9 Best Cheap Protein Sources in India for People on a Budget

People nowadays are more health-conscious than ever. And so, the demand for quality protein sources has increased significantly. Protein is essential for growth and development, and it helps keep us strong, lean, and healthy. However, not everyone can afford to buy expensive protein supplements or eat expensive meats every day.

Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap and healthy protein sources you can find in India if you know where to look. From pulses to dairy products and eggs, there are plenty of sources of high-quality protein that won’t break the bank.

In this post, I’ve compiled a list of the 9 best cheap protein sources in India that are not only affordable but also quite nutritious.

But in the first place, why do you even need protein?

Also read: 10 Best Protein Rich Dry Fruits To Add To Your Diet

Why do you need protein?

Protein is one of the essential nutrients for the human body. It helps build muscle, repair tissue, and keep us healthy. There are two types of protein: complete and incomplete.

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are approximately 20 amino acids in total, 9 of which the body cannot produce; hence they must come from the foods. Complete protein contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. In comparison, incomplete protein lacks some of the essential amino acids.

Here are some reasons why you need protein in your diet:

  • Protein helps you feel full and satisfied after eating.
  • It supports weight loss and enables you to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Protein is essential for building muscle mass.
  • It keeps your body healthy and functioning properly.
  • Help in maintaining the proper PH levels in the body.
  • It regulates body processes to maintain fluid balance.
  • It supplies energy to your body.

Do you know? About one billion people worldwide suffer from protein deficiency.

How much protein do you need to build muscles?

The body needs to synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down in order to build muscle. To do this, you need to make sure you are getting enough protein and doing the right kind of exercise.

As per research, an average adult with a sedentary lifestyle needs 0.8g of protein for each 1kg of bodyweight. That means if your weight is 80kg, you need 80*0.8 = 64g of protein in a day.

But if you are more active or looking to build muscles, the amount of protein that your body needs increases.

In general, to increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, it is recommended that a person eat 1.2-2g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Under weightHealthy weightOver weightObese
Male2.0g/ per KG bodyweight1.4g/ per KG bodyweight1.2g/ per KG bodyweight1.2g/ per KG bodyweight
Female1.8g/ per KG bodyweight1.2g/ per KG bodyweight1g/ per KG bodyweight1g/ per KG bodyweight

Do you know? Each gram of protein provides 4 calories.

9 Best cheap protein sources in India

Whether you are trying to gain muscles, lose weight, or increase your protein intake of protein. Here is the list of top cheap protein sources in India.

Important note: Food prices are always changing, depending on the season and the marketplace. That’s why I’ve listed the foods here according to their average price.

Soya chunks

Soya chunks in bowl

Soya chunks are one of the most affordable and cheapest sources of protein in India. They are made from defatted soy flour, which is cooked and extruded to give a fibrous, meat-like texture. The 100g soya chunks have 52g of protein which is extremely high compared to any other food.

In addition, soya chunks are not only affordable but also a complete source of protein, which means they contain all the essential amino acids.

Furthermore, they are also a good source of dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and zinc with no extra sugar and sodium.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 200g soya chunks: 40 Rs
  • 50g serving of soya chunks: 10 Rs
  • Protein in 50g serving: 26g
  • Amount of protein in 1 Rs: 2.6g

Things to keep in mind

  • Do not consume soya chunks in excess as it can imbalance the body’s hormonal levels. Also, it can cause constipation and nausea and increase the frequency of urination.
  • Yes, eating soy products increases estrogen production in the body but only when you consume a very high amount of it. So don’t worry.

How much should you eat?

A single 50g serving of soya chunks per day is enough to provide your body with protein. This way, you can make your 200g soya chunks last for up to 4 days.

Cottage cheese/Paneer

Man cutting paneer into pieces

Paneer is one of India’s go-to protein food for muscle building. Not only it’s a great source of protein, but it also has high levels of calcium and iron. Also, It is low in carbs and free from sugar.

A single serving (100g) of paneer has 18g of protein, and the great thing is that it’s complete protein.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 200g packet of paneer: 70 Rs
  • 100g serving of paneer: 35 Rs
  • Protein in 100g serving: 9g
  • Amount of protein in 1 Rs: 0.5g

Things to keep in mind

  • Due to the high amount of fats in paneer, many athletes avoid it, but this problem can be solved if you make your paneer at home from low-fat milk.
  • If you have a weak or sensitive digestive system, uncooked paneer or a large amount of it can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
  • People who are allergic to dairy products should avoid them.
  • Always buy paneer of high quality as bad ones may lead to food poison.

How much should you eat?

A 100g serving of paneer in a day is enough to provide your body with protein.


Peanuts without shells in a bowl

Peanuts are the most protein-dense in the nuts family. In fact, they are one of the most affordable plant-based sources of protein in India, providing nearly 26g of protein per 100g, which is excellent.

In addition to protein, peanuts offer some other health benefits, too. They’re a source of monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. It also contains antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage.

Also read: Disadvantages of Peanuts: 6 Reasons to Limit Your Consumption

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 100g peanuts: 18 Rs
  • 30g serving of peanuts: 5.4 Rs
  • Protein in 30g serving: 7.8g
  • Price of 1g protein: 1.4 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • Peanuts are high in calories, and excess consumption may lead to weight gain.
  • It’s better to stay away from salted peanuts as they are high in sodium, increasing blood pressure in some people.
  • If you are allergic to nuts, avoid consuming peanuts.

How much should you eat?

It’s good to consume only 28-30g of peanuts a day.

Tip: If you can afford to buy peanut butter, it will be a good long-term investment. Peanut butter typically costs around 300-400 Rs per kg, lasting at least a month. Plus, it gives you around 10g of protein in a single-serve.


Eggs - Cheap Protein sources in India

Eggs are one of the primary and cheap protein sources for beginners In India. It is easily available and can be eaten in many ways. 

In addition, eggs are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. The protein in eggs is split almost equally between the egg white and the egg yolk.

Moreover, eggs are also a good source of other nutrients, including choline, important for brain health.

It is best to buy eggs in bulk as they will be more cost-effective.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 30 eggs: 150 Rs
  • Price of 1 egg: 5 Rs
  • Protein in 1 egg: 6g
  • Protein in 1 Rs: 1.2g

Things to keep in mind

  • It’s a myth that you need to avoid egg yolks as a gym person. In fact, egg yolk contains healthy fats, which help to lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Eggs are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating just 2 eggs a day provides more than 350mg of cholesterol which is more than the daily recommended value, so you need to consume in moderation.
  • According to a study, Consuming eggs has been linked to a 60 percent increase in the risk of diabetes.
  • People suffering from heart disease, prediabetes, or diabetes should avoid eating eggs.

How much should you eat?

For healthy adults, it’s safe to eat 2-3 eggs in a day, depending on how much other cholesterol is in your diet. If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, you should limit yourself to 4–5 eggs per week.

Generally, many studies recommend eating no more than 7 eggs weekly. That’s about 1 egg a day.

Green moong sprouts

Moong sprouts - Cheap protein sources in India

Moong dal is an excellent protein source, providing 24g in 100g. However, When you sprout the moong dal, the availability of protein increases by 30%. Sprouting increases the protein levels from 24g to 32g. This is the reason they are popular among many athletes.

Moong sprouts are often used in salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries. Plus, they are also high in vitamins and minerals and are a good source of dietary fiber.

Also read: 5 Dals that will help you get your daily protein intake

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 1kg moong dal: 120-150 Rs (average 135 Rs)
  • Price of 100g : 13.5 Rs
  • Protein in 100g moong sprouts: 32g
  • Price of 1g protein = 0.4 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • Always use clean water while spouting.
  • Food poisoning issue is often linked to the consumption of sprouts. That’s why it is important to eat in moderation.
  • Never cook, boil or heat the sprouts. If you do, It will take away plenty of nutrition.
  • To avoid digestive issues, you can mix some drops of lemon or oil in your sprouts.

How much should you eat?

Limiting your sprout consumption to 50-60g a day is safe for most people. It’s also best to consume moong sprouts for breakfast or before any meal.


Milk - cheap protein sources in India

It’s no secret that milk is the most widely available, cheapest, and complete source of protein. In fact, it’s one of the best sources of protein around.

It is packed with all sorts of nutrients that are essential to our health, including protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Also, the protein found in milk has a very high biological value, which means that it gets absorbed very quickly in your body.

A glass of milk(200ml) has about 6 grams of protein and 300-500mg of calcium. That means drinking just two glasses of milk a day can provide you with 12g of protein.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 500ml toned milk: 26 Rs
  • Price of 100ml: 5.2 Rs
  • Protein in 100ml milk: 3.1g
  • Price of 1g protein = 1.6 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • Drinking milk in excess can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • People who have lactose intolerance should avoid milk and its products
  • Don’t add sugar to your milk, as it will hinder calcium absorption from the milk in your body.

How much should you drink?

According to dietary guidelines, people over the age of 9 can safely drink 3 glasses of milk in a day.


Fish in plate

Fish is an integral part of the human diet all over the world, and India is no exception. It is a good source of protein, and it also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to your health.

In addition, fish is a complete and lean source of protein that your body needs. It also contains essential fatty acids that can help to lower your risk of heart disease and improve your cognitive function.

A 100g serving of fish can provide you with up to 20g of protein.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 1kg fish: 400 Rs
  • Price of 100g : 40 Rs
  • Protein in 100g fish : 20g
  • Price of 1g protein = 2 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • The more the white color of the fish, the more protein it will have.
  • Excess fish consumption can damage nerves and disrupt the development of the brain as fish can contain high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants.
  • Pregnant or lactating women should consult their doctor before eating fish.

How much should you eat?

It’s safe to eat two servings of fish in a week.

Kale chana

Kale chana in bowl

Kale chana, also called black chickpeas or kale chole is an Inexpensive way of obtaining protein.

Black chickpeas contain high antioxidants, which makes them beneficial for reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Additionally, they are a good source of magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B6.

They can be eaten raw or cooked and are used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, curries, soups, and stews. However, they will provide most benefits when eaten raw.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 1kg : 110 Rs
  • Price of 100g : 11 Rs
  • Protein in 100g : 20g
  • Price of 1g protein : 0.5 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • Don’t eat kale chana in excess as it can lead to some digestive issues.
  • It’s best to eat kale chana by soaking it overnight and eating them in the morning. Also, adding lemon and black salt will help you avoid digestion issues.

How much should you eat?

It’s safe to eat 1 bowl of raw kale chana in a day.


Sattu drink and powder

Sattu is flour made from roasted barley, chana, wheat, and sometimes millet. It is said to be healthy and nutritious and is sometimes recommended to treat various medical conditions.

It is high in protein, providing 20g of protein in 100g. You can consume it as a breakfast drink, mixed with water, sugar or jaggery, and sometimes milk or curd.

How it’s a cheap source of protein?

  • Price of 1kg : 150 Rs
  • Price of 100g : 15 Rs
  • Protein in 100g : 20g
  • Price of 1g protein = 0.7 Rs

Things to keep in mind

  • Eating sattu in excess can lead to bloating, gas, and other digestive issues.
  • Sattu is high in protein, but at the same time, it is also high in calories.
  • Some experts say that people with gallbladder and kidney stones should avoid sattu.

How much should you eat?

Adding 30-40g of sattu to your diet in a day is considered safe.

Here is a simple table to make it easy for you.

RankProtein sourceProtein per servingPrice of 1g protein
1Soy chunks26g0.3
2Moong sprouts16g0.4
3Kale channa20g0.5

Important things to keep in mind while on a protein-rich diet

  • While a high-protein diet does have some benefits, consuming too much protein can be harmful. Research shows that eating too much protein can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney stones. Also, Indigestion, dehydration, nausea, and headache are some of the symptoms of too much protein.
  • While eating high protein foods, it is also important to keep your eye on other nutrients too.
  • Some high-protein diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that they result in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber, which can cause problems such as bad breath, headache, and constipation.
  • Some people Include foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products to increase their protein intake, which may increase the risk of heart disease.
  • You will get the best results by adding a variety of foods to your meals. This will also give you a more well-rounded meal that will provide better nutrition and satisfaction.

Final words

Protein is an essential nutrient that you need to include in your diet. It doesn’t matter whether you are on muscle building or having a sedentary lifestyle. You need protein.

I am sure that by including the above affordable protein-rich foods in your diet, you can still get the protein you need without breaking your bank.

If you have any other food that you think is affordable and high in protein, please let me know. I will surely add to this list.

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I'm Yatender, and I am the founder of Investohealth – a place where you can find honest and informative reviews of packaged food products. I'm super passionate about healthy eating and sharing my knowledge to help people make informed choices about food products.

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