Many believe that the only way to have a protein-filled diet is to eat red meat, chicken, and fish at every meal. But there's another way: with beans. Beans are cheaper and healthier than most meats and are comparable in the amount of protein they contain.

1. Black Beans

coffee, cereal, espresso, black beans, cappuccino, beans, mocha, chocolate
Sally Zhang

Per cup, black beans have 15 grams of protein, and are in so many dishes, they'll be easy to incorporate into meals you already make. Swap out your typical hamburger for a quinoa black bean burger to make a family cookout just a little healthier.

2. Pinto Beans

You know when you're at Chipotle and they ask if you want beans and you say no and instead add sour cream, cheese, and double chicken? Stop doing that.

Pinto beans are a great source of protein with 15 grams of protein per cup. With the cold weather coming up, this easy chili recipe will be a surefire way to warm up after a long day.

3. Chickpeas

legume, cereal, vegetable, pea, soy
Kirby Barth

Chickpeas have gained more momentum in the last few years, and for good reason. They are packed with protein 13 grams per cup) and make a great addition to salads, soups, or pasta. While most people get their chickpea protein through hummus, try this roasted chickpea recipe for an interesting (and healthy) alternative to popcorn or chips.

4. Soybeans  

legume, vegetable, pea, edamame, salad
Elyse Belarge

Soybeans, not to be confused with their less mature green cousin edamame, are found in many meat replacements, like tofu or tempeh. They have the most protein per cup, coming in at a crazy 29 grams of protein. But they also easily replace even more basic staples, like milk and flour (soy milk and soy flour, duh). Don't believe me? Read this guide to soy or try this spiced up tofu recipe for more inspiration.

5. Kidney Beans

vegetable, sausage, meat, kidney bean, cereal
Vernell Dunams

A true salad bar staple, the kidney bean has 15 grams of protein per cup, so you have no reason not to spoon as much will fit onto your salad tomorrow at lunch. But if you're more of a carbaholic (I can relate), try this chili mac and cheese recipe for an easy twist on a favorite. 

6. Navy Beans

A warning first: don't look for an actual navy bean in the grocery store because these are actually white in color. Shocking, I know. Also shocking is their 15.8 grams of protein per cup. They're a good addition to a soup, like this Cuban-style white bean soup, which is perfect for a snow day, or a random Tuesday. 

So the next time you're faced with the ultimate challenge of picking items at a salad bar, maybe try something you wouldn't normally have.