19 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Budget Grocery Shopping – Learn to prepare decent meals on a budget.

Life is never easy when you live hand to mouth. 

With the rapidly increasing inflation around the globe, it’s imperative to find cheap solutions for daily life necessities. Whether you are a minimum wage worker, or a student struggling to meet ends, adequate nutrition is essential.

Therefore, we are here with some healthy yet cheap foods to buy when you are broke so that at least at the end of a penniless month, your pantry will be stocked. 

Start By Buying Cheap Ingredients

Though going out always sounds appealing, the most appropriate method to save money is to prepare cheap meals at home. Therefore, your first approach to an inexpensive lifestyle should be a budget shopping list.

For this, you need to identify the cheapest grocery items you would need to make everyday meals for a month.

We have collected information on items from different food groups to help you with nutritious meals that fit with your budget-friendly grocery list. 

Cheap Grocery Items: Protein

1. Eggs

One of the most affordable yet effective sources of proteins is eggs. Though organic eggs might be healthier, it’s okay to settle for the normal ones during rough days. 

You can make several breakfast and lunch meals using eggs, including eggs on toast, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, etc. 

Aside from serving as a healthy breakfast meal, eggs can enhance other meals' flavor and nutrition. For example, it is common in East Asian countries to add eggs to noodles or ramen. So you can feed yourself on a budget and still have a classy meal. 

2. Beans

A can of beans can go a long way. The variety of beans available makes them one of the most versatile vegan food ingredients.

Beans have high quantities of protein and fiber, so they are not only one of the cheapest grocery items but also aid your health.

3. Lentils

Another one for the healthy eaters!

Lentils are possibly the best alternative to canned beans. With a wide variety available in the market, you can cook up different types of dishes with ease.

Whether it’s a soup or a stew, whether you eat it with rice or put it in a salad, lentils are among the finest items on a grocery shopping budget list. 

4. Chicken

If you're going out to buy any meat, use this simple strategy: buy the unpopular cuts.

It’s likely that chicken breasts will be in demand and thus be more expensive. However, if you settle for portions such as wings or thighs, you can have a decent meal with proteins on the side. 

There are a few stores that sell the entire cooked chicken (suitable for taco fillings, pasta, pizza toppings, etc.). This meat is usually unseasoned and requires little effort from your side. However, it might taste better than you expect when you are on a budget grocery list!

5. Ground Turkey

Take advantage of the Thanksgiving season and stock up on your protein when sales are high!

Ground turkey is a healthy and versatile poultry product that can produce a considerable number of meals with little effort. A whole turkey has the potential to feed a small family for at least three days of different meals, with no exaggeration.

6. Ground Beef

As with ground turkey and chicken, beef is a good source of protein.

This will be able to fit on your cheap grocery list for a month as it can be cooked into several decent meals. Further, ground beef might provide a more luxuriant flavor than other types of meat. 

In the right hands, ground beef can elevate our eating standards without costing you anything extra.

Cheap Grocery Items : Vegetables & Fruits

7. Bananas

You probably find this yellow fruit more often on your cheap food shopping list. As a general rule, organic foods are more expensive than junk foods.

Bananas, however, are an ingredient you can afford to buy every month. You can use a fiber-loaded fruit such as this in various quick meals, and it can even be eaten on its own for a healthy breakfast on certain days.

8. Apples

It's time to add another fruit to your cheap grocery list for one. Apples are relatively more inexpensive all year round than most fruits, but certain varieties offer the best savings. 

Eating a whole apple sounds fun, but you can mix it with other fruits, yogurts, or quick bake goods to improve its taste and nutritious value

9. Potatoes

The versatility of potatoes is well known to every foodie. You'll probably find them to be the best, most useful vegetable in your low-budget grocery shopping.

Although potato sacks are extremely cheap, you can use them to serve meals in infinite ways. With just a little seasoning, you can have mashed potatoes, french fries, salad, soup, etc., in no time. 

10. Onions

These vegetables are rarely the star of a meal unless they're onion rings. Nonetheless, they are often the primary background support for many flavors you cook.

When you purchase onions in bulk, you will find the rate to be extremely favorable. They are a great way to fill your pantry with flavorful food without breaking the bank.

11. Carrots

Carrots are more commonly used in salads than in meals.

These affordable vegetables can, however, enhance the quality of many quick meals. We love adding them to tomato-based pasta for an upgraded taste.

Remember, it is not wise to purchase baby carrots because they are processed and more expensive. If you wish to stay on the grocery list on a budget, purchase long carrots with their peels on.

While it's extra work, it will pay off in the long run.

12. Cabbage

You should also include cabbage on your list of versatile vegetables. There are a lot of salads you can make with this cabbage and some condiments. They can also be added to soups, pasta, and sandwiches as fillings. 

There are many ways to prepare cabbage that allow you to be creative. When properly wrapped, it will last longer in the fridge than most other vegetables.

13. Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are a great way to expand your veggie collection while maintaining the budget for cheap grocery items.

Although they are far more beneficial than canned vegetables, they usually cost the same. All you need to do is take them out of the fridge and add them to whatever dish you think will work well with them. 

It does not matter if it is with rice or soup; frozen vegetables enhance the taste and nutritional value of your meal. 

Cheap Grocery Items: Carbs

14. Rice

There is no exaggeration when it comes to saying that rice is the most eaten food item among the group. You can have any type of rice dish you want, and they are all equally delicious. 

Your goal should always be to buy large rice bags during a sale. When you have enough rice in your pantry, you can whip up any meal of the day. Remember to add a small number of side dishes(vegetables, yogurt, or meat) to your rice. 

You can be broke and still enjoy a hearty meal!

15. Pasta

There is no better substitute for rice than pasta. You can serve it with a variety of cheap grocery items, and it is highly versatile. Even though there are many different types of pasta, if you want to stay on budget, you should stick to the basics. 

As a matter of fact, pasta is far more nutrient-dense than noodles. It's, therefore, better to settle for pasta rather than ramen if you are a broke student. 

16. Bread

Butter on bread or beans on bread. Either way, bread is a staple for your grocery list on a budget.

It can be used for quick snacks by students who live far away from home and may not have access to many ingredients. Some of the most common meals by bread include sandwiches, french toast, cheese bread, butter toast, etc. 

Cheap Grocery Items : Daily

17. Milk

Well, it shouldn't surprise you that milk is essential for your health. It is one of the easiest ways to intake vitamin D and calcium daily. 

Additionally, it can be turned into healthy liquid snacks/meals by adding a few extra ingredients. Remember, if you are not a fan of eating a heavy breakfast, you can have a fruity milkshake or a smoothie instead.

If you have trouble budgeting for the cheapest grocery items, try switching to low-fat milk for a few months. The consistency might be odd initially, but you'll get used to it eventually. 

18. Yogurt

Add a few banana slices and sugar to yogurt: now that's a breakfast to remember. 

A wide variety of quick meal options are available if you keep yogurt in your pantry. However, instead of purchasing individual servings of plain yogurt, it’s better to buy tubs. 

19. Block Cheese

Although cheese slices or shredded cheese entice you because of their convenience, it's better to put in a little effort in order to fit in your cheap grocery list for one person. 

Many cheap store-bought meals can be improved with cheese as a topping. Just grate your cheese block to add extra flavor to a frozen pizza or pasta you've bought on sale. 

Cheap Grocery Items: Pantry Staples

There's only so much you can do with separate food ingredients if you don't have a few pantry staples.

You can often buy ingredients such as salt, sugar, frying oil, and spices from traditional markets. You can turn your cheapest grocery items into a delicious meal by adding these side ingredients. 

Shops that sell these ingredients by kilogram are a better option than grocery stores that sell packets of expensive items. Hence, always opt for the former method of purchase. 

Make The Most Of Your Resources!

The best strategy to save money on food is to plan out your grocery shopping budget list. Consider bulk purchases and sales when choosing your food, and spend your money carefully. 


If you wisely manage your grocery shopping for one on a budget, you can easily last a few months on a single trip. 

Furthermore, you should get creative with the ingredients you have purchased. Utilize the items you buy and use your skills to enhance the flavor. It is pointless to look for cheap foods to buy if you will not enjoy eating them at all.

Don't forget that you can enjoy your meals even on a tight budget!