Preparing chicken breasts is very time consuming, and also expensive. Is there another alternative that is cheap, easy and quick to make, and has the same amount of protein?

I'm a student so time and money are my primary problems.

  • Don't you think its cheaper than those protein supplements?
    – claws
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 19:50
  • Look up the GOMAD diet. Best bulking diet available and cheap.
    – user10019
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 21:28
  • 3
    Do yourself a favor and stay away from any fad/gimmick things like GOMAD.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 3:32
  • It's not what I would really call a fad diet. It's a simple way of ensuring someone is meeting a caloric surplus to drive recovery and is probably the cheapest option for a student with little money. I would like to know your scientific reasoning and personal experience as to why a tried and tested method recommended by professional strength and conditioning coaches and countless others is to be considered a gimmick by yourself? More so how is something a gimmick when it has been proven to work?
    – user10019
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 8:04
  • @user10019 - Milk calories are almost all sugar based. Overloading on calcium can cause liver problems and kidney stones. (1 gal milk has 4x recommended daily calcium). It's high in saturated fat/cholesterol, as well as sodium. It's only "designed" to be done for a month or two at the most, so yes, fad/gimmick. Plus, you can't gain muscle at that rate, so the majority of the "bulking" will be fat and water gain.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 14:38

4 Answers 4


Chicken has per 100g (3.5 oz):

  • 165 Calories
  • 4g fat
  • 0g Carbs
  • 31g protein

You'll find that what is cheap really depends on what is most common where you live. In other words, if you live in a country or town where seafood is plentiful it may very well be a cheaper form of protein. Unfortunately, some areas of the world it seems that all food is expensive.

Most seafood will have a little more protein per ounce than a chicken breast, and be leaner.. This includes canned tuna. For example from the nutrition for a can of tuna stored in water (165g / 5.8oz):

  • 191 Calories
  • 1g fat
  • 0g carbs
  • 42g protein

You'll have to go to the grocery store and look at the labels. You are wanting to compare fat/carbs/protein from one type of meat/seafood to another.

Prep Time

Something to consider in your search is that you can save money if you get your chicken with the skin and bones still attached. You pay for the convenience of having that removed for you. Of course, that does increase your prep time if you don't want that in the final meal.

One of the things that I do to keep prep times down is to cook off a week's worth of chicken and keep it in the refrigerator. In the morning all I have to do is take a serving of chicken out of the fridge and pack it for lunch. At work we have a microwave, and only have to reheat the chicken for 1.5 minutes.


Preparing chicken breasts are probably the fastest thing ever, and I really do not think anything is much cheaper. But other good sources are:

Cottage cheese, skim milk, Skyr, eggs and tuna (stolen from other answers).

From (Berin Loritsch) you could look into local sources of cheap and good protein.

Back to the breasts!

  • Buy a bunch of breasts.

  • Wrap them in bacon/thinly sliced ham.

  • Place them on a baking tray, with some baking paper under.

  • Cook them for 20 minutes a 180-200 degrees (around 380-400 fahrenheit?).

  • Cool off, and store in fridge.

It really does not get any cheaper or faster than that. You can slice them open and stuff things like cheese and spices in, to get some variation.

  • 1/2 kg is 5 euros man, how is that cheap?
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 16:09
  • Often you get what you pay for. Quality matters.
    – G__
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 16:47
  • For 10 euro's you get 5 chicken breasts? Thats 2 euro's pr. meal. Add some spices, etc. and your up to a max of 2,5 euro's a meal. That is cheap.
    – user8264
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 6:02

I recommend a low fat, low carb whey protein isolate drink in place of the chicken breast if you are OK with switching to a drink. I work at a health food store and we help many people supplement their diets/lifestyles with whey protein. It is not just used for body builders or people trying to get buff, protein is something your body needs and most people don't get enough or get proteins high in fat (some animal proteins).

I am also a student so for breakfast, I drink a 30 gm protein shake, have a low carb bar (>100 cal) and multivitamins, and stay lean and healthy during the semester to follow. You will also feel better getting protein early in the day and most likely it will carry you through to lunch with your appetite in check.

  • Hrm. 2 lbs whey protein isolate = 25 servings = 700g protein = $55 US (typical price). 15.7 lbs chicken breasts = 7121 grams = 71 servings (100gm) = 1775g protein = $55 (Typical US grocery store price of 3.50/lb). Tell us again how whey isolate would be cheaper than chicken breasts?
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 14:59
  • amazon.com/100%25-Natural-Dutch-Chocolate-Pounds/dp/B000K78Z32/… This is a link to a 2.2 lbs. whey protein isolate for $23.49, no fillers, and the same number of servings that you speak of. This is much cheaper than chicken, you just have to know which protein to buy. This is effectively half the price of chicken based upon your calculations.
    – Jåcor
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 15:00
  • 2 lbs = 36 (18g protein per) servings = 684g protein. At $29/tub (Gotta include that shipping), that's the same as 8.28 lbs of chicken breasts, which is 3755g, or 37.5 servings. That's 937 grams protein. You're at least getting closer with your artificial replacement. (Assuming you can get it for the discount price listed). I know, maths is hard.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 15:10
  • Another issue you seem to be forgetting to address is time. How is chicken quicker than mixing water and whey? The "discounted price" is actually a bit high right now. If you do find it at full price on amazon.com, it would only last for a day or two. It has dropped lower than $20 and if you buy bulk you get free shipping, lowering your $29 buy $5 once again. So, I guess my question is, whats the better alternative that you propose, when taking time/money into consideration since you disagree with whey?
    – Jåcor
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 15:19
  • I don't necessarily disagree with whey. I just think it's a poor alternative when you have to buy pallets of the stuff to get it cheaper than you can an actual food, and when the OP is looking for cheaper, I'm not sure how spending large $$ on bulk whey is a great solution. Just because you've bought the health store supplement party line doesn't mean it's a great solution.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 15:24

Eggs are probably the best source of proteins out there.

Price : $
Cooking time : fast

You can be a bodybuilder only eating sweet potatoes and eggs white.

  • Eggs have 6g of protein, so to get the equivalent of 1 breast, you need to eat ~ 5-6 eggs. And if (as you suggest) you only eat the whites, you get 3.6g protein per, so you'll need to eat the whole dozen to get the same protein.
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 14:50
  • @JohnP You're right, but the fact is egg's protein absorption > chicken's one. I'm searching the source..
    – e1che
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:00

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