50 Cheap and Healthy Foods to Buy When You’re Broke

grocery store

This list of frugal foods has been in my mom’s pantry, my grandmothers and probably your family’s as well. They can be found at any grocery store or discount store. It’s cheapest to buy in bulk from stores like Costco or Sam’s Club to help you save even more. With these staple foods in stock, your family will remain very nourished even on a very tight budget.

First, I want to tell you don’t worry and stress. Just do the best you can. Hang in there. Being anxious, as easy as it is to do does no good. A multitude of excellent, healthy meals can be made from all of these ingredients!

Scroll down to see the recipes!

bulk foods

Dry Goods 

  1. Grits – Cheap and nutritious! Add cheese or butter for a flavorful healthy breakfast!
  2. Rice – You can buy a pound of brown rice at Dollar Tree for $1. One of our local grocery stores sells a pound bag for $.50! If you don’t like brown rice, you can find white rice even cheaper.
  3. Oats – Breakfast really can’t get much cheaper than this. A jar of cinnamon is only $1 and will season a lot of bowls of oatmeal.
  4. Pasta – Everyone loves pasta! Goes with everything from veggies to tom sauce, cream sauce and more! Delicious just plain with a little butter, cheese and salt.
  5. Quinoa – Can be a bit pricey in regular grocery stores but you can get great deals at Costco.
  6. Whole Grain Flour – Better than white flour for health.
  7. Popcorn – A great all time anytime snack. Make up your own flavors to sprinkle on and try at home. Don’t buy ready made additions.
  8. Mac n’ Cheese – Always have several boxes ready to serve. Add veggies or protein for a substantial meal.
  9. Cornmeal  – Perfect for muffins, cornbread, side dishes or casseroles.
  10. Saltine Crackers – Makes incredible Christmas toffee crack treats for anytime. Delicious! Perfect for accompanying soup or sandwiches.

chicken dish


  1. Lentils – Very high in protein. Perfect for soups or replacement in sloppy joes or casseroles.
  2.  Eggs – The incredible edible egg! Can be made in hundreds of different recipes!
  3.  Any type of beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto)
  4.  Ground turkey
  5.  Turkey sausage
  6.  Ground Chicken
  7.  Certain nuts – some can be expensive but at Sam’s club they are quite reasonable depending on the kind you get like walnuts in bulk or almonds.
  8.  Tuna
  9.  Canned salmon/Sardines
  10.  Canned chicken – goes great in pasta salads, chicken salad
  11.  Tofu – excellent source of protein and great in stir fry
  12. Peanut butter – A staple item of every household – provided no one has a peanut allergy




  1. Potatoes
  2. Carrots
  3. Apples (in season produce)
  4. Onions
  5. Garlic – for seasoning
  6. Broccoli
  7. Kale
  8. Cabbage
  9. Bananas
  10. Canned tomatoes
  11. Frozen veggies
  12. Yams or sweet potatoes – Super healthy and curbs your sweet tooth naturally! Pair with greek yogurt mix into chili or just eat plain!
  13. Green beans
  14. Frozen edamame – Excellent protein and $1.79 at Trader Joes!

milk and nuts

Milk and Dairy 

  1. Yogurt – Preferably Greek style
  2. Milk
  3. Cottage Cheese – High in protein
  4. Cheese blocks – You can get great deals on these in the big lot stores
  5. Powdered Milk – Mom always had this on hand for emergencies!


  1. Green Tea or regular tea
  2. Seltzer water plain or flavored (much better than soda and cheaper)
  3. Coffee – good deals on coffee at Sam’s club all the time
  4. Mix your OJ with water or seltzer to make it last longer – it’s better for the enamel of your teeth too!


  1. Seasonings – Make everything taste better from snacks to main meals!
  2. Sugar – Sugar in the raw is best but sometimes everyone needs regular white sugar in the house
  3. Vinegar – the multitude of uses from white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are endless!
  4. Salt and pepper – no explanation necessary
  5. Baking soda – for baking, deodorizing and medicinal purposes

Here’s 20 Frugal Meals to make when money is tight! 

20 Frugal Rice and Bean Meals 

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50 Cheap and healthy foods