Protein plays an important role in building muscle, supports the immune system and adds to calories to help balance a meal and provide satiety. Lean protein refers to foods that are high in protein while being low in fat. Fish, lean cuts of meat such as chicken and turkey and plant proteins are just a few examples of lean proteins. Let’s look at some examples of how we can add more lean protein into our diet. 

Go Lean with Protein - Choose lean animal protein: chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish and shellfish

  • Remove chicken and turkey skin before cooking and eating to reduce fat.
  • Buy lean cuts of beef or pork; loin or round cuts which have less fat. 
  • Buy extra lean ground beef, and lean ground turkey or chicken breast. 
  • Fresh fish can be expensive. Shop for frozen fish with no added fat or salt.
  • Choose canned fish like tuna or salmon, packed in water. 
  • Bake or grill lean meat and fish. Frying foods adds extra fat. 

Eat more plant protein - Choose beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and nut butters

  • Use cooked beans or lentils in place of meat in main dishes like soups and stews.
  • Cook with half the amount of meat, and add beans or lentils to increase protein while keeping costs down. 
  • Pack nuts and seeds for on-the-go snacks. 
  • Spread nut butters on whole grain crackers or on celery sticks. 

Serve lean protein for dinner, and pack leftovers for lunch the next day!

Use these dinner leftover tips to make quick and easy lunches to take to work or school. 

Dinner: Roast chicken with vegetables, brown rice or whole grain pasta. 

Next day lunch: Make a salad with leftover chicken, celery, apples, and raisins. Here is a delicious recipe for Waldorf Chicken Salad to get you started. 

Dinner: Serve cooked beans with grilled fish, and top with salsa. Add whole grain rice to complete your meal. 

Next day lunch: Wrap leftover cooked beans in a whole grain tortilla with low-fat shredded cheese and fresh veggies. 

Dinner: Serve oven-roasted turkey with sweet potatoes and cooked greens. 

Next day lunch: Chop leftover turkey and add to vegetable soup. Add a slice of whole grain bread to complete your meal.

funding statement logo

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Human Services and University of Maryland Extension. University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class.