I really like saving money. I like finding deals or simply learning to live with less. One of my favorite ways to do this is with food and cooking. Once I learned how to cook and make a few cheap staples, I’ve been able to both save money, but also afford higher quality items, such as organic or specialty things.

I have always enjoyed reading posts about how to eat well and not spend an arm and a leg. These resources were great, but I found myself constantly adjusting the amounts and therefore cost, because I eat a lot more than the average person. I eat like an athlete, so I taught myself how to do that while still living a frugal life.

For example, a normal breakfast for the average person might total 500 calories are cost $1.00, say oatmeal with milk and maple syrup or honey and fruit. For me, I add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and nuts to get myself to around 1,000 calories. It sounds like a lot, but three table spoons of peanut butter is 500 calories and depending on brand of peanut butter only costs you $0.20-$0.40.

I thought when I actually looked at my spending and eating, it would be a lot harder to stick to my budget, however on the contrary, the most nutrient dense and calorically dense foods did not have to be expensive. It was when I added extras like pre-made granola, superfoods or things not in season where the money added up.

I want to look at my day, break down the costs, calories and actually show how I eat like a plant based athlete on a budget.

I work at a job that takes care of my lunches and a snack or two, which is a huge benefit. However, when I am not at work, I eat mostly like what I would have for dinner, so the price is comparable. The following is what I eat in an average day, followed by the cost breakdown for my breakfast and dinner, which I eat quite a lot of when it gets cold.

Breakfast: oatmeal, peanut butter, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, banana

1/2 cup oatmeal (Wegmans bulk, organic): $0.62

3 T peanut butter (Skippy brand): $0.26

2 T walnuts (Aldi’s): $0.20

1 T pumpkin seeds (Wegman’s bulk, organic): $0.21

1 banana (brown from CTB, but let’s say Wegman’s organic for argument sake): $0.23

Total cost: $1.52

Total calorie: 1,052 (using my fitness pal app)


Lunch: Hummus, sprouts, tomato, lettuce, parsley garlic dressing on sourdough bread, small soup, pickles


Snack: smoothie with spinach, peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, banana, milk, ice


Dinner: oatmeal with peanut butter, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and blueberries, veggies with yogurt dip

Snack: chocolate ginger brownie


Through the day I drink water and coffee. Sometimes I have juice or kombucha if I have a longer run or workout that day or if I want it or it’s free (were throwing it away because it’s expired).

I would like to do more breakdowns of my daily eats as an athlete on a budget. It is as enlightening for me as it might be fun to read. I have realized that if I am smart with my purchases, I can afford to buy my groceries from my organic co-op, which I would like to do more often.

A few tips just in the beginning which as you’ll see, I use frequently:

– Cook beans with some sort of fat, or add it afterwards

– Use peanut butter willingly as it’s the cheapest nut butter

– Season rice as you cook it

– Bananas are the highest calorie and cheapest fruit, they also act as a natural sweetener

– Eggs should always be free-range, cage-free and organic, ideally local, they are cheap protein and fat but should be used sparingly as they are not as ethical or environmental as beans or nuts

Is this something you would like to see more of?

Would you prefer the meal breakdown or a grocery list?

Would you like both organic and regular prices?

11 thoughts on “Athlete On A Budget”

  1. I enjoy posts like this, Ellie! I am a fan of oats for breakfast, too, because they’re so inexpensive and easy to customize! I’d love to see more meal ideas and the breakdown of cost. I feel like you’re super creative with this type of stuff!

    1. Aw thank you Patrick! Something I’d also like to do is take other people’s recipes and see what the dollar value is. That might be a fun next step!

  2. Um I think I see an addition to your health coaching career…..?? Budgeting meals. For athletes. Or anyone.

    This is really really interesting! Something I would be way too lazy to ever do myself (plus I just hate math) so I super appreciate you taking the time. I’m flabbergasted how inexpensive an oatmeal bowl breakfast is! I’d love to see more calorie vs cost breakdowns. I, too (as I think you know) thrive on saving money. And yet I’ve really been wanting to focus on better quality products – local, organic, grass fed etc. I’ve been trying to find way a to do both things…

    1. YAS Cora I knew you’d be on board! I think it’s going to be about prioritizing things. Like being ok with eating more simply if the products are high quality. It’s a balance because sometimes my favorite food, peanut butter, can get expensive!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *