32 Cheap Foods to Add to Your Grocery List Today

Are you trying to save money on groceries? Are you looking for cheap foods to purchase on your grocery trips?

If you buy certain types of foods, you may be able to shrink your budget easier than you once thought. I’m going to bring you a list of cheap foods you can buy at the grocery store.

Fill your meal plan using the cheap foods from this list, and you might be surprised how much money you can save by eating differently.

Here are the cheapest foods at most grocery stores:

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1. Cheap Foods: Eggs

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Eggs are a great source of protein and inexpensive to boot. Some eggs can come with a higher price tag if you purchase the organic or cage free options.

Take this into account when purchasing eggs. If you desire cage free or organic eggs it might be less expensive to buy them from a local farmer.

2. Bananas

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Bananas are full of potassium and most people love their sweet flavor. If you’re working on a budget, don’t pass up the bananas in the produce section.

They can make a great snack or used to make a variety of delicious desserts.

3. Rice

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Rice makes a great side dish or can be used as part of a main course. Either way, it’s a cheap food perfect for your grocery list.

If you purchase white rice, it’s generally less expensive than brown rice. Keep in mind, white rice isn’t as sturdy as brown rice which can cause blood sugar spikes.

4. Oatmeal

We love oatmeal around our house. The kids and I eat it for breakfast at least three times per week. You can add fruit to the hot cereal for a healthy treat, and it’s one of our favorite cheap foods.

However, oatmeal is also great to bake with. If you need a versatile and inexpensive item for your grocery list, go with oatmeal.

5. Cheap Foods: Frozen Vegetables

Fresh vegetables can add up quickly when grocery shopping. This is why frozen vegetables are recommended.

They’re less expensive and in many cases, fresher than the unfrozen produce. If you need vegetables, hit the frozen food aisle.

6. Cheap Foods: Dry Beans

I’m not a huge fan of dried beans, but my husband loves them. Nothing makes him happier than a crock pot of pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread.

If you need a frugal protein source which is shelf-stable and healthy, consider buying dried beans.

7. Spinach

Spinach is considered one of the superfoods of the world. It’s excellent for you and is jam packed with vitamins.

If you need a healthy food but are working on a tight budget, reach for fresh or frozen spinach. It’s delicious too!

8. Carrots

I know what it is to work with a tight budget. At one point, I fed six people per week on around $50. It took lots of creativity on my part.

Carrots were used around my house a great deal during this time because they were fresh, healthy, they stored for longer periods, and were affordable.

9. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is another frugal and shelf-stable form of protein. Whether you enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, celery and peanut butter, or peanut butter in your smoothie, it’s a great choice.

You can purchase different brands and sizes to make peanut butter fit into your budget, but it’s a necessity around my household.

10. Garlic

Garlic is a great way to add flavor to your dishes without adding a ton of calories. You can purchase fresh garlic or minced.

I prefer to purchase the minced garlic because it’s easier to store and use whenever needed.

11. Cabbage

Cabbage is a vegetable which should land on every frugal grocery list. It’s inexpensive and able to be utilized in many ways.

You can fry it, boil it, and even ferment it for a healthy condiment. Plus, cabbage lasts for months when stored properly in your refrigerator.

12. Chicken Thighs

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of chicken thighs because I don’t like dark meat. If you do like it, you’re in luck because chicken thighs are an affordable cut.

If you need protein but are working on a tight grocery budget, be sure to add chicken thighs to your list. Keep an eye out for Manager’s Specials. This is a great time to buy chicken thighs to freeze and an inexpensive way to stockpile them.

13. All-Purpose Flour

Flour is a great staple to keep around because it can be used for a variety of things in the kitchen. All-purpose flour can be used for baking in desserts or breads.

However, you can also use it when cooking because it’s great for frying or using in a thickener. When shopping on a budget, it’s vital to buy items which are versatile.

14. Canned Fish

Buying enough protein when working on a budget can be the hardest part because many items high in protein are also expensive.

If you need protein, don’t miss the canned fish. You can purchase canned tuna fish or salmon. They’re an affordable protein option and can be put on your salad at lunch or fried into patties.

15. Canned Chicken

Canned chicken is a great way to enjoy white meat chicken without breaking the bank. You can use it in gumbo style recipes.

But it’s also great for making chicken salad. The best thing about canned chicken is it comes fully cooked which cuts down on your prep time.

16. Cheap Foods: White Potatoes

When we were living on an extremely tight budget, potatoes were one of my go-to options at the grocery store.

The reason being, I could purchase them in large quantities for little money. Plus, potatoes are a versatile vegetable.

17. Pasta

It’s important to say at this point, if you’re buying cheap foods from this list, you should purchase a variety.

If you live strictly off pasta, you won’t be healthy. Pasta is versatile and inexpensive but be sure to pair it with other items on this list.

18. Cheap Foods: Apples

When we need healthy fresh foods, it can be expensive. This is why apples are an amazing food. They’re fresh (and when purchased in-season) they aren’t expensive.

You can slice them up for a snack. They can also be used in desserts or fried to become a favorite side dish.

19. Cheap Foods: Onions

You don’t realize how seasonings add up until you’re working on a meager grocery budget. Suddenly, you don’t have much room for the items which add flavor to a dish.

This is where onions come into play. They’re inexpensive, last for long periods of time when stored properly, and add a ton of flavor.

20. Lettuce

Lettuce doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value, but it’s inexpensive and can help you choose healthier eating habits.

It’s great for salads, toppings on a taco, or used in the place of sandwich bread. There are different lettuce varieties. Be sure to choose the one which will best fit your needs.

21. Cheap Foods: Green Bell Peppers

Green bell peppers make a great snack with ranch dressing, a wonderful topping on a salad, or go well cooked in a dish.

However, notice I pointed out the bell peppers should be green. When you start adding colors to the bell peppers, they become more expensive.

22. Cheap Foods: Hot Dogs

I’ve tried to make this list as healthy as possible, but we’re going to move into the less healthy options because many convenience foods are cheap.

One convenience food which is affordable is hot dogs. You can grill them, boil them, fry them, or bake them to have a quick bite of protein in your meal.

23. Boxed Mac and Cheese

Not all boxed mac and cheese is inexpensive. If you want a quick side dish to go with your hot dogs, be sure to look for the less expensive options.

In most cases, it’s the store brand which uses the powdered cheese. You may have to buy a few extra ingredients to make it, but it’s cheap and shelf-stable.

24. Ramen Noodles

I didn’t eat Ramen noodles until I was married and moved to a different state. It was the first time in my life when money was extremely tight, and I was desperate to feed my family cheaply.

This is when I discovered how ramen noodles could be morphed into great dinners. Add a few inexpensive veggies to the mix, and it’s a quick and delicious meal.

25. Milk

There was a time when milk was getting expensive. Over the past few years, the prices of milk in my area have dropped.

Milk is needed for cooking, drinking, and even baking. Plus, you can drink a glass of milk in the place of a snack to get healthy nutrients and a few calories to fuel your body until the next meal.

26. Sliced Cheese

Some sliced cheese is expensive, but if you buy the processed sliced cheese it’s more affordable. You should check your brands to get the best deal.

Sliced cheese is great as a snack on crackers, or it can be used to make grilled cheese. Either way, it’s affordable and versatile.

27. Saltine Crackers

When you need something to snack on but don’t have a ton of room in the budget for snack-food, where should you turn?

The cracker aisle of course. Saltine crackers are affordable and go well with peanut butter or cheese for an easy snack.

28. Cheap Foods: Chips

Chips are an easy snack and also go well as a side dish to hot dogs or other sandwiches. They also aren’t expensive anymore.

If you shop the store brand, you might be surprised to find how inexpensive potato chips can be.

29. Polish Sausage

It’s obvious there’s plenty of side items and snack foods which are affordable. Protein has always been the biggest hurdle for me when grocery shopping on the cheap.

This is why (even now during my quarterly grocery shopping trips) I still stock up on cheap proteins. Polish sausage is a less expensive protein, which is great for gumbo recipes, cooked with cabbage, or used as a breakfast food.

30. Pork Sausage

Pork sausage is another inexpensive protein. You’ll need to shop brands to make sure you’re buying the least expensive option.

However, pork sausage can be used in rice with seasonings and a sautéed bell pepper for a delicious dinner. You can also use it as a traditional breakfast food or to make sausage balls for a snack.

31. Sandwich Meat

Some sandwich meat can be expensive, but when I needed to pack my husband less expensive lunches, I turned to bologna.

I found a large package of bologna at one of my local grocery stores. I asked the butcher to slice it, brought it home to package in freezer bags, and for approximately $6, I had enough sandwich meat to last for a month or more.

32. Cheap Foods: Specific Types of Cereal

Many cereals are expensive, so again, you’ll need to shop brands when adding cereal to your list. Yet, cereal is a quick breakfast or a good snack.

If you shop store brands, I’ve found rice cereal is usually the most affordable. Check your grocery store sales and look for coupons to make purchasing cereal even more affordable.

This concludes our list of cheap foods to add to your grocery list. Hopefully these 32 foods will help you to slash your grocery bill without a ton of extra effort.

Now that you have these cheap foods, check out recipes where they can be used, and start saving money on your grocery budget. 

Looking for more ways to save on your groceries? Check out these 40 tips!

You can also learn more about saving time and money with quarterly grocery shopping in these two posts: