Finding a good bulking diet when you’re broke as a joke can be REALLY difficult. Bodybuilding foods can cost an arm and a leg.
I remember when I first made my bulking on a budget meal plan. I was a broke college student trying to save money.
Despite my lack of income, I was determined to get big—it wasn’t a “want,” it was a “must.” I wanted to bulk up… and I wanted to do it fast.
So, I decided to create the most calorie-efficient, cheapest, clean bulking diet possible—and I succeeded.
On just $100 a month, I was able to successfully bulk up for the winter, putting on a solid 20 pounds of muscle. Plus, all of my lifts went up.
So, if whether you’re a broke college student, an entrepreneur trying to put all your money into a business, or just a guy who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on food, here’s the best clean bulking diet for you.
Bulking on a Budget 101
First off, realize that this diet could be much cheaper. Like, it could literally be around $50 a month, or maybe even less.
Yep, that’s right—if you lived off of chicken breast for protein, and donuts for fat and carbs, you could easily cut the cost down by half.
This is what’s known as a “dirty bulk.” Doing a dirty bulk is by far the cheapest and easiest way to bulk up on a budget.
It’s when you throw caution to the wind, and just shovel down ice cream, donuts, pizza, and other foods to get a ton of calories in.
|Dirty Bulking||Clean Bulking|
|Less Expensive||More Expensive|
|Easier Calories||Harder to Prepare|
|Destroys Your Health||Much More Sustainable|
Although it’s certainly tastier than a clean bulking diet, it’s probably going to destroy your cholesterol levels and fuck your body up.
You don’t want to destroy your body and wreck your health by downing garbage food. It’s much better to do a clean bulk, where you eat healthy, but cheap foods to get jacked.
Supplements For Bulking Up
You may notice that there’s also no supplements in this bulking diet.
It’s not because they’re a scam or anything like that—SARMs, for example, are 100% legit, pure legal steroids.
But if you’re struggling to afford food, don’t bother with buying whey protein, pre workouts, or anything else.
That being said, if you think you can afford it, then definitely consider buying some muscle building supplements to bulk up faster.
It’s not necessary, though. If you’re broke as a joke, don’t worry about it. If you use my bulking on a budget meal plan, you’ll be jacked in no time.
Bulking Diet Carbohydrate Sources
An integral part of any bulking diet is the carbohydrates. Carbs get you big by boosting your insulin levels temporarily. This means that the more carbs you eat, the bigger you’ll get.
This is why a lot of bulking shakes, like Mutant Mass for example, are loaded with carbs. If you want to build muscle, you NEED carbohydrates to fuel that muscle growth.
Just because you’re on a bulking diet doesn’t mean you can go crazy, though—there’s an ideal number of carbohydrates for you to have each day.
For a specific bulking diet plan check out Scooby’s Calorie Calculator.
Anyways, the carbs we’re going to use in this diet are mainly brown rice and beans. They’re both very cheap, nutritious, and can be combined with a number of different foods.
You can get a 15lb bag of brown rice at your local Asian grocery market for like $20. This will last you around half a year.
For the beans, go to Costco. You can get a 25lb bag of black beans for like $25. This will last you around half a year as well.
You’ll have to spend a lot of time cooking these things, because they won’t be pre-cooked, but you can minimize time by meal-prepping each week.
Other Carbohydrates For Bulking
If you want, you can mix it up with some other cheap carb sources like whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, or quinoa, but these will cost more.
In addition to this, you can also use oatmeal and oat bran. Oatmeal is one of the best bodybuilding foods when you’re on a bulking diet.
In fact, for many people on a bulking diet (or even on a cutting diet), oatmeal is a staple source of carbohydrates and fiber.
It’s also dirt cheap. Oatmeal will literally cost you maybe $3/week, so it’s definitely something that you want to incorporate into your bulking diet.
I used to have 2-3 cups of oatmeal just for breakfast, and sometimes even 1-2 cups before I went to bed.
Bulking Diet Protein Sources
Getting enough protein is absolutely crucial to any sort of bulking diet. You cannot build muscle without protein, period.
You should aim to consume around one gram per pound of your GOAL body weight. So, for example, if you want to weigh 205, then you should consume 205 grams of protein a day.
Don’t fall for the typical scams, either. GNC whey protein for example, promises that it’ll help you get jacked by giving you a ton of protein, but in my opinion, it’s a complete ripoff.
For our clean bulking diet plan, we’re going to be using the classic protein choice of bodybuilders all around the world: chicken breast.
Chicken breast is incredibly cheap—you can get a 15lb bag at Walmart for like $25, and this will last you 2 weeks.
For a cheap bulking diet, you must rely heavily on chicken breast.
If you want some variety, however, you can also get some canned tuna. Canned tuna isn’t as cheap as chicken breast, but one 4oz container of the stuff runs you only 88 cents at Walmart.
If you want to spend more money, you can buy some pork chops or ground beef in bulk. They’ll cost you more, though, so buy sparingly.
Don’t even think about getting on the steak and eggs diet, either, because while it’s great for increasing testosterone, it’s a lot more expensive than what you’re probably looking for.
Bulking Diet Fat Sources
A lot of people think that fat isn’t very important when you’re on a bulking diet…this is not true at all.
Your body uses fat to create neurotransmitters, repair cell membranes, and to build new muscle cells. In fact, fat itself is one of the best nootropics out there.
You absolutely need fat, and there is no way around this.
However fats can get expensive; that’s why I recommend taking shots of olive oil on my bulking diet.
Yeah, I know—it takes some getting used to, because it’s kind of gross at first. But, if you’re willing to do what it takes, you’ll save a lot of money.
One giant container of olive oil will run you around $20 at Walmart, and it can be your fat source for nearly 2 months.
Just 50ml of the stuff is around 450 calories! What a great, albeit gross way to add in some healthy fats to your diet.
In addition to this you can also get healthy fats from ground beef, grass fed butter, coconut oil, or peanut butter.
I’m personally allergic to peanut butter, but nut butters are a great way to get in some quick and easy calories, plus a ton of healthy fats.
3,000 Calorie Bulking Meal Plan
Here it is, boys. This is the holy grail of bulking diets… the meal plan that I used to gain a ton of muscle, and still shred fat, on a budget.
Keep in mind that you can adjust these amounts depending on your caloric needs. The ratios are what’s important, though.
Ideally, you want to get one gram of protein per pound of your goal lean bodyweight. This should be your guideline.
So, if you want to be shredded at 160 pounds, eat 160g of protein per day.
Aside from this, focus on getting enough carbohydrates, especially after your workout. Carbs help you bulk up fast.
Bulking Breakfast Meal Plan
Every morning have:
- 3 cups of oatmeal (cooked)
- 6oz chicken breast
- 25ml olive oil
This meal amounts to roughly 925 calories with 50 grams of protein.
Considering the cost of this meal, which is something like $0.50, that’s pretty fucking good. In fact, that’s bulking on a budget for you.
If you want to use some cheap sauces for the chicken, you can as well. I used to dunk my chicken in BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and ranch.
This adds on an additional 100 calories or so, and one bottle will last you for ages. Sauces are a great way to bulk up on a budget.
You can also consider throwing some whey protein in there, but be careful—whey protein adds up fast, and can hurt your bottom line, if you’re trying to bulk on a budget.
Sometimes I also threw 1-2 cups of frozen berries and 2tbsp flax seed into my oatmeal, but this will obviously cost more.
Do things like this sparingly, to save money on your clean bulking diet.
Bulking Lunch Meal Plan
For lunch here is what I would eat:
- 2 cups brown rice (cooked)
- 1.5 cup black beans (cooked)
- 9oz chicken breast
This is roughly 1100 calories, with about 75 grams of protein. It also costs you like $0.75 which is pretty damn amazing.
Again, you can dip the chicken breast in a different sauce if you want to retain your sanity, but this is optional.
The reason why I didn’t have very much fat with this meal, is because having fat increases the time it takes for protein to get to your muscles.
So, after my workout, I would focus mainly on getting a shit ton of carbs, and enough protein to ensure my body can recover fast enough.
I recommend consuming the bulk of your daily fat requirements in the morning and in the evening (assuming you’re bulking).
This will keep you full throughout the day, and well into the night.
Bulking Dinner Meal Plan
For dinner I was in for a treat:
- 2 cups brown rice (cooked)
- 1.5 cups pinto beans (cooked)
- Tuna brisket
This adds up to about 1300 calories and 80 grams of protein, and barely even costs a dollar. How’s that for a cheap bulking plan?
To make my tuna brisket, throw the following into a bowl:
- 2 cans tuna
- 3-4tbsp BBQ sauce
- 2tbsp mayonnaise
Mix it all up and throw it in the microwave for 2 minutes—it’s delicious, and it tastes like brisket.
Doing little things like this every day was how I maintained my sanity.
It’s important to have a meal that you look forward to when you’re on a stringent diet. It helps you stick to it more easily.
Daily Caloric Intake for Bulking
This all amounts to roughly 3,325 calories a day and 205 grams of protein.
That’s pretty good for like $25 a week.
A lot of men won’t even need this many nutrients. In fact, some men will only need around 2200 calories to do a clean bulk!
If this is you, then you’re lucky—expect to only spend $75 a month on a clean bulking diet.
Don’t expect to get a lot of satisfaction out of this food, though—it isn’t supposed to taste that great, it’s supposed to be a lean and mean alternative to spending $400 a month to get big.
Repeat after me: food is fuel, food is fuel, food is FUEL!
Best Bulking Sauces/Spices
Sauces are probably the easiest way to add variety into a clean bulking diet. You can use BBQ sauce, ranch, Chipotle, hot sauce, and more.
You can dip chicken breast in pretty much any type of sauce, which helps remove some of the monotony of always eating the stuff.
In addition to this, you can put different things into your oatmeal to make it more favorable. Cinnamon is a good, cheap option.
Just be sure to get pure cinnamon, and if you want, you can put pure sugar in afterwards (it’s cheaper this way).
Be careful, though. A lot of sauces are some of the worst testosterone killing foods out there, so I recommend you stick with spices in general.
Adding organic spices, sauces, and other condiments to your food will be more expensive, though—so be warned.
In addition to this, you can also put fruits like blueberries or blackberries into your oatmeal, but be sparing, though.
If you buy them in bulk, they’re not that expensive, but they’re definitely a hell of a lot more expensive than just plain oatmeal.
Become an expert at spices and herbs, as well. Rosemary goes well with pork, thyme with chicken, pepper with beef, and cilantro with rice.
Become a master at experimenting with different spices and seeing what tastes best. When in doubt, just search around online, too.
Bulking on a Budget Tips
In addition to following this clean bulking diet, you can also change it up depending on your own needs and preferences.
Here are some additional cheap foods that you can add if you wish:
- Eggs (buy the 2 dozen containers at Walmart/Costco)
- Ground beef (2.99/lb when it’s on sale in bulk)
- Ramen (literally dirt fucking cheap, like $1.99 for 3200 calories)
- White Rice (it’s higher calories, but less nutrient dense)
- Whole grain bread
- Vegetable Pasta
- Sweet potatoes (buy the big bags, of like 15lbs for $8.99)
- Almond butter/peanut butter (for healthy fats)
Ultimately you’ll have to just decide what your goal is and go from there. If you can afford to spend more, consider spending more.
Buying some of the best pre workouts out there and taking them before your workout will help you blast past plateaus and bulk up faster.
…but, it’ll also cost you more money. In my opinion, supplements are a great investment, but if you’re broke, you may want to reconsider this.
If you’re truly too broke to get some supplements, then stick to the bare bones: brown rice, beans, chicken breast, and olive oil.
“But Jon! There’s no vegetables here – isn’t that bad?” Yeah, it’s fucking bad. But this isn’t health 101, this is get big as fuck on a budget 101.
This isn’t meant to be a sustainable diet, but rather something you do for 4-8 months when you’re tight on money and want to save up.
If you really want vegetables that bad, just buy broccoli in bulk once a week and chop it up and boil it.
You can also get frozen vegetables in microwaveable packages, but those will cost more (I think they’re around $2.99 per bag).
The one supplement I do recommend you buy, is a good multivitamin. This diet is pretty bare bones, so you’ll need more nutrition.
I’ve already written about the best bodybuilding multivitamins on the market, so I’d urge you to give that a read and purchase one for yourself.
Even though it’ll cost you an extra $25/month or so, the amount of muscle you’ll gain with a good multivitamin will be well worth the price.
Just be sure to avoid the one-a-day multivitamins, which are total scams. I talk about that in the article though, so definitely give it a read.
Want A Complete Bodybuilding Blueprint?
Eating the right diet is ESSENTIAL for building muscle… but it’s only one part of the equation, my friend.
If you want a full bodybuilding guide, that covers weightlifting, nutrition, and supplements, consider checking out Body of an Alpha.
It lays out EXACTLY what you need to do, if you want to get that lean, shredded physique, that turns heads at the beach.
In fact, here’s some of what you’ll get with Body of an Alpha:
- The “Fast Track Method” to Get The V-Taper Look That Celebrities, Athletes, and Male Sex Symbols Have
- My “Hybrid Training Protocol” That Helps You Shred Fat Off Like Butter, and Pack on Lean Muscle Mass in Record Time
- My Full Nutrition Layout, Including Customizable Options For Your Specific Body Type and Needs
- …and much, much more!
So, if you’re serious about bodybuilding, training, and getting the body that you’ve always dreamt of, consider checking out Body of an Alpha today.
Either way, I hope you guys follow my clean bulking diet plan. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, leave a comment down below—and, as always, I’ll see you next time.
❓ What Are The Best Foods to Bulk Up Fast?
If you're trying to bulk on a budget, aim for a lot of chicken breast. Tons of carbohydrates will also help, so be sure to consume a lot of brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and whole grain foods.
❓ How Often Should You Eat When You're Bulking?
If you're bulking, it's best that you have a large meal every 4 hours. This allows your body time to digest each meal, but also ensures that you get a large number of calories in, which is critical for bulking.
❓ What Do Bodybuilders Eat When They're Bulking?
Most bodybuilders eat a ton of chicken breast, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, and brown rice when they're bulking. Chicken breast will be the majority of your protein on a clean bulking diet, so it's no wonder bodybuilders eat so much of it!
❓ What's The 3,000 Calorie Meal Plan?
The 3,000 calorie meal plan is a bulking diet that I put together, specifically made for people who have a low budget. If you want to eat 3,000 calories per day on a budget, aim for a lot of brown rice, chicken breast, and oatmeal.