Regardless if you are a strength athlete or someone who wants to eat healthy, eating enough protein is important. Protein needs differ for each person and other factors such as if you are a strength athlete or not.
A general rule of thumb for protein intake is 1 gram of lean mass. Most people do not know their lean mass so 1 gram per pound of body weight works. If you are large like me and weigh upwards of 300 pounds, you should aim anywhere from 200-240 grams of protein.
The healthiest and cheapest way to get enough protein in your diet is through eating whole foods. Buying whole foods mean you are going to have to learn how to cook, but it will be the best thing you can do for your health and wallet.
Protein is expensive and you need a lot to be able to build muscle or sustain a healthy lifestyle. Below is the 11 cheapest sources of protein sources.
Top 11 Cheapest Protein Sources
1.) Canned Tuna is extremely cheap and a good source of protein; a staple in any tight-budgeted person’s diet. The tuna in water is cheapest but if you need to get more dietary fats into your diet, canned tuna packed in oil is a great alternative. A can of tuna, tablespoon of mayo, relish to flavor, salt and pepper and you have a cheap and easy tuna salad.
2.) Canned Salmon is a great alternative to tuna; it has a lower metal content and more omega 3 fats. Salmon patties are my favorite canned salmon recipe.
3.) Whole eggs have 6-8 grams of protein per egg. An egg white contains 3-4 grams of protein if you are worried about cholesterol. Scramble some eggs and mix in a little salsa, wrap in some corn tortillas and you have a tasty meal.
4.) Whey protein is a great source of cheap protein and has anywhere from 24 grams to 30 grams of protein per scoop. In a 5 pound tub you can get 70-75 servings and costs $45-$60 dollars. You need a variety of protein sources in a healthy diet, I would not suggest getting more than 2 scoops a day for non-athletes. Blend fruits, milk or yogurt in with you protein shakes to make them more tasty and contain more protein.
5.) Ground turkey is very lean and packed full of protein. Home made turkey burgers taste great if seasoned properly. This also makes a mean meatloaf.
6.) Whole milk is not the cheapest but one of the easiest ways to get some protein in. A cold glass of whole milk goes great with some brownies or mixed in with a protein shake.
7.) Frozen chicken breast is one of the most popular sources of protein. This is not the cheapest but in the top 11. You can find frozen chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders on sale and use them in anything you can imagine. Grill em, make BBQ chicken, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or anything else you can imagine.
8.) Dark meat chicken (legs and thighs) is a cheaper source than chicken breasts. Marinade chicken thighs and grill for a delicious protein meal.
9.) Cottage cheese is cheap, easy, and accessible nearly anywhere and also a great source of protein. Mix peaches or pineapple with cottage cheese and enjoy a tasty treat. You can always do like me and eat it out of the tub like a boss.
10.) Ground beef is my favorite source of cheap protein. Ground beef is versatile and can make anything from burgers, meatloaf or nachos. A favorite of mine is to cook a pound of ground beef, mix in a few tablespoons of sour cream, a handful of cheese and you have a flavorful and healthy concoction of flavor.
11.) String cheese is a simple snack and packed with 6-7 grams of protein per stick. Whether you take the time to string the cheese or eat it in one bite, this is a great snack.
Bonus: Tips to get meat cheaper
When purchasing meat of any kind, the leaner the cut the more expensive. I made this mistake with ground beef; I would buy the 93% lean/7% fat ground beef and paid $4.99 per pound. I notice that the 80/20 is around $2.99 per pound. It cooks the same and you can drain the fat.
Buy meat on short sale. Fresh meat has a shelf life and stores have to sell it or throw it out if it goes bad. If meat is close to the sell by date, stores mark it down to help move the product. Finding meat marked down $0.50 to $2.00 or more is not uncommon and you can buy it all and freeze it. The closer to the sell by date, the more they will cut the price down so check frequently. Stock up on this meat when you see it on sale and freeze it.
Buy generic or local for more savings!
Have another tip on getting cheap protein or another source you don’t see listed? Leave a comment below!
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13 thoughts on “11 Cheapest Good Protein Sources”
I use a cold processed whey protein shake in the morning, often with a raw egg. The best cold processed whey powders are not necessarily “cheap”, but it’s usually less than buying lots of organic meats, and the immune boosting benefits of raw cold processed whey go far beyond protein, so this makes it a better buy in my opinion.
If you go into most health shops they sell big tubs of lovely peanut butter which is really nice packed with 25-30g of protein per 100g (UK version) not sure what the US one will be..
That stuff is pretty tasty isn’t it?
What about Liver (beef or chicken)? I find that it is cheaper than both eggs or tuna.
Liver is a good source of protein that is pretty cost effective. The only possible drawbacks is higher amounts of fats and increased cholesterol. I’m a fan of dietary fats but I would not recommend eating liver as one of your main sources of protein.
I don’t know why I never thought about Liver, that’s a great suggestion. Liver is a little high in calories which would be good to eat if you are trying to add calories. The problem is a lot of people don’t seem to like Liver. (yum) You could get ~21 grams of protein for ~$0.45 which is good.
How much liver do you eat in a week and how has your body adjusted to it? It’s a good article idea I will have to look into and write!
There a product from heinz called
its basically canned beans without all
the added sugars etc.
A can is 24g protein at $1.49
Its got a lot of carbs etc and is best used during the bulk phase – but man o man its tasty and valued.
Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll have to try that out, sounds tasty.
On the 93% vs 80% if you break it down how much your paying for meat after u cook it and remove the fat, your getting the same amount of meat for the same price. The 80% means 20% is fat and is lost when drained, the 93% means 7% is fat and is lost when drained. If you calculate it our your paying the same price per oz. of meat whether you buy the 80% or 93%, just have to drain more w the 80%. The last i checked at the wal-mart the 80% and 93% where within 1/100th penny on price per oz after cooked and drained. It something to consider, since at that time it didn’t matter which u bought, you got the same amount of meat per dollar after cooking and draining. I no longer get walmart meat and was about a year ago when i made these calculations. Oh and I’ve been through college calculus 2 so not a moron. lol good luck
I never thought about gram for gram on how much meat you’re getting, that’s an interesting thing to bring up. I never thought to consider that.
Won’t lie mind=blown right now.
This goes along with tuna but… pink salmon. A big can is like $3.00 and has 6 or 7 servings of 13g protein. It tastes similar to tuna but in my opinion is better because it’s not so dry! And it’s a natural source of fish oils, a supplement that’s pretty expensive. I pay the extra quarter or whatever for the ‘premium’ which has less bones, although these bones are tiny and they’re actually soft so you don’ttaste them or feel them. I know that turns some people off but just eat it with a good bread! I promise it’s good.
I’m one of those people that gets turned off by the bones and stuff but I do love salmon. There is another kind I get that doesn’t usually have bones but it’s good as heck and costs a little more.
I think that you need to add lentils to the list. A $0.50 bag from Walmart claims to have 13 servings with 10 grams of protein per serving. That comes out to 260 grams of Protein per dollar.
Nice find! I’ll have to try them out.