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The 5 Cheap Protein Foods in Kenya

In this post, we delve into the heart of Kenyan cuisine to uncover the gems of budget proteins—those budget-friendly staples that nourish families across the country without breaking the bank.

Also Read: What to Eat on a Budget in Kenya: 9 Meal Ideas

1. Eggs

Ugali Mayai
Ugali Mayai

When it comes to value for your money, it’s hard to beat the humble eggs. Sure, the price has seen a slight increase over the past few years, now averaging at KSh 20 per egg compared to KSh 12 less than three years ago. But even so, eggs remain incredibly affordable considering the protein punch they pack.

At 50% protein, eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition. They boast one of the most impressive amino acid profiles among all protein sources, meaning you’re getting the most out of every gram you spend. 

Unlike some other foods that require combining to fulfill dietary needs, eggs stand alone as a complete protein source, making them a top choice for anyone looking to maximize their nutritional intake.

And let’s not forget their versatility in the kitchen. From the classic egg stew, made simply with onions and tomatoes and served alongside ugali; ugali-mayai… to the popular street food favorite, mayai-pasua, where boiled eggs are slit and served with kachumbari, there’s no shortage of delicious ways to enjoy eggs. 

Whip up an omelet and sandwich it between two slices of bread for a satisfying breakfast option that’s quick and easy to prepare.

With their unbeatable nutritional profile and endless culinary possibilities, eggs are a budget-friendly staple that deserves a spot always in every kitchen. 

Also Read:

Ugali Mayai(Egg Stew) Recipe: The Kenyan Campus Cuisine

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2. Beans

Chapo Beans

Beans are like the unsung heroes of the kitchen: packed with protein, carbs, and fiber, and they won’t break the bank either. 

Throw them in a pressure cooker with some tomatoes and onions, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a tasty side dish that’ll last you the whole week.

Now, beans may be missing a certain amino acid called methionine, but pair them with rice, a common home-cooked combo, and you’ve got a complete protein powerhouse. Hit up a street stall, or kibandasky, and you’ll often find beans paired up with chapati, creating the beloved chapo-beans combo, a street food favorite.

Also Read: Chapati With Beans Recipe: The Default Campus Cuisine

With a variety of beans to choose from, including njahi (black beans), pinto beans (rosecoco), yellow beans, and more, you’ve got options galore. But for maximum protein punch, soybeans are the way to go.

Also Read: Rosecoco Beans in Kenya: All You Need to Know

Lentils are a type of bean known as Kamande  Per gram of protein, dry lentils are the cheapest source! But lentils aren’t the cheapest legumes in Kenya so I wouldn’t recommend them.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the bean bloat. Yep, beans have a bit of a reputation for causing discomfort, and they’re not exactly speedy to cook either

While eggs whip up in under 2 minutes, beans require hours on the stovetop to reach perfection. Enter the electric pressure cooker, the tool of the kitchen. In just 40 minutes, it’ll have your beans cooked to perfection, using less than a unit of electricity. So say goodbye to long cooking times and hello to hassle-free beans.

Also Read: Buying Guide: The Best Electric Pressure Cookers in Kenya

3. Green Grams 

Chapo Ndengu
Chapo Ndengu

Green grams(ndengu), while slightly more starchy, take the prize for being the most economical legumes, surpassing even beans in affordability. 

However, they don’t quite pack the protein punch as beans do. You’d have to consume a rather bulky amount of green grams to solely rely on them for protein.

Nonetheless, their affordability is undeniable, with a 500g bag often fetching as low as KSh 100 or even less during sales. 

Though not the most protein-dense option, with around 7g of protein per 100g serving, they still make the cut for their unbeatable price point.

Also Read: 

4. Omena

Ugali Omena
Ugali Omena

Dried omena boasts an impressive 23g of protein per 100g, surpassing even eggs, which contain 13g of protein per 100g. This positions omena as the top protein source in Kenya. 

However, despite its nutritional prowess, omena often faces ridicule from many, particularly among the cool kids, who view it as nothing more than cat food. In fact, its unpopularity earned it a spot on my list of the most disliked Kenyan foods.

Read more: Judging the 8 Most Hated Kenyan Foods

Yet, omena offers more than just protein. Its soft bones provide a good source of calcium, and it ranks among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 

However, to truly enjoy omena, it must be prepared correctly. Many dislike it due to improper cooking methods that fail to eliminate its bitterness. For those interested in mastering the art of omena preparation, I’ve included a recipe link below for your perusal.

Read: How to Cook Omena: Step-by-Step Recipe (With or Without Milk)

5. Matumbo

Raw Matumbo
Raw Matumbo

Matumbo, sourced from the stomach lining of cows or sheep, is a protein powerhouse often overlooked for its affordability and nutritional value. Despite its humble beginnings, matumbo offers a wealth of benefits at a fraction of the cost of conventional protein sources.

One of the most appealing aspects of matumbo is its price point. Compared to traditional meats, matumbo is significantly cheaper, making it a budget-friendly option for households across Kenya.

But don’t let its affordability fool you; matumbo is packed with protein and essential nutrients. From zinc to iron and vitamin B12, it’s a nutrient-rich addition to any diet, supporting overall health and vitality.

While its unique texture and flavor may deter some, when prepared thoughtfully, matumbo can be a culinary treat. In Kenyan cuisine, it’s often stewed with fragrant spices, vegetables, and herbs, creating dishes bursting with flavor and satisfaction.

Read More: Recipe: Matumbo, Kenyan Tripe and Intestines Delicacy

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