Affordable Protein Sources For Busy Students!

A challenge for many people new to a healthy diet is the need to consume what they consider to be a lot of protein.  You should be eating protein at every meal but the cost can be an issue.

Depending on your financial status the cost of protein alone can be prohibitive, after all meat isn’t cheap in the supermarkets, so it can quickly add up.

Students in particular suffer as they have little disposable income and if they live with their parents they have little say in how the food budget is spent.  You try telling a cash-strapped parent that you want them to buy $50.00 worth of meat each week and see what kind of response you get!

What a poor college student looks like!

Rather than allow this is cause you to completely abandon the diet at the first hurdle, allow me to present the most economical protein sources and tips that slash the cost of meat!

The Cheapest Protein Sources

Put in price order

can of tuna


1.       Tuna in Spring water

A 165g tin of tuna in spring water contains approximately 33g of protein, 0g carbs, 1g fat and around 140 calories, this costs between £1.20 – £1.50 ($1.88 – $2.36) at the time of writing.

Larger sizes only cost marginally more (approx £1.70/$2.68) and after draining you get around 300g of tuna which gives you 60g protein, 0g carbs, 2g fat which clocks up a mere 255 calories.

If you 2 buy the big tins you get 120 grams of protein for just £3.40 ($5.35), if you bought the equivalent meat it would cost you in excess of £5.00 ($7.88).

You can also buy tuna in brine, mayo or oil but I prefer spring water as you don’t get tag along carbs and fat.

cottage cheese with strawberries

2.       Quark/Cottage Cheese

Quark is a fat-free cream cheese similar to ricotta and a 250g tub costs only 70p ($1.10) and gives you 33 grams protein, 9g carbs, 1g fat and 173 calories.

250g Low fat cottage cheese on the other hand offers 31g protein, 7g carbs, 3g fat and 180 calories.  A 250g tub will cost around the same.

devilled eggs

3.       Eggs

Eggs are another readily available cheap protein source.  If you go free range you’ll pay more, if you go battery hen you’ll pay less.  There’s discussion to suggest free range eggs are more nutritious and I believe that but the choice is yours.

A box of 16 standard budget eggs will cost you £1.50 ($2.36), I tend to try to buy them in bulk where I can and I often get 30 for around £2.50 ($3.93).

A single medium egg contains 6g protein, 0g carbs, 4g fat and 63 calories.  Cut the yolk and the egg white still gives you the 6g protein but without the fat and for only 17 calories.

Sure, it’s low protein on its own but when you make an omelette or scrambled egg with say 10 egg whites the numbers soon shoot up:

10 egg whites = 60g protein, 5g carbs, 0g fat, 170 calories.

whey protein powder in container

4.       Protein Powder

Whey protein powders appear expensive at first glance, £30-£35 ($47 – 55) for a 5 pound tub but when you work out the cost per serving it’s often one of the cheapest sources of protein despite the initial outlay.

A standard 5 pound tub offers around 90 servings, with each serving delivering 20g protein.  If we use £32.50 ($51) as the cost of the tub this equates to just 36p ($0.57) per serving.

Sounds much better now doesn’t it?

Most protein manufacturers also offer discounts if you buy in bulk and you can often find voucher codes and special offers that reduce the cost substantially.  Follow them on Twitter and Facebook as this is where they usually announce such offers.


I'm Skye and I'm the editor of I live in London, England and work in the insurance industry. I started the site to help people balance their busy lives and careers with working out and getting the body they want. I share the most time-efficient workout and diet methods from around the web and try to help people find their workout/life balance. I tend to align myself with less mainstream dietary approaches as they seem to work better for most people and I try to set realistic expectation for people. The dieting media seem to make people think they'll get ripped on 2 weeks or build 30 pounds of muscle in a month but the reality is it doesn't happen that quickly. I try to bring a sensible, fact based approach to the information I share and I hope people find my site both informative and entertaining. Drop by and take a look for yourself and get in contact with me to let me know what you think. Skye

One thought on “Affordable Protein Sources For Busy Students!

  • December 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the tips! As a college student I know how hard it is to get that protein. I’m partial to plant based protein powders because its really the easiest way for me to get protein. A lot of my friends use protein powder for the same reason. Eggs are great but they require work! Something college students aren’t apt to do (unless of course you can get the eggs at the cafeteria).


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