If you’re a competitive athlete training a lot, you’re probably eating a lot (which is work in and of itself). Then we talk about cost and it feels like you need to get another part time job just to support your new hobby.
I get it- I’ve been there myself. Eating “normal” can seem expensive enough. Then tack on another 1000 calories a day and between the time it takes to meal prep and the grocery store bills it can get kind of frustrating.
Here are the tips I use to manage my food costs with the demands of my sport.
First- take a different look at your budget- a new angle
I find a lot of my clients and athletes get frustrated because they put their grocery spending at the bottom of the budget, instead of where I think it should be- right at the top- directly below your housing payment.
For being a first world country, most Americans spend less on food than people living in third world countries. And it’s not because in other places the food is more expensive, it’s because somewhere along the line we decided that we should try to save as much money as possible on inarguably one of the most important parts of our lives.
So I challenge you to reprioritize your food spending. Are there other places you could make adjustments, so you have more money to spend on eating? And when I say “eating”- I don’t mean eating out. I mean fruits and veggies and clean, well raised meats. This might get uncomfortable, but moving things around to have a couple hundred more dollars to spend on food will make meeting your macros a whole lot easier!
Second- where are you shopping, and have you checked to see if what you need or want is on sale?
I have two stores that I shop at for different things, and I wait to see if each will have my stuff on sale before I go. I eat a GoMacro bar almost every day, and if I didn’t buy them on sale, I could end up paying almost $3 a bar. So, I wait until I can get them cheaper (generally they will go for 2 for $5 or even 3 for $5) and I stock up. I do this on the baby food squeezie pouches too (an awesome snack for intra training carbs!). Find where you can get the best deals on the things you eat every day, then stock up as best you can!
And get a Costco membership if you can! Buying in bulk, especially organic veggies and meats, will save you tons of money and a lot of that stuff you can freeze so you don’t have to make lots of trips!
Third- meal prep the basics
Get a bunch of lunches and dinners ready ahead of time so you can buy food in bulk and then you won’t end up eating out throughout the week.
Make a huge pot of rice so you can have a cup as needed for additional carbs. You can do this as well with pasta and potatoes.
And if you’re a chicken eater, make a bunch at the beginning of the week that you can throw in salads, on the rice, etc. I suggest going for dark meat- it’s only a few grams higher in fat, same protein content, the cost is lower, and it has more vitamins. Try to buy organic if you can.
Fourth- don’t be afraid of the frozen foods section
You can get a super clean pizza (even gluten free) and crush some calories all while spending less than $10. I suggest buying a cheese pizza and throwing on some sausage and veggies before you toss it in the oven. Half a pizza per person with a salad and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.
Same goes with frozen beef or turkey patties- easy to cook, quick to make, and can absolutely meet your caloric needs.
Tacos are another one that can be done for not a lot of money but still covering all your nutrition needs (and try Fage 2 percent Greek yogurt instead of sour cream- save some fat macros AND it tastes just as good!)
I like my clients to try to choose organic greens, berries, apples, potatoes, peppers when they are shopping (these tend to have the highest pesticide content), but you can safely buy conventional avocados and bananas without much concern
I also highly encourage buying pasture raised and finished whenever possible (which is why the Costco trip can save you lots of $$).
These are my tips and tricks to save some money and not break the bank while you try and eat all the foods.
Would love to know any suggestions you have as well!