18 Cheapest Foods to Shop for When You’re Broke

18 Cheapest Foods to Shop for When You're Broke
Broke.  I’ve been there.  Perhaps you have been as well. Maybe you’re there right now.  Like REALLY broke. But you still have to eat and feed your family! What are cheapest foods to live on?? Let’s talk about the “18 Cheapest Foods to Shop for When You’re Broke”!

Cheap food doesn’t have to be boring! Who wants to eat boring food?

When I was a single mom, with very little in the way of cooking skills, I was looking for cheap, healthy foods that had a good amount of nutritional value and could be prepared easily, that were cheap!

I could barely boil water (like, no joke) so simple was very important for me.

Below are 20 food items that are nutritious, and usually very inexpensive at the grocery!

potato recipes


Potatoes are the #1 consumed vegetable in the US and #4 worldwide! Potatoes contain a good amount of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium.

Potatoes are a favorite of cooks looking for great value for their money!

Potatoes are one of the cheapest foods you can live on!  They can be served solo or as a way to stretch leftovers.

You can prepare potatoes so many ways!

Baked Potato with butter and cheese

Potato Wedges

Mashed Potatoes– Sometimes I’ll put chicken noodle soup or leftover chili over a bowl of mashed potatoes to stretch them even further!

Potato Salad

Potato Pancakes or Waffles

Hash Browns

Potato Soup

rice recipes


Whether you prefer brown or white, rice remains of the best foods to put on your cheap food shopping list.

Eating rice everyday makes you feel more full, which is a good thing when money is tight!

Rice is so versatile!

It can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I like to use my Instant Pot to make a big batch of rice for the week!

Rice can stretch canned dog food even further! Mixed 1:1, rice almost doubles my canned dog food! My dogs love it!

Breakfast Fried Rice – I LOVE this recipe because it’s so flexible, making use of just about any leftovers you have in the frig!

Breakfast Rice/ Hot Cereal – I remember eating this when I was a kid!

Easy Breakfast Rice for College Students – Another great rice recipe, using up random food items from your refrigerator.

Risotto Rice – Quick and easy to whip up for dinner or lunch!

Spanish Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice

12 Rice Recipes to Make on Repeat

227 Easy and Tasty Rice Recipes

55 Easy Rice Recipes



Oatmeal is just another fabulous, cheap food to live on.

Thing is, I would eat oatmeal even if it were expensive, but it remains as one of the cheapest foods at the grocery store!

Heck, oatmeal is gluten-free without the hefty price!

There are tons of creative ways to prepare oatmeal, for breakfast, cookies, granola, muffins and more!

51 Oats Recipes that Go Beyond Oatmeal

11 Ways to Eat Oatmeal for Dinner

25 Oatmeal Recipes So Good You’ll Actually Want to Eat Oatmeal


Apple recipes


Apples are one of the cheapest healthy foods at the grocery store, all year round!

Check out these quick and easy apple recipes!

To be honest, raw apples that are washed and ready to be eaten as snacks or added to school lunches are the easiest way to get them eaten.

When my apples get a little soft, I like to fry them up in some butter and cinnamon! Delicious!

Back in the day, apples were almost categorized as herbs, rather than a fruit, due to the vitamins and minerals that they contain!

Ever heard “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”??

Yep, that’s where that saying came from.

65 Easy Apple Recipes

80 Best Apple Recipes

10 Best Quick Apples Dessert Recipes

Grilled cheese tomato soup


Bread is the next cheapest food to live on!

Some of the cheapest foods to make can be made with bread:  Sandwiches, French toast, grilled cheese and more!

I think most of us remember our moms making croutons out of stale bread.

Don’t bread’s capabilities don’t stop with croutons!

Whether you catch bread on sale or make your own, bread can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

35 Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Bread

50 Dishes You Can Make with Leftover Bread

sunny side up eggs frying


Eggs are almost always cheap!

And talk about a nutritional powerhouse!

Eggs contain 75 calories, as well as 7 grams of protein, is low in fat, contains iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids!

The easiest way that we enjoy eggs is either scrambled with toast, or fried egg sandwiches with cheese.

45+ Easy Egg Recipes for Your Best Brunch Ever

60 Breakfast Egg Recipes to Start Your Day Right

12 Delicious Breakfast Ideas

10 Super Cheap Meals that Taste Delicious – Happy DIY Home


pot of kale and cannolini soup


Who doesn’t think about beans when looking for a cheap meal idea?

But, let me tell you…

These bean recipes are NOT your mama’s bean recipes!

Beans have come a long way, baby!

17 Budget-Friendly Recipes You Can Make with a Can of Beans

20 Ways to Turn Beans into a Cheap and Wholesome Meal


bunch of carrots


Carrots are another cheap food that just happen to be a nutritional powerhouse!

Carrots are just about always cheap, but especially in the Spring!

While there are some fabulous carrot recipes to be made and enjoyed, I’m pretty content to just munch on baby carrots raw when I’m cooking or on the internet.

Another simple way I enjoy carrots is to just drizzle some olive oil on them, with lots of salt and pepper and then simply roast them. They are so sweet that way!

Our 20 Best Carrot Recipes

5 Tasty Ways to Cook Carrots

10 Healthy and Easy Carrot Recipes for Kids

The Great Big List of Carrot Dessert Recipes

18 Things I Refuse to Buy Anymore


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Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is an all-time favorite for most of us!

I am always in pursuit of sale peanut butter, 9 cents per ounce is my rock-bottom buying price!

So, take the plunge and try something different than the PB&J!

82 Most Delish Ways to Eat Peanut Butter

15 Easy Dinners from a Jar of Peanut Butter

40 Surprisingly Savor Uses for Peanut Butter


grilling zucchini


Ah, every gardener’s bain of existence!

During the summer, zucchini are in abundance and cheap!

Once again, the FB goes down the easy path by sauteing chopped up zucchini in a skillet and eat it that way!

But do check out all of these amazing zucchini recipes!

92+ Game-changing Zucchini Recipes

60+ Best Zucchini Recipes You Can Enjoy for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner


macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Boxed Mac-n-Cheese is an old stand-by, but it doesn’t have to be BORING!

Take advantage of the humble, boxed macaroni and cheese, stock up and rock some creative meals!

11 Dinner Recipes that Use Boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Upgraded Kraft Mac N Cheese


swimming tuna fish


If you walk into my pantry, you’ll find a whole mess of canned tuna.

Growing up, everyone’s mom made Tuna Casserole at least once a week!

Once I was in college, I ate quite a few tuna fish sandwiches (on toast), with loads of lettuce and tomato.

My kids have never been interested in any of the above (Gasp! I know right?!)

However, there are plenty of great tuna recipes out there to try!

24 Recipes that Start with Canned Tuna

20 Quick and Easy Canned Tuna Recipes


waves of milk


Milk is another cheap staple at the grocery store!

You might be surprised to know that there’s a lot more you can do with milk besides drink it!

Next time you see milk on sale, or are in danger of some milk going bad, be sure to check out these amazing recipes!

32 Ways to Use Up a Gallon of Milk

14 Recipes to Use Up Milk



Tortillas are cheap at the store, but even cheaper to make!

For just a few cents each, you can make fresh, hot, yummy tortillas.

However, if you prefer to buy them, you can still make some awesome meals with them!

10 Delicious Ways to Turn Tortillas into a Meal

70 Tasty Recipes with Flour Tortillas


bunch of bananas, one sliced


Bananas are a super-cheap food at the grocery, that are available just about all year round!

Bananas don’t last long around my house!

We eat them raw for the most part, but if the bananas are still in the fruit bowl long enough to turn brown, I usually make banana bread!

22 Recipes for Ripe and Over-ripe Bananas

23 Easy Banana Recipes


blocks of cheese


We’re talking about real cheese here, not “American” cheese (which isn’t really cheese).

Cheese brings some decent nutritional value to the table (think milk!) so it’s totally worth your time to seek out good deals on quality cheese.

I like to buy cheese in bulk at Costco or at Aldi.

Our 100 Best Recipes with Cheese

16 Cheese Recipes for Any Occasion


Chicken Legs and Thighs

When you’re shopping for cheap cuts of meat, chickens legs and thighs are usually a great buy!

The chicken’s dark meat contains different vitamins than the white meat does, so make sure you include it in your diet!

35+ Amazing Chicken Thigh Recipes

25 Simple, Delicious Chicken Leg Recipes


cooked ground beef in skillet

Ground Beef

Ground beef is another cheap cut of meat at the grocery, so stay tuned for sales on this staple!

Ground beef is probably the meat we cook with the most! We love burgers on the grill, chili, sloppy joes, hamburger soup, etc.

We keep as much ground beef as we can find in our freezer!

Or, if money permits, buy bulk beef from a farmer!

Our 50 Best Ground Beef Recipes

75 Easy Ground Beef Recipes


In Season Fruits and Vegetables

Finally, just about any food that is in season is the cheapest.

When citrus is in season, buy it!

Cook with it, eat it for snacks, make your own DIY Vitamin C capsules…whatever.

But get in the habit of realizing what foods are in season.

I promise you that you will save money when you take advantage of the loss leader sales at the grocery, which are almost always “in season” foods!

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