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The Best Food to Buy on a Budget: A Complete Guide

Are you on a tight budget? Do you prefer to be a little frugal to save money?

Learning about what food to buy on a budget is a great way to save money. The best part is you can still eat well and enjoy many of your favorite foods!

For some, grocery shopping can be a stressful endeavor. A grocery bill for a week’s worth of food for a single person can go well over $100. This is a huge financial burden for families, college students, and other individuals living on a tight budget.

The good news is there are several ways you can cut down on your grocery bill. Many of which don’t require you to hunt for and cut out a pile of coupons! Today, you’ll find digital coupons, apps, and more ways designed to help you save money on food.

Do you want to save money on your groceries? Here’s how you find the best food to buy on a budget along with a few great money-saving tips!

Benefits of Buying Cheap Food

If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you know how expensive buying even the simplest foods can be. With the right grocery list, you can cut back your grocery bill and save hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars each year.

How? By shopping for cheaper food.

Reducing your grocery bill each month is an easy and effective way to save money. Saving a little extra at the grocery store will allow you to catch up on bills, prepare for emergencies, or save up for that big trip your planning this spring!

But buying cheaper foods doesn’t have to solely be for saving money or paying bills.

Purchasing cheap and non-perishable foods is a good way to prepare for emergencies. Job layoffs and unexpected winter weather is becoming more prevalent. Having a pantry full of readily available meal prep will keep you fed when you’re tight on money or can’t leave your home due to severe weather.

Are you planning a vacation or wedding this summer? Cutting back on grocery spending will free up your budget for the more important events in your life.

More people are pursuing additional schooling after high school and college. Reducing your grocery bill makes it easier for you to invest in your education and your future.

How to Make a Cheap Grocery List for a Month

How often have you gone to the grocery store without a list or a meal idea in mind? When this happens, we often tend to buy anything that looks or sounds good at the moment. The downside to this is you often end up with more snack foods, fewer meals, and a heftier grocery bill.

Making foods from scratch is a much cheaper alternative than buying pre-made packaged foods. You can make and bake your own healthy snacks and pizza. Focus on making more foods and meals at home to save even more money.

Saving money at the grocery store is easy when you have a plan. Begin by making a list of the meals you want to eat for the next week or the next month. From there, list the ingredients needed to make each meal and stick to buying only those items.

Take a moment to browse grocery ads, such as the current Kroger weekly ad. Grocery ads will show you what foods are on sale which can help you decide on what meals to make that week. Many ads have coupons for you to enjoy to lower your grocery bill even further.

Another money-saving tactic is to avoid name-brand foods. Most foods have a generic brand alternative that costs significantly less and tastes just as good!

Food to Buy on a Budget

You have your grocery list and a few tips on how to save more while grocery shopping. Now, how and where do you find food to buy on a budget?

You can find cheaper foods in several places including your local grocery store, discount stores, and bulk-buying stores. Here are the best foods to buy when you’re on a budget.

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious and great-tasting as fresh vegetables but for a fraction of the cost. An advantage of frozen vegetables is they last longer than fresh. Since you store them in the freezer, they won’t spoil in few days.

You can find frozen versions of nearly every type of vegetable. Frozen vegetables are also incredibly versatile for cooking and make a healthy addition to any meal.


Skip the boxes of pre-packaged single-serving oatmeal packets and opt for a big bin of rolled oats. An entire bin of rolled oats costs less than the pre-packaged version and will last much longer. They’re also healthier as there aren’t any added sugars or preservatives.

Rolled oats are also versatile. You can use them for baking and cooking both sweet and savory meals.


Both brown and white rice are affordable staples that work well in many dishes. Packed with nutrition, rice offers healthy amounts of fiber, magnesium, and manganese. Dietary fiber can help curb hunger and even lower your cholesterol.

It’s naturally gluten-free making it a healthy option for those with gluten allergies and sensitivities. Use rice as a side dish, in a burrito or stir fry, or try something sweet, like brown rice pudding.


Beans are one the healthiest and budget-friendly foods you can find. Canned beans are fairly affordable but you can save more by choosing dry beans and cooking them yourself. This is also healthier as the beans will have less sodium, preservatives, sugar, and other unhealthy additives.

Beans are very versatile and work well as a side or as an ingredient in a meal. Try making dips like hummus or roast chickpeas for a healthy crunchy snack!


Eggs are can range in price depending on where you live, where you shop, and the type of eggs you prefer. The average cost for a dozen eggs is around one to two dollars making them an affordable food. Eggs are a low-calorie food and an excellent source of protein.

Eggs are another versatile food that you can prepare in several ways. You can enjoy them on their own or mix them into rice, casseroles, or vegetables to enjoy any time of the day.


Pasta is one of the best-known “cheap” foods you can find. Pasta comes in a variety of styles ranging from Italian-styled noodles to Ramen and rice noodles. Whole wheat pasta is also affordable and rich in dietary fiber.

Give your pasta dishes a nutritional boost by adding frozen vegetables or meats. Pasta works well in a variety of dishes including casseroles, soups, and side dishes.


Chicken is one of the cheapest meat options available. Buying a whole chicken is the most affordable option followed by thighs and legs. Like other foods on this list, chicken is a versatile food that works in a number of different dishes.

Save more money by buying and cooking a whole chicken. Remove the meat from the bones and shred it for sandwiches and salads.

Ground Meats

While not as cheap as chicken, ground meats including ground turkey, pork, and beef are fairly affordable. Add the ground meat to any of your favorite dishes, like pasta and soups to add more flavor and protein. Mixing lentils or beans with the ground meat lets you stretch it even further.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is the cheapest nut butter available and contains plenty of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Top your toast or fruits with peanut butter or add it to your savory dishes. Use peanut butter to make a peanut sauce to add a rich flavor to chicken and vegetables or curry.

Of course, there’s always dipping a spoon in the jar and enjoying your peanut butter as a comfort food.


Go to the bread section of your grocery store and you’re sure to find several loaves of bread for under a dollar. While white bread tends to be the cheaper alternative, it doesn’t offer much nutritional value. Try to stick to whole wheat or whole grain options as they offer more fiber, protein, and minerals with less sugar.

Bread is a great staple for sandwiches, sides, and more. Toast the bread and top it with nut butter, avocado, bean dips, and meats.

Breakfast Cereal

Both the cost and the nutritional value of breakfast cereals can vary greatly. Generic and store-owned cereal brands will cost much less than their name-brand counterparts. Stick to bran-based and whole-grain cereals as they’ll offer more protein, vitamins, and minerals.


You have a couple of options when shopping for affordable pizza. You can make pizza from scratch at home or buy a frozen pizza. You can buy whole frozen pizzas for only a few dollars.

Whether you make pizza from scratch or buy frozen, top your pizza with additional frozen vegetables or meats to make it healthier and keep you feeling full for longer.


Shopping on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fresh produce. Bananas cost under 50 cents per pound and are available all year. Bananas are nutritious and filling fruits you can add to smoothies, use as a topping, or an easy snack when you’re on-the-go.


Packed with healthy vitamins and fiber, oranges are a must-have on your budget-friendly grocery list. This citrus fruit boasts a good amount of vitamin C and is a versatile fruit for cooking. Add them to salads, stir-fries, or enjoy them as a healthy sweet snack.

Frozen Fruit

Fresh fruit can get expensive, especially when it’s out of season. The other drawback to fresh fruit is it can spoil in a few short days.

Frozen fruit is the perfect alternative as it costs less than fresh and like frozen vegetables, won’t spoil in the freezer. Frozen fruit makes a great addition to homemade oatmeal, smoothies, and desserts.


Potatoes, both fresh and frozen, are cheap and filling. They’re easy to cook with and work well as a side or an add-in in almost any dish. Use potatoes to make:

  • Baked potatoes
  • Scalloped potatoes
  • Hash browns
  • Homemade chips
  • Soups

The possibilities are endless. Sweet potatoes are another affordable option that offers more nutrition and are just as versatile.

Leafy Greens

Spinach and kale are two nutritionally rich foods full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can find these leafy greens at affordable prices both frozen and fresh.

These leafy greens are also very versatile. You can enjoy them alone or add them to salads, soups, and other homemade dishes.


Like potatoes, carrots are one of the cheapest foods to buy per pound. You can add carrots to nearly any dish or enjoy them raw as a snack or in salads. Carrots are a low-calorie food bursting with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.


You can find large tubs of plain unflavored yogurt at an affordable price. Again, look for generic and store-owned brands to shave a few dollars off the cost.

Plain yogurt is a healthier option offering calcium and protein without added sugars. Top your yogurt with your favorite frozen fruits, add it to smoothies, or make it into a vegetable dip.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a healthy and affordable food you can use to make a number of great meals. Mix the tomatoes with pasta, herbs, and cheese to make a marinara-inspired dish. Blitz them in a blender to create a homemade tomato soup.

Canned tomatoes are non-perishable meaning you can stock them in bulk in your cupboard for emergencies or simply to have them on-hand.


Eating on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional sweet. Generic brand dark chocolate is budget-friendly and offers healthy antioxidants. Look for baking squares or chocolate chips as these are great for snacking and topping your sweeter dishes with something decadent.

Start Cutting Your Grocery Bill Today

Finding food to buy on a budget doesn’t have to be boring or challenging. By following this list of foods and meal ideas, you’ll be able to drastically cut your grocery bills while enjoying healthy and great-tasting food!

Do you love all things food and drink-related? Check out our latest Lifestyle Food & Drink articles to learn more great culinary tips!