Let’s talk low-cost protein options!
Many plant-based protein sources, especially dried beans and lentils, are nutrient-packed options that can help lower your grocery bill. In our online Toddler Course, we recommend some protein with each meal for blood sugar regulation, growth, satiety and building muscle.
However, kids’ protein needs aren’t crazy high, and when we’re on a budget there are some super inexpensive ways to meet those needs!
Of course, meat, poultry and fresh fish are great sources of protein, but sometimes they can be more pricey. Make sure to shop sales and freeze in bulk to get better deals on those foods!
Note: the images listed aren’t of portion sizes - just the food itself! Even though we have portion sizes listed for reference to protein values, your kiddo may eat much more or much less.
Prices via Walmart in Arizona.
How much protein is enough?
Do I need to count protein? No, not unless your child has a specific medical issue or is severely limited in their diet.
What do these numbers mean? Your child is very likely eating enough protein!
What if my child eats more than this? Very excessive protein intake can tax the kidneys, but as long as your child’s diet is balanced with other foods and they drink lots of water, we don’t worry if they eat more than the RDA.
Other nut butters and seed butters also contain protein - peanut butter may just be the most cost effective.
Lentil or chickpea pasta are great sources of protein; they’re just less accessible and more pricey (about $0.26 per 1/4 cup serving, providing 5 grams of protein). We showed whole wheat as a reminder that whole grains contain protein too.