Getting strong and building all kinds of freaky muscle isn’t easy. You need to eat like starving man at every meal to make the kind of gains that will turn heads.

Make no mistake – your nutrition needs to be the biggest priority in order for you to recover as fast as possible to be able to train as much as possible. Quality calories and huge amounts of high-quality protein and carbs help your body repair and fuel performance in the gym. Like it or not, eating is just as important as training if you want to get results.

And therein lies the problem. Quality nutrition isn’t cheap, and eating six meals or more each day certainly isn’t cheap either.

If you’re a student or a grad on a tight budget, it’s still possible to make gains by getting the most from your money. We’ve compiled 12 tips and tricks for obtaining as much quality nutrition as possible on the cheap. Let the penny-pinching begin!

1. Get yourself a Sam’s Club membership

The savings on the staples of a high-quality diet are substantial over the course of a year and will pay for the membership in the long run. And keep an eye out for their Instant Savings Book and stock up on food you need.

Plus, you can find MuscleTech® supplements there – including the best protein value in America – MuscleTech 100% Whey Protein Plus!

2. Stop eating out

Those $8.99 “value” meals at your local fast food restaurant are loaded with fat and cheap-quality proteins. The money you spent can buy you 20 lbs. of rice at your local Sam’s Club. Remember: restaurant food, no matter how cheap, is always marked up higher than if you simply purchase the ingredients yourself. Put the effort in and cook your own food. Meal prep and cook a week’s worth of meat, like chicken, in one shot. Refrigerate and you’ve got a healthy, musclebuilding meal at your fingertips.

3. Eat eggs!

They’re not just for breakfast. Buy them in bulk and eat them as often as possible. With 5 to 6 grams of protein in each egg, they’re one of most cost-effective proteins on a cost per gram basis. Plus, they’re versatile. Scrambled, made into omelets with fresh veggies, or simply boiled and eaten on the go – eggs should be every bodybuilder’s number one food.

4. Get the newspaper and shop the weekly sales circulars

Make the junk mail work for you. Don’t rely on just one supermarket. Shop around each week and get what you need where the best deals are. Don’t forget to price match!

5. Go for ground beef

It’s not as pretty as a nice steak, but ground beef certainly gets the job done when it comes to building muscle on the cheap. It has 6 to 7 grams of protein per raw ounce, and you can buy it bulk at nearly every supermarket.

6. Hit up the local farmers markets

You’ll likely find great deals on organic vegetables and sometimes even meats. Also, because most vendors at farmers’ markets grow seasonal products, there is often a large surplus of certain products at certain times. If you are willing to purchase large quantities of surplus vegetables in peak season, you can save a considerable amount of money.

7. Learn to love canned fish

Canned tuna and salmon are two of the best foods you can eat if you want to build lean muscle. Not only are they loaded with protein, but they’re cheap and rich in fish oils – which have numerous benefits for athletes.

8. Use MuscleTech Pro Series supplements

Yes, building muscle on a budget can include supplements. MuscleTech® Pro Series offers one of the best supplement values in America. From our great-tasting PHASE8™ protein to pre-workouts (NeuroCore®), musclebuilders (Clear Muscle®), aminos (MyoBuild® 4x) and testosterone support (AlphaTest®), the MuscleTech Pro Series combines clinically dosed, premium ingredients and incredible value. Don’t just take our word for it, check out the full lineup and compare it to what you’re taking now!

9. Supplement your protein shakes

Add in cost-effective foods to your protein shakes to add more calories and boost their protein content. Foods like peanut butter, cottage cheese and oats are inexpensive but add considerable musclebuilding calories and macronutrients.

10. Don’t just count beans – eat them!

Pinto beans have a nice combination of protein and fiber, and are a delicious addition many musclebuilding meals. Also, if you’re a big fan of refried beans, you’ll be glad to hear they’re easy to make at home – just mash up pinto beans with garlic and spices on the stove. Other beans, like black beans and chickpeas, are also cheap and add fiber and protein your diet.

11. Grow your own

Modern bodybuilders know the importance of greens – but in the absence of a local farmers’ market, instead of buying pre-made salads in a bag, why not grow your own? For about the cost of a bag of salad greens ($3), you can buy a packet of seeds for mixed salad greens. The packets have 500 seeds and will plant a 30-foot long row of greens. Now we know you’re not going to do this, especially if you’re a student…but you get our point. Start by growing your own herbs and see where it goes from there.

12. Hit up the bulk bins

Visit your local bulk food store to stock up on spices. The cost per ounce is always cheaper and you’ll be able to add some bold flavors to your foods without going over budget. You may also wish to check out almonds or other nuts to add protein, fiber and/or healthy fats to your diet while you’re there.

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