Bodybuilding On A Budget: Top 10 Cheap High Protein Foods

Staying in shape can be a pretty expensive business. Not a week goes by when the fitness industry doesn’t introduce some must-have new product, some gadget or gizmo claiming to help us get those biceps bulging and abs toned. In addition to all these innovations however, simply keeping our diets in check can necessitate a considerable amount of planning and research, not to mention a rather expensive weekly trip to the supermarket.

For bodybuilders though, for whom high protein foods are an integral part of their fitness regime, the problem can be most pronounced. Many mistakenly believe that the muscle building nutrient can best be found in red meat and salmon dishes, extravagances that will certainly pile pounds not only onto your pectorals but also onto your grocery bill. However, with just a little shopping around and a little insider knowledge, it’s easy to get all the power-packed goodness you require without the price tag.

1. Peanut Butter

Tesco Peanut Butter

For many, the very mention of peanut but conjures up images of a slovenly teenagers fixing a midnight snack. In reality however, peanut butter offers one of the most hassle-free injections of protein and whilst there are additive-laden brands out there, much more wholesome options are available with no other ingredients than peanuts and salt, these nourishing alternatives typically found in the health food aisle. If you’re really looking to feel the health benefits, why not add a couple of tablespoons to your regular smoothie, enhancing not only the flavour, but also protein content?

You can buy peanut butter for as little as 18 pence per 100g which contains 26g of protein.

144.4g of protein per £

2. Milk


For anyone really on a budget (and not suffering lactose intolerance) there can be few better ways to enrich your protein intake than with milk. A sizeable quantity of it practically unnoticeable on your grocery bill and with the bottle always there when you open the refrigerator door, you’ll be surprised how much you find yourself drinking. For those not partial to either the flavour or texture of milk however, you can always simply add a little extra to your tea, coffee or even smoothie with little noticeable trace.

For those with a sweeter tooth, try experimenting with different combinations of milkshake, infusing your drink not only with calcium and vitamins but also enough protein to make sure your time at the gym really shows.

Supermarkets notoriously compete on the price of milk to get you into their shops. You can buy milk for as little as 39 pence per liter with each liter containing as much as 36g of protein.

92.3g of protein per £

3. Whey Protein

Myprotein Impact Whey

To anyone who really wants to bulk up those muscles, whey protein is simply a must in their daily routine. The cost benefits of the amino acid rich powder certainly are obvious but on top of this comes the added advantage of being virtually free of either carbohydrates or fats, meaning that you can supplement your protein intake without risking weight-gain.

It can be added to almost anything, from smoothies to cookies, pancakes to toast without adversely affecting the flavour and as a tried and tested means of many an experienced bodybuilder, its effectiveness is proven by its results.

It is extremely cost effective, you can pick up a 5kg bag of Myprotein Impact Whey which contains 4.1kg of actual protein for £46.79 and if you use a discount code you can often get as much as 30% off!

87.6g of protein per £

4. Beans

Baked Beans

Beans come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and flavours, but one virtue they all share is that they are all extremely rich in protein. Whilst all of us have contented ourselves to a quick rustling of beans and toast, for the more sophisticated palate they can also be utilised in dishes as wide ranging as a winter salad to a Cuban black bean soup, all of which are (or can easily be adapted to) the vegetarian version.

You can buy supermarket brand baked beans for about 24 pence per can which contains as much as 15.6g of protein.

65g of protein per £

5. Eggs


Whilst the nutritional benefits of eggs are well-known, unfortunately so too are their high levels of cholesterol. Nevertheless this can largely be negated by simply removing the yolk but for those who keep a regular fitness regime, even this should be of little concern as a sensible approach to your heart largely ensures cholesterol is kept at bay. Certainly, eggs themselves offer a tasty protein boost, particularly for breakfast when you can choose from eggs benedict, omelettes or simply scrambled with toast.

Eggs are very cheap and you can pick them up for as low as 10 pence per egg with each egg delivering 6g of protein.

60g of protein per £

6. Canned Tuna


As anyone who has ever spent any time as a poverty-stricken student will know, that perpetual can of tuna at the back of the cupboard was quite literally a lifesaver. But whilst there may be many who still turn their nose up at this very versatile fish, there are many more for whom it is a regular and exceedingly health snack.

In addition to the huge amounts of protein it supplies, it is offers an abundance of omega-3 which is essential to a healthy heart. Mixing some with a little mayonnaise and onion can make for a no-nonsense sandwich whilst adding some to your salad can really bring the dish to life, not to mention being one of the most protein-rich fish on the market.

Canned Tuna can be purchased for 49 pence per 100g which contains 23.5g of protein.

48g of protein per £

7. Chicken Breast

MuscleFood Chicken Breast

In most households across Britain, rarely a week goes by without the dinner table being graced by a nice, plump chicken breast. Whilst this most comes beneath oceans of gravy and lashings of mashed potatoes, chicken is adaptable enough to be included in almost anything, from a quick on-the-go sandwich to a light lunch salad, the breast being the part of the animal which is most protein-packed.

Chicken also has the added benefit of being available in bulk, thus cutting down the cost for the customer and being perfectly freeze-able, you can always be sure that there’s something healthy in the cupboards if ever the urge takes you.

You can purchase 5kg of chicken breast from MuscleFood for £25 and we will occasionally have an exclusive code where you can pick it up for just £19!

44g of protein per £

8. Cottage Cheese

Tesco Cottage Cheese

Although cottage cheese is far from a universal favourite, for those who enjoy its chunky creaminess, it can be a great option as a night-time snack. Being slow digesting enough so as not to interfere with your sleep, the adaptable and flavoursome topping can be combined with a vast range of flavours and still taste great. Cottage cheese and fruit are not only a healthy but delicious combination and sandwiching some between French toast creates a decadent but protein-rich way to start the day.

For the more inventive (and culinary-blessed) however, you can always mix together with some jalapenos to be eaten with some low-fat tortilla chips for those Saturday nights in front of a movie. This option certainly, is not only wonderfully scrumptious, but also presents a far healthier alternative to fatty snacks you may otherwise indulge in.

Tesco brand cottage cheese costs £2.14 per kg and contains 95g of protein.

44g of protein per £

9. Tilapia


Although many of us enjoy the luxury of a nice piece of Wild Alaskan Salmon, not to mention the health benefits that go along with it, for most, the notion of indulging in this on a regular basis is simply not financially viable.

Here, tilapia offers a great alternative. Unlike many varieties of fish, it is a surprisingly versatile meal-time component and is equally tasty when fried, braised, baked or broiled and even for those with little culinary skill or those simply too busy to spend much time on fixing dinner, a delicious and nutritious dish can be rustled together with nothing more than a slice of lemon and little pepper.

You can pick up 1kg of Tilapia from Musclefood for £7; 100g of tilapia contains 20.1g of protein.

28.7g of protein per £

10. Greek Yoghurt

Greek Yoghurt

For the vast majority who will not understand the term “acidophilus,” it is a one of the many types of bacteria that are actually beneficial, it’s most obvious advantage being its ability to help digestion. With Greek yogurt already being extremely high in protein, it is the perfect substitute for both sour cream and mayonnaise in any of your favourite recipes, simultaneously lowering your calorie intake whilst also significantly boasting your muscle building potential.

ASDA brand Greek yoghurt costs 20p per 100g which contains 5.1g of protein.

25.5g of protein per £

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