Need to eat really cheaply? Here is some of the best cheap food to buy when broke!
There are times when eating cheap is a must do. Here are some foods that can help you through those really lean times. These are healthy filling foods that also happen to be really cheap.
What Should You Eat When You’re Broke?
Here are some of the cheapest foods in the grocery store:
Potatoes are usually dirt cheap whether they are organic or not. I try to buy organic potatoes if they are available and don’t look too old (which sometimes happens in my small town grocery store.) But if not, then I buy regular potatoes because they are still healthy and they are really cheap!
Potatoes can be used in so many tasty ways. The easiest way is to peel them up and cut them into cubes and boil them. Drain them and add some healthy fat to them like coconut oil or butter. Salt them and stir and voila-you have a yummy filling side dish!
You can also make crispy potato wedges or twice baked potatoes. Check out these healthy cheap potato recipes for even more ideas.
Protein is important even if you are needing to eat cheaply, and eggs are the cheapest healthiest protein out there. (If you know a local farmer, you can get eggs that are packed with even more vitamins than store bought eggs!) If you need to buy your eggs at the grocery store, you are still getting some vitamins and minerals that can help keep you healthy. (I have found that health is way cheaper than illness!)
There are so many ways to make eggs. You can use them to make omelets, scramble them or fry them. They can also be added to all kinds of recipes to pump up the protein content-like these high protein 2 Ingredient Banana Pancakes.
We make eggs super simple by frying them. You can learn how we make them in my post about quick meals on a budget.
3. Dried Beans
Dried beans are the ultimate in cheap healthy protein. You can’t get any cheaper than dried beans!
There are a few rules though to make sure that you get enough protein with beans. The basic rule is that you will need to make a whole grain to go with your beans in order to get the protein you need. For example, if you are making black beans, serve cornbread with them.
If you are really needing to eat extremely cheap meals, I suggest getting the Everything Beans Book. This book explains everything you need to know about how to cook dry beans. It includes:
- Lots of delicious family friendly recipes
- Information on how to make beans more digestible (meaning how to eat beans and avoid getting gas).
- Learn how to make sure that your meals contain enough protein even when using beans as a protein source.
Check out the Everything Beans Book here.
I am always amazed at how little bananas cost! They are usually way cheaper than other fruits. We like to just eat ours fresh, but you can also use bananas in recipes.
Here are a few ideas to use bananas:
- You can make banana bread muffins.
- Bananas are a great ingredient to add to smoothies. Check out this Strawberry Banana Smoothie.
- Use bananas to make banana pancakes.
Apples can be very inexpensive. It is a good idea to check on the prices of different types of apples, because often one type is way cheaper than another. Sometimes the bagged apples are cheaper than the single apples.
Apples are a great snack to eat with peanut butter. We like the Jif Natural brand of peanut butter-the taste and texture is like the unhealthy peanut butter-meaning it tastes good! But it is made with healthy oils instead of hydrogenated fats.
Apples can also be stewed very simply-like in this healthy stewed apples and cinnamon recipe.
This is a truly cheap food to buy when you are broke. Popcorn is around 10 cents per serving!
Popcorn is super easy to make with a popcorn maker. You can read more about how to make popcorn in my popcorn post.
If you would rather make popcorn on the stove top, check out this recipe and video.
Leaf lettuces are super healthy for you, and can be a great bargain in the grocery store. I like to buy organic Romaine lettuce. Even though it is organic , I can still get it for a great price. Sometimes, they have it marked down if it is close to the date, and I can get it even cheaper!
You can use lettuce to make salads that are super healthy and frugal. Especially if you make your own dressing. Learn how to make healthy salads and dressings in my post about detox salads.
Chicken can be a very frugal protein option-especially if you utilize all parts of the chicken. For example, you can make chicken broth with the bones. When you use chicken broth in a recipe, you can use less meat and still get the nutrition necessary for a healthy body.
I prioritize buying healthy meats even though I am on a tight budget. Meats often have the more toxins than other food in the grocery store. So, I try to buy healthy chicken as often as possible. But when I need to save I buy “regular” chicken (conventionally raised chicken). When I buy regular chicken, I only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts because the toxins are normally stored in the fat of the chickens.
Chicken is very versatile, and can be cooked so many different ways! We often just put some coconut oil into a pan, and add our chicken. Then we cover it and cook. We check it once in a while and turn it over. Whenever it looks done, we uncover the pan and let it cook a little longer until it gets crunchy! I am sure that is not a professional way to do it, but it tastes good!
Here are a few other healthy frugal chicken recipes:
- Chicken Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie
- 10-minute Parmesan-Basil Chicken with Roasted Broccoli-this is written as a paleo dinner, but if you want to make it into a cheaper meal, serve it with a side like potatoes.
Now that you have some ideas of what to buy from the grocery store, let me answer the question that might be on your mind-
How Can I Pay less for groceries every single month?
There are a few strategies that I use to keep my grocery bill low all the time. Obviously, I buy the groceries that are usually always cheap. But, I have a few other strategies as well.
1. Never Pay Full Price
One of my favorite ways to save is to stock up when there is a great sale price. I try to stock up enough that I don’t have to buy the item again until it is on sale again. This way I am always paying rock bottom prices for my groceries.
This does take some planning, but it is well worth it! If I know that I am going to stock up on meat, then I spend less money on other things for the month. I have gotten good at this, so I usually have the money when I need it. Often I will have quite a few weeks of a really low grocery bill and then I have the extra money to stock up on sale items.
Then when the healthy chicken goes on sale, I will buy A LOT of chicken. I freeze the chicken in gallon size ziploc bags. Every time I want chicken for a while, it is in my freezer!
You can do this too-if you can figure out how often your store has sales, you can make sure you don’t have to buy chicken again until there is a great sale. Often stores will have “sales cycles” meaning that approximately every 2 months chicken goes on sale. You could even ask at the meat department how often the item you want goes on sale.
2. Compare unit prices at the store
I used to compare prices in my head, but now I rarely have to. Most stores show the unit prices right on the tag. For example one brand of canned salmon might be $3.00 a pound and another can will be $4.50 a pound.
This is really helpful because sometimes the sale price of one brand is still more expensive than another brand. Sometimes getting a larger size saves money and sometimes it doesn’t. Having the unit price right on the tag helps you to avoid spending more.
3. Don’t Go Grocery Shopping
Many times we go to the grocery store because we have run out of a few things or just because we feel like it is time to go. But, often there is enough food in the house that we can survive without going.
I have found that if I avoid going to the grocery store it really does save me money. I end up using things that otherwise would have just sat in my fridge or pantry. You might be surprised how much money you can save this way! And, then you can use the money to stock up (Strategy #1) and save even more!
Can I Really Eat Clean for Cheap?
Yes, you really really can! You can be super healthy and frugal at the same time. In fact many of the cheapest foods at the grocery store are healthy. Besides the foods that I have mentioned so far, there are many more healthy foods that are super frugal. This is good news, because in my opinion, it is too easy to let your health slide when you don’t have much money. I don’t want that to happen to you!
Sign up for my Cheap Clean Eating Grocery List and find out what the cheapest healthiest groceries are. Click the graphic below to get your free printables!
It really is possible to eat well even if you need everything to be really cheap! Don’t forget to sign up for the printables. When you sign up, you will get resources and printables to help you eat dirt cheap (and healthy too!)