By: Sammy Griffith, RD, LDN

Our dietitians love to talk about protein, and for good reason! We all train hard, and protein is important for muscle recovery. Even when you’re not at the gym, protein is important for muscular and skeletal maintenance, particularly as you age.

Specific protein requirements vary for each individual based on their lifestyle and fitness regimen. One simple way to make sure you are getting enough protein is to follow USDA’s MyPlate. A quarter of each meal you consume should consist of a lean protein. A few examples include poultry without the skin, lean fish, and lean cuts of pork or beef.

Check out our tips below to get the most protein for your buck!

  1. Store safely

Most are familiar with the money saving tip of “BUY IN BULK”, but with protein it can be more difficult due to food safety concerns. Check out the FDA’s recommendations for safe storage below.

Protein Variety Fridge Storage Freezer Storage
Chicken 1-2 days 9 months
Beef, veal, lamb, pork 3-5 days 6-12 months
Lean Fish 1-2 days 6 months


The safest way to thaw frozen meat is in the refrigerator. It usually takes about a day, so plan ahead.

Price check!  Wegmans 12 piece chicken breast $1.88/lb. Wegmans 2 piece chicken breast $4.49/lb.

  1. Create your own flavor

Buying pre-marinated meats might seem like a time saver, but homemade marinade can be a serious wallet saver. If you haven’t marinated your own meat before, all the herbs and spices may seem overwhelming. Here are some of my favorites that are quick and easy!

Beef Balsamic vinegar + rosemary
Chicken Lime juice + cilantro + minced garlic
Fish Lemon juice + ginger + parsley


Price check!  Wegmans Italian marinated chicken breast $5.49/lb. Wegmans un-marinated chicken breast $1.88/lb.

  1. Don’t be afraid of canned

Did you know the USDA recommends Americans eat fish twice per week? Fish contain heart-healthy fats and nutrients. When you don’t live near a large body of water, that recommendation may seem tough. However, buying canned fish is a great alternative. Tuna and salmon are popular options, but make sure they are canned in water to avoid unnecessary added fat.

Price check!  Fresh tuna steak $25.99/lb. Canned tuna $3.44/lb.

  1. High protein alternatives

Although meat is a common source of protein in our diet, there are other protein-containing alternatives that can help you save money. Have you tried our black bean pasta recipe? It was featured in our RD Kitchen last week, and is a high-protein pasta alternative. Other non-meat sources include beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy.

Price check!  Eggs cost $0.08 per egg, each egg containing 6 grams of protein. This means you are paying about a cent per gram of protein.

Use these tips next time you are looking to stretch your dollar at the grocery store. Also, stay tuned for our RD kitchen next week featuring edamame and chickpeas; they are versatile and protein packed!