If you’re looking to build muscle it’s important to keep your protein intake high. Unfortunately, protein rich foods can often be at the higher end of the price range, so we need to shop smart to prevent going bankrupt in our quest for more lean muscle.
Luckily there are plenty of options out there to suit most tastes and budgets, without relying entirely on supplements. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best value cheap protein sources to help you hit your macros while still eating good quality food.
Whilst generally much easier to hit your protein targets by focusing on consuming some sort of lean meat for most of your meals, there are alternatives such as dairy, eggs and legumes. You can still build most of it diet around meat by choosing the cheaper cuts over the premium ones. For example, you can usually get chicken thighs much cheaper fresh chicken breast, so with a bit of additional preparation you can get all the benefits for a fraction of the cost.
The same goes for beef. You can pick up the less popular cuts much cheaper than the likes of ribeye steak, and ground beef is always a great choice if you’re looking for a cheap protein hit.
Nuts and seeds
Whilst not the most efficient way of getting more protein, seeds and nuts are ideal to use for stacking through the day. Although they are fairly high in calories, they’re a much more health friendly way of snacking throughout the day than heading to the vending machine.
It’s also worth incorporating some form of nut butter in your diet, such as peanut or almond butter. It’s fairly high protein and full of healthy fats, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for something sweet when you’re eating healthy.
Incorporating legumes into your meals is a really easy way to add some extra protein for very few additional calories. Lentils can be added to soups and curries, and kidney beans go great with the ground beef and chilli. They’re also incredibly expensive and the fibre will help keep you feel full throughout the day.
Wheat bran isn’t exactly the best thing to eat on its own, but you can sprinkle it on to some dishes or add it to your protein shakes for a little extra protein.
Quinoa is delicious with just about anything, so there are a ton of fantastic recipes online which incorporate it. Try adding it to salads, to stir fry, with roasted butternut squash or to Cajun chicken.
A dietary staple for the majority of people who train regularly, whey protein is one of the most convenient and cheap ways to get additional protein in your diet. Just grab a couple of scoops after your workout for an easy protein hit.
While fish can be quite expensive to buy fresh, there’s plenty of savings to be made by opting for frozen fish or watching out for specials at the supermarket. Canned fish like tuna or sardines are usually a good buy, and you can stock up on them fairly cheaply. With the right equipment and some practice you can even catch your own – the ultimate paleo meat approach!
Eggs & Dairy
When it comes to high protein breakfasts that won’t break the bank, it’s hard to look past the humble egg. Cheap, high-protein and versatile, there are dozens of ways to cook your eggs so there’s no excuse for them being boring!
Some cheese is pretty high-calorie thanks to the fat content, but opting for things like low fat cottage cheese can help you get more protein without compromising your calorie target. The same goes for milk – aim for 1% or 2% to keep the calories lower.
|Name||Category||Protein per 100g||Calories per 100g|
|Frozen Wild Salmon||Fish||21g||146|
|Almonds||Nuts and seeds||21g||576|
|Sunflower Seeds||Nuts and seeds||21g||584|
|Peanut Butter||Nuts and seeds||25g||588|
|Frozen Chicken Breast||Meat||31g||165|
|Swiss Cheese||Eggs & Dairy||27g||380|
|Low-Fat Cottage Cheese||Eggs & Dairy||12g||72|
|Eggs||Eggs & Dairy||13g||155|
|Milk||Eggs & Dairy||3g||42|
|Quark||Eggs & Dairy||11g||65|