what is the cheapest way to eat 140g of protein

What Is The Cheapest Way To Eat 140g Of Protein? (To Build Muscle)

Are you intent on eating a high-protein diet, but also need to watch the pennies? Then stick around. Because today, I will show you the cheapest way to eat 140g of protein.

The cheapest way to eat 140g of protein requires you to create meals with inexpensive ingredients. Examples include legumes, whole grains, dairy products, protein powders, and less popular cuts of meat. Use these ingredients to make meals containing 28g+ of protein and between $0.90 to $1.43 per meal.

I’m originally from the UK. But emigrated to Hong Kong this year.

And let me tell you- if every country came attached with a warning label, Hong Kong’s would be this:


Oftentimes, it’s actually cheaper to just go to a restaurant in Hong Kong!

But the caveat to this is that the meals aren’t great for a high-protein diet (they skimp on the expensive protein as expected).

As a result, I have had to find my own ways to create protein-packed (and cheap) meals.

And this is what I will be sharing with you today!

So let’s jump straight in!

First, check out Jeremy Ethiers $8 dollar-a-day protein diet for inspiration!

How To Build Muscle For $8/Day (HEALTHY MEAL PREP ON A BUDGET)

Protein Powders Are One Of The Cheapest Sources Of Protein!


It’s literally milk protein that the manufacturer isolates from the milk itself.

Therefore it’s a safe and affordable way to increase your daily protein intake!

Here are the protein powders I currently use, have used in the past, and recommend:

Why Find The Cheapest Way To Eat Protein?

Before I get into the bulk of the post (get it?), let’s answer the first important question.

Why should you even look for the cheapest sources of protein?

As you probably know, protein is required to build muscle.

And if you are a skinny dude looking to pack on some serious muscle mass, then you will have to consume a high-protein diet.

You can check out my other article for more nutrition tips to build muscle!

For example- a 130lb male would need to consume at least 140g of protein each and every day to make significant muscle gains. And this is assuming a recommended intake of 2.4g of protein per kg of bodyweight to gain muscle.(1)

Furthermore, you will have to consistently consume high levels of protein. And that means eating a high-protein diet each and every day.

The problem?


Eating 140+ grams of protein every day can get very expensive, very quickly.

In fact, following a healthy diet, in general, can be costly.

bar chart showing the average cost of eating healthy protein vs eating junk protein

For example, this survey showed that eating 1000 calories from a healthy diet costs an average of $10.32 (£7.49).

In comparison, 1000 calories from a junk diet only cost an average of $3.44 (£2.50)!(2)

This survey was carried out in the UK. But a similar trend can be found in most developed countries.

Eating good quality protein is expensive!

That being said, building lean muscle doesn’t have to break the bank. And cheap sources of protein can be readily found if you are savvy.

You can check out my other article for tips to consume 140 in a single day!

What Are The Cheapest Sources Of Protein?

There are actually many cheap sources of protein available in grocery stores. You just have to know what you are looking for.

Reggie Johal from Predator Nutrition has created an awesome list of affordable protein-rich ingredients to add to your diet plan.

Additionally, Stuart Marsh from Coach Nine also provides some inspiring ideas.

To make your life a bit easier, I have compiled 26 of the best protein sources and categorized them into plant, dairy, fish, and animal protein.

infographic showing the 26 cheapest ways to eat 140g of protein to build muscle

Depending on your personal dietary preferences, you can find suitable choices from the list of protein foods below.

Next, I will examine the cost-effectiveness of protein from plant, dairy, fish, and meat sources.

If you like, you can check out my other article to learn how I gained 10lbs of lean muscle as a skinny beginner.

Fish Protein Gives A Good Bang For Buck!

table showing the average cost of eating fish protein in the cheapest ways to eat 140g of protein

Fish protein is surprisingly cheap, averaging in at $0.03 per gram of protein.

As expected, canned fish such as tuna and mackerel are cheaper than fresh fish. Canned tuna comes in at $0.04 per gram of protein (yielding 30 grams of protein per 100g tuna).

In comparison, canned mackerel is slightly cheaper at $0.03 per gram of protein (yielding 19g of protein per 100g mackerel).

Both can be tasty additions to a plate of pasta or rice. And you can also add your own choice of herbs, spices, and seasoning to add some zest to your dishes.

Whitefish can also be found cheaply, with an average cost of $0.04 per gram of protein (yielding 24g of protein per 100g white fish).

Examples of white fish include cod, pollock, catfish, and tilapia. All can be found relatively cheap, depending on where you are.

As a bonus, white fish is often low in fat and high in protein. And this makes it perfect for guys looking to gain muscle with minimal fat gains.

Dairy Protein Is Equally Cheap!

table showing the average cost of eating dairy protein in the cheapest ways to eat 140g of protein

Similar to fish protein, dairy protein will also give you good value for money.

Milk, eggs, and whey are the cheapest of dairy proteins, costing $0.03 per gram of protein.

Many people overestimate the cost of whey protein. Yes, a tub may set you back around $30 (or more).

But one tub will also yield around 30-40 scoops (depending on the brand). Additionally, each scoop usually packs around 25g of pure protein.

For example- I’ve been using MyProtein Impact Whey (you can find the cheapest price and full nutrition specs here) for over 3 years now. Each serving costs just 30 cents and packs in 21g of protein. That works out to be just over a cent per gram. Not bad!

Eggs and whey shakes make excellent choices for a protein-packed breakfast. If you have time in the morning, then make a 4 egg omelet for a 28g hit of protein.

Or if you are running short on time, add oats to a protein shake for around 30g of protein.

Cottage cheese is slightly more expensive- coming in at $0.04 per gram of protein. But cottage cheese has a major advantage inconvenience. Simply spread 100g onto wheat crackers for an easy-to-eat 12g of protein!

Greek yogurt is also a great source of protein. And you can also make a high-protein breakfast with greek yogurt by adding oats and fruit.

However, it is slightly more expensive than the other dairy choices, costing $0.07 per gram of protein.

You can also check out my other article to learn more about bulking correctly!

Fresh Meat Protein Prices Vary Depending On Cut

table showing the average cost of eating meat protein in the cheapest ways to eat 140g of protein

When it comes to consuming protein, you will naturally think of meat.

Yes, meat may be the most appetizing of the high-protein foods, but it often comes with a high price tag too.

But if you are savvy about your choice of cuts, then you can find affordable sources of meat protein.

Chicken breast is arguably one of the best choices for meat protein. It’s extremely affordable, priced at $0.04 per gram of protein.

Additionally, chicken breast is loaded with high-quality animal protein (31g protein per 100g chicken breast) with minimal fat.

Chicken breast is also a very versatile ingredient- add it to pasta, rice, or grill with potatoes!

Ground beef and pork are also fantastic sources of meat protein. Each costs $0.06 or $0.07 per gram of protein (respectively). And 100g of ground meat will return around 15g of protein per 100g of meat.

That’s significantly less protein than their steak variants. But the price is also significantly cheaper!

Ground meats are versatile ingredients that can be cooked in stews and stir-fries.

You may also be interested in my other post to find out how long it takes to bulk up as a skinny beginner.

Vegetarian Protein Can Be Expensive!

table showing the average cost of eating plant protein in the cheapest ways to eat 140g of protein

This one may come as a shock to you. But plant protein can actually be quite expensive!

Of course, it depends on what kind of plant protein you go for. Some sources are extremely cheap, whilst other sources can be costly.

For example- legumes like peas, beans, and lentils are relatively inexpensive. They will cost between $0.01-0.06 per 100g. Furthermore, 100g will contain between 5 to 19 grams of protein.

If you are looking for budget sources of protein, then nothing beats the humble chickpea. It costs a meager $0.01 per gram of protein! And each 100g packs a whopping 19g of protein!

Legumes are also very versatile ingredients. You can mix them into a salad or add them to stews. Alternatively, make a chickpea soup!

Quinoa, brown rice, and tofu are slightly more expensive choices for plant protein. They will set you back $0.07 per gram of protein. Additionally, they can contain anywhere between 3 to 13 grams of protein per 100g of ingredient.

Nuts and seeds are known for their high protein content. But if you are on a budget, you should choose carefully. That’s because the prices vary greatly between different nuts and seeds.

For example- sunflower seeds are a modest $0.06 per gram of protein. But almonds come with a much higher price of $0.11 per gram of protein! That’s almost double the price!

Vegetarian and soy protein powders are a great way to increase protein intake for non-meat eaters. But again, budget hunters should choose your powders wisely.

Both protein powders are moderately priced. However, vegetarian protein is on average more than double the price of soy protein ($0.05 vs $0.02 per gram of protein respectively).

I’ve used the MyProtein Pea Isolate Protein Isolate (you can find the cheapest price here) in the past, and can highly recommend it. Each serving contains 24g of protein at a cent per gram.

Therefore, plant protein shows major differences in cost, depending on the source. And if you are on a budget, it is worth doing your research!

5 Of The Cheapest Meals To Get 140g Of Protein

So what do you do with all those ingredients?

If you aren’t the most creative guy in the kitchen, then I have some good news for you.

Here are 5 of the cheapest protein-packed meals you can create.

Each meal contains around 28g of protein.

Combined, they will help you to eat 140g of protein a day on a budget!

In fact, this diet will take you above 140g!

1. Homemade Mass Gainer ($1.27 For 30g Protein)

IngredientProtein (g)Protein Cost (US$)
100g Greek Yoghurt100.70
100g Oats30.06
10g Peanut Butter30.09
2 Egg Whites140.42
High Protein Homemade Mass Gainer

This is a cheap and protein-packed breakfast. An excellent way to start your day.

Each serving will cost you $1.27 for 30 grams of protein.

Simply blend the yogurt, oats, and peanut butter into a homemade mass-gainer shake and drink!

Blend foods for cheap and easy protein meals.

The egg whites can be either blended directly into the shake or cooked and eaten separately.

As well as protein, it will also contribute around 500 calories in a single serving. And that makes it great for skinny guys who are looking to bulk up.

You can also check out my other article for more homemade weight gainer ideas!

2. Tuna Pasta ($1.33 For 36g Protein)

IngredientProtein (g)Protein Cost (US$)
100g Wholegrain Pasta50.15
Can Of Tuna281.12
50g Green Peas30.06
High Protein Tuna Pasta

This is a quick and easy meal to prepare. One of my favorites.

Gram for gram, its also one of the cheapest high-protein meals you can make!

Each serving will cost you $1.33. But it will also pack a whopping 36 grams of protein! Additionally, it contains a mix of plant and animal protein.

And this will supply your muscles with a complete amino acid profile which is important for muscle growth.(3)

All you have to do is cook the pasta and green peas. Then add the tuna and herbs/spices/olive oil (should you wish!). Now stir and serve!

If you are on a bulk, you can also add cheese. This is a cheap way to bump up the calories.

3. Ground Beef Rice ($1.42 For 28g Protein)

IngredientProtein (g)Protein Cost (US$)
100g Brown Rice50.35
50g Chickpeas90.09
100g Ground Beef140.98
High Protein Beef Rice

This is also a convenient meal to prepare.

Each serving will cost you $1.42 for 28 grams of protein.

All you have to do is put all the ingredients into a rice cooker and that’s it!


I’ve used a cheap Panasonic in the past, but now I use this Zojirushi Fuzzy Rice Cooker from Amazon (you can find the cheapest price here).

The Zojirushi costs an extra 40 bucks, but you get perfectly cooked fluffy rice unlike the Panasonic (which can come out mushy if you add too many fatty ingredients).

Alternatively, if you don’t have a rice cooker, you can use a conventional pan (there’s a much higher risk of your rice burning and not cooking correctly in my experience).

When you cook the beef and the rice together in the same pan, the juices from the beef will be absorbed by the rice. And this should add enough flavor.

But if this doesn’t satisfy your taste buds, you can also add some stock cubes and other seasonings!

4. Post-Workout Snack ($0.93 For 28g Protein)

IngredientProtein (g)Protein Cost (US$)
Whey Protein Shake250.75
25 Sunflower Seeds30.18
High Protein Post-Workout

This isn’t so much a meal as a snack. But a snack can also count as a meal if it provides you the calories and protein!

Each serving will cost $0.93 and provide 28 grams of protein.

Protein powder is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to consume protein. And if you are vegetarian/vegan, you can just substitute the whey powder with a suitable alternative.

If you are in bulk, then consider replacing the sunflower seeds with a more substantial meal.

If you’re interested, you can also check out my other article to learn how to bulk without getting fat.

5. Chicken Quinoa Salad ($1.43 For 29g Protein)

IngredientProtein (g)Protein Cost (US$)
200g Quinoa90.63
60g Chicken Breast200.80
High Protein Chicken Quinoa Salad

Finally, I recommend you try a chicken quinoa salad.

Each serving will cost $1.43 for 29g of protein.

All you have to do is cook the quinoa and grill the chicken. Then add the two together to serve.

Quinoa is rather bland by itself. So if you want to spice things up, then add a stock cube and a squeeze of lemon to the water as you cook the quinoa.

Recap: Best Protein Powders For A Cheap Hit Of Protein


That’s it!

Today I have shown you the cheapest way to eat 140g of protein.

Eating a high-protein diet doesn’t have to leave you broke. In fact, there are many affordable sources of protein.

Some of the cheapest ways to eat protein include legumes, whole grain products, dairy, protein powders, canned fish, and cheap cuts of meat.

Furthermore, all of these can be prepared into delicious meals!

Have you tried cooking a cheap protein-packed meal?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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