25 Cheapest Foods to Buy When Broke


When times get tough, we need to cut back on our spending to afford the basics. Sometimes, this may even mean cutting into our food budgets to stretch our income further.

While it’s not ideal, getting by with a small food budget is possible.

There are a host of foods out there that can give you a good bang for your buck, although you will want to try to make sure you’re considering your nutritional needs as best you can.

For this, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations from around the internet to make it easier for you to find food that will fit within your given budget with relative ease.

Here are 25 of the cheapest foods to buy when broke. 

#1. Pasta

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Pasta is a filling food that’s easy to make and can help you produce a wide range of recipes.

Generally costing around $1 for a pound, you can eat it plain, add meatballs and pasta sauce, or even make a salad with vegetables like olives for a quick and relatively healthy snack. 

#2. Quick Oats

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Quick oats are a breakfast staple that can go a long way in helping you manage your budget and stay full.

Whether you’re a fan of instant oatmeal packs or you like to make your own (a 42-ounce can cost you around $5), you can easily put it in the microwave or add cinnamon, sugar, eggs, yogurt, or whatever else you want to improve the taste and nutrition. 

#3. Rice

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Beyond beans, most who are on a strict budget swear by rice.

Around $1 per pound (potentially less if you buy in bulk), rice can be eaten on its own, combined with beans and vegetables, or eaten as a side with your favorite meat items. 

#4. Frozen Vegetables

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Frozen vegetables give you a good mix of veggies you should have in your diet without requiring you to purchase every single vegetable.

It also eliminates waste and provides nutrition that canned blends often lack. While the cost of frozen vegetables will vary based on the mix and the brand behind them, you can expect to pay around $1 for 12 ounces. 

#5. Chickpeas

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Chickpeas are one of many legumes you can buy, but we recommend them because they’re so versatile and easy to add to any meal for some added protein.

You can typically get them for around $1 to $2 canned or dry. 

#6. Potatoes

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Potatoes may often get a bad rap when offered at fast food establishments, but they’re actually a good source of nutrition, delivering high amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

Whether you like your potatoes mashed, fried, or even scalloped, you can get a bag of whatever your favorite potatoes are for around $5 per pound (or less, even in greater quantities). 

#7. Canned Tuna

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Most people without money are already accustomed to eating canned tuna, and for good reason.

It’s not just a good source of protein and essential nutrients but also extremely cheap.

Generic canned tuna can cost less than $1 per can and can be eaten on its own, as a sandwich, or with rice. 

#8. Eggs

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Eggs have become comically expensive in recent years, but it appears that those prices are coming back down.

You can get a dozen for a few dollars, and you can scramble them, poach them, or cook them sunny side up for a quick and nutritious snack or as part of your breakfast. 

#9. Chicken

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Chicken is among the cheapest meats out there, and it’s not as bad for you to eat daily as red meat.

While the price of chicken will vary, you should look for offerings related to chicken breasts and chicken drumsticks, as you can generally get more than a few pounds for just a couple of dollars.

Chicken can be grilled, fried, or baked, serving as an excellent entree. 

#10. Pork

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Pork is another meat that is generally relatively cheap, especially pork shoulder.

It’s around $1 per pound (never pay more) and can be added to stews and other dishes for flavor and some protein.

If it’s costing any more than that, you’re overpaying!

#11. Pancake Mix

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Pancakes are well-known but often overlooked when shopping for cheap foods. Generic pancake mix is only a few dollars for well over a pound, which can make a ton of filling pancakes.

If you have any extra fruit sitting around, you can add that to the mix for something extra. 

#12. Ramen Noodles

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We’d be remiss not to mention ramen noodles as cheap food to buy when you are broke. You can get several packs for less than a dollar or just a few dollars and stock up on a ton.

The biggest concern about ramen noodles is nutrition, but you can enhance this by adding hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, and other foods and ditching the flavor packet entirely. 

#13. Frozen Meal Bags

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Frozen skillet meals can cost around $5 and give you around a pound or several pounds of pre-made food you can heat up.

They’re often more cost-efficient than frozen meals (although you should consider these, too, as they can be rather cheap), and they’re super easy to make.

Plus, all the ingredients are there for you, whether meat, vegetables, or even pasta!

#14. Frozen Fruit Blends

Frozen fruits blueberries blackberry raspberry red currant peach and herbs melissa
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Are you a big fan of fruit? If so, you might find it hard to get all the fruits you want, given how much it can cost to stock up on fruit, especially when it’s out of season.

Generic frozen fruit blends give you access to healthy fruits for around $4 to $5, depending on the blend. You can add this fruit to oatmeal, smoothies, or anything else. 

#15. Yogurt

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Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, but you might not be getting your fill of it right now.

For about $5 (even for the name brands), you can get around 32 ounces of Greek yogurt that’s versatile as a standalone meal with berries and granola or as a baking ingredient for goods you might make yourself. 

#16. Frozen Burritos

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Frozen burritos are cheap, filling, and take no time to make. If you like a quick snack on the go, you can lean toward the $1 burritos in the frozen section of your grocery store.

If you like bundle deals, you might be able to find a bag of around eight burritos or more for around $5. 

#17. Bananas

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Bananas are among some of the cheapest fruits out there, and three pounds worth is less than $2.

They’re a great snack and can be combined with peanut butter, bread, or bagels for something more filling.

Just make sure that you refrigerate them or eat them regularly, as they can go bad fast. 

#18. Deli Chicken

rotisserie chicken
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Does your grocery store have a deli section that sells fresh food? If it does and you haven’t checked it out, you’re missing out.

From rotisserie chickens that sell for around $5 to other freshly prepared goods, deli sections tend to run sales on bulk products that they need to get rid of quickly.

This means a fast and easy dinner for you that you can rely on for at least one day of the week. 

#19. Smoked Sausage

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Smoked sausage costs about $4 for around one pound. It’s already pre-cooked, so all you have to do is slice it and warm it up.

It’s a great way to bolster pasta dishes that need a little extra protein, although you could always use it in spaghetti, chili, or other things that would go well with smoked sausage. 

#20. Generic Brand Cereal

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Cereal prices tend to be out of control, but generic cereal prices are generally much better, costing you around $1 to $3 per box or per bag.

This makes it a great way to start the day, especially if you find healthy blends with nuts, granola, or fruit already in the cereal mix. 

#21. Frozen Pizza

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Frozen pizzas might not be the healthiest, but they do come with dairy, vegetables, and sometimes, protein.

At the most reliable end of the spectrum, you have personal frozen pizzas at around $3 per pizza.

However, there are often much larger options that may cost a few dollars more and help you ensure you can buy less by having more leftovers. 

#22. Spinach

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Spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that tends to get overlooked when shopping for cheap foods.

Around $3 per bag or $5 per container, you can make quick salads with spinach or mix it in with pasta to get some of the greens you need, even while on an extreme food budget. 

#23. Mushrooms

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It’s important to preface this by saying that not all mushrooms are cheap.

However, more abundant options like white mushrooms are quite affordable, and you can get half a pound for a couple of dollars.

Mushrooms are a good source of protein, and they can be added to pasta or rice or even sauteed and eaten on their own. 

#24. Bread

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White bread is relatively cheap and costs only $1 to $2 per loaf.

Given the versatility of bread, from making sandwiches to being toasted for spreads like jam or peanut butter, bread is something that you should definitely buy when you’re broke. 

#25. Peanut Butter

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Speaking of peanut butter, peanut butter can be quite affordable.

The cheaper brands may cost around $5 for three pounds of the stuff, and it’s something filling that you can eat with a spoon, add to sandwiches, or even use as a dip for certain meats.

The only limit is your imagination!

How To Get Free Food With No Money

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If you are short on cash, not eating doesn’t have to be a reality.

There are options out there that allow you to get free food, even if you don’t have any cash. Here is what you need to do.

How To Get Free Food With No Money

Save Money On Groceries

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It’s no secret that grocery shopping is a significant expense every month.

While most of us know a few ways to reduce this bill, there are many other simple things we can do.

Learn the easy tricks to spend less on groceries and pocket some savings.


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