Cheap high-protein meals | BBC Good Food

For more inspiration on high-protein meals – check out our high-protein recipes, high-protein vegan recipes and high-protein vegetarian recipes.

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Cheap high-protein meals

1. Veggie protein chilli

Veggie chilli with rice on plate

High-protein diets aren’t limited to meat-eaters. Get all your protein needs with this easy veggie chilli, packed with cheap storecupboard staples such as mixed beans, chopped tomatoes and sweet potato. This protein-packed chilli is perfect after a run or gym workout, plus it’s freezable, if you want to batch cook.

Find more vegan chilli and vegetarian chilli recipes.

2. Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans

Mexican chicken stew in a large pan, with quinoa in a separate dish

This freezable chicken casserole is a healthy midweek winner, starring protein-rich quinoa and chicken in a spicy tomato sauce. It makes use of storecupboard heroes, such as chopped tomatoes, pinto beans and stock cubes. Buy own-brand chipotle paste to keep costs lower, plus this recipe makes sure you use lots of it. See our chipotle recipes if you’re left with spare.

Try more chicken casseroles and healthy chicken recipes.

3. Vegan chickpea curry jacket potatoes

Jacket potato filled with chickpea curry

At a time when purses are under pressure, we all reach for cheap, easy meals to make the weeknights simpler. Enter, the humble spud. This high-protein version is perfect for vegans, or those looking to reduce their meat-intake. It’s filled with a chickpea curry that packs a punch, featuring spices such as ginger, garam masala, turmeric and chilli. This dish isn’t just high in protein, it’s also low in calories, low in fat and low in saturates, as well as being gluten-free.

Check out more healthy jacket potato recipes and healthy vegan dinners.

4. Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa

Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa

Cheap and healthy doesn’t mean compromising on flavour. In this super-healthy dish, chicken is tossed in Cajun spice and quinoa is cooked in chicken stock until tender, with sliced apricots for sweetness and lentils for extra protein. This recipe is rated highly with our audience, who praise how easy and fast it is to put together, plus the quantity makes it great for bulk-cooking.

Try more quinoa recipes for healthy meal inspiration.

5. Smoky tofu tortillas

Smoky tofu mixture on tortillas topped with avocado slices, coriander and yogurt

Swap chicken for tofu in these quick and easy veggie fajitas. Smoked tofu provides the protein, while cheap ingredients – peppers, beans and tomatoes – are flavoured with cumin and hot smoked paprika for an extra flavour dimension. Pop on the table with corn or wheat wraps and watch them disappear. You could also make extra and freeze for future meals, too.

Find more freezable vegetarian meals.

6. Herby fish fingers with Chinese-style rice

A bowl of Chinese-style rice topped with herby fish fingers

Balancing carbs and protein while staying low in calories, this simple fish finger recipe is perfect for refuelling after exercise. Making your own fish fingers may sound complicated, but the process is super simple: cut the fish into chunky strips, coat in egg and coriander and fry for a couple of minutes each side until golden. Remove the fish from the pan, tip in the chilli-flecked rice with any remaining egg and stir. You can use soy sauce in this recipe if you don’t have tamari.

Browse through more low-calorie meals and gluten-free dinners.

7. Tuna, avocado & quinoa salad

Chopped avocado, tuna and tomatoes with quinoa in a white bowl

A handful of basic storecupboard ingredients make up this high-protein salad, including tomatoes, quinoa and tinned tuna. The tuna and quinoa are the main sources of protein here, while the avocado provides healthy fats. We’ve added feta for a soft texture and salty kick, together with a simple yet punchy dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar. This is a perfect salad to revive you after a morning workout and keep you going ’til lunch.

Search for more high-protein and gluten-free meals.

8. Green masala eggs

Midweek meals green masala eggs

Everyday ingredients transform eggs and rice into a fragrant, protein-packed dinner that’s perfect for busy weeknights. Onions are flavoured with ginger, turmeric, chilli powder and coriander then mixed with coconut milk, chillies and mango chutney for creamy indulgence with a kick. It serves up to four, so feel free to halve the ingredients.

Try more ways with eggs with these healthy egg recipes.

9. Peruvian toasted sweetcorn, avocado & quinoa salad

Sweetcorn, avocado & quinoa on a white plate with spoon

Try this fresh, colourful salad with protein-packed quinoa and protective carotenoids for a healthy lunch or dinner. Salads are as much about different textures as flavour – we’ve added mixed nuts for a crucially crunchy dimension, as well providing a good source of protein. The toasted sweetcorn adds a lovely smoky depth, too.

Check out more healthy gluten-free recipes.

10. Butternut, chickpea, feta & pickled radish salad

Serving platter of butternut squash, chickpeas, radishes, feta and dill

This hearty gluten-free salad will satisfy hunger pangs, layering harissa-coated butternut squash with chickpeas, feta, pickled radish and seeds. It’s healthy and low in calories yet doesn’t shy away from flavour: you get a hit of spice from the harissa, salty creaminess from the feta and crunchy tang from the pickled radishes. A final scattering of pumpkin seeds adds a wonderful bite. If you don’t have harissa, feel free to swap with another chilli paste.

See more low-calorie vegetarian recipes.

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