The current pandemic has affected the pockets of many, but we should not allow it to affect our nutrition. Everyone requires a balanced diet to function properly and protein is a necessary macronutrient that should be part of one’s meal. While some protein options can be expensive depending on location and other factors, others are quite budget-friendly.
The secret is in knowing the budget friendly protein meals and making deliberate efforts to include them in your meal schedule.
Here are a few affordable protein meal options to consider:
Beans come in various types, such as white beans, brown beans, black beans and soybeans. Each of these varieties contains different servings of protein per gram, with mature beans having 21 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. Besides, beans are versatile as they can be cooked, made into bean cakes and soup (gbegiri) depending on one’s choice. The great thing about beans is that they do not put a big dent on your pocket and they are easily accessible. Considering the nutritional benefits beans provide, they should not be far from your mind when thinking of a protein option.
The protein in eggs is the highest quality of protein found in any food. An average-sized egg has 7 grams of high-quality protein. Eggs are not only tasty but also cheap and filling. They can be boiled, scrambled, fried and poached. Most times, eggs are a preferable option to accompany meals like rice, plantain, yams, noodles etc. In some areas, three small eggs can be purchased for as low as 100 Naira while a medium or large-sized egg may be sold for 50 Naira. Eggs can be considered as a very nutritious component of your favourite meals.
Okra is a unique vegetable, which contains protein and is very low in cholesterol. A cup of raw okra contains about 2 grams of protein. That aside, okra soup does not require much to prepare. With 100 Naira okra, fish or crayfish (depending on the state of one’s pocket) and pepper, Okra soup is ready to be enjoyed with eba, fufu, wheat or any ‘swallow’ of choice.
For those that find the slimy texture of Okra unappealing, egusi is a great alternative. With a protein content of 28.4 grams, egusi, also known as melon seeds, can be purchased for as low as 130-150 Naira a milk cup. Just like okra soup, egusi soup does not require many ingredients to prepare. Another great thing about this soup is that asides pairing it with swallow, it can also be paired with rice, spaghetti and any other food options of choice.
Ewedu (jute) is also another cheap protein meal. With about 3.7 grams of protein content, ewedu soup can be consumed with bean soup (gbegiri) or with stew. Though it is a traditional soup native to the Yoruba part of Nigeria, nothing should stop you from enjoying it.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are several other budget-friendly options available out there. The key is to be willing to experiment.
Please note that a shortage of protein in your diet can lead to protein deficiency. So, keep your eyes peeled, look around you for more protein-rich meals that you can enjoy. And they don’t have to be expensive.
Undoubtedly, protein is essential for good health. It is an important building block of organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. The body needs protein to maintain and repair tissues. In children, it aids growth.
This season, stay safe and eat protein-rich meals.
Eneh Veronica Ejembi is a digital content professional and public relations executive.