Eating on a budget/ meal plan

Complaints from my wife about how much I eat have always been kind of a joke around the home but since we had our daughter and I am the only one working right now those jokes have become a little more serious. I have been cutting back a little here and there on somethings but not to any serious degree but I already am missing a few of my favorites.  So when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas I replied “food”! And no I wasn’t joking!.

But I decided since I can be a little more frugal I should see just how well I can do on just $50 bucks a week. This was gonna take some careful planning and research and I would have to hunt for the best bargains in town.

I was pretty successful take a look at what I came up with.

– Approx. 10 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
– Approx. 10 1/2 pounds of potatoes
– 14 crowns of broccoli
– 1 tube of quick oats
– 7 dozen eggs
– 7 bananas

Cooked and prepared, this quantity of food was used to construct the following daily diet (Note: protein from incomplete sources not included in amounts):
Meal 1: 6 large whole eggs, 1 cup (uncooked measurement) of quick oats, 1/2 banana
Meal 2: 8 oz (cooked weight) chicken thighs, 8 oz baked potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Meal 3: 8 oz (cooked weight) chicken thighs, 8 oz baked potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Meal 4: 6 large whole eggs, 1 cup (uncooked measurement) of quick oats, 1/2 banana

Here is the approximate macronutrient breakdown for those 4 meals:
Meal 1: Carb-53g / Protein-36g / Fat-30g / Calories-420
Meal 2: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
Meal 3: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
Meal 4: Carb-53g / Protein-36g / Fat-30g / Calories-420
Total: Carb-198g / Protein-184g / Fat-108 / Calories -2300

Adding Two Shakes
To be fair, the $50 I spent was enough to purchase the food listed above in a quantity that allowed for 7 days worth of the above meals. And the food listed above is very close to what I was eating in my off season prior to turning pro. However, in addition to the whole food listed above, it was standard for me to have two protein shakes each day to which I added some type of fat – typically peanut butter. Each of my shakes would consist of three scoops of whey protein isolate, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter and 1/2 cup oats.

Here is what the shakes would look like:
Shake 1: 3 Scoop protein powder, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1/2 cup oats
Shake 2: 3 Scoops  protein powder, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1/2 cup oats

And the macro-nutrient breakdown for those shakes:
Shake 1: Carb-30g / Protein-63g / Fat-16g / Calories-614
Shake 2: Carb-30g / Protein-63g / Fat-16g / Calories-614

Two Shakes Vs Two Extra Meals
Now here is some food for thought (pun intended). The average cost per meal from the diet constructed using $50 is $1.79. The average meal contains 49g of carbohydrates, 46g of protein and 27g of fat. That’s an almost perfectly even split of calories derived from each macro-nutrient. In the event I decided to do 6 whole food meals per day using the same foods purchased for $50, the cost per week would rise to $75 per week.

Now, I can certainly appreciate the desire for some variety and protein shakes are convenient, taste good and offer a different amino profile than what is already in the diet. If you are looking to keep the cost down I figure you can add 2 shakes per day using a 5lb economy whey protein as the protein source. In this case, you can find a 5lb bag of protein for $48.95 (shipping can be anything from free to $5 or more).

In this instance, I’m going to assume you’re thrifty enough to shop around for free shipping. $48.95 will deliver 77 scoops of protein. That would be 64 cents per scoop. A good fat source to add to the shake would be extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). I am sitting here looking at a 750ml bottle of excellent quality olive oil that I purchased for $9. It contains (50) 1 tbsp servings (works out to 18 cents per tbsp). And as for oats, a large tube of oats can be had as low as $3.19 and contains (30) 1/2 cup servings.

Shakes comprised of the above ingredients would contain:
Shake 1: 3 scoops protein powder 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp olive oil
Shake 2: 3 scoops protein powder 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp olive oil

And the macronutrient breakdown would look like this:
Shake 1: Carbs-33g / Protein-66g / Fat-22g / Calories-630
Shake 2: Carbs-33g / Protein-66g / Fat-22g / Calories-630

The cost per protein shake would be $2.25; that would translate to an extra $4.50 per day or $31.50 for the week — $6.50 more than going all whole food. But for this extra amount, I would get an additional 40g of protein per day while sparing 10g of fat and 32g of carbs for the day. And of course, it’s always nice to taste something different. I can be tight but I didn’t personally have any trouble parting with the extra $6.50 for the week to get a little variety in my life.

So, if I wanted to add the two protein shakes to the diet, I’d spend a total of $81.50 for the week. If I chose to stick with the whole foods it would cost me $75 for the week. With the shakes, the daily diet would look like this:

Meal 1: 6 large whole eggs, 1 cup (uncooked measurement) of quick oats, 1/2 banana
Meal 2: 8 oz (cooked weight) chicken thighs, 8 oz baked potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Meal 3: 8 oz (cooked weight) chicken thighs, 8 oz baked potato, 1 cup steamed broccoli
Meal 4: 6 large whole eggs, 1 cup (uncooked measurement) of quick oats, 1/2 banana
Shake 1: 3 scoops protein powder 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp olive oil
Shake 2: 3 scoops protein powder 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp olive oil

And the macros:
Meal 1: Carb-53g / Protein-36g / Fat-30g / Calories-420
Meal 2: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
Meal 3: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
Meal 4: Carb- 53g / Protein- 36g / Fat- 30g / Calories-420
Shake 1: Carbs-33g / Protein-66g / Fat-22g / Calories-630
Shake 2: Carbs-33g / Protein-66g / Fat-22g / Calories-630
Total: Carbs-264g / Protein-316g / Fat-152g / Calories-3560

How I Prepared The Meals
Ok, for those wondering, here are few answers to questions you’ll probably ask. I just seasoned the chicken thighs with salt & pepper and grilled them. Any store bought seasoning can do. The broccoli, I just steamed those plain. The eggs, no seasoning at all, just a little olive oil. The potatoes, I just threw those in the microwave without any seasonings (but a little salt always works). Had I been prepping a bunch, I’d have baked them. Using a microwave allows for quick and easy preparation without adding any added fats like oil (frying). Boiling also works.

If you or anyone you know can put together a solid diet that complete for $81.50 a week I’ll be damn impressed. Of course the actual diet would depend on your specific needs. Remember, everyone has different calorie requirements ¬- even a small guy might have to eat twice as much. There is not such thing as a single, complete diet. Complete means something different for everyone. For you, this could work. For someone else, this could be the base. Anyway, the purpose of this project and spending only $50 was to show you that you could put together a good meal plan for the week that doesn’t break the bank.

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