carton of eggs, you’re getting 70-100 grams of protein for $2 along with only 600-840 calories. Because of the nutritional content of eggs, 5 cartons are going to be bought for this list.
The next source of protein is going to be greek yogurt. Many stores sell $1 cans of greek yogurt that are roughly: 170-200 calories, 12g protein, 4g fat, and 24g carbs each. 5 cans of this are going to be bought for the list.
Finally chicken breast and cheese are going to be the other main sources of protein in this cutting on a budget diet. One pound of chicken breast can typically be bought for $5-8. One pound of chicken breast is 700-800 calories with 100-130g protein, 12-18g fat, and 0g carbs. 3 chicken breasts are going to be bought for this list.
Low-fat cottage cheese can be purchased for $3-4 and contains: around 500-600 calories, 78g protein, 15g fat, and 30g carbs. 2 packages of low-fat cottage cheese are going to be bought for this grocery list.
Adding everything up, buying all these items will cost $35-40 and supply 7,000 calories total of the 19,600 calorie weekly amount.
Next, 330g of carbs are also needed per day so it is important to find inexpensive groceries which can supply carbohydrates so your glycogen stores are optimal for energy levels and lifting weights.
The main sources of carbohydrates are going to be rice and black beans.
40-60oz of rice can be bought for $4-6 or less depending on if you buy in bulk. A serving of rice is about 1oz and supplies 190-240 calories, 3-5g protein, 1-3g fat, and 35-65g carbs. 40-60oz of rice is going to give 8,000-12,000 calories of the 19,600 weekly caloric intake while also supplying 1,800-2,200 carbs of the weekly 2,310g of carbohydrates target.
This will cover most your bases and the list could be completed at only eggs, greek yogurt, chicken breast, cottage cheese, and rice for $40-45 but it is nice to have variance in what you’re eating and not have to eat exorbitant quantities of rice for sustenance on a day-to-day basis.
The last $5 on this list then, is going to black beans. These black beans could be swapped out for another item you enjoy or simply kept as another source of carbs.
Black beans can be purchased at around $0.25-0.40 per 1 cup. Black beans supply 600-700 calories, 30-40g protein, 1g fat, and 120-140g carbs. Three servings of black beans will be bought for this list.
This is a complete list of what a hypothetical weeks worth of groceries for a cutting on a budget diet could be. The food and quantity are listed along with the calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and cost of each food item.
|Food||Calories||Protein (g)||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Cost|
|Greek yogurt (5)||900||60g||20g||210g||$5|
|Chicken breast (3)||2,250||340g||45g||0g||$18|
|Low-fat cottage cheese (2)||1,100||155g||30g||60g||$7|
|Black beans (3)||1,950||120g||3g||380g||$1|
You’ll notice that while this list hits decent ranges for calories, protein, fat, and carbs on a daily basis, it is not balanced perfectly. Protein and fat should be higher and carbs should be lower.
To cut on a budget though, this assortment of foods is going to be very similar to the best grocery list you could come up with for these calories and macros.
Since there is $4 left over in the initial $50 budget for a weekly shopping trip, that $4 could go to fish or protein bars that could boost the amount of protein and offset the high amount of carbohydrates.
The macro split in this list is still balanced enough to cut successfully and keep gains, less rice and more yogurt could be one way to decrease carbs and increase protein if you wanted to configure this example differently.
This grocery list is an example of how much a week’s worth of groceries could cost on a cut when trying to save money.