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10 Ways to Add Protein without Breaking the Bank

Stay full and fueled with more bang for your grocery buck

Protein is an important part of a balanced diet—it helps build and repair muscles and may help you manage your weight. Still, getting enough protein can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you’re trying to keep grocery costs down. Don’t stress; no matter what your budget, we are here to help you find accessible protein sources that won’t put a strain on your pockets.  


Ground Beef or Turkey


Buying a value pack of ground beef or turkey is an excellent way to stretch out a protein source and stretch a buck at the same time. Keeping ground meat on hand in the freezer makes it easier to plan and prep meals for the week and beyond.  You can easily make a big-batch dinner, like these better-for-you nachos, and have enough to spare for the rest of the week.  

Tinned Fish 

Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and other nutrients like omega-3 fats, but buying it fresh can be tough on the budget. Opting for the canned version is significantly less expensive, especially since its much longer shelf life means you can stock up when it’s on sale. A pantry filled with canned seafood, like salmon, tuna, sardines, and clams, helps to save time as well as money. You can easily add it to a meal to pump up the protein, like in this weeknight-fast version of linguine made with canned clams.  

Cottage Cheese and Greek Yogurt 

Having a tub of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt in the fridge is a secret weapon when it comes to adding protein to meals. You don’t have to use a lot of either of these dairy products to get a major protein boost (not to mention calcium), which makes them great, budget-friendly options. Try using Greek yogurt for a creamy, satisfying smoothie or a dollop of cottage cheese for scrambled eggs that will keep you full all morning long.   

Beans and Lentils 

Beans are a versatile source of both protein and fiber. They’re a pantry staple, not just because they’re affordable, but also because they fit into a wide range of diets. You can add beans to a ground turkey chili for a double dose of budget-friendly protein.  For those who want a meatless option, adding legumes like pinto beans or lentils to your dishes can be a great way to sneak in both protein and fiber to make a simple dish more robust.  


We love using soy products like tofu and edamame for many reasons, including their versatility. Did you know those beans in a pod we mostly associate with Japanese food are actually a rich source of protein? Edamame, aka young soybeans, can be found in the frozen foods or produce departments. Buy a pack and snack on them during the day or make a snack meal, like this hummus, to eat with pita chips and fresh veggies.  Whereas Tofu is reasonably priced, so fitting it into your budget is very doable. Add it to a vegetable broth, like this soup with ginger and spinach, for an almost effortless, vegan-friendly weeknight dinner. 

Chia Seeds  

These little seeds are an unsung hero when it comes to protein. This tangy citrus pudding delivers 5 grams of plant-based protein in each serving. Not bad for a dessert or sweet afternoon pick-me-up. Chia seeds are also a quick way to bulk up breakfasts like smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal on busy mornings. 

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