Sometimes I like to go to the mall and people watch… who doesn’t?
I’ve heard an overwhelming amount of people talk about wanting to get in shape but they just cannot afford to eat healthy. While I will leave my personal beliefs about how people spend their money out of it, there are 10 types of protein I feel are the best to eat on a budget.
I’m going to give you the top 10 proteins that are easy on the wallet and great for reaching your fitness goals. So let’s get to it.
10 Best Cheapest Protein Sources
1.) Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is extremely cheap and is a great source of protein. Tuna should be a staple in anyone’s diet, regardless of your budget. You can get tuna that is packed in water or in oil; in water is the cheapest.
Tuna that is packed in oil will help get more dietary fats into your diet.
Try this recipe:
- Take a can of tuna and drain excess water or oil.
- Mix – Mayo, Relish or Pickles, Salt, Pepper
You now have a cheap and easy tuna salad that you can flavor to your liking. Make a sandwich out of it and have some fresh veggies for a nice lunch.
2.) Canned Salmon
Canned salmon is a great alternative to protein. Salmon supposedly has a lower metal content than tuna does and it contains more omega 3 fats than tuna.
Canned salmon is great plain but also try the tuna recipe. You can go a little bit lighter with the mayo since it salmon isn’t as dry as tuna.
3.) Whole Eggs
Notice I said whole eggs. Eggs are the perfect source of protein and when eaten whole, you get all of the essential amino acids and healthy fats you need. Whole eggs have 6-8 grams of protein per egg.
Eggs can be prepared in so many different ways, I’m positive that you can find a way to eat them that you will enjoy.
Try this recipe:
- Scramble some eggs
- Mix in your favorite salsa
- Wrap in a nice corn tortilla and have a quick and light breakfast
Or this recipe:
- Scramble some eggs and leg them cool off
- Mix – Sour cream and hot sauce
This creates a creamy and unforgettable mixture that is great to use as a side dish. If you have a problem getting in your healthy fats during the day, this is a great solution.
4.) Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is a great lean protein. This can be a great substitute for ground beef as long as you add some fats to the mix – otherwise it is way too dry.
Ground turkey can take on a lot of different flavors so your imagination is the limit here. Turkey burgers are great when seasoned properly (don’t confuse these with those flavorless frozen turkey burgers) and they also make a great meatloaf.
- Drizzle in some olive oil to give your turkey more flavor and dietary fats.
5.) Whole Chickens
If you don’t mind putting in a little work prepping, a whole chicken is a great cheap source of protein. There are so many ways to prepare a chicken that I would advise you try so many recipes and have endless amounts of flavors.
Frozen or fresh chicken breasts are a bit more expensive but if you shop around you can find some great deals.
On the flip side, dark meat (the legs and thighs) are a lot cheaper than breasts and can taste so good. You can buy boneless skinless chicken thighs for next to nothing and replace them for chicken breasts and save quite a bit of coin.
6.) Whey Protein
While I prefer to see someone eating their protein instead of drinking it in supplements, whey protein is value packed and a great resource for protein and BCAAs.
Pack in a little more protein and flavor by mixing in whole milk, add in fruits to make a smoothie, or add in some oats if you need to get more carbohydrates… The possibilities are endless!
There are plenty of recipes using whey protein and I highly encourage you find some that you like. Many are sweets that have almost no sugar and can help satiate your cravings while not wrecking your diet.
7.) Whole Milk
While whole milk isn’t dollar per gram cheapest, it deserves a mention. Whole milk is an extremely easy way to get in some great protein, dietary fats, and nutrients.
Mix whole milk with your protein shakes and completely change the profile of your protein shake. Have a glass at breakfast time or even have a glass with some Oreos or brownies. (sometimes you have to indulge, right?)
8.) Cottage Cheese
One of my favorite snacks is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is usually on sale and you should buy up when it is.
You can add anything from pepper to fruit to make cottage cheese match the flavors you like.
1 cup of cottage cheese is around 220 calories and you get 25 grams of protein. The great thing about cottage cheese is it is very satiating so it will help keep your appetite in check.
9.) Ground Beef
Cooking ground beef is probably the easiest protein to cook.
Ground beef varies in price by how lean it is – 80/20 ground beef seems to run about $2.99 per pound and 93/7 runs around $4.99 per pound.
Some of my favorite ground beef ideas:
- Taco Meat – Make a taco salad without chips
- Ground beef mixed with sour cream and hot sauce – Great to get in your dietary fats and feel full for a long time
- Burger Patties – Slap some cheese on it and eat with a fork
- Meatloaf – Try different recipes, especially if you didn’t like your mother’s
10.) String Cheese
One of my favorite snacks is string cheese because they are easy to pack in a lunch or keep at your desk.
String cheese comes in so many flavors and if you like cheese, this will be a great treat for you. Since cheese has a healthy dose of dietary fats, you will feel satiated for some time after you’ve eaten some.
Write down this list of proteins so when you look through the sale ads at grocery stores you will be able to write a solid list of stuff to buy.
I’m not a coupon person but being able to find some good deals at the store is a must if I want to stay under budget.
Planning out your staples and buying things on sale will help you stay in your budget and will most certainly help you reach your fitness goals.
Tips to getting meat cheaper:
If you’ve ever walked through the meat section, you may have seen some meats with a yellow sticker with a discounted price on them. This is called a short sale.
Short sales are where stores are trying to sell meat that doesn’t have much longer of a shelf life. Before you say “ew”, this meat is fine and if you are going to cook within a day or two then it is worth purchasing this meat.
If there is a lot of meat on short sale, buy it and immediately put it in the freezer. Freezing short sale meat is fine and all you have to do is thaw it out before you cook it.
I can find deals of $0.50 to $3.00 or more off and it is hard to pass it up. Check frequently and you will find some great deals.
What is your favorite protein?
Whether it is on the list or not, what is your favorite source of protein? Leave a comment below letting me know!
3 thoughts on “10 Best Cheapest Protein Sources”
Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.
Question about canned fish and mayo. It contains tonnes of sodium which is not healthy at all.
Don’t you think that all the good from protein is being destroyed by sodium poison?.
Thank you again.
The short answer is no, but if you’d like to see why, read below.
Thank you for the question. The first thing I would like to address would be the main question, “is the good from protein is being offset or destroyed by sodium poison?” While I don’t know exactly how much sodium it takes to get sodium poisoning (or Hypernatremia) I will say that with 100% certainty that the amount of sodium in a can of tuna and a tablespoon of mayo is so far below the amount it would take to get… it is also very far below the recommended amount to intake daily.
So the answer to your question is no, with 100% certainty, that the amount of sodium that is in a can of tuna and a portion of mayonnaise is not considered unhealthy.
Now to address some questions you may have about sodium:
In a small can of regular tuna and a serving of mayo there is 265mg of sodium in that serving. There are different opinions depending on which association you consult but most organizations say that you should aim to have 1500 to 2300mg of sodium a day. From what I’ve seen, 3400mg of sodium is the average amount that most people eat. Where does all of the sodium come from? Processed foods.
So even if you aim for 2000mg a day, this one serving is 13.25% of your daily intake. So even a person who follows an 80/20 healthy/unhealthy food regime, you are going to be okay on sodium levels.
Now, sodium poisoning, which is also called hypernatremia is something that happens when sodium levels in your body get extremely high (the amount is 157 mEq/L but that doesn’t help anyone that’s not in science). The actual cause of sodium poisoning doesn’t necessarily happen from eating too much sodium… in fact the more common reason people get sodium poisoning is from dehydration. The low amount of free water causes your cells to release their water and cause many issues. If you were to get sodium poisoning, it would take drinking a bottle of soy sauce.. literally.
Sodium is extremely important to your body because it is a crucial electrolyte in the body. It helps your cells maintain water and helps your body fire off muscle fibers.. Simply put your body can’t function without sodium. There is a myth that high sodium intake can cause high blood pressure and lowering it will then lower your blood pressure. There’s no statistically significant effects on your blood pressure other than a marker. There are other studies that confirm there is no benefit to sodium restriction when it comes to preventing heart disease or death.
Lastly, if you do not get enough sodium, you risk having an increased LDL and triglycerides, increased insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and hyponatremia (not enough sodium) which can be extremely dangerous. Hyponatremia can be caused by drinking too much water (that’s why people say don’t drink too much water).
So the short answer is no it isn’t being destroyed by sodium. 🙂
I will make this an article here later, thank you for the question. Any more feel free to ask!
Thank you for the explanation.
You should be a teacher, seriously.
I started to read your articles and the way you are writing keep my attention and interest.
Please, keep writing.