You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to enjoy the effects of protein! One of the 3 macronutrients, protein helps to keep you full and build and maintain muscle mass. The daily recommended protein intake is 10-30% of your diet; so if you eat 2,000 calories a day, 50 grams of protein per day would be about 10%, and 100 grams per day (like what I eat) is about 20% of your diet.
You have a family to feed and want to make sure they get enough nutrients, but you’re also on a budget. What are the cheapest proteins?
Because I’m a huge nerd and like collecting data, I’ve rounded up popular types of protein and broke them down into price per gram of protein (Using the USDA website for information). It’s not an all-inclusive list, but it’s what I usually buy and is for a “typical” family. Prices are average for my area (Ohio); yours may vary. Read the list below and decide what you could afford to buy more of!
Boneless skinless chicken breast, raw: $1.89/lb
- 22.50 grams of protein per 100g
- 1.85 cents per gram of protein
Ground beef, 80% lean, raw: $2.19/lb
- 17.17 grams of protein per 100g
- 2.81 cents per gram of protein
Ground turkey, lean, raw (Aldi brand): $1.89/lb
- 18.75 grams of protein per 100g
- 2.22 cents per gram of protein
Pork loin, center cut, raw: $1.79/lb
- 21.14 grams of protein per 100g
- 1.87 cents per gram of protein
Spiral ham, fully cooked: $1.19/lb
- 18.66 grams of protein per 100g
- 1.41 cents per gram of protein
Canned tuna: $.65 per can
- 26 grams of protein per can
- 1.25 cents per gram of protein
Skim milk: $1.59/gallon
- 8 grams of protein per cup
- 1.24 cents per gram of protein
- 6 grams of protein per egg
- .68 cents per gram of protein
Cottage cheese: $1.99 per 24-ounce container
- 14 grams of protein per half cup
- 2.3 cents per gram of protein
Nonfat Greek yogurt: $3.69 per 32-ounce container
- 24.22 grams of protein per cup (227 grams)
- 3.8 cents per gram of protein
Mozzarella string cheese: $2.79 per pack of 12 sticks
- 8 grams of protein per cheese stick
- 2.9 cents per gram of protein
Frozen peas: $1.00 per 16-ounce bag
- 4.62 grams of protein per serving (About 2/3rd cup)
- 4.32 cents per gram of protein
Black beans: $.59 per can
- 14.47 grams of protein per cup (240g)
- 2.03 cents per gram of protein
Peanut butter: $1.50 per 16-ounce jar
- 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons
- 1.04 cents per gram of protein
Brown rice: $1.00 per 1-pound bag
- 3.49 grams of protein per 1/4 cup dry serving
- 2.86 cents per gram of protein
Did any of these surprise you? I was actually surprised at how cheap the peanut butter was compared to everything else. However, a 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has 200 calories for 9 grams of protein, while 100 grams of chicken breast (about 3.5 ounces) has about 165 calories for 22 grams of protein.
In terms of price, peanut butter wins; but when you’re counting calories, the chicken is the real winner even though it costs more. Still, it was interesting to see how these foods compared! And now I know I need to take advantage of cheap eggs and eat some every day.
What are your favorite cheap sources of protein? Share with us in the comments!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.