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What is the Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke?

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In the perfect world, you can afford to buy the healthiest of foods, all organic, never with GMOs especially because you know that by eating healthy foods, you will look and feel better.

Then reality sets in when you walk into the grocery store.

It sucks to buy food when you are broke. You need to buy cheap food

You are trying your best, but there isn’t enough money to go around and pay all of your bills. Yet alone try and eat healthy.

You don’t want to eat like a college student, but you need dirt cheap meals and recipes to get by.

Are you like me? Who is always desperate to try and stretch your grocery money even further and still eat nutritious foods. You want to buy cheap healthy foods.

Here is the best news… 

Many of the best healthiest foods are also some cheap staple foods that you can stock up on.

That is great news for anyone living on a budget.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

You just have to become a savvy shopper and learn what is the best cheap food for you.

A little secret…not everything that is cheap is bad for you. The word cheap and bad for you is derived from gross overly processed foods.

Now, let’s look into what should I buy at the grocery store when broke?

This list are the best cheap foods to buy when broke. You can eat the healthiest foods for a tight budget. Stretch your grocery budget with these money saving tips and foods.

What To Buy for Groceries when broke?

Most of the food we traditionally buy wouldn’t be classified as “cheap food to buy when broke.”

Our cheap grocery list typically includes meats, dairy, convenience foods, snacks, or desserts.

All of these items come with a higher price and thus not cheap food to buy. You won’t be able to stretch your grocery budget further if 50% of your cart is made up of meats, dairy, convenience food, snacks, or desserts.

Many of the healthy and cheap staple foods are your basic foods. These are the items for your broke grocery list.

Foods that you would find in a plant based or vegan diet. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to dive into which diet is best. That is for you to decide and make your own conclusions.

However, branching out and cooking differently than you ever have can be daunting and overwhelming.

We are creatures of habits and we want to stay in our comfort zone.

Trying to introduce new foods to your family and kids can be darn right scary and you are nervous about rejection.

Here is the one book that taught me how to cook plant based foods. And the best part is I spent less money on groceries and still packed these healthiest foods on my tight budget. (oh, and every single recipe is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!)

If you truly are interested in stretching your grocery budget to the max, then you need to try a few new foods.

The Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke

cheap grocery list

Okay, now, let’s dive into the actual food for your budget grocery list.

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to have a stock-up price. This stock up price tells you when the item is at its lowest price and you should plan your meals around those items. This is especially important when buying produce.

Get your copy of the Grocery Stock Up List!

These are the cheapest most nutritious foods you can put on your cheap grocery list.

These are your cheap healthy foods to have on hand at all times.

Cheap Staple Foods

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Canned Tuna
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dried Pasta
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Sea Salt

Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke

Cheap Fruit – Year Around

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi

Cheap Vegetables – Year Around

  • Potatoes
  • Cabbages
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Winter Squash

Rotating By Season

cheapest food to buy on a budget

When you are looking to buy cheap food to buy when broke, you have to buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. If not, you will blow your grocery budget very quickly.

Spring Fruit:

  • Apricots
  • Pineapples
  • Strawberries

Spring Vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli

Summer Fruit:

  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Honeydew
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Summer Vegetables:

  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

**As you can see the cheapest produce is found in the summer. This is a great time to freeze fruits for smoothies for the winter months or prepare vegetables for frozen crockpot stews for those wintry nights.**

Fall Fruit: 

  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Raspberries
cheapest food to buy on a budget

Fall Vegetables: 

  • Avocados
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash

Winter Fruit:

  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple

Winter Vegetables:

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash

Best Protein Bang for Your Buck

what to eat when you have no food

Most of the time you automatically think that meat has the highest amount of protein. That is really hard to buy when you’re broke.

So, here are alternatives, so you can stretch your grocery money and still eat healthily!

  • Quinoa – 1 cup = 24 grams of protein
  • Lentils – 1 cup = 18 grams of protein
  • Oats – 1/3 cup = 16.9 grams
  • Almonds or walnuts – 1/2 cup = 16  grams of protein
  • Nutritional Yeast – 1/4 cup = 16 grams of protein (if you haven’t tried nutritional yeast, it makes a great addition to many meals)
  • Black beans or Cannellini Beans – 1 cup = 15.3 grams of protein
  • Chickpeas – 1 cup = 14.53 grams of protein (plus you can make your own hummus)
  • Peas – 1 cup = 8 grams
  • Eggs – 1 egg = 6 grams 
  • Spinach – 1 cup = 6 grams 
  • Arugula / Mushrooms – 1 cup = 5 grams
  • Potato – 1 medium = 4.3 grams 
  • Avocado – 1 = 4 grams
  • Broccoli or Brussel Sprouts – 1 cup = 3 grams

Meat / Dairy Comparison

  • Chicken – 1 cup = 38 grams
  • Cottage Cheese – 1 cup = 25 grams of protein
  • Thanksgiving Turkeys – 3 oz or one serving size = 24 grams of protein
    • It is easy to find turkeys around the holidays for $15. Make freezer meals from it. Typically, I make 15 freezer meals. That brings the cost of meat down to $1 per meal, which is enough to feed a family of 4 with leftovers for 2 adults.
  • Pork – 3 oz or one serving size = 23 grams of protein
  • Beef – 3 oz or one serving size = 22 grams of protein
  • Canned Tuna – 3 oz or one serving size = 22 grams of protein
  • Greek Yogurt – 1 container = 17 grams of protein
  • Milk – 1 cup = 3.9 grams of protein

Markdown Meat Section – Great way to cut 50-75% off the original price of meat

All protein numbers courtesy of the USDA.

Cheap Grocery List

eating healthy on a budget grocery list.

These are all of the must haves that you need to keep in your house all the time. Call it your broke grocery list.

These will keep you full and stretch your grocery budget even further.

Then compare your local grocery sales add to our Grocery Stock up list to find additional items for your grocery list.

Cheap Grocery List:

  1. Bananas
  2. Apples
  3. Cabbage
  4. Onions
  5. Rice
  6. Beans
  7. Quinoa
  8. Oats
  9. Potatoes
  10. Carrots
  11. Pasta & Pasta Sauce
  12. Peanut Butter
  13. Flour & Sugar
  14. Eggs
  15. Spices – Bay Leaves, Onion, Garlic, Paprika, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Italian Seasoning, Sea Salt, Pepper, and Everything But the Bagel
  16. Store Markdowns!

where to buy cheap groceries

You need to have an action plan for how you buy groceries.

First, let’s cover how to buy cheap food; you must shop less often. Period.

The more often you grocery shop, the more you will spend. Guaranteed. How often you go grocery shopping will depend on the number of people in your household.

At the maximum, you do not want to shop more than once per week. That means if you shop multiple stores, you must space out your grocery shopping trips.

How to Buy Cheap Food Schedule Example:

  • Week 1 – Local Grocery Store
  • Week 2 – Produce delivery with Misfits or Imperfect Foods
  • Week 3 – Costco / Amazon Subscribe & Save / Walmart
  • Week 4 – Produce delivery

where to buy cheap groceries:

There are plenty of places to find cheap groceries. At the end of the shopping trip, it just matters how much you buy that is cheap healthy food or just stuff you wanted.

At any of these stores or delivery services, you can find cheap food if you stick to your cheap grocery list to maximize savings!

Organic Vs Non- Organic Debate

These are the cheapest most nutritious foods you can put on your grocery list. These are your cheap healthy foods to have on hand at all times.

Before we dig into the best cheap food to buy when broke. First, this is one savvy tip to help you navigate the produce section.

Buying organic can be really costly. Yet, you want to provide the best for your family and get stuff with fewer pesticides.

We have a few friends whose parents own farms. The cost for a farmer to turn their farm into selling organic products is very costly and their goods may not even qualify because of neighboring farms and their practices.

Thankfully, we can rely on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. 

This list can help you determine when it makes sense to spend the extra money to buy organic foods.

Oh, and the biggest key is to clean your produce well! For many years, we used this fruit spray. But, after some personal research, we decided to create our own with baking soda and water.

Just one of my best frugal living tips for you!

Dirty Dozen List

Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke. Dirty dozen list

These are ranked in order of the highest amount of pesticides found on the produce to the lowest. Much of the produce with a thin outer layer is found on the dirty dozen list.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

Clean 15 List

Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke. Clean 15 list.

These have the lowest amount of pesticides and many contain a harder outside.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas Frozen
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli 
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

The full list can be found here.

Meal Planning Recipes When You’re Broke

Cheapest food to buy on a budget. Broke grocery list. Broke and hungry recipes. Dirt cheap meals

It is one thing to buy cheap food when you’re broke. But, how do you correlate that to meals?

Here are some great and simple ideas:

Thankfully for Pinterest there are tons of great recipes. Your list of recipes to try should always be longer!

Also, research has proven that fasting is one of the best things to do for your health. What better way to save money than skipping a few meals a week?? Learn more about this fasting concept.

Can You Find Cheap Food When Broke?

how to buy cheap food

There are a ton of ideas to buy cheap food when you’re broke.

Hopefully, we answered your question of what are the cheapest most nutritious foods? There are plenty of options to choose from! Which is great news.

The biggest key to save the most money possible is to buy items when they are at their lowest price.

Make sure to grab our Grocery Stock-Up List.

Using a broke grocery list doesn’t mean you need to eat poorly. You can eat healthy on a budget.

So, hopefully, you feel more confident and knowledgeable about buying groceries when money is tight.

More Grocery Budget Resources:

When you are broke and have no money, it is hard to feed your family. Here are cheap foods when you're broke. Stretch your grocery budget further. Eat healthy with these cheap foods on a budget. Grocery list included too!

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One Comment

  1. What a great list full of so many different cheap foods to buy!

    Glad you included flour – this is a versatile and cheap staple that can be used to make bread, pasta, pie crusts, muffins, cakes, cookies, and more. If you’re willing to put in the time, you can make so many different dishes using flour.

    I’m personally a huge fan of buying in bulk. Fruits and vegetables can be quite expensive, but when you buy them in bulk and frozen, they’re generally cheaper in the long run. Additionally, since they’re picked and frozen at peak ripeness, they are nutritious – no need to worry about your health!

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