With today’s prices for food, the cost of groceries adds up real quick.
Thankfully, there are several types of groceries that you can buy when you’re on a budget or broke.
Below, we discuss our picks for the top 50 cheap groceries as well as how to stretch your money and shop smart for cheap food.
How to Use a Little Money to Buy a Lot Of Food
Before we get into our list of the 50 best cheap budget groceries, let’s have a look at some quick pointers on how to make the most of your money and get the most amount of food possible:
- Buy ingredients and prep meals
- Buy in bulk
- Take advantage of major sales
- Focus on the basics
- Learn new recipes
How to Shop for Cheap Foods at the Grocery Store
Once you’ve put a bit of though into how to best spend your money on groceries, these additional quick pointers will help you while you’re doing your actual grocery shopping:
- Check coupons before you go shopping
- Shop around (shop at more than one location)
- Buy different products at different stores
- Consult w manager for discounts
- Look for sales and discontinued products
Cheap Budget Grocery List
Here it is, the list you came to read; our picks for the 50 best cheap budget groceries:
Lentils are a staple ingredient for budget vegan grocery lists. Lentils are not only rather affordable, but they are also versatile in that they fit into so many different dishes and recipes. Lentils are often added as a topper on main dishes or added to soup and sauce.
A popular food, and one that is cheap if you buy the right amount, at the right place, are dates. They can be eaten alone, as a tasty snack, or added to a handful of dishes (like oatmeal or hot cereals). Just keep in mind that they are packed with calories and shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts.
If you’ve never tried Brazil nuts, they have a buttery smooth taste that is enjoyable whether eaten raw or blanched. The nuts hail from the Amazon rainforest, from Brazil specifically, hence their name. They can be eaten alone or added to fruit and nut mixes for a nutritious snack.
Black beans, like lentils, are legumes. They are also known as turtle beans due to the way their shells appear like turtle shells. At any rate, the beans are packed with protein and fiber and may be used as a main dish, ingredients for the main dish (like veggie burgers), as a side dish, or as an ingredient in a side dish.
If you have a sweet tooth and enjoy fruit, cherries are a good cheap grocery item that you can pick up if you know where to look. Aside from the produce department in the grocery store, you can also find them canned or jarred (with syrup). Whether fresh or from the jar, cherries are great alone or as a topper on snacks and deserts.
Chickpeas, also spelled chick pea and known as garbanzo beans or bengal gram, is another legume that is known and loved for its tasty and nutritious edible seeds. Chick peas are great ingredients as they are packed with fiber and protein. You can eat them roasted, in curry, with pasta, and more.
Macadamias may be thought of expensive, but that isn’t always the case. You can find macadamias in small packs in the grocery store healthy foods section for a reasonably low price, as well as keeping an eye on the produce department for when they go on sale. Macadamias are best eaten raw, roasted, or soaked and boiled.
Lima beans are one of the cheaper foods on any grocery list, as they are readily available canned, dried, and frozen. They make a great side dish, but may also be the main dish as they are large fibrous beans.
Apricots are available in most grocery stores, fresh or otherwise (dried, in a mix, or frozen). They may be eaten raw, by themselves, but make a much better ingredient in fruity dishes like pie or cobbler.
Split peas are another staple in many vegan grocery lists, including the budget version. Split peas are green peas that have been peeled and dried out. The split occurs during the drying process. At any rate, they make a great ingredient in several dishes.
Red Kidney Beans
The red kidney bean is a popular common bean that originates from Central America. It is carried in practically every grocery store, period. The red kidney bean is a major food source all around the world and is used in hundreds of traditional recipes and dishes.
Raisins are another of the most affordable foods for budgets and when you’re broke. The dried fruit is loaded with calcium, fiber, iron, and other nutrients (yeah, they are REALLY healthy!). Raisins can be eaten by themselves or used as an ingredient in anything from rice pudding to stuffing.
Pecans are another nut that can be found for cheap if you shop at the right place or the right time. Otherwise, they may be a bit pricer than some of the nuts on this list. Pecans are excellent raw, alone, or added to salad, dessert, oatmeal, and more.
Jalapenos are a fiery-sweet pepper that are typically available for an affordable price. They are best eaten raw, as a side dish, pickled, or as an ingredient to a main-dish like stuffed peppers, burritos, or salad.
These famous red berries aren’t exactly known for being cheap, but if you watch the produce section you may find nearly over-ripe berries on sale for half-price. If you plan to eat them the same day, they make a great buy. You may also check the freezer section for frozen strawberries which are much more affordable than fresh ones.
Mixed fruits are available in most grocery stores in jars or cans (with syrup). Oranges, apples, peaches, pears, and pineapples are the most common fruits found in these mixes. When it comes to a variety of fruit, at a low price, cans of mixed fruit in syrup is about as cheap and tasty as it gets.
Another main staple on many vegan grocery lists, budget or otherwise, is good old brown rice. This healthy food is made up of rice with hulls removed and bran and germ left intact. That means they are packed with nutrients. Brown rice is great on the side by itself, in side dishes like rice and veggies, or as part of the main dish (like a veggie burger).
Barley is a popular vegan grocery item that may often be attained on a budget if you shop around a bit. It is a common alternative for brown or white rice as well as an ingredient in dishes like stuffing, soup, salad, and even hot cereal or oatmeal.
Cracked wheat is a type of whole wheat, also known as bulgar wheat, that has been partially cooked and therefore cracked. This version of wheat isn’t as popular as whole-wheat, rice, or oats, but it is just as a nutritious and versatile ingredient in various side and main dishes.
Rice flour is one of the most utilized types of flour in many vegan recipes, and it just so happens that it is often found at cheap prices (especially if you buy it in bulk, or when it is on sale). It may be eaten as a main dish, like porridge, and topped off with other ingredients, or used as an ingredient in countless vegan recipes.
Coconut flour is another popular type of flour that is often put to use in vegan recipes. It consists of dried coconut flesh and has a mellow coconut taste. Coconut flour makes a great ingredient in bread and dessert recipes, as well as a replacement for almond flour in vegan dishes. It also happens to be more widely available than some vegan groceries, often making it more affordable than other vegan flours.
Unsweetened Soy Milk
Soy milk is one ingredient that is found on almost every vegan grocery shopping list that was ever written. The product is widely available and may be found at affordable prices regularly. That said, it is an extremely versatile ingredient, going in everything from cereal and oatmeal to smoothies, baking recipes, and much more.
Tofu is yet another wonderful example of affordable vegan-friendly groceries that would more than likely be on your shopping list whether you were broke or on a budget or not. It is a staple food in many vegan kitchens, as it is highly versatile, packed with protein, and generally makes a great addition to any vegan diet.
Molasses is an age-old ingredient that is as versatile an ingredient as it is beloved by those who use it regularly. It may be used in both hot and cold drinks, in dishes like beans, in place of brown sugar on recipes, for making energy bars, as a daily supplement, and more.
Stevia is a world-famous substitute for sugar. Statistically, stevia is approximately 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. The catch is that it has zero artificial ingredients, carbs, or calories. Stevia tastes different than sugar, but it does make a healthier replacement for it (if not only in certain recipes).
Mushrooms are found in the grocery store in all sorts of places; they are in the produce section, the canned veggies section, the freezer section, and possibly in the cooler section along with along refrigerator produce outside of the normal produce section. You can almost always find mushrooms for sale, but if you are broke, go for the canned mushrooms as they are super cheap.
Olives are a must on many vegan shopping lists. Not only do they make great healthy snacks, they also make great ingredients and embellishments for main dishes, side dishes, snacks, and drinks. They are available fresh, though the jarred or canned products are cheaper.
Bananas are often extremely cheap if you buy them every few days. You may find them on a 50-percent sale when they are fully ripe and need rotating out of the produce section so fresh bananas can be displayed. Likewise, you may find green bananas at a cheaper price because they aren’t ripe yet.
Pistachios are often thought of as expensive nuts, and compared to peanuts, they are. But, thanks to a booming global interest in pistachios, they are widely available in grocery stores, both in shells and deshelled. Pistachios are best eaten raw, in mixes with fruits and nuts, in salads, with pasta, and more.
Beluga beans, also known as black beluga lentils, are full of insoluble and soluble fiber. That means they are good for reducing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and improving digestive health. They also lower blood sugar. At any rate, they are a cheap and healthy grocery item that goes a long way.
One of the cheapest and most diverse ingredients on our entire list of 50 cheap foods for when your on a budget or broke is potatoes. The best part about buying potatoes is that they last for a long time, and you can buy them in bulk (making them even cheaper than they already are). They can be used for fries, pies, chips, potato salad and so much more.
Tomatoes are a cheap and versatile ingredient that can be purchased for next to nothing, especially if you look for the diced tomatoes in the can. In addition to the actual diced tomatoes, the cans have juice in them that makes a great stock for vegetable or tomato soup. Diced tomatoes themselves can be used for everything from stew, to soup, sauce, and gnocchi.
Pumpkin puree, especially in the can, or frozen, is much cheaper and easier than buying fresh pumpkins and gathering and pureeing pumpkin yourself. Most stores carry it all year long, and it makes a great ingredient in many vegan dishes, pumpkin-based or not.
Whole tomatoes are another cheap grocery item that are available all year long. They can be found in the produce section as well as in the canned vegetable section of the store. Whole tomatoes are extremely versatile ingredients, going in everything from soup, eggs, and sauce to sandwiches, side dishes, and main dishes.
Fresh lentils, though never eaten raw, may be purchased fresh for a more affordable price than dried lentils. Whole green lentils and split red lentils are the most commonly carried fresh lentils in most grocery stores. They can be cooked and used in soup and other many vegan dishes.
Cashews are one of those nuts that most of us just seem to love or hate. If you are one of those who love them, they should be on your budget shopping list as they are excellent eaten raw, in small amounts, as a healthy snack, or as an ingredient in side dishes and main dishes. Cashews aren’t nearly as expensive when you are buying a small amount.
Beets are another food that most people seem to love or hate, period. That said, fresh beets may be found raw and at affordable prices in most grocery store produce sections. They make great additions to salads (grated) or as an embellishment for soup or other vegan recipes.
Onions, like potatoes, enjoy a constant place in the produce section of every grocery store, and come with a cheap price tag. Further, like potatoes, they are an incredibly diverse ingredient that goes in everything from potato salad, eggs, and soups, to salads, and countless side dishes and main dishes.
Another popular version of tomatoes are the sun-dried type. Unlike diced or whole tomatoes, these tomatoes have no juice left, but have been dried out along with other spices (and maybe peppers or onions). They make great seasonings and ingredients in soups and toppings for cheese, salad, and other dishes.
There are many types of beans and legumes that deserve a place on this list, however, we can only mention a handful (the best and affordable ones), which includes borlotti beans. These are those colorful beans that you’ve more than likely noticed but maybe never purchased before. They work well in side dishes, in soup, in a salad, or in casseroles.
A popular nut that is cheaper than many, though more expensive than peanuts, is the world-famous walnut. If purchased bulk, in the shell, they will be even cheaper. If you buy them deshelled, you may fit a smaller package on your budget. In that case, you can use them as a topping on yogurt, oatmeal, and other dishes.
If you’ve never heard of them before, give a look for mung beans the next time you are shopping. They are normally affordable and work well in soup, salad, curry, and much more. They are sweeter than other beans and sometimes are used in dessert recipes too.
Sauerkraut is one of the foods you either enjoy or you can’t stand, there is no middle ground. That said, sauerkraut is super affordable if you shop around. It is available in bags, frozen, and cans. It may be used for countless amounts of vegan dishes.
Chana Dal is one of those foods you probably passed in the grocery store many times and never stopped to notice it (unless you have been vegan for quite some time). It is affordable, versatile, tasty, and can be used in many snacks, side dishes, soups, salads, and more.
Unfortunately, almonds aren’t typically the cheapest type of nuts. However, if you shop for just a small amount, you may easily fit them into your budget. You won’t be able to munch handfuls of them daily, but you will be able to use them as a salad topper or as an ingredient in bread or some other recipe.
The last sort of bean on our list of 50 cheap groceries to put on your shopping list when you have a tight budget or are broke is Adzuki Beans. These beans are loaded with nutrients and work well with almost any diet out there. They can be used as a filling in desserts, as a side dish, or in soups, salads, and rice or bean mixes.
Hazelnuts, like almonds and pecans, are a bit more expensive than peanuts, but, they can be attained for an affordable price if you buy them in bulk (especially straight from the source, rather than in the grocery store). They can be roasted, eaten raw, chopped, and used as a topping or ingredient in countless recipes and mixes.
Dried mango is one of the best healthy snacks you can buy for cheap when you buy a pound or more at a time. You can eat it raw, or soak it with a bit of water and add it into yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, pies, cakes, and more.
Fresh mango, like dried mango, is a great ingredient in many recipes but may cause issues if eaten too much. That said, picking up a mango or two is cheap enough and healthy enough that you may consider adding it to your shopping list.
Last but far from least are peanuts. They may be found in various departments of the grocery store, including the produce section, the dry goods section, the snack section, and more. They can be purchased in shells, deshelled, or as part of a mix. Peanuts are a great snack and make an excellent ingredient in countless dishes.