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Home Blog Healthy and Cheap Foods to Buy When Broke | Budget Meal Ideas
Frugal foods and recipes for eating healthily

Healthy and Cheap Foods to Buy When Broke | Budget Meal Ideas

Ashley Newman

If your money is tight, one of the places you might cut your spending is on food. That doesn’t mean you will be eating ramen noodles for every meal. To make your dollars work harder, a simple way is to plan by putting together a great list of the best cheap food to buy when broke that can be used to put together a grocery budget.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will opt for the cheapest food to buy when broke since that’s not good for your body. That’s why you need to plan to find meal ideas that will save money and are healthy.

However, when other financial emergencies arise, many people turn to small online payday loans for bad credit to put the best cheap food to buy when broke on the table, which might be an easy solution (but not recommended) in these circumstances.

Here are some saving money tips on what to buy when you’re broke at the grocery store that is the best cheap healthy options that the whole family will enjoy.

Cheap Food To Buy When Broke Tips

To save money on your groceries, there are some things you should do to make sure that you eat well on your tight budget. Here are great tips on how to do that no matter how broke you are.

Limit Your Grocery Store Trips

The more often you go get groceries, the more you’re going to buy. You can’t afford to do this, particularly if you’re broke. Try to limit your trips to once a week. This is an easy way to stay on your food budget.

Buy the Store Brand

Opt for the store-branded cheap food product over the name brand when possible. They are a little less expensive and around the same quality products that will help you stay within your grocery budget.

Shop the Sale

Stock up on the staples and pantry items like rice, pasta, frozen vegetables, beans, oats, protein lentils, canned tuna, and oatmeal when they are on sale. These best frugal foods can be used in many recipes and are good to keep on hand. Keep your grocery bill low.

Buy from the Best Store for Cheap Foods

Take your frugal grocery list to where you can find frugal foods in your area. This could be a Lidl or another discount store. Some stores like Aldi don’t provide bags to help keep their price frugal, so come prepared. Their inexpensive pricing will stretch your dollars further and allow you to stock up your fridge and pantry with healthy cheap food to buy when broke even when you’re hungry and don’t have enough grocery money. Warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are also good sources for the cheapest foods to buy, particularly when you have a family to feed. You could also consider the bulk bins.

Don’t Go to the Grocery When You’re Hungry

Another great, simple tip – don’t go to the grocery when you’re hungry. Eat a quick snack to tide you over when you head to the store. Otherwise, you’ll get off track and end up with an expensive grocery bill. Healthy foods are not what we tend to crave when we’re hungry, either. Meal planning on a tight budget can be easy.

Frugal foods to consider when having a tight budget Use Cashback Apps

Ibotta, and other cashback apps will save money when you buy the best cheap food to buy when broke from the grocery. You will find many of the frugal items on your budget grocery list that you’ll earn cash back, which is just as valuable as money. Consider this great way to save on groceries.

Take Advantage of Coupons

Another money saving tip is to use your frugal, healthy foods list to look for coupons that you could use for your grocery shopping trip. It’s common nowadays to be able to add mobile coupons on your phone. That makes it even easier because you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving your home coupons.

Use Sale Grocery Items to Plan Your Meals

Check out the sales flyer from cheap groceries in your area to see what’s on sale to determine what healthy foods to buy. For example, if fresh spinach is on sale, plan around a menu that can include it in your frugal meals that week. Using that to make your budget grocery list and plan your meals for that week will keep you on a tight budget.

Take a Look at the Clearance Section

Are you broke and hungry? Brands or foods that a grocery is not planning to sell anymore, items in slightly damaged packaging, and fresh fruits/vegetables near expiration are often found in the clearance stock. Look at what they have available to buy when you’re at the store to find some hidden gems.

Don’t Stray from Your Shopping List

When going to the grocery, you have to stay on track. Keep your trip purpose-driven using your broke grocery list. If you walk around or go down aisles that you know there’s nothing on your grocery list, you will be more likely to fall into their marketing ploys. Some grocery stores allow you to order online and pick up your groceries. That option could save you time and impulse spending, as well. Consider keeping a running tab while checking things off your cheap grocery list to help from overspending, and stop food waste.

Frugal Foods to Buy When You’re Broke

Let’s start by building a broke grocery list of healthy, cheap foods that you can buy even on a tight budget. These food items are versatile so that you can use them for a variety of different meals, and they will allow you to eat well for an inexpensive cost. They can be a staple that’s on your broke grocery list when you’re low.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are full of multiple vitamins


Canned tomatoes







Pumpkins – in fall when they’re in season


Choosing from cheap different fruits and vegetables, it’s better to emphasize the following products:


Iceberg lettuce is probably the cheapest type of lettuce you can find. But you can also opt for romaine for a little extra money to get vitamin C and K and folate. Look for what’s on sale to decide what to buy.


Add flavor to your dishes cheaply with onions. They can be used with so many different dishes that you might as well keep some on hand.


Great for snacking, we all need to have some fruit in our daily diet. Bananas also tend to be the cheapest fruit that’s available.


One of the best cheap food to buy when broke that’s filling and loaded with C and B6 vitamins, potatoes are great for tight budget meal plans (including sweet potato). A 10-pound bag of potatoes can be found for a price of around $4, which makes it inexpensive to feed a lot of people with.

Frozen Vegetables

The vegetables that are found in the frozen section has some advantages over the ones in produce. Vegetables are frozen before degrading occurs in the nutrients. Many frozen vegetables are free of additives and preservatives. Unlike most fresh vegetables, they are peaked when they are the ripest, which offers the best nutrients. Frozen spinach, carrots, and broccoli are among that bags of frozen menu items you can find.


Proteins are necessary for your daily nutrition

Tuna, canned

Salmon, canned

Whole chicken, chicken thighs, chicken breasts

Ground beef


Ground turkey

Black beans or green beans, garbanzo, pinto




Proteins are indeed necessary for your nutrition. Regardless of their importance, you can find quite cheap products, including:


One of the most versatile and best cheap food to buy when broke options that are available. They’re full of protein, which will make you fill. Eggs last several weeks in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about using them all up in a week.

Dry Beans

A good source of protein, you can buy cheap beans in bulk for around a dollar for every pound. One cup of dried beans makes about three cups of cooked beans, which gets you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s one of the best cheap foods to buy when you’re on a tight budget, high in fiber and vitamins and like manganese, copy, vitamin B6, and folic acid. They can be used in pasta, hummus, sales, soups, burritos, and chili.

Whole Grains & Dry Foods

Consider implementing dry foods in your breakfast

Pasta, whole grain




Whole wheat sandwich bread




Mac & Cheese – it’s not the most healthy choice, but it has dairy and carbs you need, and you can add vegetables to dress it up

If you’re on a tough budget, you’ll be happy to find out more about the benefits of implementing the following products in your breakfast:


Full of vitamins, fiber, protein, and iron, lentils are a great meat substitute. It can be used in a variety of family meals, including chili and soup.

Brown Rice

The fiber found in rice will leave you filling fuller and longer. It’s a healthier choice compared to white rice. This rice can be used in stir-fried dishes, as a side, or fill up burritos, a versatile option for every grocery budget.

Milk & Dairy

Milk products include a lot of mandatory vitamins for your health

Cottage cheese


Whole milk


Sour cream


Ice cream

Frozen custard

Cream cheese

Condensed milk

There is a wide range of different milk products. However, pay attention to these cheap products during your next grocery shop visit:


If you don’t use much regular milk, try almond milk instead. It will last for months. Milk is a healthy, cheap ingredient that’s useful to have on hand even if you don’t drink it often.


Another cheap food to buy when broke with a long shelf life that can go into several months. Look for cheese when it is on sale like a “buy one, get one free.”


You can make healthy parfaits or smoothies using plain yogurt as a basis. It can be used as a topper in place of sour cream for Mexican dishes like tacos. The big 32 ounce containers are usually the cheapest size to buy. Portion them out into containers if you want to take it while you’re on the go.


Salt, sugar and other miscellaneous products can become a perfect addition to your meal

Peanut butter



Seasonings like dried herbs



Baking soda




The best way to diversify your usual broke grocery list is to try adding this meal to your daily nutrition:


Oats can be bought in bulk and be used for sweets like granola, pancakes, and muffins, and savory, easy dinner recipes like broccoli cheddar oatmeal bake. Another plus is that the whole oats lower blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Great Meal Ideas for When You Are Broke

As discussed before, you want to make sure that your groceries list reflects the meals that you plan to prepare for the week or more. After all, it won’t help save money if you can’t make a meal out of all the cheap food you bought. Here are the best meal ideas for you to try out that your whole family will enjoy.

Meatless Meals

Baked potato bar, mashed potatoes or fried potatoes

Salad – make a wrapped version with a tortilla


Pizza – can be made with meat

Lentil soup

Vegetarian bean chili with brown rice

Bean burritos

Chicken, Beef, or Turkey

BBQ pulled chicken – cooked in a slow cooker

Sloppy joes

Homemade burgers



Tacos – can be vegetarian too

Spaghetti – vegetarian option too

Chicken thigh casserole with dumplings

Other Ideas for Your Daily Menu

Stir fry with brown rice

Egg sandwiches

Breakfast for dinner – eggs, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal cookies, etc.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Chicken curry with brown rice

Sausage and tomato pasta bake

Tuna pasta

Omelet with stir fry vegetables

Bottom Line

It can be a challenge to feed your family while you are broke. But you can succeed given the right tools. Plan your grocery list ahead of time and focus on food items that can be used for several cheap meals throughout the week. Create a grocery budget to track your expenses and make sure you’re not spending more money than intended. Know what the healthy frugal food choices are so you can opt for the filling options with the vitamins and nutrients you need.

FAQ About Buying Frugal Foods

Buying and making meals on a budget can be done even with a family to feed. You may have questions about this, though, particularly if this is new to you. Here are some answers to some of the questions you may have below.

– What should I buy at the grocery store when broke?

The type of food you should buy when you’re broke at the cheap food grocery store should be the best cheap healthy protein option for a variety of cheap meals. For example, eggs are a good source of cheap protein and can be used for cheap meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Beans are also versatile in recipes and high in protein, making you feel full after eating.

– How do you eat healthy when you’re broke?

The best cheap foods to buy when broke don’t have to mean that it’s not healthy foods. You need to tweak your shopping list to opt for the healthy type of cheap food to buy. That means instead of getting white rice, you get brown rice.

If fresh vegetables are difficult to buy when you are broke, you can get frozen vegetables instead, which will still get the same vitamins and nutrients as fresh vegetables.

You’re still getting cheap food that will make a cheap meal, but it’s a healthy alternative. There are plenty of easy recipes out there that are inexpensive to make and taste great to add to your dinner menu.

– What is the cheapest food to buy?

Foods to buy when you’re broke include rice, potatoes, bananas, noodles, beans, and oats, which can be cheap. Another money saving tip is to purchase them in bulk; you will pay less for each serving. Look for those best cheap food bulk items when you’re at the grocery or head to a wholesale grocery like Costco that focuses on selling in bulk.

– How can I get free food with no money?

In some countries and counties, there is help available for those who need help or too broke to afford food. People who are struggling could receive money or free pantry items to stock their homes with. A food bank or food pantry in your area, or different charities are some resources to check locally if you are struggling and need free food. Contact them to find out more and see if they can help. Start saving money today.