The majority of Americans get their protein -- and plenty of it -- from eating meat. But with sky-high grocery prices, many of us are seeking less expensive alternatives to filet Mignon and porterhouse steaks to meet our needs for protein. Fortunately, there are many options for those seeking to save money with cheap protein sources. Less pricey cuts of meat, canned fish, eggs, beans, dairy products, grains, nuts and soy products can all help you get your protein fix with plenty of change to spare.
Things You'll Need
- Butcher knives
- Slow cooker
Purchase less expensive cuts of meat and poultry. Opt for chicken thighs instead of breasts. Choose chuck steaks, rather than ribeyes. You'll get the taste and texture you want and save a few bucks to boot.
Be your own butcher. Buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself. Buy whole chicken breasts and remove the skin and bones rather than buying skinless, boneless fillets. Buy roasts and cut your own steaks and chops. You'll save tons of money by buying larger bulk cuts and processing them yourself.
Buy tougher cuts of meat and cook them slowly. A good slow cooker is a great investment and can be one of your best friends in the kitchen. In addition to saving you time and money, slow cookers can perform near miracles by transforming rubbery hunks of meat into tender, succulent morsels that can give prime rib a run for its money.
Control your portions. Save money by stretching your portions. A serving of meat should be no more than four ounces, about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. Cut down huge portions to a sensible size to save money and eat healthier meals. Stir fry dishes are excellent alternatives for getting a lot of mileage out of small amounts of meat.
Switch to canned fish. Canned tuna, salmon and sardines are tasty, delicious and healthful sources of protein that cost a fraction of the price of their fresh counterparts.
Indulge in dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt -- especially Greek yogurt -- are all tasty and inexpensive sources of protein. Enjoy milk in cereal or smoothies. Add cheese to salads and entrees, and don't forget about those delicious hot and gooey grilled cheese sandwiches. Flavored Greek yogurts make great snacks, while the plain variety is an excellent substitute for sour cream and heavy cream.
Eat more eggs. Eggs are not only a great source of lean protein, they're also incredibly versatile. Try them boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, sunny side up or over easy. Eggs are essential components of many dishes including quiches and stratas. They're also great additions to salads and sandwiches.
Go for grains. Hearty whole grains not only supply high quality protein, but also provide fiber and an array of other nutritional benefits. For example, quinoa packs a whopping 8 grams of protein and more than respectable 5 grams of fiber.
Get nutty. Nuts and nut butters supply both protein and flavor. Stock your pantry with a variety of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and cashews. Also, keep a supply of your favorite nut butters on hand.
Eat your beans. Beans are great on their own, or in dishes such as chili and dips. Add a serving of rice and you've got a complete protein-packed meal.
Bring on the soy. Soy products -- such as beans, milk, tofu and tempeh -- are great sources of inexpensive protein that can be eaten as-is or incorporated into nutritious recipes.