It’s common knowledge that eating clean can be expensive, particularly on a bulk. Eating the right foods in order to hit your macros, taking a few supplements and paying for you gym membership each month all add up. But a bodybuilder’s meal plan doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
I’ve rounded up 20 foods that offer the highest amount of protein per £ available from a combination of supermarkets and online stores.
If you want some info on each of the foods, and the cheapest place to buy them, scroll down for the breakdown. Otherwise, here’s the list:
|1||Peanut Butter||131g Protein per £1|
|2||Soy Protein Isolate||120g Protein per £1|
|3||Peanuts||115g Protein per £1|
|4||Whey Protein||97g Protein per £1|
|5||Semi-skimmed Milk||94g Protein per £1|
|6||Poached Eggs||83g Protein per £1|
|7||Pork Sausages||72g Protein per £1|
|8||Baked Beans||65g Protein per £1|
|9||Tuna in Water||60g Protein per £1|
|10||Greek Yoghurt||56g Protein per £1|
|11||Cheddar Cheese||52g Protein per £1|
|12||Red Lentils||47g Protein per £1|
|13||Beef Mince||46g Protein per £1|
|14||Cottage Cheese||45g Protein per £1|
|15||Chicken Breast||44g Protein per £1|
|16||Edam Cheese||38g Protein per £1|
|17||Chickpeas||38g Protein per £1|
|18||Pork Loin Steak||30g Protein per £1|
|19||Turkey Breast||30g Protein per £1|
|20||Quorn Mince||30g Protein per £1|
For obvious reasons, the figures above are susceptible to change and are largely based upon particular brands and their relative prices (at the time of writing), which may also fluctuate. You may actually be able to find better deals by taking advantage of sales and voucher codes, in which case you should be able to get even more bang for your buck.
Sources & Alternatives
Below I’ve listed some more details, such as the source of each aforementioned food and an alternative where I found necessary.
Protein per £1: 131g
Notes: Admittedly Tesco Everyday Value Peanut Butter is probably not the best option in terms of health if consumed excessively (then again, what is?) But, after all, this is about the cheapest high protein foods, and with 131g of protein per £1, it certainly is cheap.
If you’re looking for a higher quality, natural alternative I can recommend Myprotein’s Natural Peanut Butter. It’s a fair bit pricier, providing 50g of protein per £1, but the quality difference is noticeable. Myprotein are frequently holding sales and pretty much always have some decent active discount codes, so it’s likely you’ll be able to get a better deal.
Protein per £1: 123g
Source: ASDA Fresh Milk Semi Skimmed
Notes: You might have heard of GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk a Day). Now, although I don’t advise anyone to drink a gallon of milk a day (that’s a lot of dairy), it’s no surprise that it’s the go-to advice for kids looking to put on size. It’s cheap, it’s full of protein, and easy to consume a lot of.
Liquid calories are good for anyone on a bulk whose appetite doesn’t allow quite much their goals. Just keep it in moderation, especially if you’re consuming other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt (which are also on this list!) since Lactose intolerance is fairly common.
Soy Protein Isolate
Protein per £1: 120g
Source: Myprotein Soy Protein Isolate
Notes: A great alternative to whey protein, soy protein isolate is made from defatted soy beans and therefore free of lactose. If you’re on a cut, this protein supplement is your best friend, since it practically contains zero fat and carbs. A shake containing a scoop of soy protein isolate will help you hit your protein macros each day while allowing you to fulfill your carbs and fats with nutrient rich foods.
At the time of writing, The Protein Works are offering 40% off their Soy Protein 90, making it the cheapest source of protein on this list with a whopping 150g protein per £1. For now, I’ve opted to include the Myprotein variant on the list since I have no idea how long this discount will last and, without it, Myprotein is the cheaper option.
Protein per £1: 115g
Source: ASDA Smartprice Salted Peanuts
Notes: Again, moderation is key. Salted peanuts happen to be the cheapest of the bunch – it’s not rocket science to figure these contain a high amount of salt. High sodium intake can cause high blood pressure, among other health problems. But as a snack or treat, these are ideal.
Although not on this list, cashews and walnuts are worth a mention.
The cheapest source of nuts I’ve found is actually Aldi, however I haven’t Aldi’s on this list because they don’t have their prices online and I’m unsure if their prices are consistent nationwide. So if you have an Aldi nearby, check them out. The walnuts and cashews I get from there are a lot cheaper than both Tesco and online wholesalers.
Protein per £1: 97g
Source: Myprotein Impact Whey Protein
Notes: Probably the world’s most popular supplement, so it should be no surprise that it’s on this list – although, not quite a food as such.. but it’s cheap! And you can make porridge and flapjacks with it.
I’m sure most brands of whey protein will offer a decent protein per £ ratio, perhaps with the exception of more premium brands. I’m looking at you, Optimum Nutrition. But, damn, does their chocolate whey taste good.
An alternative would be The Protein Works’ Whey Protein 80, offering 87g protein per £1. I personally haven’t tried this one, but it’s the cheapest alternative I could find from a reputable brand, and that’s without any offers or discount codes applied.
Protein per £1: 83g
Source: ASDA Smartprice Eggs
Notes: Scrambled eggs will offer the same number, but poached eggs are my preference because of the oil (and butter) required to make scrambled or fried eggs not stick to the pan and/or actually taste good. Failing that, raw eggs.
I’m sure prices will be similar from most supermarkets, but in this case Asda seemed to be the cheapest. Next in line would be Tesco Everyday Value Eggs, offering 68g protein per £1.
If you can afford an extra couple of pence per egg, you should opt for free range eggs.
Protein per £1: 72g
Source: Woodside Farms Pork Sausages
Notes: Pork sausages are surprisingly a very cheap source of protein. Pair them with some poached eggs and beans and you have yourself a cheap, protein-rich breakfast! I’m not going to recommended eating a full English breakfast every day of the week; too much saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol.
Both Tesco’s and ASDA’s own brand of pork sausages offer similar value to those above.
If you’re not keen on pork, then an alternative is Musclefood’s Chicken Breast Sausages. You get a lot less protein for your money – 23g protein per £1 – but they do have less than five times the saturated fat, twice the protein and a lot less calories than the pork sausages.
Protein per £1: 65g
Source: Tesco Everyday Value Baked Beans
Notes: Baked beans are cheap and a superb source of protein, fibre, calcium and iron. Unless flatulence is a big problem for you, then there’s no reason baked beans can’t be a staple in your diet.
If you don’t eat much bread and find baked beans in tomato sauce too boring to consume without toast, you could always opt for Baked Beans and Pork Sausages instead; they offer a very close 64g protein per £1.
Tuna in Water
Protein per £1: 60g
Notes: Hopefully you have some sort of fish in your diet. It turns out that tuna chunks are the cheapest option here. According to Tesco, their own brand of tinned tuna is dolphin friendly.
Tins of sardines and mackerel come close in terms of value for protein, so consider them if you want some variety.
Protein per £1: 56
Notes: Greek Yoghurt can be used in a number of ways, so there’s no reason you can’t include this in your diet. I personally have it with walnuts and honey for breakfast occasionally, and wife uses it to make curries; it’s a fairly versatile food.
Also consider ASDA Fat Free Greek Style Yogurt with Honey which makes for a great snack or desert if you don’t fancy eating plain unsweetened Greek Yoghurt by itself.
Protein per £1: 52
Notes: Cheddar makes for a great source of cheap protein. That includes melted cheese, too, if ham and cheese toasties are your thing!
Cheddar cheese contains a huge amount of saturated fat, which can be detrimental to your health – so consume in moderation.
If you don’t fancy carrying a block of cheese around with you, consider a more snack-friendly alternative, like Cheese Strings. They make pretty convenient snacks if your protein intake is lacking.
Protein per £1: 47
Notes: Another vegetarian-friendly option. Both Tesco’s and ASDA’s own brand are similar in value, so feel free to opt for them if this particular brand isn’t available.
Lentils are ideal for making healthy curries. An alternative to lentils are Chickpeas (also on this list).
Protein per £1: 46
Source: Tesco Beef Mince 18% Fat
Notes: Beef mince is another versatile food that can be eaten as is or used to create burgers, meat balls, Shepard’s Pie and a whole host of tasty dishes.
Note that, although the cheapest beef mince available, this particular mince is 18% fat (which may or may not suit your diet requirements). For a lot of people this may be a bad thing, so consider a less-fatty beef mince, such as Musclefood’s Extra Lean British Beef Mince. It’s somewhat pricier, but you’ll get the same amount of protein for a quarter of the fat and half the calories.
Also consider the vegetarian alternative, Quorn Mince (also on this list).
Protein per £1: 45
Notes: A classic pre-bedtime snack for bodybuilders is cottage cheese and peanut butter. It sounds awful and may get you some funny looks from your family, but they actually taste good together and, better yet, both cottage cheese and peanut butter contain slow releasing proteins, making them them perfect to consume before bed.
Although a fair bit pricier, and therefore less protein per £, consider Tesco Cottage Cheese with Pineapple as an alternative; It’s far tastier to eat alone than plain cottage cheese.
Protein per £1: 44
Notes: A list about high protein foods – surely chicken had to be on here somewhere. Are you surprised it’s so low on the list? The fact is, chicken isn’t cheap. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of sources of chicken breasts, from discounted stock at Tesco, to online wholesalers, butchers and markets. When you’re eating two or three chicken breasts a day, regardless of your source, it adds up to a lot of money.
Nevertheless, the currently lowest price chicken breasts (of decent quality) I can find are from Musclefood. Also take into consideration that the figure of 44g protein per £ is based upon an order of 5 kg. Musclefood reward you for ordering in bulk by discounting your order, so it’s possible to get even better value if ordering 10kg, 20kg or more at a time. Why not do a shared order with a friend?
Protein per £1: 38
Source: Edamski Edam Cheese
Notes: An alternative to cheddar. I’ve heard that Edam Cheese Souffle with bacon is delicious.
The Edam I’ve sourced here, Edamski fradycja dobrego smaku, which I have no idea how to pronounce, is the cheapest available. Can’t comment on quality, though. I’d expect you get what you pay for, so may be worth opting for Tesco’s or ASDA’s own brands which are, not quite as good as, but similar in terms of protein per £.
Protein per £1: 38
Source: ASDA Good & Balanced Chickpeas
Notes: Similar to lentils, just not as much protein per £. You can use chickpeas to create nice, thick curries.
An alternative, and perhaps more appropriate as a snack, is houmous, which is simply crushed chickpeas sesame seeds, lemon juice, garlic and sometimes another ingredient or two for flavouring. Doesn’t quite offer the same value for money in terms of protein as chickpeas alone, but houmous is one tasty snack and makes for a great dip for carrots and cucumber (or pitta bread, if your diet permits) so with Tesco Reduced Fat Houmous 19g protein per £1 I’m not going to complain.
Pork Loin Steak
Protein per £1: 30
Source: Musclefood Prime Pork Loin Steaks
Notes: If you want a break from chicken as your primary source of meat protein, then pork loin steaks may be worth considering.
An alternative, if you’re not a pork-eater, are Tesco Beef Minute Steaks. You’ll get slightly less protein for your money, but more protein per calorie.
Protein per £1: 30
Notes: These are the cheapest turkey breasts I could find and are actually some of the better ones I’ve had. Turkey is a great choice, with one serving of Musclefood’s Lean Turkey Breast Steaks giving 42g protein, 1g fat and practically no carbs. So, although these aren’t the cheapest on the list, they are absolutely ideal when eating clean so I’d recommend adding them to your shopping list.
Protein per £1: 30
Source: Quorn Mince
Notes: The final item on the list is vegetarian-friendly quorn mince. I didn’t try this myself until recently, and I was pleasantly surprised with both the taste and nutritional content.
Alternatives to mince are Quorn Sausages and Quorn Peppered Steaks. You won’t get quite as much protein for your money as the mince (16g per £1), but they’re both tasty alternatives and certainly a great choice for vegetarians.
Living on Tesco Value Peanut Butter and Semi-skimmed milk probably isn’t the greatest of ideas if you care about your health. There’s a lot of cheap, processed and high in saturated fat foods on this list. Nevertheless, these are the cheapest sources of protein available in the UK, so if you’re struggling to hit your protein macros on a budget, then definitely consider adding some of these to your shopping list.