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.

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.

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.

The 3rd tip is my favorite! Are you utilizing all of these money-saving tips? Let’s find out.

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 🙂

Now that store pick-up is highly utilized, I log into my Rakuten account, select the retailers in which I can earn cashback, 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Some examples of 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 into a more price-friendly range. That’s when I stock up!

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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