Nutrition experts’ 12 most budget-friendly high-protein meals

If you’ve found yourself searching on Google lately how to eat more proteinWhile staring at an empty refrigerator, you are not alone. When adoption is high and motivation is low, the result is usually one of two things: overpriced takeout or a bowl of cereal. And while both *can* satisfy a hungry stomach, ultimate satisfaction comes from a plate filled with protein. Luckily, creating protein-rich meals doesn’t require a chef. Everyday ingredients and simple techniques are both suitable.

With that in mind, we’re sharing tips and tricks for adding more protein to your diet (effectively and economically!). It’s time to turn your kitchen into a protein factory. No need for lengthy recipes or huge grocery bills. Find 12 simple and delicious high-protein meals.

Featured image from our interview with Mariana Velasquez, by Belathe Photography

For context, the US Recommended Dietary Allowance is set at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is the minimum amount needed to prevent deficiency in adults. For example, a sedentary adult weighing 70 kg (154 pounds) will need at least 56 grams of protein per day. But as we mentioned, that number is short. Depending on your unique situation, including whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consider consulting with a Registered Dietitian for personalized guidance.

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When it comes to protein, how much is too much?

Like most things in life, too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing good thing. While consuming too much protein isn’t a concern for most people, it’s helpful to know the boundaries. After all, eating a typical amount of protein (especially without a fiber balance) can lead to a higher risk of health problems, such as kidney stones.

But for the average person, someone who is not an elite athlete or participates in bodybuilding competitions, does that line exist? And where is it located? Ultimately, this depends on several factors: age, gender, activity level and overall health. Although experts differ in their opinions, it is reasonable to aim for no more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So that would be about 125 grams/day for a 140-pound person.

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Why do women need protein?

To improve women’s health, protein is important for many reasons. We need it to maintain lean muscle mass, which is especially important as we age to support overall strength and mobility. In addition, protein is also involved in the regeneration of body tissues, including skin, hair and nails. Protein also aids in enzyme and hormone production, supporting our metabolism and immune health. Furthermore, because protein is incredibly filling, getting enough can support stable blood sugar levels. And feel full.

Pregnant or breastfeeding? If so, your protein intake needs to increase to support fetal growth and breast milk production.

Is eating a high-protein diet expensive?

It’s expensive or budget-friendly depending on how much you do it. While some protein-rich foods, like grass-fed meat and some seafood, are expensive, there are plenty of affordable protein sources. Staple foods like beans, lentils, eggs, Greek yogurt and canned tuna are all high in protein and budget-friendly. Other vegan protein options, like non-GMO tofu, tempeh and peas, can also be cost-effective.

From smart meal planning and buying in bulk to taking advantage of seasonal sales and discounts, a high-protein diet doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

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Economical Protein Options

While affordability ranges widely, here are protein-rich foods that can help keep your budget in check.

Beans, lentils and legumes

Beans, lentils, and legumes are powerful ingredients for increasing your protein intake. In addition, they also provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. These versatile staples can be used in a variety of recipes: soups, stews, salads and spreads. A simple bowl of vegetarian chili will satisfy every need!


Nature’s budget-friendly protein. Eggs are a nutritional goldmine and one of the most economical sources of high-quality protein available. (But remember, labels matter!) With about six grams of protein per large egg, they can be incorporated into a variety of small dishes, nachos, and egg salad sandwiches.

Canned fish

Canned (or canned) tuna and salmon are often overlooked as affordable sources of protein. They are shelf-stable, easy to prepare, and packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients. Tuna toast, salmon patties, and sushi bowls with canned fish are all options to help you meet your protein goals.

Chicken thighs

While boneless, skinless chicken breasts are popular choices for lean protein, don’t forget about chicken drumsticks and drumsticks! These cuts are often more affordable and tastier when prepared properly. Marinate and grill them for a flavorful, protein-packed meal without breaking the bank.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and can be enjoyed as a snack or incorporated into a variety of recipes. Choose plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt to avoid added sugar and save money compared to flavored varieties. Top with fresh fruit, nuts or seeds (we love hemp, flaxseed and chia seeds) for extra flavor and nutrients.

Protein powder

Protein powders, like whey or plant-based options, can be a cost-effective way to increase your daily protein intake. Look for brands that fit your budget and buy in bulk to save more money. Add a scoop of protein powder to your smoothies, yogurt bowls, baked goods, and oatmeal! The sky is the limit.

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Simple protein tricks

If you’re trying to consume more protein and aren’t sure how to do it, we’ve got you covered. First and foremost, start your day with protein. For example, this cottage cheese breakfast bowl comes together quickly and is packed with protein. Run out the door? Hard-boiled eggs, a piece of fruit and dried meat also work.

Speaking of jerky, have protein-rich snacks on hand: mixed nuts, string cheese, protein bars or dry roasted soybeans. When marinating meat for dinner, use Greek yogurt! It’s a convenient way to get extra protein. Finally, don’t save seeds. Add hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. to add a few grams of protein to your favorite dishes.

12 Protein-Rich Meals

Rounding up some of our favorites, here are 12 high-protein meals to add to your weekly repertoire.

Matcha Plant Power Smoothie

Of course, smoothies are an easy way to get 20-30 grams of protein. Add protein powder, hemp seeds, almond butter, Greek yogurt or cow’s milk to your favorite smoothie and your protein needs will be met.

Kale & Cranberry Salad with Crispy Tofu

Make your favorite plant-based protein the star of the show. The key is to press the tofu to release all the water and let the flavor seep in! Kale, cranberries, and chopped peanuts turn this salad into a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Black Lentil Salad With Grilled Vegetables & Goat Cheese

Eating rainbow has never tasted so good. Caramelized carrots combine with crunchy, slightly spicy Brussels sprouts for a filling meal that lasts until dinner. Lentils are a win-win: explosive texture And a significant source of protein. To save time, marinate the lentils first.

Feta salad with white beans and lemon

This simple vegetarian salad is a protein-rich dish. For a quick lunch, prepare the lemonade the day before.

Nicoise Tuna Toast

Chunks of oil-marinated tuna combine with toasted croutons, kale pesto, creamy avocado, crisp cucumber slices and garlic tomatoes. It’s as good as it sounds.

Vegan Flatbread with Grilled Carrots and Red Pepper Hummus

This recipe comes in two parts: it’s the kind of clean freezer meal that everyone loves. This amazing flatbread includes layers of vibrant creamy hummus topped with veggies for crunch, texture and more protein.

Slow-roasted citrus salmon

Don’t like salmon? Prepare to be converted. This slow roasting method is completely foolproof and absolutely divine. Pair this flavorful salmon dish with crispy potatoes or jasmine rice. That’s it, dinner was served.

Pan-fried chicken fajitas

These chicken fajitas only require five ingredients and 30 minutes of your time. They’re delicious any time of year and taste even better the next day. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy.

Braised short ribs are sweet & spicy

Cooking in large batches for a crowd? These short ribs It. They have been portioned into individual portions so they can be easily scooped onto a plate and ready to eat. They are also tender, luxurious, and rich to elevate a weeknight dinner. Of course, short ribs are also high in protein.

Green Bean Salad Sandwich

Made with two types of beans (protein and fiber for the win!), this chickpea salad sandwich is delicious. Enjoy it on your favorite bread or with crackers.

Power Greens Breakfast with egg bites

If you love Starbucks egg whites, give this one a try. They contain a variety of green vegetables such as kale, radishes, and spinach and are full of protein-containing nutrients. They are extremely simple to make And can be prepared before the week begins. The ultimate takeout breakfast.

Spicy Mexican style grilled eggs

To see how delicious this recipe is, it’s also paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, and Whole 30 compliant. Diet-restricted people, rejoice! This Mexican-style roasted shakshuka is a flavorful delight.

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