Healthy Doesn’t Mean Going Hungry Or Broke: High Protein, Low Cost Foods

May 6, 2013  |  
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If you’re trying to lose weight and absolutely refuse to feel hungry, protein is your best friend. It passes through your system slowly, taking longer to metabolize. That means you stay full longer. It also is (if you choose it wisely) low in fat, sugars and an array of other ingredients that “diet” foods sneak into you. These high protein foods will save you calories, money and time.

Whole Eggs

Just two eggs provides 12 grams of protein—that’s 22% of your daily value. If you’re not picky about organic/natural varieties, you can get a dozen eggs for as little as $2 at mega grocery stores. That’s 72 grams of protein—enough protein for nearly two days, for a person weighing around 130 pounds.

Liquid egg whites

To save space in your fridge, consider liquid egg whites. Every 8-ounce glass supplies up to 26 grams of protein. Bought in mass, you can purchase a gallon of the stuff for $28.00.

Canned tuna

One five-ounce can of tuna provides you with 30 grams of protein—that’s almost your entire daily value. Just watch out for mercury levels: stick to just 5.6 ounces of Albacore tuna a week, or 16.4 ounces of light tuna. Tuna can cost you under $1 per can, especially if you buy value packs.


Peanut butter

The peanut offers more protein than any of its plant family members. It’s not as high in protein as meat sources are, but with 8 grams a serving, it can fill in the gaps for those on a super tight budget. The average 18 oz. jar costs $3. That comes out to around 38 grams of protein per dollar.


Whey is arguably the most economical way to add protein to your diet. Whey contains the ideal composition of amino acids for muscle development, and is a great post workout snack. It does however contain lactose, so those allergic to the stuff should stay away. A 2-lb container of Whey can cost just $30, and yields you 23 grams of protein per dollar. That’s nearly enough protein for half a month per dollar.


Beans pack a double punch with filling fiber and protein. There are a variety of beans, but they average 15 to 25 grams of protein per cup. One can of beans will run you about a dollar, and will pack 26 grams of protein per dollar.

 Plain Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt contains double the protein of regular yogurt, packing 20 grams of protein in an 8-oz cup. Greek yogurt will cost you a bit more than regular yogurt, but at about $2 per 6-oz cup, and 7.5 grams of protein per dollar, it’s still a bargain.


The most nutritionally powerful of all soy foods, Tempeh offers 41% of your daily protein value in only 4 ounces. Soy protein also tends to lower cholesterol, which is an added perk. Tempeh will cost you about $3.50 per serving, and packs 6 grams of protein per dollar.


Powdered milk

Just one ounce of powdered milk provides 10 grams of protein. Getting the powdered variety not only greatly cuts down on cost, it also saves room in your kitchen and deters the frustrating early expiration dates of regular milk.

Chick peas

Otherwise known as garbanzo beans, chick peas supply 14 grams of protein in just one cup and can cost about the same as a can of beans.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a great sugar-free or low-sugar alternative to yogurt. It’s a food that digests slowly, making it great to tide you over between meals, or to have as a bedtime snack to build muscle. 20 grams of protein through the stuff costs just about 50 cents.


Not only are sardines a potent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re packed with protein. One can typically costs under $2 and can supply 20 grams of protein.

Frozen chicken

Don’t worry: this list isn’t totally void of meat sources. Chicken is a low fat, high protein item that you can actually find high quality varieties of, frozen. A $3 bag can yield 9 frozen chicken breasts, each containing nearly 20 grams of protein each.

Smoked deli turkey

Buying freshly sliced turkey, or uncooked breasts, can be pricey. But many brands make a low-sodium, oven-baked sliced variety. If you buy in bulk, 1 lb. can cost around $9 and yield around 15 slices. Each slice contains around 7 grams of protein.

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