Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Which protein sources are the cheapest? You'd be surprised.

Some time ago when I was pregnant with our 4th child I was reminded of the importance of eating a high-protein diet. Now, as I begin working out again, I want to add more protein into my meals.

However, on a limited budget, affording enough protein can be challenging. So I decided to sit down and make a list of current prices of common sources of proteins in my area (I live in the Midwest). I basically took the current price of the item (I use a price that I can reliably find it on sale for where I live) and divided it by the total number of grams of protein in that package to come up with a price per gram of protein. I thought that certain items would be more expensive than others, but was surprised by some of the results:

The numbers across the bottom indicate the cost per gram of protein. So for peanut butter, the cost was approximately 1.4 cents. I expected that things like ground beef and salmon would be more on the expensive end, but I was surprised that 1) Greek yogurt was more expensive than salmon (these were both based on Aldi prices, which are typically lower than grocery stores), and that 2) chicken breast was cheaper than canned tuna or even canned beans. Now, I know that some of these prices could be brought down by making things yourself like cooking your own beans, but I wanted to compare easily purchased protein items. 

Having information like this on hand helps me to make better choices for me and my family. While I love stocking up on peanut butter, tuna, and eggs when they are on sale, I can also not feel guilty for buying chicken breast or hard cheeses. 

For those of you who are curious, I have included my list of foods and current prices below. Most of these items are purchased at Aldi, but I do buy some things at our local Kroger store or Sam's club if they are cheaper.


Eggs - $1.59/dozen or 72 grams protein = 2.2 cents per gram
Cottage Cheese - $3.98 / 156 grams of protein = 3.5 cents per gram
Ground turkey - $2.69/88 g. protein = 3.1 cents per gram
80/20 Beef $2.99/78 g protein = 3.8 cents per gram
Chicken $1.66 per 100 g protein = 1.6 cents per gram
Pork $1.66 per 88 g = 1.9 cents per gram
Fish/tilapia - $2.50/92 g = 2.7 cents per gram
Fish/fresh/frozen salmon = $3.99/91 g = 4.4 cents per gram
Canned salmon - $1.99/92 g = 2.2 cents per gram
Canned tuna - $.69/40 g = 1.7 cents per gram
Canned Beans - .55/30 g (in one can) = 2.0 cents per gram
Hard cheese - $4.98/256 g protein = 2.0 cents per gram
Greek Yogurt - $.85/18 g protein = 4.7 cents per gram
Peanut Butter - $1.49/104 g = 1.4 cents per gram
Milk - $1.99/128 g protein = 1.6 cents per gram

As a final note, if you would like to make your own beans, from the numbers I have run I can cook my own beans for about the half of the cost I can get them at Aldi. So home-cooked beans would come in at about 1.0 cents per gram of protein.


  1. That is rather eye opening! Great info, I'll pass it along.

  2. This is right on the money! I was talking to my sister the other day about how people think that beans are cheap, but compared even to chicken, they're not really. I can find chicken legs on sale for $0.75/lb, whereas most dry beans are at least $1 per pound unless you buy in bulk.

    The other funny thing we've discovered about chicken is that a whole, hot rotisserie chicken is often the same price or cheaper than a raw whole chicken. And if it's on sale, it's definitely cheaper.

    P.S. I found you at the Prudent Homemaker site. Thanks for putting out these articles- keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks, Bethany! I love finding like-minded people who think about the same things as I do :). I like Rotisserie chicken too. Have you ever gone so far as to weigh the chicken? Because if they say it's a 3-lb chicken cooked, then it's a pretty good deal compared to purchasing a raw one and losing weight after cooking. Plus, it makes the best chicken broth :).

  4. That was a very interesting and surprising chart of price comparisons. I was surprised at some of the more and less expensive items.

  5. I was too. I've always thought that chicken breast, when purchased at a very low price, is a very affordable source of protein, but it's also nice to have options. I am sure there are some that I am missing too, like ham on sale (.79/lb) or bone-in chicken (I recently found some at .49/lb).


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