Getting Enough Protein Affordably


When trying to eat nutritious meals, remember to get enough protein. More than half your plate should be filled with vegetables, then you add some protein. You obviously don’t want to go overboard with meat.

I mainly try to follow a Paleo lifestyle, and I do pretty well, but I’m well aware that the cost can be astronomical. Living on a budget, I’m not able to eat all organic, grass-fed, etc. I mainly just go to the grocery store and buy basic meats, seeds, nuts, and eggs to cover this nutritional need. Adding a protein source to every meal and snack can be costly, so cutting costs and being creative is important.

For me, beans are out. But when my stepfather makes his baked beans at the holidays I’ll enjoy a few meals worth. I also avoid milk, cheese (most of the time), and yogurt. I get much of my protein from meats and eggs, and some from seeds and nuts.

One important thing I notice is that, when I’m eating a (mostly) proper Paleo diet, I consume smaller portions at each meal. This is because my body realizes it’s getting what it needs, and knows it is not starving for those nutrients. This did not occur the first day, but over the course of a few weeks I noticed I didn’t need to eat as much as I had been at the beginning. Once this started happening I started buying less food, saving me money.

I eat at least a few eggs a week. Though they are more expensive than they used to be, I find they are cheap overall. Far more affordable than buying only meat, they are still a good buy. I hard boil, scramble (I use a little water and not milk), or fry them. It takes me two or three weeks to go through an 18-pack, if not longer, because I’m the only one eating them.

The same with pumpkin seeds. A bag costs $2.99, but lasts me a long time. I sprinkle a few seeds on a salad once a week, and have a few seeds with a fruit or vegetable at snack once in a while, along with a teaspoon of cocoa flavored coconut butter. A great money saver is to roast your own pumpkin seeds, from the pumpkins you use in the fall.

I rarely cook just a single meal. If I buy a small chicken or a roast, it’s often cheaper per meal than if I bought meat on a per-meal basis. One of these will give me enough meat for a number of meals. Chicken with vegetables one night. Chicken with my salad the next day. And enough leftover to make a small chicken soup which will last a couple of meals.

When I find a sale on meat, I take advantage. For instance, I compare prices and weights. I bought pork and beef this week. I don’t often consume pork, but this week I decided to. Then I noticed beef steaks were on sale. Those two packages of meat will make at least ten meals for me. I’ll put pork in one slow cooker, beef in another, and cook them both with vegetables. That will take care of the main course for my work meals, as well as a few at-home meals.

A great way to get protein i your diet cheaply is to buy the biggest turkey you can fit into your oven when they are at their cheapest. If you can, buy two or three of these and freeze a couple. So much can be done with leftover turkey. The first few days after Thanksgiving, eat off the bird. Make a sandwich, cook some turkey soup, and make a scramble for breakfast. There will be enough turkey for freezing to make other meals: Chili, casseroles, and more.

Sometimes a coupon will present itself that gives a discount on an item while it’s on sale. Take full advantage, as long as doing so means you’re getting the best deal over other brands. It may be that friends and family will give you their coupons, if they don’t need them, so buying more than one is possible. Freeze what wont be used right off. Coupon/sale combinations often present great deals.

How do you save money on protein sources? How do you use them? Let us know in the comments, or message me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I’m also happy to answer questions.

Shannon

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