Bulking Up Muscle on a Budget Using These 8 Cheap but Healthy Foods

You want to build muscle, and get more toned and fit, right? But, you don’t want to go broke trying. Here are 8 bulk-building foods that can help you build muscle, and they’re cheap too.

Building muscle on a budget

Getting bulk is the goal, but depleting your wallet is not. Have no fear- it is possible to bulk on a budget! Buy cheaper and more convenient foods high in protein to help you bulk up, and still have enough in the bank account for a quality protein powder or a personal trainer. These 8 foods are cheap and found at every grocery store.

Eating these foods, and others high in protein, in the right amounts, at the right time, with a consistent muscle-building routine and you will see the muscle gains you’ve been wanting. Don’t just focus on one of these protein sources, they each provide different profiles of macronutrients, so keep your diet varied for the best results.


Eggs are one of the best bulk-building foods, with 6 grams of protein in each egg, and packed with nutrients and vitamins. They are cheap, healthy, and can be prepared a variety of ways so you won’t get sick of eating them either. Eggs make for a filling meal any time of day and contain 11 vitamins and minerals, and are high in HDL, the good kind of cholesterol.

They are a great breakfast and post-workout snack; boil some at the beginning of the week and keep them on hand in the fridge if you have an especially busy schedule.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is delicious and very high in protein and fiber. There are 6 grams of protein in every 2 tablespoon serving. It’s cheap, easy, and, like eggs, a versatile addition to your diet.

Peanut butter contains nutrients that can improve a person’s heart health and blood sugar levels. It has a lot of nutrients and vitamins in it, including magnesium and zinc, and vitamin B.

You can eat it on a spoon, add it to smoothies, spread it on a piece of bread, or make peanut butter protein balls.


Spinach is an awesome body-building food; in fact, a lot of vegetables are. Spinach contains all 9 essential amino acids your body needs, and 50 % of its calories come from protein, with 0.6 grams of it in every cup.

This leafy green is also high in calcium, magnesium, and iron. It can reduce your blood sugar, help your skin, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

It is quite the superfood and is great sauteed or in smoothies and salads. Though it doesn’t have as high of a protein content as others on the list, it is a great addition to a protein smoothie or a salad with eggs so you get all the superfood properties of spinach with the protein as well.

Dairy Products

Drinking milk is one simple way to get more protein into your diet as just one cup of milk contains 8 grams of protein. Milk is rich in calcium, high in protein, and has vitamin B and D in it.  Milk also contains magnesium, which is important for bone development and muscle function, something you don’t want to forget when focusing on bulking up. Other dairy products such as cheese and unsweetened greek yogurt have high protein profiles.

Use milk for the liquid in your protein smoothie, have a probiotic rich greek yogurt for a snack with a hard boiled egg, or add some cheese to a piece of toast to help increase your protein intake.


Beans are also great for building muscle, with 15 grams of protein per cup. They also contain vitamins, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Canned beans are pretty cheap, but dried beans are even cheaper and easy to cook.

There is a lot of variety in beans as well:

Edamame- 31.3 grams of protein per cup

Pinto beans- 15.4 grams of protein per cup

Kidney beans- 15.3 grams of protein per cup

Black Beans- 15.2 grams of protein per cup

Northern beans- 6 grams of protein per cup

Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)- 2.4 grams of protein per cup

Green Beans- 1.8 grams of protein per cup

And so many more. There are a lot of types of beans to choose from, and eating them will get you the protein numbers you need to see real muscle gains.

If you go with the dried bean route remember to soak them for a few hours before you cook them, it will make them softer and easier to cook. You can cook beans on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker and keep a container in your fridge for the week. Add beans to a salad, make a burrito or blend them with some salsa for a healthier version of refried beans.


You can find tuna cans with up to 30 grams of protein and for less than a dollar at the grocery store. Tuna is another perfect body-building food that is high in protein and low in fat. Tuna is also high in omega-3 fatty aids, the type of fat associated with reduced rates of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks and tuna’s vitamin B complex combined with the high protein values and omega-3 acids are linked to higher energy. So reap all the benefits of heart-healthy, energy-boosting, protein-rich tuna as a snack or a full meal.

Add tuna to a salad, scoop it straight from the can with crackers or make a good old tuna sandwich to get this power protein in your diet.

Ground Beef

When choosing beef, stick to lean cuts for high protein and no unnecessary fat. Lean ground beef is a source of high-quality protein, and you don’t need a lot to get the protein you need. Just 3 ounces delivers 22 grams of protein, along with a healthy dose of iron, zinc and vitamin B1. A traditional 1/4 hamburger will give you 21 grams of protein making ground beef a tasty and easy way to add high protein to your diet and get bulk on cheap foods.


Quinoa a superfood for bodybuilding and the perfect post-workout meal. Quinoa is high in protein (24 grams per cup), and high in fiber. It is also full of vitamins and minerals and is gluten-free and contains all nine essential amino acids in it. While up front quinoa can look more expensive, keep in mind that one cup of dry seeds equals about 4 cups of cooked quinoa. To get this bulking food even cheaper buy it in the bulk section by the pound rather than in the grains and flour aisle at the grocery store.

Quinoa is another great make-ahead type of protein — having a fridge full of easy protein is essential to being successful with bulking. Cook a pot on the weekend and eat a bowl for breakfast with milk and berries, add a cupful to your ground beef for tacos or burritos, or cook it in broth for a savory, protein-rich side dish instead of eating rice.

More tips on bulking up

  • Go with leaner meats
  • Remember that a post-workout meal within 45 minutes after the workout helps your muscles recover.
  • Buying in bulk is typically cheaper
  • Check out some online resources like this tool to help you calculate the amount of protein you should eat for muscle gains and weight loss. .