Cheap Healthy Grocery List | Cheap Food to Buy When You’re Broke

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The number one place where people overspend in their budget is on food! While food is a necessity, spending a ton of money on it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at these X cheapest foods that are still healthy food options for your family even when you are a tight budget.

overhead look at a basket of vegetables

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How to Use Cash Saving Apps to Save More Money on Your Groceries

One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is to use money-saving apps– let’s talk about a few of my favorites.

IBOTTA

Ibotta is one of the most popular cashback websites out there. The app and extension feature some of the most visited retailers. With Ibotta, you use an extension on your browser or an app on your mobile device to browse and shop. Some retailers even offer specialized discounts if you use Ibotta. 

Here are some things to know about Ibotta:

  • It’s Free to Sign Up
  • The More Active You Are = The More Bonuses You Get
  • $10 Towards Your Rebate for Signing Up
  • Great for Grocery Shopping!
  • Offers Both a Desktop and a Mobile Application for Easy Use

One of the best ways to maximize your savings on Ibotta is stacking offers. With Ibotta, you can stack offers on certain brand name products or retailers. By using the “Offers” section of Ibotta, you can see what is on special for a particular day. 

FETCH REWARDS

Fetch Rewards is another popular option for those who are looking to stack their savings while grocery shopping. With Fetch, you do your shopping, and you earn rewards while shopping. It works similarly to Ibotta, where you scan your receipt after your purchase, and it applies rewards to your account.

Using Fetch is as simple as:

  • Download the Fetch App.
  • Scan your receipts
  • Earn rewards!

Fetch is one of the most straightforward apps that you can use to help your family save money by buying whatever you need. Although there are not as many cashback offers on the website, you are able to earn points that you can redeem at your favorite retailers. 

With Fetch, you can also:

  • Scan your receipts to add points towards rewards. 
  • Refer your friends and family for additional rewards and points.
  • Purchase particular items to boost your points and rewards.

 

Where Is the Cheapest Place to Buy Groceries?

The cheapest place to buy groceries will often depend on where you live.

If you live in the US, Walmart’s are pretty prevalent, even in rural areas.

Some other great options are:

  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Market Basket
  • Food 4 Less
  • Bulk shopping stores like Sam’s, Costco or BJ’s.

If you aren’t sure where to go, a great way to find out is by searching: the cheapest places to buy food near me and compare their sales circulars.

There’s a great app called Flipp, that allows you to see sales circulars all in one spot. You can put in your zip code and it will show you the sale circulars for the stores in your area.

Can you say time saver!!

 

CHEAP FOOD TO BUY WHEN YOU ARE BROKE

Cheap food doesn’t have to mean low nutritional value. When you are looking for great options for your family– a great place to start is with staples. Those versatile foods you can use (and use up) to make lots of different types of meals.

For example, some great inexpensive healthy options are whole grains, fresh vegetables (in season), and beans!

Let’s take a look at the best cheap food stock your fridge and pantry.

detail of the lids of three cans of conserved food

DRY & CANNED GOODS

 RICE

One of my absolute favorite–must-have staples is brown rice, but white rice is great too. Rice is super filling, making it a great option for meals. I love using it in casseroles, soups, side dishes– so many options!

 PASTA

I am in love with pasta. It’s my comfort food. And it is so versatile. You can use it in tons of different dishes and it is CHEAP! Lots of great hot and cold dish options here.

 OATMEAL

Oatmeal, much like brown rice, is very filling and you can spice it up a hundred different ways and it only takes about 5 minutes to make!

We love oatmeal with brown sugar, with cinnamon, with fruit, or chopped nuts. Lots of variety! You can also use it to make granola bars, in cookies and tons of other options

BEANS

Have you ever heard the expression of being on a ‘rice and beans budget’. Dry beans are great because, yes they are one of the cheaper foods you can grab, but they also have the benefit of being shelf stable and can either stand alone as a main in a dish, be a side, or another source of protein in a meal.

One of my family’s favorite meal is lima beans with ham bits and rice. It’s pretty delicious.

DRIED LENTILS

Are you ready for me to blow your mind?!?!

Did you know you can substitute lentils for ground beef?? Did you know that?

Yeah, this was a recent discovery for me as well. My family is not vegetarian, however, from a cost savings perspective, we’ve tried to incorporate one or two days of meatless meals. 

Sheela, from The Kitchn, has a great recipe for how to substitute lentils for ground beef

Lentils, surprisingly, have a pretty similar texture and with some spices– bada bing, bada boom– ground beef-ish dish that’s delish!

You’re welcome!

Lentils also are great for soups, stews, and casseroles as well.

QUINOA

Quinoa is a complete source of protein on it’s own making it a great protein option. It is relatively cheap option and can be used in salads or in place of rice in a dish. It also is both quick and easy to prepare.

CONDIMENTS

Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressings, and salsa.

 SEASONINGS

Salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic salt, cumin, italian seasonings, curry powder— seasonings are an easy way to add great flavor to your dishes. Great Value (the walmart generic brand) has their spices for a crazy good price– even cheaper than the Dollar store.

 FLOUR

When you think pantry staple, flour is easily in the top of your list. You can make pancakes, bake bread, cookies, use it to thicken gravy and so much more.

AIR POPPED POPCORN

Air popped popcorn is a terrific, healthy snack option. It’s cheap, has some filling fiber, and you can eat quite a lot of it as it’s not super calorie dense.

YEAST

When you think of yeast, you probably just think an ingredient in bread (which, you’d be right), but did you know it also has other uses as well?

CORNMEAL

Holy cornbread, y’all! I love cornmeal. You can also use it as breading on a protein, make polenta or in crackers.

PEANUT BUTTER

The key to peanut butter is to buy off brand or when it’s on sale. There’s lots of good ways to use up peanut butter– in delicious cookies, chicken satay or sandwhich.

CANNED TUNA OR CHICKEN

Canned tuna or chicken are easy ways to stock up on protein when they go on sale. You can incorporate them into casseroles, salads and make them into sandwiches– lots of options for you to choose from.

CANNED TOMATOES

Diced tomatoes, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes. Canned goods in general are cheap options to fresh and canned tomatoes offer you tons of meal options. Pasta sauce, soups, stews, chilli, tomato gravy. Canned tomatoes are one of my favorite pantry staples for both cost and versatility.

crate of pineapples

PRODUCE

SPINACH

The best vegetable in the history of ever– spinach! It’s not only are the health benefits amazing, it’s also really yummy and you can make it and incorporate it into tons and tons of recipes. 

My kids even eat spinach salads. I find the taste of spinach to be really very mild, making it a great addition to your table.

Depending on how you plan on eating it; as a salad, in a casserole, sauteed side, eggs, etc. will depend on how much you use. 

ROMAINE LETTUCE

Super versatile– lettuce wraps, salad, in sandwiches or on burgers.

POTATOES

Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, red potatoes. All super delicious.

Much like rice, potatoes are a great cheap, versatile addition to any meal. Soups and stews, baked on their own, mashed as a side, incorporated in a dish like Shepherd’s pie, fries, hashbrowns and more.

PEPPERS

Green peppers are super cheap and can be used in so many different ways: fajitas, omelets, casseroles, soups, stews and even just eaten on their own. Delish!

 ONIONS

You really can use onions in so many ways and they won’t break the bank. They are great in salads as well as tons of dishes. Plus, there are tons of variety of onions!

 EDAMAME

Edamame is a decent source of soy protein and not terribly expensive. Usually they are sold frozen and can be used in added to soups, salads and noodle dishes, or just eaten as a snack.

 CARROTS

I love carrots. You can get a super big bag of carrots for just under a few dollars. You can eat them as is or incorporate them into a meal.

CABBAGE

Sauerkraut and brats are one of my all time favorite game day meals. Or you could go the burger and coleslaw route. Either way– a head of cabbage is crazy cheap and an exceptionally healthy food.

CUCUMBERS

I could legitimately eat cucumbers all day! They are great on their own as well as in salads.

BROCCOLI

Broccoli is great as a stand alone, but super yummy in soups, casseroles and more. Not a very expensive vegetable and is quite easy to find making it a great choice for your grocery budget.

SQUASH

Squash is delicious, but it’s important to look for it when it’s in season as it’ll then be at its cheapest.

 KIWI

Not only are kiwi’s crazy delicious and easy on your budget, they are also LOADED with vitamin C. My kids love eating these as a snack or in their lunch.

APPLES

There are so many delicious kinds of apples and lucky for us, they aren’t all crazy expensive. They are great on their own, but you could also throw them on top of pancakes or oatmeal too!

 CANTALOUPE

 Cantaloupe isn’t just delicious but it’s also one of my favorite budget friendly melons. I love eating it with a little cottage cheese as a quick snack or on the go lunch!

WATERMELON

Another really great melon option that’s pretty inexpensive and usually you can get quite a bit for what you pay.

BLUEBERRIES

 Blueberries are great on top of oatmeal, in cereal, in muffins or all on their own.

BANANAS

We always have bananas. Not only are they a great source of potassium, but you can throw them into muffins, cereal, on a slice of peanut butter toast for breakfast– it’s super versatile.

GRAPES

Great as a quick snack, in chicken salad, or even on top of salads.

ORANGES

Oranges are a good source of Vitamin C and they’re great alone or when used in other recipes. One of my favorite things to make is orange chicken because it’s so cheap and it tastes heavenly.

FROZEN FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

While fresh is often preferred, frozen fruits and vegetables are still great alternatives. Not only do you have the luxury of stocking up on them while they are on sale, they also keep alot longer than fresh produce– so you get to skip the whole step of emptying the bottom drawer of your fridge and throwing out your old carrots.

Assortment of dairy products on white background

 DAIRY

 EGGS

Eggs are an amazing option for a quick inexpensive protein. You can eat them poached, fried, scrambled. In a quiche, casserole– so many variations!

YOGURT

Need a quick snack or a side for your lunch. Many different brands of yogurt (especially generic) can easily be purchased for 3 or 4 for $1.

MILK

Milk is what I would consider a grocery staple. Delicious, nutritious and super versatile.

COTTAGE CHEESE

Cottage cheese makes a great snack, is a good source of protein and can also be a sub for ricotta in pasta dishes.

 CHEESE

Everything’s better with cheddar– cheese that is. Sliced, shredded, blocks. It’s all so very delicious– and not crazy expensive. Whether you want to grab a quick snack or want to throw it in a casserole, soup, or my personal favorite– mac-n-cheese. Cheese does not disappoint.

whole cooked turkey

MEAT

CHICKEN THIGHS

Most people when they reach for chicken, go straight for chicken breasts. But more times than not chicken thighs are considerably cheaper- at the time of this writing thighs are 50% cheaper than chicken breasts.

One of my favorite ways to cook chicken thighs is to throw them in the crockpot with some chicken broth on high for 4 hours. When you pull them all the meat falls off the bone and is so tender. You can then throw it in salads, casseroles, stove top one pan dishes, or simply eat it on it’s own.

GROUND TURKEY

Ground turkey is cheaper than ground beef– and healthier too. Anywhere you can use ground beef, you can sub ground turkey!

 PORK

Pork chops, ground pork, pork loin– pork is another great cheap protein option that often gets overlooked compared to beef and chicken. It’s even better when you can catch it on sale!

WHOLE CHICKEN

Cooking a whole chicken can feel a little intimidating for some people, but there are tons of recipes for baking or even cooking a whole chicken in a crockpot. You can usually grab these for a fairly good price (especially on sale!).

ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

Costco has one of my all time favorite rotisserie chickens and they are just around $5. I don’t know about you but grocery shopping and getting everything put away feels a bit like a marathon and the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook some complicated meal. So as part of my grocery budget I’ll sometimes grab one of these rotisserie chickens and make this dinner. Then use up the leftover chicken in other meals over the week. There are tons and tons of great recipes about ways to use up rotisserie chicken. Here’s 77 if you need a little inspiration.

Composition with bread and rolls isolated on white

BAKERY

BREAD

Making your own bread isn’t always practical for some families, but the good news is you can still find bread for relatively cheap (at my local Walmart I can grab a loaf for under $1). You can use it for sandwiches, croutons, or crumble to make breading for meatloaf.

TORTILLAS

We keep tortillas on hand at all times at my house. We use them for tacos, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, peanut butter and banana rollup– they are so easy and quick. Plus they now make different tortilla variations: whole wheat, spinach, sundried tomato and more!

Struggle Meals You Can Make When Money is Tight

Some of my favorite budget meals:

  • Pancakes/waffles from scratch
  • Mac n Cheese
  • French bread pizza
  • Chilli
  • Spaghetti
  • Vegetable soup (especially great for using up random leftover vegetables)
  • Cheese and Bean Burritos
  • Fried rice with Egg & veggies
  • Chicken & rice casserole

 

 

bike with grocery bags on handlebars as it goes down the street

OTHER MONEY SAVING CHOICES FOR YOUR BUDGET GROCERY LIST!

 

SHOP YOUR PANTRY

The first stop anyone should make when you’re trying to keep your grocery bill small is to your pantry and fridge. Everything in there you’ve already paid for. So before you do anything else, go ahead and peak at what you already have on hand.

MEAL PLANNING

Meal planning is absolutely clutch when it comes to keeping your grocery bill tight. Knowing what the cheap eats are is important, but putting those together into meals that your family will eat is where the rubber meets the road.

If you are on the struggle bus when it comes to meal planning, you might want to consider the $5 Meal Plan. This meal planning service offer inexpensive and easy meals and you get to personalize the types of meal plans you and your family prefer. It comes with a 100% risk free trial membership, that you can cancel anytime, no questions asked! They even have options for dietary restrictions. Imagine personalized meal plans for just $5 a month!

GROCERY PICKUP

One of my all time favorite money and time savers is grocery pickup. I started using Walmart’s grocery pickup last year and I’ll never go back.

I sit down with my phone, pull up my app and while I’m meal planning, I’ll start adding things to my cart. Plus, BONUS you get to see what they have on sale and can plan around sale items for an even bigger money savings.

Not to mention my grocery spending stays on track because I’m not actually having to go into the store and be tempted with all my random impulse purchases.

Do you like free money?? If you are a new Walmart pickup and delivery customer and you sign up with my affiliate code, you’ll get $15 free when you spend $50. Super simple!

 BUYING IN BULK

Purchasing items you use quite a bit of in bulk definitely has the possibility to save you money. With that being said, you will want to check the price per unit. It’s the only good way to compare apples to apples.

For example, if you use a lot of olive oil, you could take the price per ounce of a bottle you found at a few of your favorite local grocery stores and compare them against the price of the larger bottle at Costco or Sam’s.

This is where utilizing a price sheet would come in super handy!

FRESH FRUIT

Always check to see what’s in season. Sometimes you can get great deals on in season fruit. Strawberries are hands down my favorite fruit, but when it’s out of season we tend to rotate some other seasonal favorites in to maximize money savings.

DRINKS

I highly, highly recommend you stick to tea and water at home. Sodas, juices, sports drinks, etc are all empty calories and such a simple way to really save some money!

To clarify: when I say water, I’m not talking bottled. Either invest in a water filtering pitcher (if you must) or drink straight from the tap!

 PAPER GOODS

Not much you can do in the way of toilet paper– just make sure you are comparing unit pricing to make sure you are getting the best price.

Paper towels, plates, and disposable silverware. While convenient, really add up over time. Consider good reusable options.

The silverware and plates are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ve recently switched to these huck towels and microfiber cloths in lieu of paper towels. Yes, there is an initial investment, but the overall savings (not to mention the “go-green” benefits) really add up. I keep a small basket in my kitchen just for these towels and throw them in the wash together. Super simple!

 

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