Healthy Weight Gain Meal Plans for People on a Budget

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN

The following meal plans are for anyone who is underweight and looking to gain weight on a budget. They are based on simple foods that should be easy to find in your local supermarket in most countries. They can also be used by people who would like to build muscle, if used in combination with an appropriate strength training program. Days 1-5 provide approximately 3000 calories and would be expected to result in weight gain of 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) per week, depending on gender, body size, and activity level.

Days 4 and 5 are designed for people who would like to cook food in batches for the week to save time. That said, variety is key to a healthy diet, so try to vary your diet as much as possible including different fruit and vegetables with the meals.

Days 6 and 7 are slightly different, providing 4000 calories. These days should only be followed by highly active people who are training regularly and looking to increase their muscle mass significantly. These days should not be followed by people who are not training, as they will result in an unhealthy increase in body fat and over time could increase the risk of health problems associated with eating too many calories. People who lead extremely inactive lifestyles may wish to skip one or two of the snacks in order to reduce the calorie intake to 2500. If in any doubt, please consult a nutritionist, dietician, or personal trainer for further advice.

The meal plans are designed to provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. For more weight gain ideas see the article on high calorie foods, and the other set of weight gain meal plans.


Day 1
2947 Calories - 175g Protein - 224g Carbs - 150g Fat

Breakfast: 836 Calories - 36g Protein - 78g Carbs - 43g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
3 Scrambled Eggs 221
3 slices Wheat Toast, buttered 497
Glass of Orange Juice 118

Snack 1: 105 Calories - 1g Protein - 27g Carbs - 0g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
Banana 105

Lunch: 776 Calories - 53g Protein - 21g Carbs - 55g Fat
Chicken, Bacon & Avocado SaladCalories
100g Chicken Breast (cooked), 2 pieces lean Back Bacon (grilled) 303
1 Avocado, 80g Mixed Salad Leaves, 50g Tomatoes, Cucumber 354
Dressing: 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, Vinegar, Seasoning 119

Snack 2: 160 Calories - 4g Protein - 3g Carbs - 14g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
25g Unsalted Nuts 160

Dinner: 881 Calories - 78g Protein - 88g Carbs - 22g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
3 slices Meatloaf (1 inch each) 603
200g Mashed Potato 166
80g Peas, 2 Carrots 112

Desert: 189 Calories - 3g Protein - 7g Carbs - 16g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Dark Chocolate 189

Day 2
3010 Calories - 122g Protein - 320g Carbs - 137g Fat

Breakfast: 806 Calories - 28g Protein - 110g Carbs - 27g Fat
Peanut Butter, Banana & Honey SandwichesCalories
4 slices Whole-Wheat Bread 352
3 tbsp Peanut Butter 285
1 Banana, 3 tsp Honey 169

Snack 1: 222 Calories - 5g Protein - 29g Carbs - 8g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 Apple (sliced), 1 tbsp Peanut butter 222

Lunch: 901 Calories - 41g Protein - 97g Carbs - 42g Fat
Baked Potato with Tuna & Sweet CornCalories
2 Baked Potatoes (200g each) 428
100g Tuna, 80g Sweet Corn, 1 tbsp Mayonnaise 342
Green Salad dressed with 1 tbsp Olive Oil, Vinegar, Seasoning 131

Snack 2: 445 Calories - 7g Protein - 35g Carbs - 31g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 Avocado (mashed), on 3 Rye Crackers 445

Dinner: 636 Calories - 41g Protein - 49g Carbs - 29g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
4 Chicken Thighs (grilled/roasted) 259
150g (uncooked weight) Brown Rice 179
Roast Mediterranean Vegetables (zucchini, red onion, capsicum, eggplant etc.) in 1 tbsp Olive Oil 198
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Day 3
2904 Calories - 133g Protein - 336g Carbs - 111g Fat

Breakfast: 843 Calories - 28g Protein - 117g Carbs - 27g Fat
Banana, Honey & Nut OatmealCalories
65g Oats, 300ml Whole Milk 425
1 Banana, 25g Nuts, 2 tsp Honey 300
Glass of Orange Juice 118

Snack 1: 119 Calories - 2g Protein - 15g Carbs - 6g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
Granola Bar 119

Lunch: 1000 Calories - 52g Protein - 92g Carbs - 44g Fat
Salmon & Salad PittasCalories
200g Canned Salmon 360
2 Whole-Wheat Pitta Breads 308
2 tbsp Mayonnaise, Salad 222
1 Apple 110

Snack 2: 193 Calories - 5g Protein - 42g Carbs - 1g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 Mashed Banana on 1 slice Wheat Toast 193

Dinner: 599 Calories - 34g Protein - 53g Carbs - 29g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
Large Cod Fillet (150g) 123
300g Potato Wedges, cooked in 1 tbsp Oil 344
Mixed Salad Leaves, 1 tbsp Olive Oil, seasoning 132

Desert: 150 Calories - 12g Protein - 17g Carbs - 4g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 Fruit Yogurt 150

Day 4
3007 Calories - 123g Protein - 417g Carbs - 93g Fat

Breakfast: 802 Calories - 24g Protein - 101g Carbs - 33g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
50g Granola, 30g Oats, 150ml Whole Milk 443
25g Nuts & 25g Raisins 241
Glass of Orange Juice 118

Snack 1: 105 Calories - 1g Protein - 27g Carbs - 0g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
Banana 105

Lunch: 758 Calories - 41g Protein - 123g Carbs - 14g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 serving Squash, Lentil & Bean One-Pot (Recipe) 608
Fruit Yogurt 150

Snack 2: 203 Calories - 9g Protein - 12g Carbs - 11g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Cheese, 2 Rye Crackers 203

Dinner: 959 Calories - 46g Protein - 110g Carbs - 35g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 serving Bolognaise (Recipe) 318
150g Whole-Wheat Spaghetti 510
Mixed Salad Leaves, 1 tbsp Olive Oil, seasoning 131

Snack 3: 180 Calories - 2g Protein - 44g Carbs - 0g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
9 Dried Apricots 180

Day 5
3094 Calories - 174g Protein - 255g Carbs - 142g Fat

Breakfast: 802 Calories - 24g Protein - 101g Carbs - 33g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
50g Granola, 30g Oats, 150ml Whole Milk 443
25g Nuts & 25g Raisins 241
Glass of Orange Juice 118

Snack 1: 160 Calories - 4g Protein - 3g Carbs - 14g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
25g Unsalted Nuts 160

Lunch: 1028 Calories - 53g Protein - 89g Carbs - 30g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 serving Tomato & Seafood Stew (Recipe) 560
Buttered Whole-Wheat Roll 358
1 Apple 110

Snack 2: 200 Calories - 8g Protein - 15g Carbs - 9g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 tbsp Peanut Butter, 1 slice Whole-Wheat Bread 200

Dinner: 715 Calories - 82g Protein - 40g Carbs - 40g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 serving Chicken Casserole (Recipe) 629
100g Cabbage 24
80g Peas 62

Desert: 189 Calories - 3g Protein - 7g Carbs - 16g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Dark Chocolate 189
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Day 6
4083 Calories - 201g Protein - 368g Carbs - 170g Fat

Breakfast: 960 Calories - 49g Protein - 67g Carbs - 55g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
3 Poached Eggs, 2 Slices Whole-Wheat Toast, buttered 553
2 pieces Lean Back Bacon, grilled 138
Mushroom & Tomatoes, 1 tbsp Olive Oil, grilled 151
Glass of Orange Juice 118

Snack 1: 305 Calories - 9g Protein - 42g Carbs - 9g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
1 slice Whole-Wheat Bread, 1 tbsp Peanut Butter, 1 Banana, sliced 305

Lunch: 858 Calories - 56g Protein - 30g Carbs - 28g Fat
Tuna & Bean SaladCalories
150g Tuna, 1/2 can Mixed Beans 477
Salad Leaves, 1 tbsp Olive Oil 131
Whole-Wheat Roll 250

Snack 2: 380 Calories - 8g Protein - 46g Carbs - 18g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Nuts, 9 Dried Apricots 380

Dinner: 1279 Calories - 65g Protein - 141g Carbs - 50g Fat
Chicken & Cashew Stir-FryCalories
150g Chicken, 40g Cashew Nuts 398
100g Mixed Vegetables (cabbage, carrots, broccoli) 37
2 tbsp Oil, 1 tbsp Honey, 1 tbsp Soy Sauce 322
150g Whole-Wheat Noodles 522

Snack 3: 280 Calories - 14g Protein - 36g Carbs - 10g Fat
OatmealCalories
40g Oats, 200ml Whole Milk, 1 tsp Honey 280

Day 7
3999 Calories - 165g Protein - 413g Carbs - 180g Fat

Breakfast: 1052 Calories - 38g Protein - 141g Carbs - 38g Fat
Protein Pancakes, Fruit, YogurtCalories
Pancakes (2 Eggs, 40g Whole-Wheat Flour, 30g Ground Almonds, 150ml Whole Milk, 1 Mashed Banana) 675
Toppings: Fruit, 50g Greek Yogurt, 2 tsp Honey 202
1 glass Prune Juice 175

Snack 1: 203 Calories - 9g Protein - 12g Carbs - 11g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Cheese, 2 Rye Crackers 203

Lunch: 1145 Calories - 51g Protein - 95g Carbs - 65g Fat
Sardines on Toast, Avocado SaladCalories
140g Canned Sardines, mashed on 3 slices Whole-Wheat Bread 564
Salad Leaves, 1 Avocado, 50g Tomatoes, 1 tbsp Olive Oil 471
1 Apple 110

Snack 2: 315 Calories - 9g Protein - 38g Carbs - 13g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
50g Granola, 150ml Whole Milk 315

Dinner: 1095 Calories - 55g Protein - 120g Carbs - 37g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
200g Roast Beef 358
300g Roast Potatoes 447
Mixed Vegetables (carrots, peas, parsnips, sweet corn) 290

Desert: 189 Calories - 3g Protein - 7g Carbs - 16g Fat
Food ItemsCalories
30g Dark Chocolate 189
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