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Cheapest in high protein+calories

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey all.

I'm on a very tight budget and I need to a lot for weightlifting and I wanted some tips on the cheapest food I can buy (I mean VERY cheap, I'm on a very tight budget) that I can eat in massive quantities. It needs to be high in protein.

Right now I've been consuming roasted peanuts at $1.30/pound eating about 2 pounds a day. Anyone have any other ideas?
post #2 of 13
Beans! :lips:


Dairy products!
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 13
Whole Wheat Pasta
Peanut Butter
post #4 of 13
-Tuna fish
-Buy chicken at costco and keep it in the freezer
-Egg white salad - Hard boil as many eggs as you like, remove yolk, and chop up - add oil, vinegar, oregano, or any other seasonings you like, and eat guilt free
-A friend of mine in college was on the wrestling team. Whenever he needed to gain weight the coach suggested he eat peanut butter sandwiches before going to bed.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #5 of 13
Organic Soy Tempeh will satisfy your requirments.

Try and find Tempeh that is produced in the traditional Indonesian manner. The refrigerated stuff in the vac pack is horrible.

Good artisanal produced Tempeh will give you about 13g of high quality protein in an 85g serving.

You get zero sodium, 8g carbs, 8g fiber, 7g fat (of which only 1.5 g is saturated), and no trans fats.

Good stuff, indeed :cool:

Oh, it tastes great as well.

Try this simple recipe:
Open a can of field peas or black eye peas, and heat

Dice 170g of Tempeh into cubes,
Saute with a bit of EVOO, Cumin, salt and black pepper
Add in a big splash of hot sauce, and stir to coat.

Add the sauted Tempeh into the field peas, mix and serve.
post #6 of 13
Cerebrus- I was in the same position throughout college, and did well sticking with the basics of chicken breasts (always on sale somewhere), chopped beef (ditto), And tons of veggies. You can overdo the protein thing so if your coach doesn't have a nutritionist or dietician around I'd ask for one. If you're just lifting on your own to get bigger then plan your diet fully- a 3-hour snack of bagel + peanut butter+apple will serve you better than skipping the meal and trying to cram down mass quantities later.
post #7 of 13
I would heed what Bluedogz is saying.

As for your question:
Quality of protein is important. this means it has to contain all the essential amino acid to a human to be complete.
All animal proteins are complete i.e. eggs, milk, beef, chicken, etc...

Beans (legumes) lack a couple of essential amino acid as well as grains. Combining both legumes and grains provides complete proteins since they both compliment each other.

The only exception is soy. It contains complete protein.

So tofu comes to mind for your requirements.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #8 of 13

I was under the impression that Quinoa provided a complete protein. Am I off base again? Its been more than a decade since I've seriously read up on "food as health" issues so that's quite likely.

post #9 of 13
Quinoa is complete (apparently) but the literature is still fuzzy on it.
Chia is complete but would not be considered cheap.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #10 of 13
The problem with eating lots of beans and nuts for protein is not only the need to combine them with grains for a complete protein, but also the high carbohydrate content in them.
Most lifters I know need to also significantly reduce their carbs, so beans and nuts can be a problem. Mind you, they contain good carbs with low glycemic index, meaning they burn slowly, and nuts generally contain good fats. But lean meats-chicken breast, turkey breast, beef round, white fish, egg whites and skim milk products (low fat cottage cheese)-would provide the most protein bang for your buck.

Are you going for size or strength?
My cousin-a competitive power lifter-does not boast huge muscles, but usually beats all those really beefy guys. Whatever you do, please avoid the temptation to bulk up arms chest and back without paying attention to building proportional muscles in the legs. I see these guys at the gym all the time-from the waist up they're like a brick ****-house, but sport skinny wittle calves and thighs. They look like they could fall over any minute.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #11 of 13
Are you looking for a high protein weight gain diet or a high protein muscle fuel diet? A couple of things come to mind as far as the high-protein foods go and they've all been mentioned but a couple easy ways to get cheap high protein:

Chicken breasts at costco was mentioned (if you don't have a membership there or one around you you can try aldi's, wal-mart, etc.) Check the food ads for when they'll be on sale.

Tuna- unfortunately to get this cheap you have to get it canned and that's a b**ch. If you get some canned tune you can chop some onions and celery (both relatively cheap) and maybe stir in some generic light mayo or some hot sauce and put it on toast. It's relatively good that way. (you could throw in some chopped hard boiled eggs if you like)

Rice and beans- Friggin love this stuff. You can find some relatively cheap rice and some cheap beans. Mix it up and experiment with your own seasonings. As they said, legumes + grains= complete protein. To tell the truth, I used to just take a can of black beans, pour it into a pot with some rice, add some hot sauce and wrap it up in a tortilla.

As far as peanuts and peanut butter goes- you could eat them all the time but the problem is that if you aren't trying to gain a lot of weight it's not a great idea. Peanuts in general are pretty fatty and though it is good fat in most cases it'll still add up if you eat a lot (2 lbs a day for example...).

With the price of grains on the rise, rice might not be a great idea for a budget. It's gonna get pricey. But you've got other options there and a lot of suggestions. Let us know how it goes.
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
"**** is finding myself left with only vegan food, light beer, and menthol cigarettes."
post #12 of 13
Chicken legs and thighs are usually MUCH CHEAPER than breasts. Slightly higher in fat, though. Chicken dark meat typically runs less than $1/lb -- of course with waste, that's about $1.35/lb. Still cheaper than peanuts, once you discard the shells, a much better source of protein, and minus many of the dietary complications.

This raises the point of what you mean by a "high protein" diet. Are you trying to bump the protein content of your diet relative to carbs and fats, or are you trying to knock carbs down, or what? What are you doing to control fat intake, if anything? What ratio of complex to simple carbs?

I've got to say that eating massive quantities of peanuts daily as part of a training regimen is the sort of unhealthy stupidity I'd associate with a teenage boy. The one bright spot, if you're capable of massive cynicism is that teenage girls are capable of greater unhealthy stupidity.

But that's got nothing to do with you. Stop with the nut abuse.

post #13 of 13
If you are interested in the bean family, lentils have the highest amount by dry weight, don't need to be soaked, are cheap and don't cause that certain inconvenient reaction. Split peas also. TSP, textured soy protein is high protein, low carb, low fat and cheap also. Maybe the cheapest protein available when bought in bulk. Something like %50 protein by weight (raw beef is maybe %20). It's also fairly unpleasant to eat, highly processes, and helps support the mega soy industrial complex. It tastes a little like toast. You can add it to a fruit smoothie, but you end up with a strawberry and toast smoothie:eek:.

As far as complete and incomplete proteins go, most nutritionists now agree that you don't need to combine the protein foods each meal. In other word, the amino acids circulating in your blood from last night's chicken will balance out the lacking amino acids from today's lentils. Bodybuilders might disagree, but I'll assume you're not tying to look like Arnie S. in his younger days.
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