Protein foods include both animal (meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs) and plant (beans, peas, soy products, nuts, and seeds) sources. Protein has many functions in our bodies, such as being building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. The amount of protein foods you need to eat varies between 2 and 6 ½ ounce equivalents each day. Most Americans eat enough food from this group, but need to make leaner and more varied selections of these foods.
Lowering Protein Costs
Protein is typically the most expensive part of a meal. There are a variety of ways that you can reduce your protein costs. Consider expanding the types of protein that you select for your family. Find protein foods throughout the entire store. They can be found in the fresh meat case, frozen foods section, dairy case, and canned and pantry food aisles.
For many families, most meals are centered around animal sources of protein, like chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc. However, protein from plant sources can be less expensive, just as satisfying and packed with flavor.
Dry beans such as kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans are a great low-cost, plant based source of protein. The can be served as the main protein source or as a companion to beef, pork, chicken or fish dishes. Replacing some or all of the meat with beans in a favorite recipe can help stretch your protein dollar.
Money Saving Tips for Meat, Poultry and Seafood
There are also many ways to reduce the cost of meat, poultry and fish such as purchasing the family-sized or value pack and freezing what you don’t use. Here are a few more tips:
- The less tender cups of beef (round, chuck, and shoulder) cost less, and are just as nutritious. Marinate, raise, or stew to make them more tender.
- For meats, compare the cost per serving NOT the cost per pound. Extra lean beef will yield more servings of cooked meat per pound than regular ground beef.
- Seafood doesn’t have to be expensive. Try buying canned tuna, salmon, or sardines – they store well and are a low cost option.