50 Cheap Foods to Buy When Broke

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In times when the budget is tighter than usual, it’s essential to stretch your dollars as far as they’ll go, especially when it comes to groceries. Luckily, with a bit of creativity and some strategic shopping, you can still enjoy delicious, nutritious meals without breaking the bank.

This guide is you’ll learn to save money on grocery while eating a healthy diet, providing tips on making a budget for the best cheap foods and how to maximize them in your kitchen.

Stretching Your Food Budget Further

  • Plan Your Meals: Planning ahead can help you avoid impulse buys and make the most of the ingredients you already have.
  • Buy in Bulk: Items like grains and dried beans are often cheaper in bulk. Just make sure you have enough storage space.
  • Use Everything: Get creative with leftovers and use vegetable scraps to make stock. Minimizing waste is key to stretching your food budget.

Cheap Foods to Buy and Make

1. Beans and Legumes

Why They’re Great: Beans and legumes are not only affordable but are also a fantastic source of protein and fiber. They can be used in a multitude of dishes, from hearty chili to refreshing salads.

Recipes to Try

Chicken Bean Chili

A close-up of a comforting bowl of White Bean Chicken Chili, garnished with jalapeno slices and a squeeze of lime.

A cozy, flavorful pot of chili that combines the heartiness of beans with tender chicken.

Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

A side dish that turns green beans into a succulent treat with a crispy bacon jacket.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Image of a vibrant Quinoa & Black Bean Salad in a glass meal prep container. Visible are the fluffy quinoa, glossy black beans, bright red bell pepper chunks, and fresh cilantro, all lightly dressed with a tangy lime dressing.

A refreshing and nutritious salad, perfect for a quick lunch or a side dish.

Sautéed Green Beans

Bright green, tender green beans stir-fried with golden garlic bits, ready to be served as a nutritious and flavorful side dish.

Simply sauté green beans in garlic and olive oil for a quick, flavorful side.

Kale and White Bean Salad with Shrimp

Healthy Kale White Bean Salad with pan seared shrimp on top, showcasing a colorful mix of greens, beans, perfect for a nutritious meal.

A light, protein-packed salad that’s both refreshing and satisfying.

Baked Beans

A classic comfort food, perfect for any gathering or a warm, homely meal.

Crockpot Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili, featuring tender chicken, creamy white beans, and aromatic spices, topped with a generous sprinkling of melted cheese.

Set it and forget it with this slow-cooker chili that’s both easy and packed with flavor.

Stir-Fry Green Beans

Top view of a colorful, appetizing serving of Stir-Fried Green Beans, cooked to crispy perfection and garnished with red pepper flakes, presented on a stylish plate.

A fast, flavorful way to enjoy green beans, perfect as a side dish for any Asian-inspired meal.

2. Rice and Grains

Why They’re Great: Grains like rice, barley, and oats are inexpensive budget friendly ingredients that can serve as the foundation for any meal. They’re versatile, filling, and can easily be flavored with whatever you have on hand.

Recipes to Try

Ground Turkey Rice Skillet

A steaming cast iron skillet filled with Ground Turkey and Rice, topped with a golden layer of melted cheese, showcasing a harmonious blend of ingredients and vibrant colors peeking through the cheesy topping.

A one-pan wonder that’s both filling and flavorful, combining lean turkey, rice, and vegetables in a savory blend.

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

A delightful summer salad showcasing charred corn, halved cherry tomatoes, and diced red bell pepper, all brought together with a zesty homemade dressing.

A fresh, vibrant salad that pairs the smokiness of grilled corn with the sweetness of tomatoes and a zesty dressing.

Chili Lime Chicken with Rice

A bowl filled with steaming, fluffy white rice and topped with succulent, chili powder and lime-marinated chicken pieces, beautifully charred from grilling. The dish is sprinkled with bright green cilantro and accompanied by a wedge of lime for an extra zesty flavor.

Infuse your chicken and rice with a burst of zesty lime and the warmth of chili for a dish that’s both refreshing and comforting.

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Mexican Cornbread Casserole slice on a plate, gooey cheese visible.

A hearty, layered delight combining the textures of cornbread with the rich flavors of a Mexican-inspired filling.

Ground Pork Rice Skillet

A plate beautifully presenting Ground Pork and Rice Skillet Dinner, with the savory blend of perfectly cooked ground pork and fluffy rice, garnished with fresh herbs for a pop of color, offering an inviting and hearty meal.

Similar to its turkey counterpart, this dish uses ground pork for a richer flavor profile, complemented by spices and herbs.

Rice and Ground Beef

Overhead shot of Ground Beef and Rice Skillet Dinner on a white countertop, with a spoon nestled in the savory, steaming mix.

A classic combination that can be spiced up or down, perfect for a quick dinner that satisfies every time.

Corn au Gratin

A serving spoon lifting a portion of Creamed Corn Au Gratin, showing the rich, velvety texture.

A creamy, cheesy dish that transforms corn into a comforting, indulgent side perfect for any meal.

Grilled Cheese with Ham

easy Grilled cheese with ham

A timeless favorite, featuring melty cheese sandwiched between buttery, toasted bread. Perfect for a comforting meal with a side of tomato soup.

Caprese Sandwich

Italian caprese sandwich

A fresh and flavorful option with slices of juicy tomato, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves, drizzled with balsamic glaze, all nestled between crusty bread. Ideal for a light lunch or dinner.

3. Eggs

Why They’re Great: Eggs are an excellent low-cost source of high-quality protein. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile and can be cooked in numerous ways.

Recipes to Try

Egg Wrap Burrito

A Scrambled Egg and Cheese Tortilla Roll, packed with creamy scrambled eggs, ham and rich, gooey cheese, all snugly wrapped in a soft, warm tortilla for a satisfying breakfast treat.

A satisfying and portable meal, this burrito wraps fluffy scrambled eggs, cheese, and your choice of veggies or meats in a soft tortilla. Perfect for breakfast on-the-go or a light dinner.

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes with scrambled eggs on a white plate top view.

This simple yet flavorful dish combines the juicy sweetness of tomatoes with the soft, comforting texture of scrambled eggs.

4. Frozen Vegetables

Why They’re Great: Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts but come at a fraction of the cost. They’re already chopped and ready to use, which saves time and reduces waste.

Recipes to Try

Honey Mustard Carrots

Dijon Honey Glazed Carrots glisten on a serving dish, embodying a delectable blend of sweet honey and tangy Dijon, a quick weeknight side.

Glazed with a sweet and tangy honey mustard sauce, these carrots are a flavorful side that pairs well with any meal.

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

Vibrant oven roasted root vegetables served on a white platter, perfectly caramelized and seasoned, providing a warm, nutritious addition to any meal

A medley of your favorite vegetables, seasoned and roasted to perfection, offering a simple, healthy, and versatile side dish.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Oven-roasted broccoli and cauliflower florets sprinkled with finely grated Parmesan and minced garlic, ready to serve as a healthy, flavorful side dish for a family dinner.

These cruciferous cousins get a flavor boost and delightful texture from being roasted with a sprinkle of seasonings.

Vegetable Stir-Fry

Overhead shot of vegetable stir fry in a wok, showcasing a mix of green broccoli, sliced red and orange bell peppers, and red onions.

Quick and packed with flavor, this dish combines an assortment of veggies with soy sauce and garlic for a speedy and nutritious meal.


Close-up of creamy coleslaw texture: Highlighting the fresh, crisp vegetables coated in dressing.

A classic side, coleslaw brings a crunchy, creamy contrast to any meal, combining shredded cabbage and carrots in a tangy dressing.

Spinach Gratin

Close-up of a serving spoon scooping out a portion of Spinach Gratin, revealing layers of creamy spinach and melted cheese.

Creamy, cheesy, and comforting, this spinach gratin is a decadent way to enjoy your greens.

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash

Final dish of Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries, garnished with crumbled feta.

Cubed butternut squash roasted with honey and spices until caramelized and tender, perfect for a sweet and savory side.

5. Pasta

Why They’re Great: Pasta is not only cheap but also has a long shelf life, making it a perfect pantry staple. Pasta dishes are a go-to for quick, satisfying meals that don’t cost a fortune.

Recipes to Try

Ground Turkey Pasta

A vibrant, family-friendly turkey pasta meal served on a large platter, combining lean ground turkey, pasta, and fresh veggies, topped with grated cheese, appealing to all ages.

A lean, healthy twist on traditional pasta dishes, combining ground turkey with your favorite sauce for a light yet filling meal.

Lemon Butter Pasta

A plate of vegetarian pasta with lemon, butter and garlic sauce.

Simple and elegant, this dish features pasta tossed in a zesty lemon butter sauce, perfect for a quick gourmet meal.

Mac and Cheese

Top-down shot of a steaming bowl of mac and cheese, highlighting its creamy consistency.

The classic comfort dish, creamy and cheesy, always a hit with both kids and adults.


A hearty, beefy pasta dish that’s a step up from the canned version, packed with flavor and easy to make.

Baked Spaghetti

Closeup view of baked spaghetti dish garnished with fresh basil.

A comforting casserole version of spaghetti, layered with cheese and sauce, then baked until bubbly.

Skillet Hamburger Mac and Cheese

Close-up of Hamburger Mac and Cheese, showcasing its cheesy sauce and ground beef.

A one-pan wonder that combines the best of hamburgers and mac and cheese into a savory, comforting dish.

Chicken Tomato Pasta

Chicken with tomato pasta sauce.

A light and flavorful option, featuring tender chicken and fresh tomatoes tossed with pasta.

Chili Mac

Closeup view from the top of a white bowl with Chili macaroni and cheese. The best chili mac ever!

A spicy, hearty fusion of chili and macaroni, perfect for those looking for a little heat with their comfort food.

6. Potatoes

Why They’re Great: Potatoes are not only inexpensive but also highly satiating. They can be prepared in countless ways and are a great source of vitamins and minerals.

Recipes to Try

Sweet Potato and Sausage Casserole

Golden-browned Sweet Potato and Sausage Casserole in a white baking dish, showcasing the vibrant mix of diced sweet potatoes, ground Italian sausage, and red bell peppers.

A hearty and flavorful dish, blending the sweetness of sweet potatoes with the savory spice of sausage.

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes

A serving of Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes on a plate, garnished with parsley.

A decadent side dish featuring potatoes smothered in cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing, perfect for indulging.

Potato Salad

Southern Potato Salad with a creamy texture, filled with wholesome ingredients for a fulfilling meal.

A classic cold side dish, combining boiled potatoes with a creamy dressing and crisp vegetables for a refreshing bite.

Mashed Potatoes

Bowl of roasted garlic mashed potatoes with a drizzle of garlic-infused oil, emphasizing the rich garlic flavor.

The ultimate comfort food, creamy and smooth, easily flavored with butter, garlic, or cheese.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Top view of Sweet Potato Casserole highlighting the crunchy pecan topping.

A sweet and savory casserole, topped with a crunchy pecan and marshmallow layer, ideal for special occasions.

Hamburger Hash Brown Casserole

A single serving of ground beef hash brown casserole on a white plate.

A filling casserole that combines ground beef and hash browns in a cheesy, savory mix.

7. Chicken

Why They’re Great: Chicken is ideal for affordable, simple family dinners. Its versatility ensures endless meal possibilities, offering both nutrition and flavor without breaking the bank.

Recipes to Try

Peach Glazed Chicken Thighs

A top view of a serving platter filled with peach glazed chicken thighs, showing off the glossy, caramelized surface and garnished with slices of peach and fresh herbs, highlighting the dish's vibrant colors and tempting appeal.

Sweet and tangy, these thighs are a juicy delight with a peachy twist.

Chicken Stroganoff

a white plate adorned with a generous serving of Chicken Stroganoff, its creamy sauce embracing tender chicken and hearty mushrooms, all nestled atop a bed of fluffy white rice. Against the backdrop of a sleek marble countertop, this enticing dish promises a delightful combination of comfort and elegance, ready to be savored with every forkful.

Creamy and comforting, with tender chicken strips in a rich mushroom sauce.

Paprika Baked Chicken

Juicy Paprika Baked Chicken Thighs freshly out of the oven, garnished with fresh herbs on a white serving plate.

A simple, smoky dish that’s crispy on the outside and juicy inside.

Chicken Tacos

Three shredded chicken tacos on corn tortillas, topped with diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce.

Fast and customizable, filled with flavorful chicken and your favorite toppings.

Grilled Chicken

Close-up of succulent grilled chicken showcasing charred exterior and tender interior, ready to be enjoyed at a summer barbecue.

Perfectly charred and seasoned for a smoky, satisfying main dish.

Thai Sticky Chicken Thighs

Crispy chicken thighs coated in a sticky, sweet, and slightly spicy Thai sauce.

Marinated in a blend of Thai spices and grilled or baked to perfection.

Crack Chicken

A steaming dish of Baked Crack Chicken fresh out of the oven, featuring juicy chicken breasts topped with creamy cheese and crumbled bacon.

Irresistibly creamy, cheesy, and seasoned, great for sandwiches or dips.

Baked Garlic Chicken

A golden-brown chicken breast basted in a glossy garlic butter sauce, garnished with freshly chopped herbs.

Roasted with a generous amount of garlic to create a fragrant, tender meal.

8. Flour

Why is Great: Flour is a magical ingredient for whipping up budget-friendly, easy family dinners and breakfasts.

Recipes to Try

Peach Pancakes

Warm, soft pancakes adorned with fresh peach slices and a glistening drizzle of peach syrup.

Fluffy pancakes filled with slices of juicy peaches, perfect for a sweet start to your day.

Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry

Close-up of Ham and Cheese Puff Pastries, similar to gourmet hot pockets, with steam rising from the flaky, golden crust. The layers of puff pastry are perfectly browned, revealing the hearty filling of savory ham and gooey, melted cheese inside.

Crispy, buttery puff pastry enveloping a savory ham and cheese filling, ideal for a quick and satisfying meal.

Lemon Ricotta Crepes

Thin, tender crepes with a creamy lemon ricotta filling, offering a light and zesty flavor.

Sausage Crescent Roll Casserole

Aerial view of a Sausage and Crescent Roll Casserole baking dish.

A hearty, comforting casserole combining savory sausage with the flaky layers of crescent rolls.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Classic, fluffy pancakes made with buttermilk for a rich taste and tender texture, a staple for breakfast feasts.

How to Get Food When You Have no Money

I have been in situations where I had no money to buy food.

I will share what I did and what you can do if you want to know how to get food when you have no money. There are a number of options available to you for finding free food resources. 

If you have no money for food, food banks are a great resource for finding food. They are not open every day. Usually, the operate about two times a week.

You can find your local food bank here, by doing this you can see and locate where your closest food bank is.

You’re also given other great information such as when they are open and what zip codes they cover as well as what pieces of information you may need to bring.

Food banks do have a few requirements. Usually, they require 2 letters addressed to you at your mailing address for proof that you live within their zones.

Most food banks don’t require any proof of income and only ask that you run on the honor system.

Low Carb and Keto Meal Ideas on a Budget

If you are doing a low carb diet or a ketogenic diet take a look at these 21 Best Frugal Keto Dinners to Lose Weight – Fast and Easy to Make.

They are delicious, fast to make.

Especially on busy weekday nights and low cost, good for your budget.

Now without further ado lets present you with recipes for delicious frugal foods.

Keto Beef and Broccoli

A perfectly cooked keto beef and broccoli stir-fry.

Zucchini Casserole

Closeup Zucchini Casserole with Ground Beef in a baking dish with a spoon.

Cheap Dinner Ideas and Best Frugal Recipes

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Potatoes

A side view of the roasted potatoes, highlighting the crispy parmesan crust.

Sweet Potatoes and Apples Maple Cinnamon

Platter of Sweet Potatoes and Apples Maple Cinnamon, showcasing diced sweet potatoes and apples glazed with maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, presented on a rustic serving dish.

Scalloped Potatoes

Layered Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes in a baking dish in a white countertop.

Sweet Potato Casserole

A deliciously baked sweet potato casserole with a creamy interior and a crispy, caramelized topping, served in a ceramic dish.

Marry Me Chicken

A delicious pan of

Twice Baked Potatoes

A golden-brown Twice Baked Potato overflowing with a creamy, cheesy filling and topped with vibrant green chives and crumbled bacon on a white plate.

Crispy Fried Chicken

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Freshly cooked Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry in a hot wok, showcasing the rich colors and textures of the dish

Honey Fried Chicken

A plate of crispy, golden Honey Fried Chicken, perfectly cooked and glistening with a light honey glaze.

Other Cheap Dinners

Bump and Bake MeatBall Casserole

Overhead shot of Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole in a white dish, ready to be served, placed on a white countertop.

Our Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole is a comfort food classic, reimagined for the busy home cook.

No boiling pasta or complicated steps—just dump, bake, and enjoy a hearty meal!

Skillet Sausage with Onions and Peppers

Skillet Sausage with Onions and Peppers - 20 Minute

If you are looking for a healthy and delicious meal in just minutes you will love this perfectly seasoned Skillet sausage with Onions & Peppers

A mixture of Italian sausage, onions, and peppers.

Whole30 compliant, gluten-free and dairy-free, keto friendly and Low carb approved.

Find it here

Baked Mac and Cheese

Close-up of creamy, cheesy layers in a freshly baked Mac and Cheese casserole.

Crockpot Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta

Closeup Steaming bowl of Crockpot Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, garnished with fresh parsley, inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings' sauce.

Discover our Crockpot Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, a fan favorite inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings!

An easy crockpot dish perfect for busy weeknights, this kid-friendly recipe combines creamy pasta with a hearty buffalo creamy sauce.

Ideal for family dinner, potluck, or a meal prep idea.

Luscious baked spaghetti, a perfect fusion of classic spaghetti, rich meat sauce, and layers of melt-in-your-mouth cheese.

Ideal for busy weeknights, family dinners or a potluck.

The best past? ready in under one hour.

Pepperoni Pizza Crescent Rolls

These pepperoni pizza crescent rolls are the perfect appetizer or main dish.

Ready in 30 minutes and the perfect kid-friendly snack.

Pepperoni Pizza Crescent Rolls Recipe

Crescent Hot Dogs

Crescent rolls envelop hot dogs in a savory, flaky crust.

This easy 3 ingredient recipe is a family favorite, ready in under 30 minutes

Crescent Dogs Recipe

This chili mac recipe is the ultimate one-pot comfort food.

The perfect weeknight dinner for busy nights, this dish only requires one pot and comes together in less than 30 minutes.

With easy preparation, minimal ingredients and delicious taste, Chili Macaroni and cheese is sure to become a favorite for the entire family.

The Best Chili (Classic Homemade Chili Recipe)

The best classic chili recipe in a white with one red stripe bowl topped with cheese and scallions.

This traditional recipe for chili is the best classic chili ever! Perfect for weeknight meals, this chili is packed with ground beef, beans and a homemade blend of spices.

This easy to make chili will quickly become a family favorite!

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits

A single slice of crescent roll chicken pot pie in a white plate set on a wooded table with biscuits.

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits! Sautéed shallots and thyme, a splash of white wine, creamy chicken, peas, and carrots all baked under a homemade biscuit topping.

How Can You Pay Less for Groceries Every Single Month?

There are a few strategies that I use to lower my grocery bill every month.

Start by creating a cheap grocery list of foods you and your family like.

I always follow these 22 simple ways to save money on groceries.

Stick to your cheap grocery list and the cheap food.

It really is possible to eat healthy even if you are short of money, all you need to do is a little bit of frugal meal planning and meal budgeting.

Start saving money now and build your savings up.

Just saving a small amount will add up. This is how I started saving $200 a month and created my emergency savings fund.

More Cheap Recipes

$50/Week Aldi Meal Plan

Easy and Frugal Recipes

Easy and Frugal Recipes

Related Posts

Cheap foods to buy when broke

I hope you’re inspired by this list to keep your meals simple and save some money in the process.

What meal ideas would you add? Do you have a cheap recipe that you would like to share?

What would you plan on your budget grocery list? Please let me know in the comments!

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