Cheap sources of protein can be found if you know where to look. Use these 10 protein sources to get the biggest bang for your buck. Each source of protein is broken down cost wise into protein grams per dollar.
Keep in mind that these foods might also contain carbohydrates or fat, so you will still need to ensure they fit into your calorie allotment. If there’s a food I missed that you can add, please leave it in the comments.
10. Greek Yogurt – 21.2 grams/dollar
Greek yogurt contains bacteria called acidophillus. These living bacteria have many benefits, including the health of the digestive tract. Try mixing some frozen blueberries into your yogurt for a high protein snack.
Greek yogurt can also be used in place of sour cream in just about any recipe. This can help lower the calorie content and boost the protein.
9. Frozen Chicken – 32.4 grams/dollar
Frozen chicken tends to be cheaper than its fresh counterpart, but if you look hard enough, you can find fresh chicken for nearly the same price when it’s on sale. Buy it in bulk and freeze it yourself for an even bigger discount.
8. Ground Beef – 34 grams/dollar
This is the high fat stuff – 20% fat 80% lean. Although if the lean ground beef goes on sale, you can get it for the same price as the high fat stuff. Have no fear though, rinse your beef, and you could remove up to 50% of the fat content.
7. Beans – 35.5 grams/dollar
Beans are the vegetarian’s choice for cheap protein. They are packed with fiber and protein, and they are low glycemic – which will keep insulin levels under control so that fat can be mobilized and burned.
Try mixing some garbanzo beans with olive oil and spices for a healthy hummus snack. If you’re willing to try something new, I’m a huge fan of this cookie dough dip made with garbanzo beans.
6. Cottage Cheese – 36 grams/dollar
Cottage cheese is a popular snack/meal for people to eat right before bed. It contains casein protein, which is a slow digesting protein for a long night’s sleep. Need a snack idea? Try adding some cinnamon to cottage cheese and use it as a dip for some sliced apples.
5. Canned Tuna – 36.1 grams/dollar
Any college kid trying to scrape by has probably eaten canned tuna before. The meats don’t get much cheaper or more convenient than this. Throw a can on top of a salad for a quick, cheap, protein rich meal.
4. Peanut Butter – 44.9 grams/dollar
Who doesn’t like peanut butter? It tastes great, but be careful not to eat too much. You could go through a jar in no time. Stick to all natural peanut butter. The ingredients should say peanuts and possibly salt, but that’s it.
I like to throw a tablespoon or two into my oatmeal and milk and then mix it with some frozen blueberries, honey, and cinnamon. It’s a tasty meal that’s easy to make.
3. Whey Protein – 45.7 grams/dollar
Before I made this list, I thought whey protein would take the #1 spot, although it is likely the cheapest way to get protein without adding any extra calories from carbs or fat.
Whey can be added to many things including smoothies and protein pancakes. The possibilities are endless. I don’t really use protein powder anymore, as I try to get all my protein from whole foods, but when I did, I used a whey protein isolate.
2. Eggs – 48 grams/dollar
Eggs are one of the most nutritionally packed foods out there. Unfortunately, many people get scared off from eating them because of their cholesterol content. The good news is that dietary cholesterol intake does not directly influence blood cholesterol levels. So eat up – yolk and all.
1. Milk – 49.6 grams/dollar
Milk took the #1 spot for the cheapest protein source. It is a combination of whey and casein protein (fast and slow digesting). For those on a tight budget who are not lactose intolerant, milk is a great way to get in extra protein.