The Cheapest Ways to Get Protein Right Now

Eggs used to be one of the cheapest sources of protein. When they cost $2 a dozen, 84 grams of protein in a pack of very large eggs cost only 48 cents for 20 grams of protein. But thanks to the recent bird flu outbreak and other economic factors, egg prices have skyrocketed.

Some other sources of protein, such as dry whey, have also become more expensive than they used to be. So we’ve decided it’s time to figure out the price you pay for a serving of protein in a variety of foods. We include classic meats, eggs, and protein powder, as well as a few underrated options like tofu and peanuts.


The following calculations are not based on an exhaustive national price survey. After being unable to find a good source of up-to-date prices that could be fairly compared to each other within the time frame, we used off-sale prices from a chain grocery store in Pittsburgh and also checked on Amazon for a few items that weren’t found. . out of stock in the store. Prices in your area may be higher or lower, but we hope that relative prices – which products are cheaper than others – will be similar to what I found. You can calculate your own with this formula:

(price per piece) / (grams of protein per package) = price per gram

Looking through the list, note that I have calculated the price for 20 grams of protein . (Multiply the number above by 20.) This will be enough for a small snack, or you can double or triple it for a large protein-rich meal. By comparison, a chicken breast has about 40 grams of protein.

The cheapest sources of protein

Nothing on my list equals the cost-effectiveness of $2 or even $2.50 per dozen eggs (RIP), but the following foods are all under $1 for 20 grams of protein:

  • Skimmed milk, 65 cents ($4.29 per gallon, 133 grams of protein)
  • Chicken legs (with bone), also 65 cents ($1.95 per pound, 49 grams)
  • Peanuts (!), 68 cents ($3.79 per pound, unshelled, 112 g)
  • Whole milk, 85 cents ($5.19 per gallon, 123 g)
  • Chicken breast, 86 cents ($5.89 per pound, 139 g)
  • Tuna, 95 cents ($1.09 for 23g protein can)

How meat is folded

Chicken is cheap enough to make it onto our overall list of the cheapest foods above. Chicken breast is expensive per pound, but you get a lot of protein for the money. Chicken legs with bones and skin, on the other hand, are very cheap, but this price includes the bones, which are inedible, and a lot of fat in the meat and skin. Some of this fat may leak out, depending on how you cook the chicken.

  • Chicken legs (with bone), also 65 cents ($1.95 per pound, 49 grams)
  • Chicken breast, 86 cents ($5.89 per pound, 139 g)

When it comes to cuts of meat, you will make a similar compromise. In terms of protein price, more expensive cuts of meat can be cost-effective if they are lean. We’ll let you enter your own numbers for your favorite steaks and such, but you might be interested to know that ground beef costs about the same price per gram of protein ($1.40 for 20 grams) regardless of fat percentage:

  • Beef 80/20 (20% fat), $1.39 ($5.29/lb, 76g)
  • Beef 85/15 (15% fat), $1.38 ($5.79/lb, 84g)
  • Beef 93/7 (7% fat), $1.41 ($6.79/lb, 96g)

All of these beefs are cheaper than most other popular meats, especially lean ones. Here is a selection:

  • Pork tenderloin, $1.49 for 20 grams of protein ($8.59 for a packaged 22-ounce tenderloin with 115 grams of protein)
  • Tilapia, $1.65 for 20 grams of protein ($7.49 per pound for 91 grams of protein). Please note that fish prices vary and you can usually get better prices if you buy frozen fish, so this fish can move up the rankings if you can get a good deal in the frozen fish section.
  • Ground turkey, $1.69 ($8.09 per pound, 96 grams of protein).

For comparison, here are two items that turned out to be more expensive than the rest. One I expected, the other not so much:

  • Salmon, $2.35 for 20 grams of protein ($10.69 per pound for 91 grams of protein – and that’s cheap for salmon!)
  • Canned chicken, $3.54 for 20 grams of protein ($3.19 for a 4.5-ounce can)

Vegetarian dishes

What about something that is not meat? Besides eggs, it’s good to know that dairy, beans, and tofu are also great sources of protein. Peanuts were the only plant-based product to make our list for less than $1, along with milk for you lacto-ovo people. Here are a few more non-meat products with their prices, many of which are better value for money than meat (mostly cheaper than beef, but more expensive than chicken):

  • Canned black beans, $1.03 for 20 grams of protein ($1.29 for a can of 25 grams of protein)
  • Eggs, $1.12 for 20 grams of protein , if you buy them for $4.69 a dozen (very large). Prices fluctuate here, so do the math: large eggs have 6 grams of protein, extra large ones have 7 grams.
  • Cheddar cheese, $1.14 for 20 grams of protein ($3.19 for an 8-ounce block of cheese with 56 grams of protein)
  • Very firm tofu, $1.16 for 20 grams of protein ($2.49 per pound, 43 grams of protein)
  • String cheese, $1.66 for 20 grams of protein ($4.89 for a 12-pack, 84 grams total protein)
  • Whey protein powder, $1.23 for 20 grams of protein ($42.74 for a can containing 696 grams of protein)
  • Egg whites in a carton, $1.44 for 20 grams of protein ($3.59 for a 16-ounce box with 50 grams of protein)
  • Greek yogurt, $1.50 for 20 grams of protein ($5.99 for a 32-ounce pack containing 80 grams of protein). Yoghurt is another one of those foods that varies greatly in price depending on the brand and variety, so buying here is especially important.

As with any price comparison, check the numbers at your local store. Prices vary across the country, and some items (like those eggs!) change from day to day. Sales, coupons, and frozen goods can also help you find cheaper prices, so if you manage to beat what we’ve found, we’ll be happy for you.


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