5 Cheap, Protein-Packed Recipes to Add to Your Meal Lineup

When you’re trying to cut your grocery bill, protein can be a bit of a brat. Meat is the easiest, most efficient source of protein, but it’s also expensive. There’s no way around that. Thankfully, you don’t have to sweat it too much.

There’s a couple of ways to cut your grocery bill, get the protein you need, and still keep your cool. The best way, of course, is to switch to more plant-based protein, like nuts, soy, and legumes. Eat more eggs, and when you do use your meats, try to stretch it and combine it with other sources of protein in a meal. There’s a lot of recipes out there that do just that. Here’s five of them to get you started.

Spaghetti Squash Jambalaya

There’s something kind of magical about jambalaya. I don’t know if it’s the bit of spicy heat that warms you right up in the winter, or if it’s the mix of the crunchy vegetables and the tender meat, or the option to throw in whatever ‘bulk’ you want…be it spaghetti squash, rice, or pasta, jambalaya is just amazing. It’s easy to make a lot of it, and you never quite get tired of it, because it’s so tasty.

Try making several portions of this recipe, and then freezing a couple bags of it. Then, you can easily pull one out of your freezer on a cold, rainy day and have tasty jambalaya in minutes on your stovetop. Get the recipe here.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

This is a great recipe to make ahead and then pack for lunch at work or school. The protein comes from the black beans, but even beyond that, since this recipe has both cheese and sweet potatoes, it’s chock-full of vital nutrients your body needs to help you power through a busy day. The best part? All the ingredients are fairly cheap. All you need is some sweet potatoes, a yellow onion, a bell pepper, a can of black beans, tortillas, grated cheddar cheese, some spices, and any toppings you want. Get the recipe here.

Fried Cabbage and Kielbasa

This is, perhaps, one of the cheapest recipes on this list, purely because cabbage is probably one of the most inexpensive things you can get at the grocery store. Cabbage is a powerhouse of nutrients. It’s full of fiber, and really rich in vitamin C. The kielbasa is spicy, tasty, and packs a protein punch. If you’re looking to add a carb, try boiled potato, or even apple. The flavors blend beautifully together. If you don’t have red wine vinegar on hand, apple cider vinegar will do the trick. Get the recipe here.

Sweet and Sour Chickpeas, Peppers, and Broccoli

If you’re looking to add some variety to your diet, but also keep it really inexpensive and low-key, this is a great one-pot, high-protein weeknight meal to add to your repertoire. It tastes amazing, and you can serve it over cooked rice to bulk it up and stretch it as much as you want. It’s also a great freezer meal. Just pop some in a bag, throw it in your freezer, and then pull it out whenever you need a quick meal, warm it up, and cook some rice to go with it. Easy as pie! Get the recipe here.

Puerto Rico Style Beans

This is one of those recipes that carries a little bit of heat, that really sticks around for a while, and is perfect as the nights are turning colder and you want something substantial to come home to and eat. It’s absolutely packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fat, which is just what your body needs during the winter. The best part? All the ingredients are extremely inexpensive. All you’ll need is an onion, a jalapeno pepper, a bell pepper, tomato sauce, red beans, chicken broth, potatoes, and some spices. Get the recipe here.