Get Your Daily Protein Fix From These Cheap Protein Sources

Updated on January 30th, 2020
cheap protein sources

Pregnant ladies, lactating mothers, kids, diabetics, fitness enthusiasts – everyone benefits from a high-protein diet. Ideally, you should try to get around 0.8 to 1.3 gm of protein per kg of body weight as per the Dietary Reference Intake or DRI(1).

Since most of the food items in our daily diets are high in carbohydrates and fat, you may not be getting enough healthy proteins despite making relatively healthy food choices.

Most online fitness experts and magazines talk about low-calorie high protein food items such as quinoa, salmon, nuts, etc. which are expensive. It leads you to believe that sources of protein are expensive and therefore, incorporating them into the daily diet will burn a hole in your pocket.

There are many good sources of protein such as milk, eggs, chicken, red meat, soybeans, yogurt, lentils, quinoa and much more.

The term protein was coined in 1838.

Cheap Protein Sources

Healthy protein foods are all around you and are already part of your diet. All you need to do is identify them, increase the amount you consume and prepare them healthily. These cheap protein sources can help you achieve your daily protein target within a budget.

1. Eggs

Eggs for energy

The list begins with an item that is present in everyone’s kitchen – the egg. Eggs are a great source of protein as just one egg provides 6 gms of it. They are also packed with healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins(2). Eggs are also one of the cheapest sources of protein.

How to Consume

Boiling or poaching is the best way to consume eggs without increasing fat intake. Stay away from preparations that require a good amount of butter or cream. Add eggs to your salads or consume them for breakfast to jump-start your day.

How Much to Consume

You can safely consume around two or three eggs in a day. Have only the egg whites to limit the fat intake.

[ Read: Daily Eggs Intake ]

2. Milk

One glass of milk or 250 ml of milk contains eight grams of protein. The protein in milk is easily absorbed by the body. In addition to this, milk is also rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins.

How to Consume

You can drink a glass of milk, add milk to smoothies or oats or add some protein powder to milk before consuming it.

How Much to Consume

Around two glasses, one in the morning and one in the evening would be the ideal choice.

There are 100000 different types of protein in the human body.

3. Yogurt


Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt is another healthy protein food. There are 10 gms of protein in 100 gms of yogurt. Yogurt is readily available in your nearest supermarket. It is also a good source of calcium.

How to Consume

The easiest way to consume it is to have a cup of yogurt as a snack. You can also make a creamy yogurt dressing for your salads or add yogurt to a bowl of muesli. You can even add this cheap high protein food to your smoothies.

How Much to Consume

One cup of yogurt a day is a good place to start. You can increase or decrease this amount as needed.


4. Peanut Butter

Peanuts butter sandwiches is another cheap high-protein foods. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter can provide 8 gms of protein. Go ahead, after all a Peanut Butter Jelly sandwich is sure to put on a smile on anyone’s face.

How to Consume

A PBJ sandwich is not the only way to consume peanut butter. You can add it to smoothies or oats. You can also have fruits with a bit of peanut butter spread on top as a healthy snack.

How Much to Consume

Peanut butter does contain fat, and therefore it wouldn’t be wise to go overboard with this cheap protein. Limit yourself to one or two tablespoons a day. If you do get the store-bought one, be sure to read the label.

5. Lentils

Lentils are a member of the legume family. They are high in protein and fibers. There are different varieties of lentils such as green, red, brown or black. Lentils are one of the cheapest sources of protein.

They are often used as a substitute for meat by vegetarians. Every 100 grams of lentils contain 9 grams of protein. They also contain folic acid, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and other minerals.

How to Consume

There are plenty of ways to add lentils to your diet. You can add them to soups, make curries, and even add them to salads.

How Much to Consume

Lentils can become a part of every meal. All you need to do is ensure that you aren’t adding too much fat while preparing them.

[ Read: Health Benefits of Lentils ]

6. Fish

While salmon is expensive, you can opt for tuna, mackerel, anchovies, cod, or sardines. These are oily fishes that are also cheap sources of protein. Fishes are also high in omega-3 fatty acids that play a vital role in improving your heart health.

How to Consume

You can make fish curries, add them to salads, make soups, or even bake them. You can also poach the fish or add them to sandwiches.

How Much to Consume

One serving of fish a day should give you a decent amount of protein and help you reach your daily target.

The fish with the highest protein content is yellowfin tuna. 


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7. Chicken

Chicken is a well-known, easily available and cheap protein source. Unlike red meat, it has a lower fat content. This makes it a favorite among those who are trying to lose weight. One cup of chicken contains 43 grams of protein.

How to Consume

While there are innumerable ways to prepare chicken, steer clear of deep-frying. You can have chicken curry, add it to sandwiches, salads, make soups, roast a chicken or even add it to rice, noodles, and pasta.

How Much to Consume

One cup of chicken in a day will help you reach your protein target easily. If you are having other protein sources throughout the day, you can limit the amount of chicken.

8. Beans

Beans are yet another readily available and cheap protein source. Apart from being high in fiber and protein, beans are also a rich source of magnesium, iron, and calcium. Beans can make you feel full for longer durations too. Every 100 grams of beans contain 21 grams of protein.

How to Consume

You can add beans to soups or consume them by themselves. You can even add them to casseroles. Beans are also excellent for making veggie burgers.

How Much to Consume

Beans do have a tendency to make you gassy. Therefore, consuming them daily may not be ideal. You can aim for around three cups of beans in a week.

[ Read: Benefits of Green Beans ]

9. Paneer


Paneer is the vegetarian’s answer to chicken. Every 100 grams of paneer contains around 30 grams of protein. Since it is derived from milk, paneer is also rich in calcium.

However, it is also high in fat. The fat content in the milk dictates the fat content in paneer. You can reduce it by opting for low-fat milk. You can either get the store-bought paneer or make it at home.

How to Consume

Paneer can be prepared in innumerable ways. It is one of the best accompaniments to rice and chapati. Apart from the traditional curries, you can also add them to sandwiches, salads, pasta, and fried rice.

How Much to Consume

Since paneer is high in fat, it is best if you do not consume it daily. Even if you do, then limit the quantity to a few pieces a day.

[ Read: Best Breakfast Protein Smoothies ]

10. Soybeans

Soybeans are different from other plant-based cheap protein sources because they contain essential amino acids. One of the major drawbacks of plant-based protein sources is that they lack amino acids and need to be paired with nuts or rice to get complete nutrition. Soybeans overcome this drawback while providing around 35 grams of proteins per 100 grams.

How to Consume

You can use soy milk instead of regular milk. You can also roast some soybeans and consume them as a snack. Soybeans can also be added to salads. Tofu and tempeh, which as derived from soybeans are other popular ways to incorporate soybeans to your diet. Edamame beans, which are immature soybeans, can also be added to salads, stirfries, or roasted.

How Much to Consume

You can have around 2 to 4 servings of soybean in a day. You can spread it out throughout the day.

Start Your High Protein Diet

Proteins are one of the fundamental building blocks of the body. Not only do they help you lose weight, but they also help in maintaining the good health of your hair and nails, building muscles, boosting metabolism and lowering the blood pressure.

With so many options for cheap protein sources, you no longer have an excuse for not consuming enough proteins. You can take your pick of the sources of protein that you can readily make a part of your daily diet and get started on the journey towards better health.


1. I am a vegetarian. How do I get enough protein?

There are plenty of cheap and good sources of plant-based protein such as soybeans, beans, lentils, etc.

2. Is there a drawback to eating too much protein?

Protein-rich foods are also calorie-rich. Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain.

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