Finding anything to eat, much less something affordable and nutritious, can be a struggle for many of us as college students. Protein ends up being one of the most expensive items on your dinner plate, but there are other affordable protein options to ease up your bill. 


Kimberlee Bochek

Found in either can or pouch form, this is an easy item to stock up on and add to any salad. While eating large amounts of tuna may not be safe due to mercury levels found in fish, a couple servings a week is a great addition to your protein sources.

Coming in at around 20-25 grams of protein for a 3 oz serving, and no more than a couple dollars for a can, it is a simple, cheap way to satisfy your protein needs.


chicken, egg yolk, egg
Kai Huang

Not everyone likes fish, especially tuna, but have no worries–there are other options. Eggs are versatile to cook–boiled, scrambled, poached, or fried–whatever suits your fancy.

Approximately 6 grams of protein are found in each egg, with the average cost being no more than $2 (depending on location, season, and type).

If you're not feeling like eating eggs all by their lonesome, you can put them on a salad, sandwich, wrap, or toast. Another great option is whipping up some simple baked goods with a high egg content. Combining carbohydrates with protein will guarantee energy for your busy life.


lemon, garlic, chicken
Jasmine Chan

Easy to find with a plethora of preparation options, chicken comes in as an easy and affordable option to fill in your protein gap. 4 ounces of chicken provides roughly 35 grams of protein. As a meat, this is one of the more expensive items on the list, but the high protein content makes it pay off.

Buying frozen chicken in bulk is another option to keep this item on the lower end for your budget. Roasting in the oven, pan frying, grilling, or firing up your crockpot are just some of the way that you can enjoy chicken as a meal.

Peanut Butter

chocolate, butter, peanut, peanut butter
Jocelyn Hsu

By the spoonful, PBJ style or paired with chocolate, there's really no wrong way to enjoy peanut butter. It has 8 grams of protein for every 2 tablespoons you eat, which makes it an even better option for your snacking enjoyment.

To incorporate peanut butter into your dinner, toss a couple spoonfuls into your veggie stir fry with some sriracha and lemon. Depending on the kind and brand you prefer, peanut butter can range anywhere from $3-$10, but at two tablespoons a serving a jar can last a while.

Milk and Yogurt

milkshake, dairy product, sweet, dairy, cream, yogurt, milk
Aakanksha Joshi

While not the most exciting, dairy products don't have to be boring. Whipping up a batch of protein pancakes with milk, yogurt, and eggs added in is my favorite way to jazz up some otherwise boring dairy products. Cereal, fruit, and vanilla extract can all be combined to result in a much more delicious protein source.

Again depending on type and brand, milk can range from $2-$5 with 8 grams of protein for 1 cup, and yogurt has an average of $2 for 17 grams of protein in 170 grams of yogurt. Just a small addition can boost your protein intake for the day.

Just a few staple items on your grocery list can amp up your protein sources and help your grocery budget, making life a little easier.