Delicious and Budget-Friendly High Protein Recipes (All for Under $5!)

In this post I’m going to be helping you craft budget friendly high protein recipes! And guess what… they’re all under $5! Ready for budget friendly sources of protein? Let’s get right into it. (When you make these, make sure to let me know how it goes! Tag your recipes #inthekitchenwithNat and @nathaliamelofit on social media.)

It is no surprise that after the challenges of 2020, things might be a bit tough on the financial side for so many. However, I don’t want this to be the reason why you don’t eat well and are unable to accomplish your fitness goals. There are plenty of budget friendly high protein recipes. You just have to know what they are!

Budget Friendly High Protein Facts

We all know that typically the cost of protein sources vs. the amount of protein needed to maintain optimal daily intake can make you (and your wallet) cry a bit!

Protein is probably the most macronutrient and it should be the foundation of all meal plans, regardless if your goal is to lose the extra pounds or tone up (aka gain lean muscle) . They are know as the ‘building blocks’ of the human body, and they are made up of smaller units called amino acids. These amino acids are used to build and repair muscles and bones in your body as well as to make enzymes and hormones. Another important factor is that protein can also be used as an energy source through a process called gluconeogenesis, although it is not it’s primarily function nor the most optimal way to generate energy for the body.

A lot of nutritionists, dieticians, bodybuilders, athletes, blogs, websites will talk a big game about eating protein! But then also throw out that protein is the most expensive while on a fitness journey! It can become very disheartening to worry about the cost of protein while working on your goals. Not only are you adapting to this new lifestyle, but now you have to spend HOW MUCH?! Just for lean protein meals…. 

The GOOD NEWS is that that is only partially correct! Yes, if you go out and buy a 12oz Sirloin… it will most definitely put a ding in your wallet. 

In order to eat a high-protein meal on a low-protein budget, you need to get strategic. There are plenty of high-quality protein sources that don’t cost a lot of money. So I am here to tell you that with the right ingredients, you can have a delicious, healthy, high protein meal/snack for under $5! It is a protein-rich world and you’ve only scratched the surface with your typical proteins (steaks, eggs, chickens, etc.) 

Budget Friendly High Protein Recipes

Breakfast:

Scrambled egg omelet with spinach and feta cheese

Servings per recipe: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (can use 3 ounces soft tofu instead for vegan version)
  • 1-ounce feta cheese (can use 2 ounces dairy-free cheese if preferred)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Place baby spinach in a medium-sized bowl with cold water. Toss spinach with hands to agitate any dirt off of the spinach. Drain water off and repeat several times. If preferred, you can purchase pre-washed baby spinach.
  2. Drain water and place spinach in between two paper towels to pat dry.
  3. Place a medium-sized non-stick pan over medium heat. Toss with tongs until spinach turns bright green and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove spinach from pan and set aside.
  4. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whip eggs while adding feta cheese. Place pan over medium heat and pour mixture into pan.
  5. Scramble eggs for about one minute, then add spinach. Cook for another 2 minutes or so until cooked through. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Nutrition info for recipe: 223 calories, 20 grams protein

Nutrition info for meatless version: 312 calories, 15 grams protein

Estimated cost/serving:

$0.31/ cup baby spinach

$0.99/ounce feta cheese

$0.21/egg X 2  = $0.42/2 eggs

Nonstick cooking spray = $2/bottle

$1.51 for food items (not counting nonstick cooking spray)

Lunch:

Baby spinach salad with chicken breast and balsamic vinaigrette

Servings per recipe: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3 cups washed and rinsed baby spinach
  • 6 ounces skinless chicken breast (for meatless version, replace with 1 cup deshelled, steamed edamame)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake chicken breast for about 15-18 minutes. Remove chicken from heat. Make sure internal temperature is at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for food safety.
  2. Toss baby spinach with cranberries, cheese, and vinaigrette. Dice chicken into 1-inch cubes and toss in with salad.
  3. Enjoy alone or with baguette bread on the side.

Nutrition info for recipe: 365 calories, 41 grams protein

Nutrition info for meatless recipe: 400 calories, 24 grams protein

Estimated cost/serving:

$0.31/ cup baby spinach X 3 = $0.93

$0.24/ounce boneless skinless chicken breast X 6 = $1.44

$0.09/ fluid ounce (2 tablespoons)

$0.72/ounce (2 tablespoons) shaved parmesan cheese

$3.18 

Dinner:

Roasted boneless pork chops and Brussels sprouts

Servings per recipe: 1 

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces boneless pork chops (for meatless version, use 4 oz tempeh cut in 1-inch cubes instead of pork)
  • 8 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, wash and cut into halves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare cooking sheet with aluminum foil and spray pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place pork chops on pan.
  3. Toss halved Brussels sprouts in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange on pan.
  4. Bake pork and Brussels sprouts for 25 minutes. Make sure pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature; cook longer if needed.

Nutrition info for recipe: 410 calories, 43 grams protein

Nutrition info for meatless version: 468 calories, 33 grams protein

Estimated cost/serving:

$0.38/ounce boneless pork chops X 6 ounces = $2.28

$0.17/ounce Brussels sprouts X 8 = $1.39

$0.35/ fluid ounce (2 tablespoons) olive oil

Nonstick cooking spray = $2/bottle

$4.02 for food items (not counting nonstick cooking spray) 

Snacks:

Sweet:

Greek yogurt parfait with granola and strawberries

Servings per recipe: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (use soy yogurt for dairy-free version)
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup granola
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions:

  1. Mix Greek yogurt with honey well.
  2. In a 12 ounce glass or larger, place 2 heaping tablespoons of Greek yogurt.
  3. Top with ¼ cup strawberry slices.
  4. Top strawberry slices with 1 heaping tablespoon of granola.
  5. Repeat steps 1-3 until all ingredients are used up.  

Nutrition info for recipe: 338 calories, 29 grams protein

Nutrition info for dairy-free version recipe: 418 calories, 15 grams protein

Estimated cost/serving:

$0.15/ounce nonfat plain Greek yogurt  X 8 ounces = $1.20

$0.21/ounce fresh strawberries X 4 = $0.84

$0.42/ ounce (2 tablespoons) granola X 2 = $0.84

$0.29/fluid ounce (2 tablespoons) / 2 = $0.15/tablespoon

$3.03

Savory:

Greek yogurt dill dip with veggies

Servings per recipe: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cucumber slices
  • 4 tablespoons minced dill
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • 12 whole-grain crackers (like Triscuit crackers)

Instructions:

  1. Combine yogurt with minced dill, salt, and spices.
  2. Enjoy dip and crackers with cucumber slices.

Nutrition info for 1 serving of recipe: 192 calories, 15 grams protein

Nutrition info for 1 serving of dairy-free version recipe: 232 calories, 8 grams protein

Estimated cost/serving:

$0.15/ounce nonfat plain Greek yogurt  X 4 ounces = $0.60

$0.59/cucumber

$0.48/tablespoon dried dill weed X 4 = $1.92

~$0.025/1 cracker X 12 crackers = $0.30

$3.41/ 2 servings = $1.70/serving


An extra tip that I have been doing for a few years now is that to save money grocery shopping, I pick a few days during the week to consume just budget friendly high protein recipes. I experiment with new recipes, try my own concoction by trying different seasonings, and preparing my proteins in different ways. 

Let me know if you find inspiration for your own recipe by tagging me on IG @nathaliamelofit!

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