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45 Cheap High-Calorie Foods for Affordable Weight Gain

Cheap High Calorie Foods and Bodybuilder looking to gain weight

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Bulking up shouldn’t be a full-time job and it shouldn’t break the bank either. I’m a 1.96 m tall guy and I’m telling you from my own experience that eating enough food to put on weight can be such a nuisance. Fortunately, I got past this weight gain roadblock after I researched the cheap high-calorie foods listed in this post.

Given my height (same as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s), I’ve always received the advice of buying nutritional supplements. That’s because almost everyone thinks that it’s tough and expensive to meet a crazy goal of 4000+ calories every single day of the month while making sure you hit the correct proportion of carbs, fat, and protein intake.

Bulking myth busted

You don’t need to spend fortunes on meals and expensive supplements if you’re looking to gain weight or build muscle.

Instead, stick to nutritious and also affordable high-calorie food. Your credit card will be fuller and your goals closer than they’ve ever been.

This blog post is meant to be a handy guide for your next shopping adventures, whether you are a hard gainer, a skinny student looking to pack on muscle, or just a disappointed ectomorph with a lightning-fast metabolism rate that would make even Flash jealous.

Disclaimer: The prices in this food list were taken from Walmart and adjusted to match the 2000 calorie threshold because that’s the average maintenance number of calories needed for a person to keep their current weight.

Cheapest high-calorie foods for weight gain

We split our research into 8 different food categories, just because you can’t drink oils all day, and you also can’t stuff yourself with bananas like a hardcore gorilla. 

Before heading over to the meat of our blog post (pun intended), let’s see which foods made the spotlight, and by this I mean, which are the cheapest high-calorie foods that will help you gain weight in each of the categories.

Cheapest dressing: Canola oil

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Weight Gain: Canola Oil
© Open Food Facts – license

Price per 2000 calories: $0.42

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $1.84;
  • Calories per 100g: 884 calories.

Value

Canola oil is definitely one of the most valuable products you can buy if you are looking to gain weight in an affordable way.

Considering the cheap price and the high number of calories found in this oil, using it is a surefire way to up your calorie intake game.

Nutrition facts

Canola oil is a source of fat with not too many nutrients, vitamins E and K being the stealers of the show here. If you are looking for cheap high-calorie foods with low carbs to gain weight during your bulking phase, oils are a great addition to your diet plan as they don’t provide this type of macronutrients.

How to consume

You can add canola oil into your pan when you’re frying some delicious meat, in the oven when you’re baking some potatoes, or in your salads, sauces, and marinades.

TIP: When it comes to choosing your oil for cooking or dressing, aim for variety. This way you can take advantage of more nutrients found in different products.

For example, choose extra virgin oil when you’re looking for more flavor and oils like the canola one for other uses. 

Cheapest carb: Pancake mix

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Bulking: Pancake Mix

Price per 2000 calories: $1.74

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $2.20;
  • Calories per 100g: 253 calories.

Value

It’s not for nothing that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson opts in for a big chunk of pancakes to eat on his cheat days. They are calorie-rich, tasty, and quite inexpensive to make (not that this Hollywood big shot couldn’t afford more).

Nutrition facts

Quite low in proteins and fats, pancakes are a great source of carbohydrates and offer a decent amount of calcium as well.

However, be aware of the sodium found in such a meal. USDA states that you usually find 439 mg of sodium in a serving size of 100g of pancakes. That’s a fifth of your projected daily sodium intake if you were following a 2000 calories/day diet.

How to consume

You don’t need a manual for this, do you? We all love pancakes and we all like them with different toppings and combined with all sorts of delicious stuff.

For instance, The Rock serves a cup of tequila alongside his portion of pancakes. I like them with jam, some chocolate spread, or even filled with cheese. With this type of meal, the possibilities are endless and you can easily add up the calories.

Cheapest spread: Peanut butter

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Weight Gain: Peanut Butter

Price per 2000 calories: $1.71

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $5.03;
  • Calories per 100g: 588 calories.

Value

A must-have in any bulking addict’s diet, the oldie but goldie peanut butter is a very good investment if you’re aiming to gain weight. High in calories and costing just a few bucks, the peanut butter outperforms the more expensive classic butter every hour of the day.

Nutrition facts

Besides offering a good amount of fat, peanut butter is a very generous source of protein as well. So, while it helps you gain weight faster, it also gives your muscles the necessary resources to grow. Bonus points: PB has a decent amount of potassium and magnesium as well.

How to consume

Spread it on a toast, add it in a shake, or combine it with everything that comes to your mind: a banana, apples, some cookies, or the classic jelly, as Hollywood actor Kevin James above.

Cheapest meat: Whole chicken

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Bulking: Whole Chicken

Price per 2000 calories: $1.79

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $2.14;
  • Calories per 100g: 239 calories.

Value

Among all the meats, your most budget-friendly choice is the chicken. As a tip for maximum bang for your buck, always hunt for whole chickens. Remember, we’re looking to make weight gain affordable.

Nutrition facts

Chicken is on the menu for most of the people looking to build muscle and get ripped. This is because of the high amount of proteins found in this kind of meat. In 100g of chicken, you’ll usually find about 25-30 grams of protein and a little amount of fat as well.

However, if you have cholesterol problems, you may not want to go overboard with our winged friends. A more expensive option for those of you trying to lower your cholesterol intake is turkey meat.

How to consume

Besides eating it at lunch or dinner, boiled, fried, or roasted, you can add it to your salads or put it in a box and serve it like it was a KFC bucket meal.

Keep in mind: Fast food products may be abundant in calories, but they contain a lot of unhealthy nutrients. Secondly, they are much more expensive than home-cooked food.

Cheapest among fruits and legumes: Bananas

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Weight Gain: Bananas

Price per 2000 calories: $2.28

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $1.01;
  • Calories per 100g: 89.

Value

Practically, with bananas, you spend a little more than a dollar per 1000 calories. I think it’s a heck of a deal, ladies and gentlemen.

Nutrition facts

While being a pretty solid source of vitamin B6, C, and potassium, bananas are rich in carbohydrates (about 20-25g per 100g portion). This makes bananas one of the main fruit ingredients in every hard gainer’s diet.

How to consume

For me, bananas are the easiest way to add calories to my daily intake. Grab it, peel it, eat it!

Of course, adding bananas to your shakes, fruit salads, or combining it with pancakes are other great ideas that will bring your calorie intake to the next level.

Cheapest snack: Sunflower seeds

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Weight Gain: Sunflower seeds

Price per 2000 calories: $2.25

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $6.57;
  • Calories per 100g: 584.

Value

Sunflower seeds may look expensive compared with the amount you buy, but actually they are a treasure of nutrients. You know that saying: strong essences are kept in small bottles (or packs in our case).

Nutrition facts

There’s a lot to say here. First, sunflower seeds are high in proteins (21g per 100g portion size), so they will help you build muscle easier.

Second, this kind of seeds contains an almost equal amount of carbs (20g per 100g portion size).

Finally, sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron.

How to consume

Besides eating them straight from the pack, you can unshell them and sprinkle some over a homemade bread or even make a bar out of them. Ultimately, remember, it’s a snack, so make sure to enjoy it!

Cheapest dairy: Heavy whipping cream

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Bulking: Heavy Whipping Cream

Price per 2000 calories: $2.54

  • Price per 1 kg (2.2 pounds): $4.39;
  • Calories per 100g: 345.

Value

I guess 3450 calories for a few bucks is a great deal, isn’t it?

Nutrition facts

This kind of cream is rich in fat (36g per 100g), as you may have guessed, but it’s also a solid source of vitamin A, which has numerous health benefits.

How to consume

Add the whipping cream to your morning coffee, put it on a desert, or just indulge yourself with a few tablespoons.

Cheapest drink: Apple juice

Cheapest High-Calorie Foods for Weight Gain: Apple juice

Price per 2000 calories: $2.66

  • Price per 1 liter: $0.61;
  • Calories per 100 ml: 46.

Value

With 500 ml of apple juice drank per day, you’ll add about 240 calories to your daily intake. And that cost you only 30 cents.

TIP: Natural apple juice tends to get sour much faster than the one with additives, so just make sure you don’t buy extra-large quantities and you keep it in proper conditions.

Nutrition facts

Some of the best things about natural apple juice are that it has:

  • Low sugar (10g per 100ml);
  • Plenty of vitamin C.

How to consume

You can drink it as it is or mix it with other beverages. You heard about Appletini, didn’t you?

The Cheap High-Calorie Foods List for Weight Gain

The Cheap High-Calorie Foods List: The Weight Gain Chart

This chart of cheap high-calorie foods for weight gain shows most of what’s on our budget-friendly list and will come handy whenever you’re in the bulking phase of your training.

TIP: Save the chart to Pinterest, so you’ll never lose track of it.

However, let’s dig deeper into each of the categories.

Cheap high-calorie dressings

Adding oils and sauces to your meals is an extremely efficient way to rack in more calories. So, give these high-calorie dressings a try and incorporate them into your everyday meals.

Oils

  1. Peanut Oil
    • Price per 2000 calories: $0.72
    • Calories per 100g: 884
  2. Sunflower Oil
    • Price per 2000 calories: $1.09
    • Calories per 100g: 884
  3. Coconut Oil
    • Price per 2000 calories: $1.40
    • Calories per 100 g: 862
  4. Olive Oil
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.02
    • Calories per 100 g: 884

Sauces

  1. Ketchup sauce
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.47
    • Calories per 100 g: 112
  2. Mustard
    • Price per 2000 calories: $6.09
    • Calories per 100 g: 66

Cheap high-calorie carbs

Eating carbs may be the most pleasant part of the bulking phase and now it can be inexpensive as well.

  1. Granulated sugar
    • Price per 2000 calories: $0.83
    • Calories per 100 g: 387
  2. Whole grain bread
    • Price per 2000 calories: $1.97
    • Calories per 100 g: 265
  3. White rice
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.86
    • Calories per 100 g: 130
  4. Frozen Pizza
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.22
    • Calories per 100 g: 265
  5. Spaghetti
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.55
    • Calories per 100 g: 124
  6. Whole grain pasta
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.55
    • Calories per 100 g: 124
  7. Brown rice
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.23
    • Calories per 100 g: 111
  8. Brownie Mix
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.65
    • Calories per 100 g: 654

Cheap high-calorie spreads

Besides peanut butter, there is only one more high-calorie spread that made it to our budget-friendly list and that is:

  • Lard
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.41
    • Calories per 100 g: 898

Cheap high-calorie meat

If chicken holds the top of our affordable high-calorie meat list, here are another two solid choices to mix things up when prepping your meals.

  1. Bacon (high-calorie food with low carbs)
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.79
    • Calories per 100 g: 548
  2. Ground lean beef
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.93
    • Calories per 100 g: 332

Cheap high-calorie fruits and legumes

Vitamins are a must when you’re aiming for your dream physique, but that doesn’t mean you can’t absorb a decent amount of calories as well from your fruits and vegetables.

Here are other vitamin-filled products that succeed bananas on our list:

  1. Pinto Beans
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.30
    • Calories per 100 g: 143
  2. Russet Baking Potatoes
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.09
    • Calories per 100 g: 97
  3. Avocado (high-calorie food with low carbs)
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.67
    • Calories per 100 g: 160
  4. Raisins
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.88
    • Calories per 100 g: 321
  5. Lentils
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.64
    • Calories per 100 g: 116
  6. Sweet potatoes
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.78
    • Calories per 100 g: 90
  7. Dried prunes
    • Price per 2000 calories: $6.43
    • Calories per 100 g: 240

Note: If you’re a vegan or thinking about adopting a greener approach diet-wise, then these high-calorie fruits and legumes are your best friends.

Eating green can be expensive, especially if you’re trying to gain weight in your bulking phase, but adopting a vegan diet has its own benefits as well.

Cheap high-calorie snacks

Snacks make the bulking phase of our training routines way easier. That’s a fact. So, here are 6 high-calorie foods you can nibble on during the day and make the weight gain process easier.

  1. Granola
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.40
    • Calories per 100 g: 471
  2. Flax seeds
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.68
    • Calories per 100 g: 534
  3. Crackers
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.81
    • Calories per 100 g: 504
  4. Trail mix (high-calorie food with low carbs)
    • Price per 2000 calories: $2.92
    • Calories per 100 g: 462
  5. Tortilla chips
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.20
    • Calories per 100 g: 488

Cheap high-calorie dairy

Calcium kid hasn’t drunk milk for nothing. Dairy products are generally a very cost-efficient source of calories and will definitely help you bulk up faster and easier.

Besides, if you’re struggling to find high-calorie foods with low carbs, full-fat dairy products are the key to your dietary and bulking up problems.

  1. Whole Milk
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.09
    • Calories per 100 g: 61
  2. Dry (whole) milk powder
    • Price per 2000 calories: $3.96
    • Calories per 100 g: 496
  3. Coconut Milk
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.31
    • Calories per 100 g: 230
  4. Butter
    • Price per 2000 calories: $4.72
    • Calories per 100 g: 717
  5. Cottage cheese
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.28
    • Calories per 100 g: 98
  6. Eggs
    • Price per 2000 calories: $5.73
    • Calories per 100 g: 77
  7. Cheddar Cheese
    • Price per 2000 calories: $6.56
    • Calories per 100 g: 402

Cheap high-calorie drinks

Besides the apple juice, there’s one more kind of juice that will help you gain weight efficiently and that is:

  • Grape juice
    • Price per 200 calories: $5.85
    • Calories per 100 g: 60

TIP: You can combine different foods mentioned in our high-calorie foods list to mix super smoothies that will make your bulking phase a breeze.

To conclude, now you can include cheap high-calorie foods in each one of your meals and make sure that you provide your body with the necessary fuel a.k.a. calories it needs to gain weight and muscles easier without breaking the bank.

Cheap high-calorie food list

How’s your bulking phase going? Leave us a comment below.

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