How can I meet my protein requirement while on a low budget diet?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Meeting your daily protein requirement while dieting is an expensive area and it can be challenging to remain on your budget.

Lean turkey breasts fulfill more than ½ of most individual’s daily protein needs. An added bonus: Niacin may help increase your HDL cholesterol, while also reducing your lousy, LDL cholesterol. You can save up to 35% by buying frozen ground turkey as opposed to fresh. Buy boneless poultry with all the fat still on it and trim it yourself at home. This technique can cut the cost in half. Additionally, try purchasing marked down meat right before the “sell by” date and then freeze.

Canned salmon provides healthy fats, is high in omega-3s and can be found for as little as $.67 a serving.
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Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics
Protein can be one of the most expensive components of a meal but there are many ways to meet your protein needs without breaking the bank. 
  • Use less meat. Prepare more meatless meals and stick to small portions of meat to save money and to keep meals healthy.
  • Focus on plant-based sources of protein like quinoa, tofu, tempeh and edamame (soybeans in the pod). Bulk quinoa is typically less expensive than packaged. Buy frozen edamame to enjoy at your leisure without the risk of spoilage.
  • Experiment with a variety of beans such as black beans, chickpeas and lentils. Make time to buy the dry beans, soak and cook them yourself to save money. Canned and frozen varieties will cost more but save time.
  • At less than 20 cents per serving, eggs are a high-quality protein source that’s also versatile.  
  • If fresh salmon is not on sale, try canned Alaskan salmon, sardines or albacore tuna. All of these are excellent protein sources that are inexpensive and a good source of omega 3 fats.
  • Instead of large portions of steak or chicken, stretch your protein-rich meals by mixing in plenty of vegetables and grains or pasta.
  • Choose inexpensive cuts of beef like flank steak which is both inexpensive and low in fat.
Keep in mind: Most people in the United States get adequate protein and even more than enough so there's no need to go overboard.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.