Cheap Ways to Hit Your Protein Goals

These expert tips and tricks can help you save some cash when it comes to buying proteins.

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Attractive smiling brunette taking meat from a fridge at local supermarket. Side view. Horizontal.


Attractive smiling brunette taking meat from a fridge at local supermarket. Side view. Horizontal.

Photo by: Aja Koska

Aja Koska

With food prices still soaring, finding affordable ways to get in enough protein-rich foods can be challenging. However, there are several simple ways to hit your protein goals without breaking the bank. Here are some sensible, practical and affordable tips to help you up your protein.

Know Your Protein Needs

Baseline protein needs for a healthy adult begin at 0.8 grams per kilogram, which would be about 55 grams per day for a 150-pound person. Growing kids, active adults and athletes are just a few of the populations that may require more protein per day. For example, an active adolescent athlete who weighs 150 pounds may be better suited with 1.6 grams per kilogram — or 110 grams per day.

When it comes to meeting protein needs, Americans tend to meet or exceed their daily needs but often from less-healthy sources, such as processed, high-fat meats. Protein intake is also ideally consumed spread out throughout the day, beginning with breakfast, as opposed to one large dose at dinner. But healthy protein options can come at a higher price point.

There is such a thing as too much protein in your day. Consistent, excessive consumption of protein can negatively impact digestion and energy levels, and in some cases it can cause extra strain on the kidneys. Eating too much protein may also lead to an underconsumption of other vital macros.

Eat More Beans

You can’t get much easier than this plant-based protein. For 8 cents per ounce, beans are a great choice. You can pop open a can, give ‘em a rinse and enjoy beans in salads, hummus and even tacos. Rinsing canned beans significantly reduces the sodium, but for an even lower-sodium version, you can cook your own — or skip the soaking by preparing in a pressure cooker.

Pass on the Powder and Go Greek

Many folks believe that protein powders are the answer to their protein needs, but for most people, whole foods are the more-affordable way to go. Swap protein powder for Greek yogurt in smoothies and oatmeal; you can save more than 75 cents per ounce.

Opt for a Whole Chicken

Love chicken? Opt for the whole bird. Buying a whole chicken costs 50% less per pound than cut pieces, plus you can get even more mileage out of your bird by making some homemade chicken stock with the bones. If you prefer butchered pieces, check unit pricing and buy value packs when they are on sale. Or shop at warehouse stores like Costco or BJ’s for bulk chicken, then divide and freeze smaller portions.

Don't Shy Away from Tofu

Tofu seems to intimidate even the most dedicated of home chefs, but there is no need to fear this affordable protein superstar, especially for 14 cents per ounce! Prepare tofu by roasting, stir-frying or air-frying.

Use Your Deep Freezer

Take advantage of your freezer to get more mileage out of high-protein foods. Invest in freezer-safe bags and containers, and freeze portions of meats, soup, stews and other high-protein meals.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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