With prices rising, it’s hard to stretch the grocery dollar. One of the ways you can do it is by meal planning, to get maximum benefit from sales and coupons. Cutting out junk food that provides few, if any nutrients, is another. One question remains. Can you still get high quality protein on a budget. The answer is yes, but you might have to do a few food combinations to ensure you get all essential amino acids. Beans and rice combine to create a complete protein when eaten together. Eaten separately, each would lack some of the essential amino acids.
Protein is important in your diet.
Protein is a macronutrient that plays a role in every cell in your body. It is a messenger when used in hormones, while also building cells and doing tissue repair. Your body needs enzymes for digestion and protein is necessary to make those. It’s in your fingernails, skin, hair, bones, cartilage and muscles. Since you have a lot of protein, you need a lot for repair. The body doesn’t store protein, like it stores fat, so you have to get your supply from food.
While beans and rice are a good source of cheap plant protein, there is also inexpensive animal protein.
You may have passed the beef section of the meat department and noticed the high prices on quality steaks, particularly those that came from grass fed beef. Can you actually get high quality animal protein without paying a high price? The answer is yes. Think chicken or even eggs. Both are good sources of protein and both are quite versatile and inexpensive. Eggs don’t have to be boring. Pad thai is one of my favorite dishes and it uses eggs and other sources of protein, like peanuts, plus loads of veggies. You can dress it up with shrimp and other sources of protein as well. It only takes a little of the expensive protein, since the eggs and peanuts already make it an excellent source.
Make a tuna salad or salmon patties.
Canned fish like tuna and salmon are good sources of protein that won’t break the budget like steak does. You can stretch it out by making patties, which also includes eggs. Add it to casseroles or salads to stretch that budget even further. You’ll be surprised at how many ways you can use canned fish and also how other protein sources, like eggs, play a role in many of the recipes.
Yogurt and other milk products provide protein for your body without pinching your pocketbook. Think cottage cheese, regular cheese and even milk as a protein source.
Organ meats are often less expensive, but oh-so nutritious. While I’ve never tried some of the organ meats, like brains, liver is a power packed main dish I love. Beef and chicken heart are also good. You’ll get high quality nutrition, but at far less per serving.
Peanut butter, peanuts and other nuts and nut butter provide a good source of protein at a lower price. Opt for peanut butter that has one ingredient on the jar, peanuts. An apple and peanut butter is a good combination for a pre or post workout snack.
If you really want to stretch your budget, opt for lentils or quinoa. You can mix both with veggies for a protein packed meal that has a massive number of nutrients and can feed a whole group of people.