How to Gain Weight When You’re on a Budget

Is it possible to gain weight on a budget? Of course it is. We've got a simple guide to help you eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Gaining weight and adding bulk is challenging enough when you have an unlimited budget and all the time in the world. But what about when you have a limited budget and a life to live? Discover how to choose the right foods, gain weight in a healthy way, even when you’re on a budget.

Rethink Where You Buy Food

If you’re used to grabbing convenience foods when hunger pangs strike or doing your weekly grocery run at your nearest market, you might not think that you have much control over what you spend on food. The cost of shopping at the most convenient spots can add up quickly, but you probably have more food shopping options than you think.

Rather than heading to the closest market every time you need to pick up a few things, think about your food shopping strategically. Instead of grabbing your usual order at the supermarket meat counter, go to your neighborhood butcher shop and see which cuts of meat are on sale. Take a spin through your local discount supermarket chain and compare the prices to what you’d normally pay. You might be able to shop for food of the same quality you’re already used to but for a fraction of the price.

Since gaining weight requires a long-term plan and a healthy dose of dedication, planning for the future can give you an edge, too. Think about signing up for weekly food deliveries from your local community-supported agriculture (CSA) outlet. While most offer seasonal vegetables and fruits, you may also be able to get fresh eggs, meat, and cheese delivered right to your front door for an affordable price.

Shop For Protein-Packed Weight Gaining Foods

If you want to gain muscle instead of fat, it’s important to put on weight relatively slowly and to eat a balanced array of nutrients. To approach weight gain in a healthy way, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t getting all of your extra calories from carbohydrates or fats. That’s why emphasizing protein is key to bulking up. To determine just how much protein you really need, get out the calculator. You’ll want to consume about a half gram of protein per each pound of your body weight. Why not simplify the process with a macro tracker?

Consuming over 75 grams of protein per day might seem expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Eggs are packed with protein, and each 6-gram serving of protein costs less than 50 cents. If you’d rather go a plant-based route, pick up a jar of natural peanut butter, which is loaded with protein but boasts a budget-friendly price.

Buy Bulk Foods to Gain Weight

If you’re committed to gaining weight, there’s no reason to buy a couple of groceries here and there. Instead, go big and buy in bulk. While you’ll definitely find a lot of bulk options in warehouse-style stores, consider the cost of buying a membership before you take the plunge. If the cost doesn’t add up for you, consider looking elsewhere for bulk options.

For example, many supermarkets and natural food stores sell nutrient-dense and protein-packed foods like nuts, dried beans, and whole grains in bulk bins. Bring your own extra-large containers and fill them up for a much lower price per pound than what you’d pay for prepackaged foods.

If you already have an Amazon Prime membership, you may also be able to order dried goods in bulk for surprisingly low prices. Shop online for deals on your favorite protein-heavy foods, and consider subscribing to a monthly order to save even more.

Browse the Frozen Aisle to Save Money

Joining a CSA and shopping at discount supermarket chains is a great way to add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet for cheap. But if you’re serious about eating on a budget, you can trim the cost of buying fruits and veggies even more.

Rather than browsing the piles of fresh produce, shop the frozen aisle instead. Though not all frozen produce is particularly cheap, it’s much less expensive than buying fresh. Plus, you’ll find plenty of deals on frozen vegetables that will enhance your weekly stir-fry or fruits that will take your daily smoothie to the next level.

Try Budget-Friendly Supplements to Enhance Your Weight-Gain Diet

If you’re serious about gaining weight, consider adding supplements to your diet. While supplements should never replace healthy meals or make up the majority of your diet, they can help you gain weight and build muscle if you consume them in moderation. For example, downing a protein shake or bar after a strenuous workout can be particularly helpful for bulking up.

Purchasing supplements can be a serious shock to your wallet, so calculate their value before you buy. For instance, creatine supplements can help you maximize gains for less than you’d pay for a serving of red meat. Whey powder can also help you increase your protein intake on a budget, and you can add it to nutritious foods like smoothies.

Develop Meal Plans Featuring Foods That Help You Gain Weight

Now that you know where to shop on a budget and which foods and supplements will help you gain weight without overspending, you need to know how to put it all together. For most people, creating weekly meal plans and food budgets is key. If you know how much you can spend on food per week, you can break that down into a mix of proteins, whole grains, fats, and produce that together make complete meals.

Knowing what you have to work with for the week makes food preparation easier, too. To save yourself time and hassle during a busy workweek, try setting aside a couple of hours for meal prep every Sunday. You’ll wake up on Monday morning with a fridge and freezer full of nutritious foods that help you gain weight so you can start the week right.

Bulking up might sound like a pricey prospect, but it’s possible to gain weight without breaking the bank. If you take the time to plan out your meals, change up your go-to foods, and rethink your shopping habits, you can gain weight on a budget.

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

Read this next