I have recently moved away from home and would like to continue weightlifting/gaining muscle. Food cost however is a big problem. My question is: what is a really cheap protein source? From my own investigation milk seems to run in at about 30g protein/dollar while sausage and canned tuna is around 13g protein/dollar. Are protein powders the best way (read cost effective) to get protein in terms of gram/dollar? Milk seems to be pretty decent in terms of calories and protein but I was wondering if the was something better in terms of price.

  • you can't go wrong with egg whites cheap and with high amount of protein
    – Very23
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 4:14
  • 2
    Insects and bugs?
    – bjarkef
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 7:18
  • @bjarkef How much do they cost (protein grams per dollar)? I am from Canada so getting them might be difficult as insects are not usually sold in grocery stores.
    – James
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 19:13

8 Answers 8


A typical 10lb bag of ON whey protein costs ~$115 USD. There are 149 servings (1 scoop = 1 serving) in a bag.

So 24 grams of protein (with negligible carbs and fat) costs $0.77 USD. I don't think you'll find anything cheaper anywhere. And if you do, let me know.

  • In europe ON is a lot more expensive. On the other hand, you can buy a 5kg Myprotein Impact Whey for 68€ (last time I got one). With 80g of protein per 100g that makes a 0.0092€ per gram of protein (0.221€ per 24g of protein)
    – joao
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 10:21


A dozen in USA costs around $3 that is 6 grams of proteins for $0.041 per gram. Although it doesn't beat $0.03 per gram in Eric's answer but its close and eggs are not for $3 everywhere.

Knowing which country you belong to, this price can be significantly lower.

I am from Canada. I just bought a dozen eggs for $2.64

Wohoo, that makes it $0.03 per gram of protein right there.

That answer was obviously based on cost requirements, otherwise i love a diet of whey protein + eggs + almonds + banana shakes and ofcourse ocassional steaks :p

  • Whole eggs contain a high amount of fat though. Like @Very23 said in the comment, egg whites would be a better choice. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 5:10
  • Egg whites are part of Eggs, knowing their country of residence we can also calculate the price for an egg and then remove egg yolks from them and adjust for the computation. Only then we can figure out if its still cheap there. I know in some countries eggs can even be $1 a dozen. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 5:19
  • I am from Canada. I just bought a dozen eggs for $2.64. Not sure if they go lower then that on sale/shopping around etc.
    – James
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:51
  • Note that it's usually cheaper in the U.S., for some areas anyway, but bird flu is going around. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 17:37
  • 3
    I think it's bad advice to tell people to eat only the whites. The nutrition that yolks have more than make up for the fat and calories in them. The fat will not hurt you. Don't be afraid of it. Fat is more satiating and lasts longer in your stomach, and can be a very healthy part of a weight loss diet.
    – ErikE
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 20:25

Beans! A 1-pound bag of dry beans can easily be found for $1, and contains about 100 grams of protein. $0.01 per gram beats pretty much any animal source.

Of course, you can't eat raw beans, so this source requires some kitchen work.

  • This is interesting. I am surprised that I have not heard more weight lifters gorging on beans.
    – James
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:53
  • Well, they couldn't gorge on just beans, since the amino acid profile isn't as complete as in animal proteins. Eat them as part of a balanced diet, as they say.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 7:13
  • 4
    771 calories in your pound of beans, which only has 45 grams of protein. So eat ~25 grams of protein and get 350 calories along with it, or eat ~25 grams of protein from whey at half the calories and it's a complete protein on top of it. fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/…
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 8:54
  • Yes, if you're trying to avoid complex carbohydrates, you should stay away from beans.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 10:17
  • Indeed, I wonder how the meat produced from beans is cheaper than beans (basic biology teaches that it must be 10x times more expensive because you spend 10 kg of beans to produce 1 kg of animal protein). But if they tell such redicoulus thing it must be right. Rediculous things are thouroughly checked.
    – valentin
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 13:38

I think tuna is a very, very good source for not much money. The type I get is in water, of course, and it's 90 calories per tin, with 20 grams of protein. There's only 1 gram of fat with all that protein, and then an extra calorie from something haha.

My lunch is 2 cans of tuna plus a deli sandwich with about 30 g of protein in it. So I get 70 g of protein just from my lunch.

  • It doesn't really address the specific cost.
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 16:52
  • @EricKaufman - Isn't it unreasonable to require specific price when there in fact IS no one specific price? They can vary over time, and between labels. Any answer on price is going to be obsolete in a few years, so it doesn't really fit into the StackExchange format, in my opinion. Moreover, if any answer has to have a price in it, anyone who isn't from Canada (in this case), can't give a full-fledged answer. This, too, makes it an unreasonable demand.
    – Alec
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 14:26
  • @Alec the cost might fluctuate but you can bank on cavier costing more than sand, and whey costing less than tuna regardless of your country. The question directly is referencing price; you can't avoid it and answer the question.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 14:46
  • @EricKaufman - In your previous comment, you asked for "specific price". That and "what costs more than what" are quite different. The latter is answerable by anyone. The former requires the answerer to research specific prices in the asker's country.
    – Alec
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 14:52

Oats are tough competition, even in Australia you can get 1 kg of protein for $10, or $0.01/g.

$0.99 / 750g oats
~13g protein / 100g oats
=> $0.99 / ~97.5g protein
=> ~$0.01 / 1g protein

They are a carb-heavy option, so that's a huge plus if you're in the earlier stages of bulking, but likely a minus if you're in the latter chiselling stages.


If you live near the coast, then dried or fresh fish can get you pretty far. Dried cod, for example, has 80-85% protein and costs around 30$/kg in most areas - likely a lot cheaper near fisheries! Although it will require you to do quite a bit of cooking (or to drink a lot of water if dried).

  • I do live near the west coast so salmon would be great except so far I have found it expensive. I might just have to shop around more and see if I can find it cheaper
    – James
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:54
  • @user2697246 I find salmon to be tastier and easier to cook, but more expensive and much more fatty than white fish. Cod and tuna are usually both cheaper and better for protein.
    – Ordous
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 19:03

I typically do the store generic complete post workout (with bcaas) which they do a sale on every so often ( buy one get one half off etc. Vitamin shoppe is in September) last time I bought it was about .02$/gram not on the level of beans but very complete quality protein.

I would also check out Costco. Whenever I go in I check to see if they are doing a sale on protein and try to snap some up. Best price I have seen so far is $.30/serving of protein powder with bcaas.


Nutri chunks is best and and cheapest source of protein (55gm. Protein Per 100 gm) In my country (India) cost of 1 kg chunks is app. 2$ i dont know about USA . But if the rate is same then u will get app. 500-550 gm protein in 2 $;-)


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