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Although protein powders are great for convenience, they are completely unnecessary when building muscle and burning body fat. Athletes have been using real food for hundreds of years to achieve their health and fitness goals. Although there is a benefit to protein powder, remember that a lot of it is marketing hype to sell a product. I know it is not glamorous to say, but real cheap food is all you need to build an amazing body. Today I want to discuss a cheaper alternative to protein powder if you’re on a budget
One large egg has 6 grams of protein. I recommend buying in bulk to maximize the cost savings. You can even go old school like Rocky and chug it raw in a glass. They are also great for those that cannot have lactose.
I wouldn’t recommend it as it could be dangerous to your health due to salmonella poisoning. However, you can cook eggs in multiple ways, such as fried, hard-boiled, and scrambled.
One dozen eggs are $2.00-$4.00 per carton
Chicken thighs are a much cheaper alternative to protein powder and chicken breast. I like that chicken thighs contain more calories (if you’re trying to build muscle) and taste much better.
Chicken thighs also retain their moisture much better than chicken breasts.
One 4 oz serving of chicken thigh has about 16 grams of protein. We like to add some salsa and chicken thighs into our crockpot to make our weekly chicken tacos on Tuesday.
A 2.5 lb. bag of frozen chicken thighs costs $6.48
I’ll be honest when I say I don’t like canned tuna. My wife loves it, but I’d rather have something else.
However, you cannot deny the cost value you get for the protein it contains.
You can get a can of tuna for under $1.00, which usually will contain at least 20 grams of protein per can.
My wife likes to make tuna salad sandwiches for her lunches by mixing low-fat mayo, salt, pepper, and celery.
Canned tuna is $.50 to $1.00 per can.
Natural Peanut Butter
Remember to buy natural peanut butter than only contains peanuts and salt. Added oils will give you more calories from fat, but not protein.
Also, regular peanut butter is usually filled with sugar to make it taste better.
Natural Peanut Butter offers the most amount of protein per gram. A 2-tablespoon serving of natural peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein. Not enough for an entire meal, but great to add to a piece of toast as a snack or combined with some cottage cheese.
Natural Peanut Butter is about 2.50 to $5.00 per jar.
Cottage cheese is high in casein protein, making it perfect for a snack before bed. Casein is a slow-releasing protein, meaning your muscles will get nutrients longer than other types of protein while you sleep. One cup of cottage cheese has around 23 grams of protein.
One container of cottage cheese is around $2.00-$3.00 dollars
Beans were one of my other go-to protein sources when I was on a budget. When I shopped at dollar tree for my groceries, I would get canned black beans, tortillas, salsa, and cheese for under $5.00 and it would last for several days.
My Black bean and cheese burritos were awesome by the way! One can of black beans contains a whopping 39 grams of protein!
Black beans are .50 to $1.50 per can.
Milk has been used for a long time to build muscle. Whey and Protein Powders are derived from Milk. 2 cups of milk pack 16 grams of protein. Instead of taking in a processed product, why not get it as intended?
One gallon container of reduced fat milk is $2.69.
A can of sardines has about 19 grams of protein and is perfect for a low-carb snack or even part of a healthy meal. Sardines are a little more expensive than canned tuna but are still a great value if you’re on a budget.
Canned sardines are $1-$2 per can
Greek Yogurt is great because it is creamy like ice cream but without the extra calories. We like to mix it with some berries and freeze it to make healthy frozen yogurt as a dessert. Just make sure you don’t buy the yogurt that has added sugars to get the most benefit.
One serving contains about 17 grams of protein which is much more than regular yogurt.
Greek Yogurt is $3.00-$5.00 per container
For vegans, edamame is one of the best sources of protein. Edamame is basically just soybeans. One cup of edamame contains 17 grams of protein.
You can usually get edamame in the freezer section, but my wife and I frequent a sushi restaurant that serves it for free before the entry comes.
Edamame frozen is about $2.00-$4.00 per bag
Canned Chicken Breast
When I was in college, canned chicken was my protein of choice. I didn’t have much money, so we would shop at the dollar store for our groceries. Canned Chicken was great because I could mix some mayo, pickles, and chicken, to make chicken salad sandwiches for lunch.
One can of Chicken has around 10-12 grams of protein. It does smell a bit like canned tuna, but it tasted awesome and helped me build muscle.
Canned chicken breast is $1.00-$3.00 per can
My cheaper alternative to protein powder and shakes
As I discussed earlier, when I was in my 20s, I was going to school full time for nutrition, and barely making ends meet.
Because of my financial struggles, I couldn’t really afford to buy expensive whey protein isolates that all the bodybuilding experts recommended.
However, I came up with a very inexpensive way to put on muscle using something that those experts have forgotten. Milk Powder!
Milk Powder also contains more protein per gram than real liquid milk. To make a muscle-building protein shake in the morning, I would combine Milk Powder, Water, and Nestle Quick chocolate flavoring.
Let’s compare the price between Milk Powder and Whey Protein Isolate
BRAND PRICE SERVINGS PRICE PER SERVING
Nitro-Tech 100% Whey Gold $56.99 76 $0.75
Nonfat Milk Powder 2 Pack $13.96 64 $0.21
Although we can agree whey protein is a better source of protein than nonfat milk powder, you cannot deny the cost-effectiveness. I received excellent results during this time and was able to build muscle while not gaining a lot of additional body fat.