Salmon is less expensive than hot dogs

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Frugal Heart Healthy Proteins

Stacey L. Krawczyk, MS, RD, LDN

The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word Frugal as: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

Who isn’t looking for the opportunity to save a little money at the grocery store these days?  The American diet typically revolves around the protein portion of the meal which contributes to a large portion of our total grocery bill. Is there a way to save more in this area?  We’ve done a little investigating to see what proteins out there are the best bang for your buck as well as your heart. To better compare the information we’ve broken down the costs by calculating the cost per gram of protein provided. This is a nutrient-rich approach and enables a more balanced comparison.

Food Cost Per Gram Protein
Textured Soy Protein Granules (Bob’s Red Mill) 0.012
Creamy Peanut Butter (Jif) 0.0156
Skinless Chicken Breast (Tyson) 0.0172
Black Beans (canned) 0.028
Ground Turkey Breast (Jenny O 93/7) 0.033
Salmon filet 0.064
Ground Beef, Chuck 0.0233
Egg 0.0233
Ham, 97% Fat Free (Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh) 0.0624
Hot Dog (Hebrew National Beef) 0.1094

Note:  These items were selected from a review of 60 protein foods at large grocery store chains in the Chicago Suburbs.

As you can see from the list, the most frugal complete protein you can purchase is Textured Soy Protein granules. Soy contains no cholesterol and very little fat which makes it very heart-friendly. We have also included some traditional inexpensive proteins - like hot dogs and lunchmeat. When compared as providing cost per gram of protein, they are among the most expensive items as well as containing considerably more fat and saturated fat – which is less heart-healthy. Who would have thought salmon is cheaper than hot dogs when compared like this? Some food for thought as you are looking at ways to best use stretch your food dollars – ask yourself can I make choices that provide heart-healthy options but are still frugal?

Stacey L. Krawczyk, MS, RD, LDN
Champaign, Illinois

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