Alpha Muscle Meals

Aside from rent/mortgages, food is a major household expense. If you can cut your food bill, you will be on your way to financial freedom. If you want to build a strong and healthy body while on a budget, you need to learn how to cook for yourself. In fact, I cook most of my meals, as food is expensive. I eat big and the kind of meals I’d get at Chiptole would run me $15 each. Cooking saves money.

alpha chili

What are the principles of the Alpha Muscle Meal?

Before we talk specific recipes, let’s talk concepts. What is the concept of a “alpha muscle meal”? What’s the big picture?

There are a few principles to keep in mind:

1. Affordable.

After all, if we had money to waste we wouldn’t need to cook for ourselves. Costco (or Sam’s or an ethnic market or any other place where you can buy in bulk) is your new best friend.

Dried lentils and beans and big bags of dry rice are your new good friends. Compare prices of canned beans to prices of dried beans. The difference will blow your mind.

A crock pot will turn dry roasts, which are inexpensive, into moist stews. Get one.

Carrots are inexpensive. You can buy a 10 pound bag of organic carrots at Costco for $5.99. Have you ever seen how many carrots that is?

2 Protein rich.

That goes without saying.

crock pot chicken

3. Filling.

If you’re hungry, you’re thinking of your next meal rather than getting shit done.

4. Low glycemic index foods.

Blood sugar highs and lows are no bueno. You’re moody and lack mental clarity. You’re also messing up your blood sugar function and giving yourself Type II Diabetes.

5. High in antioxidants and phytonutrients.

We want to be jacked and healthy. It’s not enough to just gulp down protein shakes in If It Fits Your Macros style. You need to throw in some plants and spices, too.


Why Chili is Alpha

Think about who eats chili. Cowboys. Farmers. Vikings. Men who sit around a fire and do manly stuff.

Also, poor people eat chili. I ate a lot of 15 Bean Soup and chili growing up because it’s inexpensive.

Chili and stew is amazing because you throw in most anything and it turns out delicious.

Chili and stews are also amazing because they are a great way to eat vegetables. I juice veggies, sure, and love a Real V8 Juice. But you should eat them, too.

Have you ever sat down to eat a raw carrot? That’s rabbit food. It takes forever to eat a single carrot. Now chop up that same carrot and cook it in chili and it’s soft and delicious. It’s a little sweet, even.

And because you’re going to eat all of the stew, you don’t lose any nutrients from cooking them. (Some nutrients get altered; in fact, some nutrients are more bioavailable in cooked rather than raw form.)

Alpha Chili Recipe

chili recipe

I do not count calories, gents, so don’t even ask me how many calories are in these recipes. My dieting is based on this, “Oh, I’m a little soft. Be a little hungry after each meal. Oh, I need to gain muscle. Make sure I’m full.”


This could be anything. I use salmon, mahi mahi, ground trukey, turkey meatballs, pork roasts, whole chickens, flank steak, beef butts, ground beef, whatever. Use what you can afford.

How much? As much as you can afford. Remember, if you get a crock pot you can use skirt steak and other less expensive cuts on meat.

Tomato paste/canned tomatoes.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is a natural sunscreen and skin protectant. It also gives your skin a glow.

Tomato paste is a thickener, that is, it gives you stew or chili rather than soup. (There’s some concern about BPAs in canned tomatoes. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but do your own research and make your decisions.)


The best thing about chili? You don’t taste the vegetables!

I don’t really understand the food science, but I do know that with chili you really don’t tasted the vegetables you put into it. You taste the tomatoes and spices and meat, but the veggies go unnoticed.

Carrots go great with stews and chili. They are filling and loaded with antioxidants. Carrots improve your skin tone and texture.

Greens go great with chili, too. However, wait until the very end to throw them in. Otherwise they will just sort of dissolve and be a little too bitter.


Soak your dry beans overnight in water. Use a lot of water. Cover the lentils fully with room to spare, as the beans and lentils will expand up to three times their size.

Once they are ready, dump out the water and you have lentils and beans for chili and stew.

alpha male muscle meals


There’s a concept called “volumetrics.” You want to eat a lot of food to fill up your stomach without getting fat.

I like using green beans as filler. They are inexpensive, fiber rich, and have some vitamins and minerals in them, too.

I also use a mixed vegetables bag from Costco. It contains carrots, peas, green beans, and corn.

Celery and onions also go well with alpha chili.


I use one tablespoon of curry powder. (This stuff is good.)

Start with less rather than more. You can add spices to under-seasoned foods, but if you over-season your meals, you’re screwed.

How to Cook Alpha Chili

salmon alpha male chili

This is easy. There are two ways.

With a crock pot.

Throw everything in together. Cook it on low for 8 hours. That’s it.

You can cook your food the night before and wake up to your food for the rest of the day.

I use this Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker because it has a timer on it and because you can cook a lot of food at once.

If you can’t afford $49 for a crock pot, save your money. It’s an investment in your health that will also save you hundreds of dollars a year. You can also buy a less expensive crock pot like this one.

Without a crock pot.

Brown the meat. Drain the grease with a strainer.

Throw in beans/lentils, tomato paste, tomatoes, vegetables, and spices into a pot.

Cook on low for 20-30 minutes.

Yep, that’s it.

Area you ready to get F.A.F. (Fancy As F–K)?

Get yourself a delicious roast or some lamb. Throw some rosemary and oil on it. Pan sear it until the sides are golden brown.

Then throw that bad boy into your chili. (Don’t use tomatoes, though. Use vegetable stock instead.) You want to taste the rosemary and other spices.

alpha chili stew


Some tips

You can use vegetable stock (or water) to make your chili more stew like.

If you didn’t fully soak your lentils, you may need to add additional liquid or else your chili may be too dry.

You can throw an entire chicken (take out the plastic crap inside of it first, though) into the crock pot and then make alpha chicken chili.

I eat the bones, as a matter of fact, as the crock pot completely cooks the chicken down and the bones are soft.

Experiment for yourself and Post your recipes.

There’s no right or wrong answers here. Just throw a bunch of meat and vegetables and beans and spices together and see what you like.

Also, check out our podcast on nutrition.

  • Joe Duke

    Awesome. I will try it this week. Reading this made me really hungry, like your other posts. “Hunger is the best sauce”.

  • Typical Male

    How long do you have to cook the chicken bones before you can eat them? I read that bone broth is excellent for your gut health

    • Danger & Play Blog

      How long do you cook it for, how big is the chicken, and how strong are your teeth?

  • UncleStomp

    The single best and most versatile investment anyone can make when it comes to food preparation, and I say this as a former chef, is a pressure cooker. Stews and ragus that taste like they’ve cooked for 3 hours in 30 minutes. Beans in 5-15 minutes. Perfect rice every single time when cooked cooked with the pot-in-pot method in a pressure cooker. Less oxidization of nutrients. You can also do steaks in them, etc.

    • Charlie

      I guess Im on your boat man. I use a pressure cooker to cook beans, lentils and brown rice.
      However I know some guys at the gym that prefer the slow cooker. Maybe because its more newbie friendly.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      I’ve never used a pressure cooker. I’ll look into them; thanks!

    • Revo Luzione

      I dig the stainless steel Presto pressure cooker, it was under $40 on amazon when I bought it. It speeds up chili, but it really shines in making bone broth, turning an all-day job into a 45 minute breeze. Speaking of, have you looked into bone broth as a digestion improver & training recovery aid? It’s high in glycine, an amino acid that helps connective tissue and gut health.

      • UncleStomp

        Ya, I’ve looked into broth, and I do broth fasts every now and then. When I make stews, which is often, I use cuts of meat that come with bone, like beef shin. I usually roast the bones in the oven for 30 minutes b4 putting them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Tastes a lot more, and better nutritional value etc, than without the bones. The bones can be reuased several times for plain broth as well.

  • Nate

    Guys, Mike couldn’t be more right on this. I make meals for the week the same way Mike suggests, let it cook overnight, wake up & take it to work.

    Would be awesome to get more recipes from guys already using a crockpot. I’ll list a few of mine:

    Beef Stew/Whole Chicken Stew
    Big chuck roast (or sub in whole chicken if you prefer)
    carrots, celery diced up (I just eye how much)
    2-3 cloves of garlic
    1 sweet onion diced up
    Small bunch of Italian parsley diced up
    Rosemary & Thyme for spice (if you can get fresh, go for it)
    Add water about half way to top of crock pot
    Let it sit for 8 hours on low, you’re set
    2-3 lbs of lean ground beef (i use 93%, choose what you like)
    4 poblano peppers
    3-4 chili peppers
    1 bag of brown bag chili mix (
    8 oz of tomato paste
    Either throw in beans from a bag that you’ve soaked or sometimes I go with the Bush’s Beans Texas Ranchero mix, just throw two whole cans in there
    Cayenne pepper powder (start out with a low dose & work up like Mike says)
    Chili pepper powder
    Fill with water until you reach the consistency you like

  • Brissbrass

    My personal alpha chili recipe that I cook in a $17 Hamilton Beach 4-quart slow cooker. This recipe fills the cooker up perfectly and gives me a meal a day for about a week. I also use canned no sodium added beans, saves the step of soaking your lentils.

    2lb grass feed ground beef,
    1 16oz can low sodium kidney beens, 1 16oz can low sodium blackbeans
    1 chopped onion
    1 chopped green pepper
    1 can green chilies
    1 8oz can tomato paste or crushed tomatoes but will come out more watery.
    Spices (in order from most used to least): Paprika, Chilli powder, Cumin, Salt, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper

    I LIGHTLY brown my beef first then put everything in the pot. Usually peppers and onions first, beans, tomato paste, beef, and spices on top. Once everything is in there I add water to fill it up. I sometimes add some tomato puree/ sauce(unseasoned) as well. The spices are an initial investment but will last a while and can be used for other meals. Leave on low over night.

    • Brissbrass

      I personally love 2-3lb beef chuck for slow cooking, fits nicely in the 4 qt. With minimal spices, Worcester sauce and some onions. It falls apart when its done and you can add some Stubbs BBQ sauce for some killer pulled beef. The Brisket is also good as a leaner cut comes out in long strands though so I tend to cut it in slices before load it in the slow cooker.

  • Revo Luzione

    If you’re using good quality meat, and you’re eating paleo-ish–don’t
    drain the fat!! The fat from the meat is some of the most nutrient-dense
    part of the animal, especially if it’s pastured!! The fat carries
    fat-soluble vitamins, and also adds calories, which is important in
    heavy training cycles.

    Love the recipes, keep em coming! I’m making chili tomorrow with elk meat that my dad shot, and I butchered & ground, and tomatoes that my mom froze from last year. Total meal cost will be something like $2 for 4 hefty meals.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Good point.

  • Wilshire

    this chili recipe will knock your socks off

  • poledaddy

    Thanks for the follow-up post. I’ve been working on chili for about a while now – at least 8 weeks, but I still got several ideas to try from this I’m going to try out this Sunday.

    The #1 biggest benefit of chili/stew: you can heat it up without waiting for it to thaw out and it still tastes awesome. You cannot under emphasize that enough for a guy on the move that has the occasional social dinner/work travel scheduled at the last minute, etc.

    Up to when I started cooking chili, it always used to be a point of stress for me cooking my food, freezing it, and taking it out to thaw as I needed it during the week. I used to throw out food that went bad a decent amount ($ down the drain), or end up having to get take-out because I had frozen meal I forgot to transfer to the fridge the night before. Or I get invited to a dinner with friends and I’m like “crap I want to go but have food in the fridge that is going to go bad if I don’t eat it soon”.

    When you make a big chili batch on Sunday and put it all in pyrex, it’s like a big section of your brain that was used to keep track of that shit is freed up to focus on other areas of your life. My only regret is I didn’t start this years ago, would have saved a lot of hassle and a good amount of money, especially throughout my 20s when I was a lot tighter on funds and lived a crazier schedule.

    Get a 6 quart, not a 4. Bigger batch will lasts longer. And get an electronic version that will switch to “keep warm”, definitely worth it to avoid over-cooking and ruining a batch.

  • Greg

    If you dont want to spend even fourty bucks on a crockpot, they are everywhere at resale/thrift stores, usually five to eight bucks. Same with george foremans and coffee makers, dirt cheap.

  • Brissbrass

    Since the first time I heard Jay talk about turkey meatballs on the podcast I’ve wanted to try some. Unfortunately I live in an area that doesn’t have Trader Joe’s. So over the past few weeks I decided to learn to make Turkey Meatballs from scratch and I’d like to share the process with everyone.

    2- 1lb packs of ground turkey ( I use 94/6)
    1/2 cup grated Romano (buy in block and grate yourself to save money)
    Dried Parsley ( + or – 1/3 of a cup)
    Gluten free flour (1/2 cup sometimes more) – could also use traditional bread crumbs

    1- 26oz Jar of tomato sauce (can go with plain or seasoned, I like Muir Glen)
    A little: Pepper and Oregano

    Start by putting the ground turkey, Romano, parsley, flour, pepper and oregano in a mixing bowl. Fold over the meat a bunch of times mixing in all the spices. Once mixed begin to roll into balls I usually do them about 1″-1.5″ in diameter. Put them all on a plate and heat some olive oil in a frying pan. You want the oil to fully cover the bottom of the pan. Brown the meatballs in the pan first, just continuously turn them over till all sides are brown.

    I find turkey to be dry so I finish cooking the inside of mine in a big pot. I pour sauce over them, letting them simmer on low heat for about 20-30 min. If you wanted them without sauce though I think you could just finish them in the oven on 250F by placing the frying pan in the oven for 10min. Easy to reheat and store!