With food inflation on the rise, consumers are looking for more affordable protein options. We ranked the top 15 choices for the cheapest sources to help you stay within budget.
Protein is an important part of staying healthy. It helps you feel fuller for longer, it repairs muscles and bone cells, making hormones and enzymes, and other vital bodily processes. Protein is also responsible for keeping you energized!
Making sure you’re getting enough protein can be as easy as enjoying our Protein+ plan, but you can also stay on track with affordable high protein foods. Having a well-rounded diet full of protein is important, but with the rising cost of groceries getting even higher, having a budget in mind is also necessary.
Try these 15 cheap protein sources that won’t break the bank!
Average cost: $0.17 (dried, per pound)
Chickpeas are a great resource for those looking for cheap vegetarian protein sources! In addition to having 19.5g of protein per half cup, chickpeas are also a healthy legume that can help lower blood pressure, manage blood sugar, and improve bone and heart health.
Average cost: $0.33 (per pound)
This powerhouse grain packs a whopping 13g of protein per 100 grams when cooked! The protein content will change, however depending on what kind you get. Your best bet for the highest protein content is from steel cut because they retain all the nutritional value of whole grain oats (which are also packed with fiber).
Average cost: $0.39 (dry, per pound)
Cooked black beans have about 8g of protein per half cup. This is one of the more filling cheap protein sources because of their high fiber and carbohydrate content.
Average cost: $1.47 (per serving)
A simple and easy way to add protein to any meal is to incorporate a scoop of protein powder. This supplement can offer 20-30g of protein in each serving. When shopping, plant-based or whey protein powders are usually the best choices because they offer high levels of amino acids (for whey), and fiber and antioxidants, (for plant-based), which animal sources often lack.
Average cost: $1.88 (whole, per pound)
A single, skinless chicken breast has about 54g of protein, while a cup of dark meat has about 36g of protein. White meat chicken also tends to be lower in calories and fat. Organic chicken breast has the same amount of protein as non-organic, however, organic chicken tends to be more heart-healthy, and is less likely to make you sick.
Average cost: $2.00 (per pound)
Depending on the brand you go for, tofu can be quite affordable. Replacing animal-based protein with plant-based ones like tofu (which is made from soybeans) can keep you healthy on meat-restricted diets. Tofu has about 10g of protein per half cup and is also a great source of iron and fiber. PLUS, there’s so much you can do with it when cooking!
Average cost: $2.28 (per pound)
Plain Greek Yogurt
Average cost: $2.33 (per 6oz container)
Average cost: $2.42 (pink, per 7.5oz can)
You may think that you need to buy fresh filets in order to reap the benefits of salmon, but you don’t! Plus, salmon has a longer shelf life when it’s canned. Besides having about 20g of protein, canned salmon will also nourish your body with healthy Omega-3’s, potassium, vitamin D, and antioxidants.
Average cost: $2.48 (per pound)
Natural peanut butter (without added sugar!) has about 7 g of protein in 2 tablespoon servings. It’s also packed with Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Niacin, and vitamin B6. It can be a bit high in calories and sodium however, so it’s important to not overindulge!
Average cost: $3.12 (large, per dozen)
On average, one large, whole egg holds about 6g of protein, and contains all nine essential amino acids. As a complete source of protein, eggs are extremely healthy, and despite misunderstandings, can be quite good for the heart.
Average cost: ~$3.42 (per 48fl oz)
Milk alternatives in general are a great source of protein, but pea milk (Yes, P-E-A, don’t get it twisted!) seems to have the most when compared to other alternatives like nut and oat milk. One cup (8oz) of Ripple milk has about 8g of protein! And if you can get over the name, the taste is quite like any other milk alternative with a light, watery texture.
Average cost: $3.88 (patties, per pound)
One patty of cooked ground turkey will have about 22g of protein, and will also be low in carbs and fat. Turkey is also rich in vitamin B6 and other vitamins and minerals. Note that 85% – 99% lean ground turkey will cost you a little more per pound, but it will have even less fat content!
Average cost: $3.99 (organic, per pound)
If you buy your lentils in bulk, the higher price will be worth it. Purchasing dried lentils at $3.99 a pound is about 57¢ per cooked cup! Lentils have about 18g of protein per cooked cup, and can help lower your cholesterol, add fiber to your diet, and contribute to your daily intake of potassium, folate, iron, and more.
Average cost: $4.49 (per 16oz container)