Eggs, once a go-to source for cheap protein, have gotten increasingly more expensive.
A dietitian recommends trying affordable high-protein alternatives like dairy, beans, and fish.
Buying in bulk and eating more plant proteins can help you get enough protein on a budget.
Eggs, once the gold standard for cheap, easy protein, are getting increasingly expensive, but you don't have to break the bank to get enough protein, according to Bianca Tamburello, registered dietitian at FRESH Communications.
"Before now, I would usually recommend eggs as a budget-friendly high-quality protein source. But there are so many options, and you don't have to think of it as a one-to-one swap," Tamburello told Insider.
With some simple tips, you can use convenient, affordable foods like beans, dairy, tofu, and fish to make high-protein meals and snacks, she said.
Cottage cheese is an quick protein option for sweet or savory snacks
Cottage cheese is a good option for people without a lot of time to cook, and you can use a variety of toppings to customize it to your personal tastes, according to Tamburello.
"What I like about cottage cheese is there's no prep, and you can make it either savory and sweet, depending on your preference," she said.
Try adding fresh fruits like bananas or berries, or vegetables such as cucumbers, tomato, and avocado with your favorite seasonings.
A half a cup of cottage cheese has about 14 grams of protein, just over the 12 grams of protein you'd get from eating two eggs.
Buy Greek yogurt in bulk for an easy, versatile protein source
Similar to cottage cheese, Greek yogurt packs a hefty protein punch on its own with different toppings like fruit and nuts. It can also be creatively incorporated into sauces, soups, desserts, and even baking (swapping in 1/4 cup yogurt per egg).
"For budgeting, it's important to avoid food waste," Tamburello said. "Greek yogurt is a good ingredient to have in the house, period. Plain and unsweetened, it's so versatile."
To save money and give yourself more options, she recommends buying large tubs of plain Greek yogurt, instead of pre-portioned cups, which often have flavorings (and added sugar) already included.
Nuts and seeds can boost the protein and vitamins in any meal
Seeds like pumpkin, chia, or flax, are a great topping for foods like yogurt, oatmeal, and salad, but can also be a good snack on their own, Tamburello said. However you eat them, you're getting more protein as well as healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Nuts also contain protein and healthy fats, which are good for you but higher in calories than other protein sources, and can help keep you full for longer after eating.
TikTok's tinned fish trend is a healthy way to get more protein
Tinned fish is a hot topic on social media right now, and Tamburello said there's a good reason for it — canned options can be a more affordable way to enjoy seafood, which is high in protein as well as other important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
"I really love the trend," she said. "At the beginning of the pandemic, the first thing I bought was tinned fish because it's cheap, has a long shelf life, and lots of health benefits."
If you're worried about the strong flavor of tinned fish like anchovies or sardines, start by mixing small amounts into dishes you already enjoy, such as pasta or pizza.
Sub in tofu for a plant-based protein source
Tofu is another versatile ingredient for high-protein meals, adapting well to any seasonings or marinades, whether or not you're strictly vegetarian, Tamburello said.
For a tofu breakfast scramble, she recommended salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and turmeric powder for a depth of flavor and bright color.
Tamburello also likes using tofu as an ingredient in Italian recipes, mixing it with olive oil for a high-protein ricotta substitute that's vegan-friendly.
Beans are a go-to for cheap, high-protein meals
Legumes like black beans and chickpeas are good source of protein as well as fiber, and evidence suggests they're linked to a longer life and lower risk of chronic illnesses, too.
To start cooking with beans more often, add them with or in place of ground meat in recipes like tacos, according to Tamburello.
"There's a lot of love for tacos, and that's one of the easiest ways to incorporate beans," she said.
Even if you still eat meat, adding more servings of plant protein to your weekly meals can help you stretch your grocery budget and keep you healthy, Tamburello said.
Read the original article on Insider