Think food has to be expensive to have all the best health benefits? Not when it comes to eating for gains. Muscle-building foods — packed with protein — aren’t budget busters. In fact, many of them are sitting on store shelves for less than $1 a pound right now. Here are some of our favorites.
Prices will obviously vary depending on where you live and where you shop, but overall, you’ll be pleased to know you can get great food without great monetary sacrifice.
There are several reasons why a can of tuna should be your new best friend: it has omega-3s, and its protein content is seriously impressive — around 22 grams per container. It’s also highly versatile, which means you can eat it pretty much any way you want and still reap all the benefits.
A 5 oz. can of tuna usually sells for as low as $0.99.
You won’t find another grain that packs so much protein into such a small surface area. That’s why so many people use it as a substitute for more expensive meats. The best way to save money on quinoa is to stick to store brands and buy plain — you can always add your own flavorings later.
Store brands of quinoa are typically around $6.00 per 16 oz. package.
3. Greek yogurt
At 15 grams of protein per serving, this type of yogurt is your best bet if you want to build mass. In addition to the protein, it’s also a good source of probiotics. Use plain Greek yogurt in your smoothies or try a dozen different recipes to incorporate it into meals and snacks you already love.
One 5.3 oz. container of Greek yogurt costs around $1.00.
4. Cottage cheese
Of all the cheesy muscle-building foods you could be eating, this one’s one of the healthier options. Just one cup of cottage cheese will give you nearly 30 grams of protein. Eat it as a stand-alone snack or throw together a fruit salad for a quick breakfast that will keep you full all morning.
Expect to pay no more than $4.50 for 16 oz. of cottage cheese.
Dried beans are even cheaper than pre-cooked canned beans, and one cup yields about 15 grams of protein. Adding beans to salads, rice or other dishes high in complex carbs gives you the energy and nutrition you need for quick muscle repair and epic gains.
You can buy a 15 oz. can of kidney beans for around $0.98.