So you’re young, in school, working a minimum wage job, or maybe you’re not in school and still working a minimum wage/low paying job. Fear not! There are affordable ways to get the foods you need to grow!

I’ve been there myself. I wanted so badly to be big and shredded but I had to work with what I had at the time and the world wasn’t always perfect. My diet wasn’t always perfect either, but it contained enough to help me grow and it didn’t break the bank!

The most important thing that you need to know is that life isn’t this perfect little paved path that we all follow. We are on a path and we don’t know where that path goes, but we need to keep moving forward to see what’s around the corner.

So just because your diet doesn’t look like someone else’s and just because you don’t have $200 a week to drop on groceries, don’t beat yourself up over it! Right now you need to focus on WHAT YOU DO HAVE TO WORK WITH!

Focusing on what you don’t have isn’t a recipe for progress. It’s actually a loser mentality, and it keeps you in the negative. I understand the process of trying to do bodybuilding while still trying to acquire things like furniture, a vehicle, and trying to have a social life as well as dating.

Every dollar spent here could have been a dollar spent there right? You’re out of groceries at home, but at the same time this girl you’re dating wants to go to dinner.

It can be tough sometimes to try to get established in life as well as continue moving forward with your physique building goals. I’m going to give you a brief look at how I used to eat when I was trying to build size and strength in my earlier days.

I wasn’t SUPER LEAN, but I was by no means fat. I was just a big motherfucker! I was still proud of my build back when I didn’t have as much money for groceries as I do now. I just made it work and focused on building my life like I focused on building my body.


What people in bodybuilding like to show you is the hype of the lifestyle. So those guys showing you food prep videos in the fancy kitchens with the granite countertops where everything is nice and neat? Yeah, that’s funny isn’t it? It’s funny to me anyways because it’s ridiculous!

“Now I’m going to take these 5 pieces of shrimp and boil them while I stir my pineapple quinoa drizzled spinach and keto friendly tzatziki sauce!”

Yeah right, A REAL bodybuilder kitchen video would be more like, “Now I’m going to remove my hamburgers from my oven and hopefully not burn the shit out of myself with this oven mitten with a hole in the thumb, and we are going to run hot water over this bowl of plain oats because we wanna grow and don’t give a fuck about gourmet 5 star meals right now…”

Motherfucker, the sink is full of plates already! All I’m saying, is that there doesn’t have to be anything fancy about this. Consistency is the key to growth!

I wanted to be big so bad that I didn’t give a damn what it took. Plain oats? Bring em’ on!

Nothing but water and protein shakes to drink and no sodas? Easy enough, give it to me!

Plain ground beef with no bread? I’m all yours, LET’S FUCKING GROW!

You see, when I was meal prepping and eating my food, I wasn’t thinking about how shitty it was doing what I was doing. I was thinking to myself ,”This is all gonna pay off, you’re going to be one swole motherfucker soon enough!” And it worked!

I didn’t always eat squeaky clean. When I was my biggest and my strongest I was eating what I needed to grow in terms of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

But I was also eating CALORIES! I didn’t shy away from the occasional run through the local drive-thru or ordering a pizza a couple times a week either.

My rule was simple; all the required clean foods to grow, any room left in your stomach then go strictly for calories and don’t count the macros in those meals geared towards increasing your calories! Point being here, THE PLAN WAS SIMPLE!


The problem guys have now, is they read all the wrong shit! They’re left with this thought that anything they eat outside of some low calorie, squeaky clean diet food, is going to go straight to fat storage in their bodies.

They think that NOTHING from what they’ve eaten will go to muscle output, recovery, or will be burned off during weight training. If you think this way then all you’re doing is creating your own mindfuck!

Some people cannot grow because they’re their own worst enemies and their mind constantly fucks with them! Stop questioning everything before it happens. Stop trying to eat a certain way when eating that way isn’t financially realistic right now!

Focus on building muscle mass! Focus on being as pumped up and as swole as you can possibly be right now and worry about becoming shredded to the bone down the road.

I can tell you guys all this much; I wouldn’t even look big and lean right now if I hadn’t gone through this phase of eating for size and strength and going against the grain of “diet hype”. This is what all of the so-called experts are not telling you!

“Buy my supplements to get big, that measly 1,200 calorie/day diet you’re currently on doesn’t have any influence to why you’re still small!”

Increasing your food intake is going to help make you stronger when you’re in the gym. It’s as simple as that, it’s not going to all go to fat storage! If you weren’t weight training or physically active then sure, maybe it would.

Do you think football players would perform well eating nothing but salad and chicken? No, they would get the shit knocked out of them because they wouldn’t be as energetic and powerful as their opponents!

So why in the hell would someone trying to push/power through intense workouts with heavy weights perform well eating like a fucking bird?

But supplements and steroids are supposed to compensate for a shitty diet right? This train of thought right here is why we have people who use boatloads of steroids and still look like walking sticks!


Stop whining about variety. If you’re playing to a budget then just get used to eating the same shit over and over again for awhile! Look, the goal here is to build muscle, not satiate your palette for all the flavors of the world!

Having variety in the diet costs more money! And honestly, when it comes to building muscle mass it really just isn’t necessary.

Now, obviously you’re going to be eating more than 1 food source, but what I’m speaking of here is on the principles of eating 1 specific food for a specific purpose

For example, on a budget I believe that ground beef is a better muscle building food than fish is. Ground beef contains more fat and overall calories than fish does, therefore I believe it promotes better muscle growth, especially when you consider cost!

I was probably eating ground beef almost daily when I was trying to build that initial foundation of size and strength, it didn’t matter to me. And actually, I don’t even remember being programmed to stop and think ,”Man, there is just NO VARIETY HERE.”

I just never thought like that, it was more like ,”Ground beef, check! Time to eat and continue to grow!”

And usually it was 80-85% lean, I couldn’t afford 90% and up based on how much of it I was consuming. Also, my goal was primarily size and strength, 80%, 85%? Who really gave a fuck, just eat it!


#1) Ground beef – Ground beef isn’t as cheap as it used to be, but it’s a red meat that is cheaper than steaks! When I was trying to gain the most physical size possible I would eat ground beef 1 – 2 times per day almost every day.

I used to use a George Foreman grill and usually just grill them at meal time and occasionally beforehand. Ground beef is full of protein and fat, both which are necessary ingredients involved in muscle growth!

#2) Rice – the universal calorie increase! Rice is a good food to build muscle with because you can stir anything into it, it’s cheap, and it helps increase overall calories. It also changes the consistency of your food and often makes certain foods easier to eat by doing so.

I always felt that eating a stir-fry type meal was easier to slam than say, a plain piece of chicken breast. It makes it easy to just stir your food into it and carry one container with everything in it, rather than separating the foods.

As some of you may have gathered from reading past articles, I do not discount carbs when it comes to building muscle! Carbs are an essential nutrient of muscle building due to their transport effects of fluid to the muscles and anabolic effects caused by insulin release after consumption.

#3) Oatmeal – a cheap complex carbohydrate that falls under essential “clean foods” in my book. Remember how I talked about eating everything vital to growth from essential macros first, and then eating strictly for calories? Well, oats would fall under the first one for me.

A few bucks worth of oats can go a long ways. When I was trying to build the bulk of my foundational size, I would often eat oats several times a day. Fuck cooking them, I didn’t have time for that. I would just run them under hot water and eat them like cereal.

People always used to say ,”How can you do that? Just plain oats?” and my response would always be, “I don’t give a fuck, I want to be big more than I want to taste flavor!”

#4) Bananas – While certainly not high in calories (about 120 calories per banana) bananas were convenient for me and could be brought places such as work or car rides. They weren’t messy, affordable, and gave me the extra carbs I needed to grow!

Therefore, because I used to eat a lot of bananas during my growing phase, I have listed them in here!

#5) Yogurt – Yogurt sort of falls along the lines of bananas here. They’re self contained, they include some protein, and they’re convenient for when you’re on the go.

While working in a skilled labor type job, it wasn’t always realistic to sit down to a plate of food that was heated and prepared. I occasionally had to bring healthier type snacks with me. I was just eating regular yogurt and not Greek yogurt, since regular yogurt was cheaper and contained just as many, if not more calories.

I’ll never forget this one night when I was banging this stripper. I had nailed this girl so hard and for several rounds, and when I was done at about 4am all I wanted to do was eat, but all I had in my apartment were yogurts.

I can remember eating about 8 of them in a row! Good times back then…

#6) Eggs – And not the whites either, WHOLE EGGS! I couldn’t afford to eat just the whites when I was younger and still trying to build size. I would usually eat about 4 whole eggs as part of breakfast, and when I would make my high calorie, homemade mass-gain shakes I would throw a couple in the mix!

A dozen eggs is under $1 and they can last you about 2-3 days. Eggs are a good source of protein and affordable. The key to eating eggs every single day for about 25 years straight is you have to experiment with different condiments, hahaha. I usually rotate between hot sauce, salsa, and ketchup!

#7) Milk – Milk isn’t what it used to be now that it’s all pasteurized, but it’s liquid calories that contain protein. If size is the goal then whole milk is where it’s at, since it contains more calories and fat content, both which are needed for muscle growth!

It’s also one of the ingredients in the homemade mass shakes that are surely going to get you a hell of a lot further than those overpriced, sugar packed mass gainers the nutrition stores sell!

#8) Peanut butter – NO, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER EITHER, just get what is cheap and on sale. You’ll be eating a lot of this for it’s fat content and calories, so why spend twice as much money for the same thing?

Remember, all the organic shit can come later on down the road once you’re actually big and can still look big after cutting up!

#9) Tuna fish – Tuna fish isn’t high in calories, but it’s cheap and contains protein. Tuna fish cans fall in the category of essential foods to include on a budget, before going for added calories. Remember, we still want the essential “clean foods” as our basis, but not be shy of adding added calories on top of them.

And simply put, carbs and fats are the fastest way to increase calories after eating the basic building blocks such as tuna cans. Just cheap store brand tuna will work right now. I have never like tuna fish, but I liked growing so I just ate it, I didn’t give a fuck!

#10) Pizza – Oh my God, did he actually suggest eating pizza on a blog that revolves around bodybuilding and nutrition? YEP, I SURE DID!

It was honestly a high calorie food that I ate regularly during my years of building up. I didn’t eat it every day, but when I was on a tighter budget it wasn’t anything to eat a couple of those cheap Tortino’s pizzas a week (for those in other countries, these are cheap frozen pizzas sold in American grocery stores I’m referring to).

The 10 Foods I’ve listed out for you are much of the staples that I consumed to take my body from a thin and wiry 143 lbs at 5’9″, straight up to over 240 lbs of mass. These aren’t exactly the foods I’d be eating exclusively to try to lean up with, but for the goal of size and strength they worked very well for me.

I simply have no reason to lie to you all. I’m getting sick and tired of so called “experts” that completely hide the truth from people. Sometimes the term ‘clean eating’ can downright fuck you over when it comes to building muscle mass!

For more information on diet basics for muscle mass as well as muscle building plans that are laid out in a progressive nature from beginner to advanced, be sure to check out my e-book Becoming the Bull.

Becoming the Bull is sort of an inside look on my past and how I learned to make the most with what I had as it related to both bodybuilding and life. Becoming the Bull is all about rising up and growing in the gym and in life!

This resource serves as a guide for someone who wants to advance in a laid out and detailed progression as it concerns gym and nutrition. It can save you a lot of time and headache!

Becoming The Bull ebook



  1. My ‘money is tight’ shopping list is ground beef (5 lbs), eggs (2 dz), bacon (2 lbs) and usually a pound each of cheese and butter. Lasts 2 weeks or so and costs me no more than $75. I will throw in some sour dough pretzels when the inevitable carb craving comes, so add a couple bucks for a bag. And I’m blessed due to geography that it all is from local family farms that raise truly pastured animals. Love living near Amish Country. Real food is so readily available, cuz that’s how its done.

  2. Definitely the staples! Great list. Reminds me of the big on a budget series Animal used to do! I love those vids. Most of these still make up most of my diet. Odd how the basics never change huh? Also thanks for leaving out chicken LOL. Chicken for every meal plan gets old quick. Thanks for a cool post JD!

  3. who writes this ? Good grief… no no no…
    —I’m questioning half this silly list. Gain muscle or fat? It’s just wrong. You wanna have muscles and fat? go for it. When you are stuck at 20+% do not complain. Wasted calories when you can actually be eating. This is just bad.

  4. Great article so many bodybuilders trying to make out the millionaire lifestyle preparing gourmet food and promoting the bodybuilding lifestyle,when the reality is that most people can’t afford time or money to do all that shit! And most IFBB pros have someone to cook all their food,or they prepare it themselves and guzzle broccoli dry chicken and rice 5 times a day and nobody wants to hear that’s becuase it ain’t sexy !


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