Whether your intention is to build muscle, lose weight, or boost your body’s immunity against diseases, increasing your protein intake is of the utmost importance. Nutritional experts recommend a daily intake of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. However, there’s no problem doubling the daily recommended intake. In fact, one study found that people who doubled their protein intake ended up boosting their metabolism as well as maintained their muscle mass. But, here’s the catch. Meeting your daily protein goals can dig a hole in your wallet since certain traditional and rich sources of protein don’t come cheap. The good news is, there are ways you can increase your protein intake without breaking the bank.
Meat Is Not the Only Source of Protein
Most people associate protein with meat. While this is true, lean meat is a healthier option. But buying meat every day can be quite costly, not to mention unhealthy in the long run.
You can opt to buy the fattier beef and ‘rinse’ it yourself so that you turn it into lean meat. While this sounds like a lot of work, it’s not that complicated and will save you a few dollars.
When buying chicken, choose skinless chicken breasts. Alternatively, buy whole chickens and spend a few minutes prepping it to the lean meat you want. Other great sources of animal protein include:
- Greek yogurt
Eat Homemade Foods
Eating out while on a budget can be quite limiting. Foods are expensive in hotels, plus you may not eat the portion you want. Eating at home, on the other hand, can save you a lot of money. You can control what you eat and ensure that every meal has the appropriate portion that you need to increase your protein intake.
What’s more, you can always avoid the temptation of eating junk.
Buy Nutrition-Dense Food in Bulk
Organic foods are the best options for staying healthy. However, they don’t come cheap. That’s where bulk buying comes in. For instance, if you bulk buy quinoa, it will be less expensive than the packaged variety.
Additionally, opt to purchase large bags of dried beans and rice instead of packaged items. Dried foods have a longer shelf life, meaning they will serve you for a long time. Frozen vegetables and fruits are also cheaper alternatives to fresh varieties, and will still provide the essential nutrients you need.
Canned tuna is another great and affordable source of protein. It’s quite versatile and can be cooked with rice or eaten straight from the can.
Switch to Plant-Based Proteins
Unlike animal-based proteins, plant-based proteins are more affordable and easily available. Some of the best sources of proteins you can get from plants include:
Different Types of Beans
There over a dozen varieties of beans, including kidney beans, green beans, soybeans, black-eyed beans, pinto beans, lentils, and many more. Each variety has its unique nutritional values. Black beans are the most protein-dense, with up to 39 grams of protein per cup. However, try experimenting with all of them to supplement your protein intake.
When cooking dried beans, be sure to soak them at least eight hours before cooking. This will get rid of the substance that causes bloating.
Tempeh is the most protein-packed of all soy products. In just 100 grams, you can rake up to 20 grams of protein. The good news is that tempeh is exceptionally cheap, with a 300-gram block going for around $5.
Lentils are delicious as much as they are nutritious. They are usually bought dried and can cost as low as $0.33 per serving. This food is highly versatile and can be served with rice or in any vegetable stew.
A cup of dried lentils provides up to 13 grams of protein.
Nuts, in general, are rich sources of protein. Peanuts in particular are highly nutritious and can be used in different ways. Perhaps, the most common and popular by-product of peanuts is peanut butter. Homemade peanut butter is natural and without artificial flavorings or preservatives.
A 2-tablespoon serving can provide around eight grams of protein. This creamy and delicious butter is affordable, plus you can whip one at home in less than an hour.
Other types of nuts rich in protein include:
- Whole almonds
Seeds, just like nuts, are good suppliers of high-quality proteins. They are versatile and can be sprinkled in salads, smoothies, and shakes for an extra crunch. However, don’t over-eat some of these seeds due to their high levels of calories.
Pumpkin and squash seeds are excellent sources of protein, with a quarter cup providing around 10 grams of protein. Other seeds worth your attention include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
We can’t mention plant protein without talking about the powerhouse of essential amino acids and fiber. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. One cup of dried quinoa provides seven grams of protein.
It’s also cheap, with one serving costing around $0.73. Like we stated earlier, it will be even cheaper if you bought quinoa in bulk rather than packaged.
Create a Budget-Friendly Menu
The last tip is to customize your budget by including cheaper but healthier food options. First and foremost, you must ensure that you eat balanced meals. That said, try to increase protein in your recipe and reduce carbohydrates.
Most importantly, remember to add vegetables and fruits to your diet. They provide a good source of vitamins and minerals that help boost your immunity and promote healthy skin.
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