35 Frugal Foods to Buy When You’re Broke

Here are 35 of the most frugal and relatively healthy foods that money can buy. Regularly menu planning around this list will help you to save money and stay within your budget.


Since my post, 30 Frugal Meal Ideas (for when you’re broke) has been so popular I decided to make another list of the most frugal and relatively healthy foods that money can buy. You don’t have to be broke to eat these foods, in fact my family eats them all the time because I like to keep our grocery bill low.

Basically every item on this list can be found for around $2 or less per pound. I hope to show people you can stay within your budget while still enjoying a healthy and varied diet. Also, you should be able to find additional in season produce for this price all year round such as citrus fruits in the winter, berries in the summer and sweet potatoes in the fall that are not on the list.


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35 Frugal Foods to Buy When You’re Broke


Old-Fashioned Oats


Dry Beans


Whole Wheat Pasta

Tomato Sauce

Powdered Milk










Frozen Vegetables
Frozen Fruit

Chicken Thighs

Chicken Legs

Whole Chicken

Canned Tuna

Canned Chicken




Corn Masa Mix

Baking Soda


Bouillon Powder

Popcorn Kernels

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Tea Bags

Peanut Butter

Seasonings, (Salt/Pepper, Garlic Powder, Dried Herbs, etc.)


Do you buy these foods on the regular basis? What would you add to the list? I’d love to know!


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  1. Great list! Thank you for sharing! I would add baking powder,baking soda , and yeast to the list. A lot of recipes call for that.
  2. Pancake mix... breakfast is always good for dinner...and as a bread substitute...plus it's cheap and goes a long way...
    1. I would agree to an all purpose baking mix but, not a pancake mix. You can make pancakes with basic pantry ingredients anyway.
    2. I would add some sort of oil like olive oil or coconut oil, which can be bought on sale, yeast and all purpose flour. Those are cheaper in the long run when it comes to oz comparision with baking mix.
  3. I definitely second the Masa! But for the meats I would say look at what's the cheapest that week. My recent grocery trip had whole chicken legs on sale for $1.79 a pound which was the cheapest option. Also I recommend frozen vegetables. They last longer than fresh, taste better than canned, and are easy to throw into boiling pasta to have a quick healthy dinner.
  4. When I was newly married. I made a plan to cook from scratch for my husband to impress him. Needless to say...I ended up with more reasons to cook from scratch. My oldest was allergic to tree nuts( most plants are processing tree nuts) After a while I noticed processed food has way too much salt in it! I like the flavor of spices, garlic ECT. A lot of what you shared is what I like to keep on hand. I would like to add celery to the list. You can make a real good chicken noodle soup with the potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and chicken. Don't forget to add your choice of spices from the spice cabinet.
  5. I haven't bought boullion since learning how to dehydrate broth in both my cheap dehydrator and oven. Now I create my own out of whatever meats we've had. I'd add celery and rice to the list instead. :)
  6. Hi there! I am a busy mom of 3 looking to save on groceries while the kids are out of school this summer. This list will help for sure. You have a lovely blog by the way!
  7. This is a nice list, I typically eat this way when traveling and I am no the road, specially in expensive cities. Thanks for sharing.
  8. I would add oil, whether corn or vegetable was cheaper. I would also switch out the powdered milk for canned and fresh (fresh from the store lol not the cow), I can always get it for 2.50 a gallon and sometimes $2 a gallon. I wouldn't get the canned chicken as it is outrageous here, you're looking at $2.50 for 12 oz just so you know thats over $3 a pound. which for that price I'd rather get ground beef. I live in the desert Southwest, so things like chile, tomatoes, and limes are necessities :) Cheese is a big plus also as you can use it sparingly but it makes a big difference in some foods. Plus you need it for enchiladas. You have some great stuff here Missy, and I know a lot of prices vary regionally. I appreciate all your work! From one honeybee to another ;)
  9. Great list! Another thing I would add is to make and keep up a sourdough starter--then dry some of it and store the dried starter in the pantry. That way, we can always have delicious fresh bread using only salt, flour, and water. No need to buy expensive packets of dry yeast that always seems to expire before you use the third one.
  10. This is our grocery list when we have money. I came to find out what to buy when we are broke. We have $150 to feed 6 people (4 adults and 2 children) for the month. Can not get food stamps, can not collect unemployment.
  11. My family loves veggies and salads, so I would add iceberg lettuce, celery, and radishes. Celery is so good in soup and also makes a great snack with peanut butter.
  12. I love this. Yes, I just made my list and I'm not quite finished so ill need to add some I'm seeing here and they're great ideas I didn't think of old lentils and whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce. And I would add Coffee. Also even though I'm only buying for myself, I'm trying to buy all in bulk. So I'm buying in as big as I can that I can assume I may consume in 6 months. And getting enough containers suitable to store the goods so I don't waste it and lose money. Meat in focusing on Beef and Pork as my Chickens and Turkeys are in freezer. Might get anything if on sale cheap enough. But I like buying White Basmati Rice in huge sacks and having it stored away forever. Never run out. And same with beans. And pasta and I even have Hard Red Wheat in freezer and I cook that up and eat like oatmeal or Rice pudding.
  13. Sometimes when i buy extra vegetables or fruits, or find them cheap, i clean them and chop them, put them in the plastic bags and freeze them, so they don't rot, also that is cheaper option than buying already frozen vegetables
  14. pantry items. cream of wheat and canned salmon.dry pasta , a few canned cream of mushroom or chicken soup to use in casseroles.
  15. When we're skint, I like to buy chicken frames or necks and beef bones. It's surprising how much meat can be cooked off these babies. The broth is also really satisfying. Of course it can take a while to take the bones out (especially with the necks), but when we don't have the money, one makes the time.
  16. I would add honey and maple syrup. Good for what ails you or for baking and savory dishes too.
  17. Cabbage. Cheap, tasty, healthy, versatile, keeps well. For carrots, buy the whole carrot with the tops as they are delicious and nutritious. Also, peeling potatoes, carrots, kiwi, etc is a waste of the most nutritious part of the fruit, even orange peels can be eaten!
  18. Powdered butter milk mix for making biscuits or corn bread, found in the same isle as flour. Keep refrigerated after opening it.
  19. I sprout alfalfa seeds regularly. One tablespoon of the seeds make a quart jar of sprouts, they taste better than lettuce, are MUCH cheaper, and have nutritive value as well. They're great in salads and on sandwiches.

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