Buying cheap food when you’re broke may feel like a daunting task. How are you supposed to buy healthy foods that will actually keep your family full for a long time and stay within budget?
I get it, it can seem impossible- but don’t worry. We have all been there, which is why I created a list of my top foods to buy to make dirt cheap meals when you and your family are being intentional with your purchases.
If you don’t even have a budget yet, head to this financial budget makeover and download the FREE budget worksheet. You may also want to check out some of these awesome budget planners if you want to start getting organized.
And, following Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps is a must to get control of your finances!
It is possible to buy a lot of hearty foods for your family! Curious to learn my secrets? Keep reading….
How to Buy A Lot of Food with Little Money
Buying cheap food when you are on a limited budget is completely possible with a plan. You would be surprised how easy it can be to save hundreds of dollars each month, as long as you think ahead.
Before we move on, here are some other ways you may want to think about saving money:
- 100+ ways to save money
- How to save money on kids clothes
- The reverse savings plan
- Creative ways to save money
- Save $8,000 this year
Whether you are buying food for yourself or a family of four, taking some time before heading to the store will help you buy a lot of food for little money.
For me, looking at the calendar and deciphering how many meals are needed and then making a meal plan. This helps me stay focused on buying only what my family needs, not what I feel like while I am at the store.
Top Tips for Saving Money when Grocery Shopping
There are so many ways that you can save money on groceries, here are a few of my favorite ways.
Buy with Cash
Making a choice as simple as purchasing cheap foods with cash will help you make wise purchasing decisions through the cash envelope system. Using a simple cash envelope wallet has helped me save thousands of dollars at the grocery store!
Use a Cash Back App
A cash back app like my personal favorite Ibotta will help you make money while you are shopping! What is better than that?
Make a List of Cheap Food before You Leave the House
A list of cheap food that you can actually eat for the week is essential to help you stay within a budget while you are at the grocery store. And don’t buy off the list unless it’s a super great deal and you know for sure you will use it!
Curious to see which foods made the list of the cheapest groceries on a budget? Keep Reading…
Cheapest Groceries For A Budget
This is not an all inclusive list, but a list of some of my favorites to buy when trying to stay within a budget. I also recommend looking at what is on sale to help you make your decisions as well. Most stores publish their sales online now.
Spaghetti is one of my favorite cheap meals for a few reasons. For one, it tastes great and comes in fun shapes. For another, you can cook it easily– all you need is some boiling water and a few minutes!
You can learn how to make your own marinara sauce too!
Did you know that in some cases, frozen vegetables can hold more nutrients than the vegetables in the produce section? This is because they are flash frozen immediately after they are picked, so there is no time to lose any yummy vitamins.
I like to keep a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer at all times so adding them is a breeze.
Rice is a staple in just about every culture for good reason. Not only is it tasty, rice is filling. This cheap food can be paired with almost any protein (think beans or lentils) and make a well rounded meal.
I can use a pound of rice to feed my family for several meals, making the $1 bag look pretty good when I am looking for cheap foods.
You can also use it to make fried rice to amp up the flavor a bit!
Macaroni and Cheese
I think that a box of mac and cheese could go on any food list and be appropriate- its just so good! While it isn’t exactly the cheapest food on this list, macaroni and cheese certainly is one of the tastiest.
Keep a few boxes of this cheap food on hand for an easy meal anytime of the day.
When it comes to cheap foods, dried beans should be on every single list- and for good reason. Packed filled with protein and healthy fats, this food is easy to justify.
Often for as little as a dollar, you can buy a pound of dried beans and cook them to make 5-6 meals. Throw in a salad, tacos, burgers… the food recipes are endless!
My favorite dried beans that I always have in my pantry is pinto beans, black beans and garbanzo beans (I love to use these in this Instant Pot chana masala!)
Lentils are another must have when you need to add more protein into your diet but you are looking to reduce your grocery bill. Lentils are cooked in as little as 20 minutes and can be added into soups, chilis, salads… the world is your oyster!
Like beans, a bag of dried lentils can cost you around a dollar and last for a few meals.
Potatoes are an excellent purchase when you are grocery shopping on a budget! Not only are they so diverse, but they are jammed packed with vitamin C, B6 and fiber.
And don’t forget about sweet potatoes – they are a great source of so many vitamins and minerals and very cheap!
Chicken Legs or Thighs
While chicken legs and thighs are a fattier meat, they are one of the cheaper protein options for you and your family. I love keeping a few packs of chicken thighs in the freezer for a simple meal (like these honey garlic chicken thighs) that the entire family will love.
All you have to do is throw them in the oven for an easy dinner that everyone is guaranteed to love.
A can of tuna is one of the cheapest foods that can keep you full for a long time. Packed full of protein, iron, and muscle development, I like to cook with canned tuna after an active day of hiking or some yard work.
One of the healthiest, most diverse meals on the list is oatmeal. Why? Not only is it a simple breakfast option, but you can make granola or snack bars with a few ingredients.
I love to buy oatmeal in bulk since we cook with it almost every day.
Eggs are a universally loved cheap food. In fact, you can buy a dozen eggs for around $1.50 in most cities and use them to make several meals for the week.
Fry up a few for less than a dollar for breakfast, use one to make a loaf of bread, or make a blender hollandaise sauce for a weekend treat!
Carrots are one of my favorite cheap foods. Not only are they healthy, they are easy to toss into just about any recipe like soup or fried rice. They are great raw too so I always keep a bag of these in my kitchen!
In my opinion, the white onion is one of the most undervalued foods in the kitchen. Not only does it add flavor and texture to your meal, but you can buy one for around a quarter.
I like to keep canned chicken in my pantry for any emergency meals that need some extra protein in them while staying in my budget. Add some canned chicken to chili, soups, or taco night for a quick and cheap meal.
Peanut butter is one of the most delicious foods that can add healthy fats and protein to a meal that most kids will eat. Throw a spoonful in with a smoothie or put some on toast and this cheap food just became one of the best foods in your kitchen.
Popping your own kernels is one of the easiest – and cheapest – (and healthy) snacks that you can make for you and your family. Whether its a movie night or a simple after school snack, popcorn is one of my favorite cheap foods.
I like to cook extra and put them in snack bags so that way I have some for pre-measured snacks throughout the day. It’s an awesome healthy snack!
Yogurt is one of my favorite foods! Not only does it taste great, is budget friendly, and is excellent for your gut health, but yogurt is a great meal for kids. Why? Because at a young age, they can grab a spoon and a yogurt container to make their own breakfast.
In just about any house around the world, bread is the pantry staple that sticks around- and for good reason. Not only is it filling and tasty for almost any meal, but you can purchase a loaf of bread for under a dollar in many areas.
Buying cheap food for when you’re broke does not have to be an impossible task. In fact, there are plenty of delicious and healthy foods that you can feed your family and stay within budget.
Did I miss any? Comment below with any foods that you think should have been added to the list of cheap food to buy when you’re broke!