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Protein Cost Comparison

I know that protein foods usually cost the most. What is the difference in cost? My family really likes beef, chicken and pork. How can I stretch my budget and still provide their favorite foods?

Here are some examples of the average cost per serving for different types of protein foods:

Protein foodServing sizeCost per serving ($)

Ground beef (lean, extra-lean)
Beef (round roast, USDA choice, boneless)
Pork chop (boneless)
Chicken breast, boneless
Pinto beans (canned, drained)
Eggs, grade A, large
Pinto beans (dry)

4 ounces
4 ounces
4 ounces
4 ounces
½ cup
½ cup



Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Retrieved March 2013 from

To save money, watch for sales on meat and poultry. Consider buying “family-sized” or “bulk” packages of meat and poultry. Often, whole chickens cost less per pound than cut-up chickens. You can repackage the meat in recipe-sized amounts and freeze at home. Be sure to label with the purchase date. To learn more about freezing foods, see the “Food Freezing Guide” (FN403) available at

Stretch your protein foods with other ingredients, such as pasta, rice, beans and vegetables, in casseroles, soups and stews. Make chili with a combination of ground or cubed beef and kidney beans. Try omelets with vegetables, cheese and cubed ham. As you can see from the chart, dry beans are very economical. Learn more about using them in the “Steps to Economical Meals” cookbook at

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

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