17 Cheap Protein Foods

Explore a world of protein power with our guide to affordable and nutrient-packed protein sources. Join us on a journey of taste, health, and culinary discovery as we uncover the delightful options for enhancing your meals and well-being

Protein Foods – the building block of a healthier you!

It’s the unsung hero in your journey to a fit and vibrant life, playing a role in everything from weight management to muscle growth and overall well-being. But here’s the scoop: you don’t have to empty your wallet to enjoy the benefits of protein. In this guide, we’re unveiling 17 budget-friendly protein sources that prove eating well can be light on the pocket.

1. Budget Bliss: Natural Peanut Butter

Let’s kick things off with a classic that’s both pocket-friendly and protein-packed. Enter Natural Peanut Butter, a delightful, creamy concoction that offers 8 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving. At just around $2.50 for a 16-ounce jar, it’s a wallet-friendly winner. Spread it on toast, swirl it into oatmeal, or blend it into a nutrient-rich smoothie. Plus, studies suggest that adding peanuts and peanut butter to your diet may lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Opt for the natural kind to skip added sugars and oils.

2. Egg-cellent Savings with Eggs

Eggs, those nutritional powerhouses, won’t crack your budget. For roughly $2 to $4 per dozen, you can enjoy their rich protein content of 6 grams per large egg. Not only do eggs boost your protein intake, but they also help manage calorie consumption by curbing hunger. Start your day with eggs, and you’ll likely consume fewer calories throughout the day. Research even links eggs to reduced levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, better blood sugar control, and more stable insulin responses. It’s the breakfast champion you’ve been searching for!

3. Edamame: The Protein-Packed Green Gem

Edamame, those vibrant green soybeans, are a stellar, plant-based protein option that won’t put a dent in your wallet. A single cup of edamame delivers an impressive 17 grams of protein, all for about $2 for a 12-ounce bag. It’s a budget-friendly and nutrient-rich choice, especially for vegetarians and vegans, as it provides all essential amino acids. Edamame – your gateway to affordable plant-based protein!

4. Canned Tuna: The Ocean’s Protein Bargain

Fish is renowned for its protein punch, and canned tuna stands as an affordable option. For approximately $1, you can score a 5-ounce can, brimming with 20 grams of high-quality protein. Tuna also boasts omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Just a word of caution: be mindful of mercury levels and opt for canned light tuna, sourced from smaller species with lower mercury levels. Your health and budget both win with this choice.

5. Greek Yogurt: Rich in Protein, Easy on the Pocket

Greek yogurt, a versatile and cost-effective protein source, packs a protein punch with approximately 17 grams of protein in an 8-ounce serving. Seek out brands with “live and active cultures” for added probiotics that support gut health and possibly aid in weight management. To keep added sugar at bay, go for plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. Buying larger containers also makes financial sense, with 24 ounces costing around $5.

6. Sunflower Seeds: Tiny But Mighty Protein Boost

Don’t let their size fool you; sunflower seeds are protein powerhouses and budget-friendly. Just one ounce contains roughly 6 grams of plant-based, vegan-friendly protein, not to mention their wealth of essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium. At around $2 per pound, they are an affordable choice. Sprinkle these little wonders on salads, yogurt, or use them as a crunchy topping for various dishes. It’s an easy and tasty way to sneak in some extra protein.

7. Black Beans: Protein and Fiber in One

Black beans are a convenient and budget-friendly source of plant-based protein. A 15-ounce can, priced at approximately $1, offers over 15 grams of protein in one cup. These beans are also a rich source of dietary fiber, which helps control hunger and supports weight loss. Incorporate them into chili, soups, and salads to harness their plant-based protein power.

8. Sardines: The Nutrient-Rich Bargain

Sardines may not be the most popular choice, but they’re worth considering for their protein-rich and nutritious profile. A 3.75-ounce can, costing only $2 on average, delivers approximately 23 grams of highly absorbable protein, along with essential nutrients like vitamin D and B12. These little fish even provide a natural source of calcium by including the bones, contributing to 35% of your daily calcium needs. For those on a budget, sardines offer an affordable protein source with numerous health benefits.

Did You Know?
In the realm of budget-friendly nutrition, protein powder emerges as a versatile and cost-effective ally. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast, a busy professional, or simply looking to enhance your daily protein intake, protein powder offers a convenient and affordable solution. With an average cost as low as a few cents per serving, it's an accessible option that doesn't strain your wallet. A single scoop of protein powder can deliver a substantial protein boost, often containing 20 grams or more. You can seamlessly integrate it into your daily routine by adding it to smoothies, oatmeal, or even baking recipes. Protein powder isn't just about affordability; it's a powerhouse that helps you meet your nutritional goals without compromising your budget.

9. Cottage Cheese: Low-Calorie Protein Powerhouse

Cottage cheese is a wallet-friendly, high-protein dairy product. One cup of full-fat cottage cheese provides over 23 grams of protein and only 206 calories. Its substantial protein content makes it ideal for athletes and those looking to build muscle mass. Research suggests that protein-rich foods like cottage cheese can promote a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management. Find it at most stores for around $3 per 16-ounce tub.

10. Whey Protein: An Economical Protein Boost

Whey protein powder, derived from the liquid part of milk, is an economical way to increase protein intake. At an average cost of just $0.40 per serving, it’s a budget-friendly option. With a single scoop delivering 20 grams of protein, you can easily incorporate it into smoothies, baked goods, or recipes for an extra protein punch. Plus, it’s been extensively studied for its role in weight loss, muscle gain, and strength improvement.

11. Lentils: Tiny but Nutrient-Packed

Lentils, the tiny legume with a big nutritional punch, typically cost around $1.50 per pound. In a single cup, they offer 18 grams of protein, along with fiber, iron, potassium, and B vitamins. Their versatility makes them perfect for soups, stews, and curries. The protein and fiber combo helps you feel full, making lentils a secret weapon in your weight loss journey. Research even suggests that including beans like lentils in your diet can lead to weight loss even without other dietary changes.

12. Oats: Heart-Healthy and Budget-Friendly

Oats, a hearty and gluten-free grain, are an economical choice packed with 13 grams of protein per half-cup serving. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy soluble fiber. Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal not only boosts your protein intake but promotes heart health by reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels.

13. Amaranth: The Affordable Gluten-Free Grain

Amaranth, the lesser-known gluten-free grain, is a protein powerhouse with over 9 grams of protein in one cup. It’s also rich in folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Despite its nutritional value, organic amaranth is budget-friendly, typically priced at around $0.65 per pound. Its nutty taste makes it a versatile addition to various recipes.

14. Milk: A Classic Protein Source

Milk is a readily available and cost-effective source of highly absorbable protein. Whether you prefer conventional or organic, it’s an option to consider. A half-gallon of conventional milk typically costs around $2.50, while organic milk is approximately $4. One cup of whole milk provides over 8 grams of protein, along with essential vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus for strong bones. Use milk as a protein-rich base for smoothies, soups, or as part of a high-calorie, protein-packed diet for weight and muscle gain.

15. Pumpkin Seeds: Tiny Seeds, Big Protein

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a budget-friendly, nutrient-rich way to elevate your protein intake. Just an ounce of these seeds contains 7 grams of protein, making them a great protein-rich snack. They’re also packed with antioxidants like vitamin E and phenolic acids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Add them to oatmeal, salads, or homemade granola. You can find them in bulk at most stores for around $3 per pound.

16. Canned Salmon: Affordable Omega-3 Power

Salmon is a powerhouse of nutrition, but fresh options can be costly. Fortunately, canned salmon offers a cost-effective and nutritious alternative. A 4-ounce serving provides a substantial 26 grams of protein, along with essential nutrients such as B12, vitamin D, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Priced at around $3.60 for a 6-ounce can, it’s a versatile and budget-friendly protein source. Use it in salads, burgers, or enjoy it plain as a low-carb snack.

17. Ground Turkey: Lean and Budget-Friendly

Ground turkey is a nutritious and often more budget-friendly alternative to whole turkey breasts. Prices vary from $3 to $7 on average for one pound. It’s a lean, low-calorie meat boasting 23 grams of highly absorbable protein in a 3-ounce serving, with just 195 calories. Turkey is also rich in B vitamins and selenium, a potent antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Ground turkey is a versatile, cost-effective, and healthy protein choice suitable for various recipes.

Final thoughts on Affordable Protein Abounds

Eating well doesn’t have to break the bank. With these 17 budget-friendly protein sources, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a balanced, nutritious diet that supports your health and your wallet. So, whether it’s natural peanut butter, canned salmon, or any of the other affordable options discussed here, you have the keys to a healthier you without the budget blues. Cheers to affordable protein and a happier, healthier you!