cheap food to buy when you're broke

Cheap Food to Buy When You’re Broke and How to Save on Groceries

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I’m not sure how closely you’re monitoring price tags at the grocery store but I’m sure you’re aware that the cost of food has grown exponentially.

It seems that in just a short amount of time the prices for the most basic food items have become almost unbearable. Grocery store prices have sky-rocketed and saving money has become much harder to do.

I personally find myself second-guessing whether to buy certain items because I simply can’t justify their cost.

Things that used to be regular items on my weekly grocery list are now considered premium items that I rarely purchase.

When money is tight, it doesn’t make sense to splurge on unnecessary items. I simply adjust the future meal plans accordingly and only buy those high-priced grocery items for special occasions.

Let’s dig in and see which items you should be buying more of and what items you should be trying to avoid to help you save more money.

Cheap Food to Buy When You’re Broke

  • beans
  • rice
  • eggs
  • oats
  • macaroni/pasta
  • frozen veggies
  • bread
  • cereal
  • bananas
  • potatoes
  • chicken

Keep in mind, this list can vary but these items seem to have had the least growth when it comes to price increases.

All of these items are great too because they can help stretch a meal making you feel fuller without breaking the bank.

Tips on Saving Money When Buying Groceries

Food is super expensive and given the economy, we definitely need to make every cent count. Utilize these money-saving tips to maximize your dollar at the grocery store.

Use this as a guide to saving money when trying to figure out what to buy at the grocery store when you’re broke. The 3rd tip is my favorite!

Shop BOGO Deals and Sales

Don’t go to the grocery store blind. Get a game plan in place and be sure to have a list of what you need to get.

Shop their ads to maximize sales and BOGO deals and plan your meals accordingly. If substitutions can be made for your recipe, see what the cheaper option is. This is a great opportunity to play around with your recipes too.

Also, be sure to eat before you go. Going to the grocery store hungry is a HUGE no-no. You end up wasting money you don’t have on things you don’t need.

I'll show you more ways to save money! See how!

Utilize Wholesale Clubs

Wholesale clubs such as Sams Club and Costco are the perfect place to stock up on items that should be a staple in your kitchen.

Even when shopping on a budget, you can definitely find items to help you really stretch a buck.

What I love most is that you can shop online for the items you need and pick them up when your order is ready.

This allows you the convenience to really crunch numbers in the privacy of your home instead of in the middle of the aisle.

cheap food to buy when you're broke - buy food in bulk from wholesale clubs

Utilize Coupons & Rebate Apps

Yes, coupons are still a thing. We all remember when ‘Extreme Couponing’ was on TLC and we all thought we could become extreme couponers too.

(Maybe that was just me.)

I’m not suggesting you turn into a crazy coupon lady but keep an eye out for coupons and utilize them in your shopping strategy. Any money saved is a winning strategy.

Utilize Ibotta (my referral code is LQWTWOC) and Rakuten (this is my referral link) too!

Feel free to use my codes to sign up if you aren’t already. I wouldn’t mind a little cash bonus in my accounts and I’m sure you wouldn’t either 🙂

Now that store pick-up is highly utilized, I log into my Rakuten account, select the retailers in which I can earn cash back, and I shop any grocery items I can through that retailer.

Whatever I can’t buy through the app, I head into the store to purchase.

Some of my regular Rakuten shopping includes:

  • bulk items from Sam’s Club
  • Target drive-up
  • Walmart drive-up

I then look at current offers on my credit cards. Currently, one of my credit cards is offering 5% cashback for shopping at wholesale clubs such as Sam’s Club.

Not only am I making the cashback from the current Rakuten offer at the time of purchase but I’m also maximizing my savings by using my credit card with the cashback offer. That’s a double bonus. I’m getting cash back (two different ways) for items I was going to purchase anyway.

This is a really great savings strategy because these are items you already plan to buy.

The same goes for Target. I log into my Rakuten account. I then shop for the items I want to pick up and then get an additional 5% discount for utilizing my Target credit card.

Cook Large Meals

If you are looking to save big, learn to love leftovers. A lot of times cooking in bulk can be much cheaper than trying to cook a smaller meal.

I’ve been cooking in bulk for years and not only does it save me money, but it saves me time too.

I like to cook 3-4 different bulk meals, portion them out, and then eat them throughout the week. I bust my ass 1 day to do tons of cooking but then can relax the rest of the week.

Mind you, I don’t do this all the time but I definitely have more throughout this pandemic since money has been tight. This is something to consider if you want to start spending less money in the long run.

If you don’t have a ton of storage containers to portion out the food, Ziploc freezer bags will do just fine.

Also, if you don’t feel like eating those same 3-4 meals throughout the week, consider freezing half for a later date. This will keep you from getting bored with the same meal yet will still allow you to save on food costs overall.

I keep leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months. Personally, I don’t try to keep anything longer than that.

cheap food to buy when you're broke - shop bread outlets

Shop Bread Outlets

I have a bread outlet in my city where you can go and get any loaf of bread for $.99. I can’t say that they are in every city across the country but I do know bread outlets do exist nationwide.

This is typically where you find bread that is nearing its expiration date or just past it.

They typically have all kinds of bread and also have the name brands you may be more familiar with if you’re pickier.

With young kids in the house, peanut butter and jelly is a staple and eaten almost every day if not multiple times a day. Not because they don’t have other options but because it’s their preference.

(Not a battle I choose to fight with my toddlers. As long as they are eating, I’m happy!)

Personally, I like to stock up on bread and I simply freeze it. Bread can also last up to 3 months in the freezer. I pull out the pieces I need, defrost them, and use them however I choose.

When you are on a tight budget, look for a bread outlet instead of buying bread at full price. It’s just another easy way to save money on groceries.

Stick to Water

Don’t waste the little money you have on empty calories. If you’re looking to maximize on your groceries to make them last the longest you can at the cheapest cost, stick to the H2O.

Juices and pop can be very expensive, serve no nutritional value, and definitely will NOT fill you up. Sure they taste yummy but that’s about it. You shouldn’t spend your money on these items when trying to save money.

They are actually full of sugars and really bad for you. Get a water purifier to place on your faucet and drink tons of water.

It will also help you feel fuller, longer.

Use a Calculator

Don’t be ashamed of adding up the cost of items. If your budget is tight, you need to do whatever you need to in order to make sure you don’t go over once you’re at the register.

Having to pick and choose what to put back at that point may mess up your meal planning as you’ll be making a rushed decision.

Pull your cart to the side of the aisle, add things up, and be sure. Don’t feel silly doing this.

cheap food to buy when you're broke

Get a Game Plan in Place

Grocery shopping on a budget requires a strategy. Especially when you’re focused on creating meal plans around cheap food to buy when you’re broke. Implementing all of the above tips is a great way to get started.

You’ll be surprised at how much certain grocery items cost when you start paying attention. I honestly hadn’t realized how much money I was able to save when I created a strategy for my monthly grocery budget.

One of the best budgeting tips I can offer is to pay attention to where your money is being spent!

Keep track by signing up to receive my FREE downloadable grocery list tracker sent directly to your inbox!

Types of Foods to Avoid Buying When on a Budget

It’s tough having to make these types of decisions. Sometimes you may really have a craving for something but it simply doesn’t fit into the monthly budget.

I’m not saying you can’t buy these items but it will make it more difficult to stretch your money if you are purchasing them.

A lot of money can be saved if you don’t purchase certain foods. Some examples of these foods you should try to avoid due to their cost include:

  • steaks
  • lamb
  • bacon
  • ground beef
  • fresh fish and seafood
  • pre-cut meats
  • cheese
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • pre-cut fruits and vegetables
  • nuts
  • pop

Now I love most of these items and it can be hard sometimes having to skip over them while doing my grocery shopping.

My best advice is to keep a lookout for when these types of grocery items go on sale. Keeping an eye out for the weekly ads and BOGO deals might land some of these items in a more price-friendly range. That’s when I stock up!

This type of strategy can start saving money immediately and allow you to see an even greater amount of savings in the long run.

How to Get Food When You’re Broke

If you find that the rising cost of food at the grocery store is making it difficult to feed you and your family and simply don’t have enough money to feed everyone for the month, consider these options.

Local Food Bank

This may be a great option to supplement the food that you can’t afford to buy. They will ensure that you receive a variety of foods that can help stretch your meals while also providing snacks and treats too.

While you can’t always ensure the foods that you will receive, this is something to consider when you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to feed your family.

Just get on Google and search ‘local food banks’. You will find the closest place to go to get the food you need.

Are you WIC Eligible?

For those that don’t know what WIC is, it stands for Women, Infants, and Children. It is a government program designed to help low income women receive nutritional food for themselves and their children ages 5 and under.

While this program doesn’t provide enough food to last a month, it does provide a variety of foods to help meet the nutritional requirements to maintain a healthy diet.

If you think you may qualify, look up your local WIC office and go apply for the benefits. You will need to provide paystubs to prove your income. Your eligibility is determined by a number of factors but income is the first thing they will verify.

Keep in mind, there is other documentation you will be required to provide so either look online or call the local office and ask what you will need to bring. You will also need to bring your children along.

My Thoughts

If you follow all the tips I offered above and focus on cheap food to buy when you’re broke, you’ll start saving money fast.

Ideally, it would be much easier if you could simply toss everything inside the cart that sounded good. That’s just not realistic most of the time. Besides planning, discipline is going to be another factor in becoming successful in sticking to a budget.

My advice is to start small. You’ll find more success in making changes slowly. This way you don’t feel overwhelmed all at once and it’ll be easier for your family to make the adjustment as well.

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cheap food to buy when you're broke

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5 thoughts on “Cheap Food to Buy When You’re Broke and How to Save on Groceries”

  1. I am with you on all of these. I actually find it cheaper when you make real meals like a whole roasted chicken with vegetables can be cheaper than some convenience food that you buy. If you get the chicken for $.88 or $.99 a pound that’s around $4 for a whole chicken then if you have a bag of potatoes and carrots at home you can create a whole meal for around $5.

    1. Yes!! I’m a huge fan of doing exactly this. Tossing it all into the crockpot and calling it a day! It usually leaves enough for leftovers for the next day too.

    1. Mine were always out of control too and I had to train myself to make these changes. I gradually saw a huge difference in the amount of money I was saving and wish I would have followed these tips a lot sooner.

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