31 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke and More

When you’re on a budget, it can be tough to find quality food that doesn’t break the bank. In fact, many of the cheapest ingredients have seen a price increase in recent years.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to go without! This article will provide you with a list of the best cheap foods to buy when you are broke, as well as some basic nutrition facts and meal ideas.

31 Cheap Foods to Buy When You Are Broke

Our list contains everything from meat and vegetables, to sweet desserts. Ready to start exploring? Let’s dig in!

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Cereal

  • Average price: $0.75
  • Calories per 100g: 375

If you’re looking for a cheap and easy breakfast option, cereal is always a good choice. There are tons of different kinds to choose from, so you can find one that fits your taste.

Plus, most cereals are packed with nutrients like vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium and Vitamin D as well as fibre, which can help you feel satisfied and full.

Meal Idea: try pairing your cereal with some milk and fruit for a balanced breakfast or snack. You could also add it to yoghurt or smoothies for an extra boost of nutrients.

Potatoes

  • Average Price: $0.90
  • Calories per 100g: 77

Potatoes are a versatile and filling food that can be used in a variety of dishes. They’re packed with nutrients like potassium and Vitamin C, as well as fibre which can help you feel full.

Plus, they’re very budget-friendly – you can usually get a large bag of potatoes for less than $0.90, making them one of the cheapest foods to buy when broke.

Meal Idea: try roasting or baking your potatoes for a healthy and delicious side dish. You could also add them to soups or stews, or mash them and pair them with a protein source for a complete meal.

Beans

  • Average Price: $0.75
  • Calories per 100g: 347

Cheap food doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy.

Beans are a great source of protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and magnesium. They’re also very cheap – you can usually find them for less than $0.75 per can.

Meal Idea: try adding beans to soups, salads, or wraps for a filling and nutritious meal. You could also make a simple bean dish by pairing them with rice and some seasonings of your choice.

Canned and Frozen Vegetables

  • Average Price: $1.5/$3
  • Calories per 100g: 60

While we’re at cheap eats, canned and frozen vegetables are a great way to get your daily dose of nutrients on a budget. They’re typically cheaper than fresh vegetables, and they have a long shelf life.

As far as nutrients are concerned, canned and frozen vegetables are a good source of vitamins A and C.

Meal Idea: try adding canned vegetables to soups or stews, or pairing them with rice or pasta for a complete meal. You could also use them as a topping for salads or wraps.

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Ramen Noodles

  • Average Price: $0.50
  • Calories per 100g: 380

Ramen noodles are one of the best cheap meals that can be easily customized to your liking. You can usually find them for less than $0.50 per package, and they have a long shelf life.

Plus, they’re very versatile – you can add almost any kind of protein or vegetable to them.

While ramen noodles are high in sodium, they’re also a good source of protein and iron.

Meal Idea: try pairing your ramen noodles with some fresh vegetables or canned vegetables for a balanced meal. You could also add a protein source, such as eggs or tofu.

Looking for some other saving ideas? Take a look at these articles:

Yoghurt

  • Average Price: $0.75
  • Calories per 100g: 61

Yoghurt is cheap and healthy food, but also a delicious snack option that’s packed with nutrients like calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin D. It’s also very budget-friendly – you can usually find it for less than $0.75 per container.

Plus, yoghurt is also a good source of protein, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Meal Idea: try adding yoghurt to cereal or smoothies for a nutrient-packed breakfast or snack. You could also use it as a base for dips or salad dressings.

Pasta

  • Average Price: $0.75
  • Calories per 100g: 360

Pasta is everyone’s cheapest lunch option since it can easily be tailored to your personal liking. You can usually find it for less than $0.75 per package, and it has a long shelf life.

As far as nutrients are concerned, pasta is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. It’s also low in fat and calories.

Meal Idea: try pairing your pasta with some vegetables and a protein source for a full meal.

Mac and Cheese

  • Average Price: $2.77 per serving (homemade), $1.57 (storebought)
  • Calories per 1 cup prepared: 310

Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that’s loved by people of all ages. Plus, it’s very easy to make and can be a great option when you’re short on time.

It’s a bit high in calories and fat, but it’s a good source of protein and calcium.

Meal Idea: try pairing your mac and cheese with some vegetables or canned vegetables for a balanced meal.

Canned Tuna

  • Average Price: $1.40
  • Calories per 100g: 116

Canned tuna is a cheap food to buy when you’re looking to add protein to your diet. It’s also a good source of omega-three fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.

Meal Idea: try adding canned tuna to salads or wraps for a filling and nutritious meal. You could also make a simple tuna dish by pairing it with pasta and some seasonings of your choice.

Chicken Wings and Thighs

  • Average Price of Chicken Wings: $4.99/pound
  • Average Price of Chicken Thighs: $5.13/pound
  • Calories per 100g (wings): 216
  • Calories per 100g (thighs): 220

Food budgeting can be tasty!

Chicken wings and thighs are a great source of protein and can be easily added to your diet on a budget. They’re typically cheaper than chicken breasts, and they’re packed with nutrients, including protein, iron, and calcium.

Meal Idea: try roasting or baking your chicken wings and thighs for a healthy and delicious meal. You could also add them to soups or stews.

Red Lentils

  • Average Price: $0.97/pound
  • Calories per 100g: 120

Red lentils are a budget food that is going to enrich your diet with protein and fibre. They’re a good source of iron, potassium, and magnesium and they’re also low in fat and calories.

Meal Idea: try making a simple red lentil soup by pairing them with some vegetables and seasonings of your choice. You could also use them as a base for dips or salad dressings.

Rice

  • Average price: $0.69/pound
  • Calories per 100g: 130

Rice is a great cheap food to buy when you’re on a budget. It’s versatile, filling, and relatively inexpensive.

As far as nutrients are concerned, rice is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. It’s also low in fat and calories.

Meal Idea: try pairing your rice with some vegetables and a protein source, such as chicken or tofu. You could also add it to soups or stews.

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Oats

  • Average Price: $0.50/pound
  • Calories per 100g: 389

Oats are one of the best cheap foods to buy when you are broke because it’s so versatile and nutritious. Oats are whole-grain, which means they contain all three parts of the grain kernel: the bran, germ, and endosperm. This makes them an excellent source of fibre.

Meal Idea: try adding oatmeal to smoothies or baking it into muffins or cookies for a healthy and delicious snack. You could also use it as a base for savoury dishes, such as oatmeal pancakes.

Tortillas

  • Average Price: $3.50
  • Calories per 100g: 237

Our grocery ideas list also includes tortillas, a food that can be used in a variety of dishes, including burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. They’re packed with carbohydrates and fibre, plus they’re low in calories and fat.

Meal Idea: try pairing your tortillas with some vegetables and a protein source, such as chicken or tofu. You could also use them to make wraps or burritos.

Whole Milk

  • Average Price: $1.20 per litre
  • Calories per 100ml: 64

Whole milk is a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. It also contains fat, which is essential for the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. While whole milk may be more expensive than skim milk, it is a more nutrient-dense option.

Meal Idea: try adding whole milk to your morning coffee or tea, or using it in baking recipes for a rich and creamy finish. You could also use it to make homemade ice cream or yoghurt.

Margarine

  • Average Price: ~$1 per 100g
  • Calories per tbsp: 102

Margarine is a spread made from vegetable oils, and it’s a good source of vitamin E. It’s also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

It’s great cheap food to buy when you’re on a budget.

Meal Idea: try using margarine in baking recipes or as a spread for toast or sandwiches. You could also use it to make homemade salad dressings or sauces.

Eggs

  • Average Price: 3.62 per dozen eggs
  • Calories per large boiled egg: 78

Aside from being super easy to prepare, eggs are also pretty cheap and a variety of cheap and healthy meals can be prepared using them. Plus, they’re an excellent source of protein, and they’re also low in saturated fat.

Meal Idea: try making scrambled eggs or an omelette for a quick and easy meal. You could also hard-boil them for a healthy snack.

Cabbage

  • Average Price: $0.89 per kg
  • Calories per 100g: 25

It might be a bit bland, but you can definitely use it as a base for a lot of recipes. It’s an excellent source of vitamins C and K, low in calories and it’s pretty cheap.

Meal Idea: try adding cabbage to soups or stews, or pairing it with rice or pasta for a complete meal. You could also use it as a base for salads or wraps.

Apples

  • Average Price: $1.05 per kg
  • Calories per 1 medium-sized apple: 95

You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Apples are packed with fibre, as well as vitamins K and C, but they’re also cheap as hell.

Meal Idea: try adding apples to your morning oatmeal or yoghurt, or using them in baking recipes for a healthy and delicious treat. You could also eat them as a snack with peanut butter.

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Carrots

  • Average Price: $2.43 per kg
  • Calories per 100g: 41

If you’re looking for cheap foods to buy when broke, carrots are a must!

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and they’re also low in calories. Plus, the best thing is that they provide a great snack!

Meal Idea: try adding carrots to soups or stews, or pairing them with rice or pasta for a complete meal. You could also use them as a base for salads or wraps.

Flour

Average Price: $4.52 per 2.5kg

Calories per 100g: 364

Flour is probably the cheapest food to live on, given how you can prepare tons of different meals with it.

Flour provides your body with carbohydrates and protein, and it’s also low in fat. It’s a bit high on calories, granted, but it’s pretty cheap.

Meal Idea: try using flour to make homemade bread or pizza dough. You could also use it as a thickener for soups or sauces.

Peanuts

Average Price: $4.24 per kg

Calories per 100g: 567

Peanuts are a great cheap food to buy when you’re on a budget. They’re an excellent source of protein and fibre, and they’re also low in saturated fat.

Meal Idea: try adding peanuts to your morning oatmeal or yoghurt, or using them in baking recipes for a healthy and delicious treat. You could also eat them as a snack with apples.

Bell Peppers

  • Average Price: $3.47 per pound
  • Calories per 100g: 40

In addition to being extremely low in calories as well as cheap to buy, bell peppers also provide your body with vitamins A and C. Neat, eh?

Meal Idea: try adding peppers to soups or stews, or pairing them with rice or pasta for a complete meal. You could also use them as a base for salads or wraps.

Tofu

  • Average Price: $5 per 220g
  • Calories per 100g: 76

Tofu can help you prepare some of the cheapest meals on a budget. It’s an excellent source of protein and fibre, and it’s also low in saturated fat.

Meal Idea: try marinating tofu and grilling it, or using it in soups or stews. You could also use it to make homemade veggie burgers or burritos.

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Zucchini

  • Average Price: $4.34 per pound
  • Calories per 100g: 17

Zucchini is also a great versatile food that can be bought for cheap and can be prepared in numerous ways. Low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C, it’s a nice on-a-budget alternative.

Meal Idea: try adding zucchini to soups or stews, or pairing it with rice or pasta for a complete meal. You could also use it as a base for salads or wraps.

Peanut Butter

  • Average Price: $2.89 per package
  • Calories per 100g: 588

Peanut butter is a nice source of protein and fat but on top of that, it’s a great addition to a variety of dishes.

Meal Idea: try adding peanut butter to your morning oatmeal or yoghurt, or using it in baking recipes for a healthy and delicious treat. You could also eat it as a snack with apples.

Bread

  • Average Price: $3
  • Calories per 100g: 265

Bread is more of a necessity, especially when you’re on a budget, making it one of the best budget foods. It’s rich in carbohydrates and can be mixed with practically anything.

Meal Idea: try using bread to make homemade sandwiches or wraps. You could also use it as a base for salads or soups.

Crackers

  • Average Price: $3.53 per 450g
  • Calories per 100g: 504

Crackers are usually used as snacks, but they can also serve as a good addition to your meal. They’re rich in carbohydrates and protein and can be used as both snacks and a full meal.

Meal Idea: try using crackers as a base for homemade pizzas or as a topping for salads or soups. You could also eat them as a snack with peanut butter or cheese.

Bananas

  • Average Price: $1.61 per kg
  • Calories per 100g: 89

Bananas can be used to prepare a nice breakfast, but they can also serve as snacks. They’re an excellent source of dietary potassium and fibre and they’re also low on calories.

Best cheap food ever, right?

Meal Idea: try adding a banana into your blender, along with some oats, yoghurt and fresh berries for a nice smoothie. You can also eat it raw. Try slicing it and adding some peanut butter for a great protein-filled snack.

Tomatoes

  • Average Price: $2.59 per kg
  • Calories per 100g: 18

Finishing up with tomatoes, great cheap food to buy when you’re broke. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and they can also be eaten raw, which is also pretty neat. Some of the cheapest meals to make include tomatoes.

Meal Idea: try adding tomatoes to soups or stews, or using them as a base for salads or wraps. You could also use them to make homemade tomato sauce or salsa.

Cheap Microwave Meals

Now that we’ve covered the ingredients, let’s take a look at some easy and cheap microwave meals for you to prepare when you’re low on cash.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is one of the cheapest meals to make.

Not sure how to prepare mac and cheese? Follow the recipe below and you’ll be enjoying a delicious meal in no time!

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Ingredients

  • One package of elbow macaroni
  • One can of evaporated milk
  • One cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the evaporated milk, cheddar cheese, butter, salt and pepper.
  3. Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and mix them with the cheese sauce.
  4. Put the mac and cheese in a microwave-safe dish and cook for two minutes or until heated through.
  5. Enjoy!

Microwaved Eggs

Another recipe that can be made using only cheap food.

Eggs are such a versatile product, they can be prepared in a variety of ways, However, microwaved eggs is definitely one of the fastest and easiest ways so here goes!

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Ingredients

  • Two eggs
  • One tablespoon of milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Crack the eggs into a microwave-safe bowl and whisk together with the milk, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook on high for one minute or until the eggs are firm.
  3. Enjoy!

Microwaved Oats

Oats can be either cooked or eaten raw. For those of you that like cheap and healthy meals, we’ve got just the recipe you need!

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Ingredients

  • One cup of oats
  • Two cups of water
  • Yoghurt
  • Fresh fruits

Instructions

  1. Mix the oats and water in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cook on high for two minutes or until the oats are cooked through
  3. Wait for them to cool off a bit and add some yoghurt and fresh fruit
  4. Enjoy!

Microwaved Frozen Veggies

Frozen products are one of the best budget foods. They’re super easy to cook since they’re already pre-cooked. We’ve provided you with a meal idea containing frozen veggies below, so let’s take a look at it!

 Cheap Foods To Buy When You Are Broke

Ingredients

  • Frozen veggies
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • Spices by choice

Instructions

  1. Place the frozen veggies in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Cook on high for two minutes or until heated through.
  3. Take them out to cool off
  4. Place the rice in a microwave-safe dish and add the water and the spices
  5. Cook for 15 minutes
  6. Take it out, mix it all together and enjoy!

Finishing Thoughts

There you have it, 4 cheap and easy meals and 31 cheap food to buy when you are broke. With these foods and recipes, you’ll be able to get by on a tight budget and still eat healthy and delicious food. So what are you waiting for? Give them a try!

FAQ

What is the cheapest food to live off of?

There are many answers to this question, as it depends on personal preferences and dietary restrictions. However, some cheap food staples that could be used to live off of include rice, beans, pasta, bread, eggs, and oatmeal.

What should I eat with no money?

Many cheap and easy meals can be made with little to no money. Some cheap food to buy when you are broke includes mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, microwaved oats, and frozen veggies.

What food can you make a lot of for cheap?

Some cheap food options that can be made in large quantities include rice, pasta, beans, and soup. Aside from being cheap foods to buy when you’re broke,  they can also last a long time when stored properly.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Mila is an English literature student and a devoted animal's rights advocate. Despite her love for the written word, she's a keen observer of the everyday world and an excellent researcher with a bright and fresh perspective. When she's not doing research, you're most likely to find her out for a walk with her dog or binge-watching a TV show.

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