We all need to eat protein. It helps to repair our muscles and tissues, helps our muscles to grow and regulates our metabolism. However in practical terms it can be the most expensive part of our diet, and it we are a little short of money this can be where our diet suffers. The most obvious source of protein is meat, and whilst the different cuts and types of meat vary in price, its still a lot more expensive than potatoes and carrots. So if you are watching the pennies, check out these ideas for getting your protein:
Tinned tuna, pilchards, mackerel and all other types of tinned fish are cheap, easy to store and keep a long time in the cupboard. They are great for lunch, on toast or in sandwiches, or in a salad, or for dinner in a pasta bake.
Many kinds of tinned fish also count as one of your portions of oily fish (not tinned tuna though) – containing essential omega-3 fats.
Eggs have protein and many other nutrients, making them a very versatile food. They are great for breakfast, fried, scrambled, poached or boiled, and can be eaten for lunch in sandwiches or wraps, or omelettes.
Pulses – lentils, beans and peas
Pulses are a plant based protein, great for bulking out a meal, or for vegetarians. They can be purchased dried or tinned. Both are good value for money. Dried are probably the cheapest but often need preparation such as overnight soaking, whereas tinned can be used straight from the tin.
Frozen meat and fish
If you check out the freezer section of your supermarket you will often be able to buy large bags of meat like chicken breasts, tuna steaks or beef mince for a lower price than fresh. Its also convenient to keep in the freezer for whenever you need it.
Do check the quality of the frozen meat though, sometimes its not as good as fresh, and often the portion sizes will be small or irregular.
Frozen fish fillets can be very good value and often can be cooked straight from the freezer which makes life easier.
Always check out the meat on special offers. Often the supermarkets do certain packs of meat on 3 for £10 or similar. Choose that week’s dinners around the meat offers.
Casserole meat and pot roasts
Cheaper cuts of meat are good for cooking long and slow in a casserole. Beef stewing steak is good, and also the larger brisket joint makes a good pot roast. You can also cook cheaper cuts in your slow cooker and they will be nice and tender a few hours later.
Cheese, yoghurt and milk all contain protein, even the low fat versions. Its easy to add a white sauce to dinner or to sprinkle some cheese on whatever you are eating – salad, pasta dishes
Chicken and turkey legs, drumsticks and thighs are all cheaper than breast meat. They work well marinaded and roasted in the oven and often have more flavour than breast meat. They can be a bit fatty in a casserole but thighs work well if they are de-skinned and de-boned.
Do you have any tips for protein on a budget?