Every once in a while, the need to save money arises, and it is often urgent. A job loss or an emergency might destabilize your financial situation leading to a crisis. Going for cheap foods is one option you have to reduce expenses. A cheap grocery list is not only prudent but healthier.
Eating eco does not necessarily imply unhealthy eating. But eating healthy on a budget could be a difficult concept for some. Or is it? Well, this depends on your eating habits. If you are among people who would rather partake in high-calorie foods at the expense of nutrition, then you are likely to spend much more.
According to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, healthy foods are cheaper than less healthy foods. The report defines healthy foods as those high in useful elements and vitamins, while unhealthy foods consist of saturated fats and added sodium and sugar in high quantities. In short, less healthy foods have an insignificant contribution to nutritional benefits.
Unfortunately, people tend to picky eating habits based on trends rather than nutritional benefits. Today, people are more likely to go for low-nutrition, high-calorie foods because they are trendier. Not to forget that they are also costlier. Try imagining the shock on such people’s faces when they realize that going for the cheapest grocery list is more nutritionally fulfilling.
Can you make the cheapest grocery list cost less?
The answer is … yes! For every cheap food that you know, there are many others with ridiculously lower price tags. How can anyone know this? You might wonder. The answer is technology.
Presently, we are in a technology boom where bright minds work overtime to make our lives more comfortable. New tools are springing up to automate tasks that would otherwise bring no joy from software to hardware. Looking for cheaper foods is one such task.
Dozens of grocery money-saving apps like Ibotta exist, whose use is to point you to the cheapest foods available. Ibotta has a cash-back program on purchases you make, often in grocery stores and convenience stores. We have done a comprehensive review of Ibotta.
✅Click here to sign up for Ibotta and get a $20 welcome bonus!
The most significant case for unhealthy fast-foods is convenience. Few people want to cook, and there is a popular notion that cooking is more expensive because of the time spent collecting the ingredients. If the apps can cut the time spent looking for cheap foods, you do not have any more excuses for going for the cheapest grocery list.
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How you benefit from buying cheap foods
Cheap foods have several huge benefits, some of them obvious and others less conspicuous. Most importantly, going for less costly items for your grocery list affords you much more money for savings.
Over time, the average percentage of household income that Americans spend on food has reduced but at the expense of nutritional value. In the early 20th century, an average US household used 40% of its income to buy food. Food cost fell to 30% in the 1950s and then to less than 10% in 2013.
But less of the money has been going to groceries as more people took to fast foods. To some, eating at a fast-food joint is cheaper because the food they wish to cook is pricey. But such problems only face those who have no idea about cheaper foods that are readily available.
The less obvious benefits of going for the cheapest grocery list is higher nutritional value. According to the USDA study cited earlier, Americans tend to choose less expensive foods in preparation time. However, these foods tend to be “expensive” from a nutritional economy standpoint.
Although you might need to spend more time in the kitchen, the nutritional content of cheap foods makes up for all the trouble.
You see, buying cheap foods is not only for people running on a tight budget. It might seem the case if you have a lopsided view of nutrition. The internet and other media outlets are awash with stories of how low-nutrition foods increase lifestyle diseases.
Today, more people all over the world suffer lifestyle diseases than ever before. It is only a matter of time before this disease category becomes the largest snatcher of human life. It is a vast and exciting coincidence that the incidence of lifestyle diseases is higher when fewer people focus on healthy diets.
List of cheap foods to include in your grocery list
I understand that we all have different tastes, hence different opinions when talking about cheap yet healthy foods. Some of us are ardent followers of cooking shows in which we catch numerous ideas on how we can cut back on our grocery costs to save money.
My cheapest grocery list comprises many options, most of which are personal favorites. Others are, like you, picks from my favorite chefs. Let us go through the list together:
Lentils are rich in polyphenols – organic compounds known for promoting good blood circulation by keeping your blood vessels healthy and flexible. The compounds also help your body combat chronic inflammation and help manage blood sugar levels in your body.
Besides, the legume factor of the lentils adds richness to soups and curries. A 2017 study showed that lentils pack more protein per pound compared to beef. A half a cup of dry lentils costs $0.12, and you can get a pound of the same at $1.50.
#2 Black beans
Speaking of polyphenols, black beans have the highest number – 59 milligrams per 100 grams compared to 51 mg for white beans and less than 50 mg for lentils. Additionally, the beans contain folic acid, calcium, fiber, and potassium.
A can of dry beans costs around $1.50, and you can get half a cup at a measly $0.30. You can boil the beans at home and make a healthy plate of black bean soup. Note that boiling the beans does not alter their nutritional composition.
#3 Garbanzo beans
Of all the bean varieties in existence, garbanzo beans are known for their immense quantity of fiber. In some places, this variety is called chickpeas. It makes to the cheap foods list because $3 buys you a can to serve two to three meals for one person.
Oats are rich in carbohydrates, usually crucial if you need food to hang in your stomach for hours after ingestion. One oatmeal nourishes your body with low fat, fiber, and many other essential dietary elements.
Among other things, oats help to lower cholesterol levels in the body. It helps to note that oats rank among cheap foods that offer a healthy dose of nutrients.
Soybeans, also frozen edamame, is the cheapest grocery list item ideal for appetizer or side dish serving. Taken out of their pods, soybeans create a decadent and nutritious gravy when added to casseroles, stews, or fried rice. Besides flavor, soybeans nourish your body with iron, calcium, fiber, and essential calories.
#6 Brown rice
Rice is a popular dish the world over, perhaps because it is great for many servings, including rice salads, side dishes, soups, casseroles, and fried rice. Rice deserves a spot in your cheapest grocery list because, for less than $2, you will get essential calories, fibers, and proteins.
#7 Whole-grain pasta
Whole-grain – sometimes called multigrain or whole-wheat pasta – is among cheap foods you can find easily. Pasta has plenty of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Plus, this food is the cheapest grocery list candidate because a pasta dish can be served hot or cold and with vegetables as an accompaniment, or served together with other dishes such as spaghetti and broccoli alfredo.
Nutritionists prefer 100% whole-wheat bread. With less than $2, you can get 22 ounces of 22-slice bread with which you can make a sandwich, pudding, or bread stuffing. All of the items for a bread-based serving should be easily accessible because of the low price. Two slices of whole-wheat bread serving contain 3 grams of fiber, 120 grams of calories, and 6 grams of protein.
Cabbage is not only readily available but also versatile—the vegetable packs healthy nutrients content. For less than 30 cents, you get vitamin C, A, and K, fiber, folate, and a substantial amount of non-digestible carbohydrates – prebiotics.
Kale ranks among cheap foods that nutritionists call superfoods. One cup of kale packs 10 times the Daily Value of vitamin K, essential for bone health. Also, it contains vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Can you imagine you can get all these nutrients for just 69 cents?
Broccoli makes it to our cheapest grocery list for two reasons; it is a cheap vegetable averaging $1.64 per head and packs essential elements such as vitamin C. Also, nutritionists recommend broccoli for its antioxidants, folate, and vitamin K. You have a lot of freedom in serving broccoli, including serving it raw.
#12 Romaine lettuce
If you are looking for cheap foods with low-calorie content but plenty of minerals and vitamins, then romaine lettuce should not miss on your cheapest grocery list. You can use romaine lettuce as a base for a salad with avocado or grapefruit.
Spinach resembles broccoli for its flexibility and the ability to serve it as part of the main dish or a main dish by itself. Besides reasonable pricing, spinach contains health-promoting substances, including vitamin K, A, and C, manganese, and folate.
To top it off, a single serving provides enough fiber to aid your digestion, and its beneficial compounds help the body to fight inflammation.
#14 Green beans
Green beans are your choice if you cannot find vegetables that offer vitamin A in desired quantities. The internet is overflowing with sinfully easy recipes for green beans, including cheesy green bean casserole or chicken-green bean casserole. To keep simple and to remain within the limits of the cheapest grocery list items, serve green beans with condensed mushroom soup.
#15 Tomato and onion salad
Tomatoes and onions are all-season cheap foods, often with fair pricing. You might be used to onions enhancing the flavor of other dishes, but you will be surprised the vegetable is an excellent serving as a salad. Onions contain antioxidants and essential nutrients.
A full salad includes tomatoes rich in beta-carotene – an essential substance that prevents skin damage from UV light.
#16 Sweet potatoes
A pound of sweet potatoes should cost you less than $1 on average. Sweet potatoes come high up in the cheap foods list that packs essential nutrients in plenty, including minerals and vitamins.
A single sweet potato packs more vitamin A than a cup of wheat and other grains. Also, you get to add fiber and potassium to your body. Another great thing about sweet potatoes is that you can pair them with an endless list of dishes. Also, you have many options for preparation; you can steam, bake, or roast, and they will turn out great every time.
#17 Russet potatoes
Russet potatoes come with the flexibility of sweet potatoes for preparation. Baked or added in a stew, be sure to ingest calories, protein, fiber, potassium, iron, and valuable vitamins. Depending on the amount you need, Russet potatoes are on the cheap end of the price scale.
Peanuts do not have the best reputation, but they offer many nutrients when partaken moderately. The nuts provide healthy fats and other benefits that legumes come with. One dollar can buy you a bag of 60 nuts, or you can go for an eight-ounce bag for less than $5.
Why should you consider almonds for the cheapest grocery list? One ounce serving of almonds packs 162 calories, calcium, some fiber, flavonoids, and folate. Also, almonds contain vitamin E, an essential nutrient that many people miss, and one ounce is just 71 cents.
#20 Pumpkin seeds
You may know these as pepitas, which you can roast, add in a salad, or sprinkle on soup. Pumpkin seeds have essential minerals and vitamins, not to mention iron and protein. One pound of pumpkin seeds will cost you just $6, and you might need only one ounce for a single serving.
These nuts should be part of your cheapest grocery list if you cannot find almonds or peanuts. Cashews are a great alternative if you want nuts in your pantry, but the budget is overstretched.
Walnuts are a bit pricey for our cheap foods list but not too far out of reach. Like all nuts, walnuts supply plenty of heart-healthy fats. Walnuts are particularly popular with nutritionists who agree that eating them regularly could reduce cardiovascular problems and improve brain functioning.
Pistachio nuts may be rare, but their potassium and unsaturated fatty acids content motivates you to comb supermarket isles for them. In-shell pistachios contain plenty of fiber and useful minerals. The unsaturated fats help to check cholesterol buildup in the body, hence preventing cardiovascular problems. Luckily, pistachio prices are within the bounds of the cheapest grocery list.
#24 Peanut butter
Yes, peanut butter. Many people stock peanut butter for bread or other meals, but this could make a great food item when running short on cash. An 18-ounce jar of peanut butter has enough carbs and protein for your daily requirements.
#25 Bean curd (tofu)
If you are a stickler for high-nutrient cheap foods, then bean curd is your thing. The good thing is that tofu appeals to both meat-eaters and vegetarians. You might have your idea of what to use, but soy milk is ideal because of its low-fat and high-protein attributes.
Baked zucchini will make you want to cook every day. Zucchini is courgette in some places, and it is a popular vegetable in many home gardens, and some people may know it as a fruit. Nevertheless, zucchini packs lots of potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid. Also, the food is very cheap.
If you are a veggie, consider yourself lucky because many cheap foods suit you. Cucumbers are excellent, especially when added to a salad. Still, eating them alone is satisfying, especially for their crunchiness and hydrating qualities.
Root vegetables have some mystic about them, and turnips are no different. Turnips are crunchy and spicy when uncooked, but they turn earthy, nutty, and sweet when cooked.
#29 Bell pepper
For veggies out there, your smoothie is not complete without a whole bell pepper. The crisp vegetable packs vitamin C, which boosts muscle growth.
#30 Baby carrots
Baby carrots are full of fiber and water. When fresh, these vegetables are satiating and are great for a flat belly. You can kiss your metabolism problems goodbye with a regular serving of baby carrots. Their beta-carotene and vitamin A content also boosts skin health and vision. We have no excuse not to include baby carrots in the cheapest grocery list because, well, they belong to the lowest extreme of cheap foods.
We are used to garlic as a flavoring agent or as part of a vegetable smoothie. It is also okay to eat garlic as a snack, though the taste might be unsettling. Most important are the nutrients you get because the vegetable has substances capable of helping you fight a cold. The minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and nutrients like vitamin C and protein have immune-boosting capabilities. You can find garlic in the cheap foods section of the supermarket aisle.
Eggs are the go-to quick-fix when we want protein in plenty and a generous dose of vitamin D, xeanthanin, and lutein. Perhaps eggs derive their popularity from the serving variety, and of course, cheap price.
#33 Chicken leg quarters
What do you when a whole chicken is beyond where your purse strings can stretch? Well, you buy parts of it and get to enjoy the proteins at a discount. Typically, these cost just about $1.36 per pound, quite enough for one serving.
#34 Ground chicken
Although with a cost slightly higher than chicken leg quarters, ground chicken is a perfect substitute for a whole chicken. Nothing can beat the protein you get from this food at that price.
#35 Ground turkey
Another bird! You wouldn’t even think of a turkey on a tight budget, but ground turkey can save the day. A pound of the ground turkey goes for less than $3 per pound on Walmart, and it could be worthless at smaller stores. This item comes to your cheapest grocery list packed with plenty of healthy protein.
#36 Canned sardines
Can you imagine getting your stomach full on $0.88 food? Yes, this is what canned sardines afford you. Never mind that the food contains enough protein to cover your daily requirement.
#37 Bone broth
Bone broth is the best of cheap foods you can find because it might come for free! You can get lots of bones cheaply or as leftovers from the whole turkey. Plus, the broth packs lots of nutrients and vitamins.
#38 Canned tuna
Tuna is excellent when taken in moderation, mainly due to its high mercury content. Nevertheless, the food contains omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and calories. You can get a 6-ounce can of albacore cheaply, which has two servings.
#39 Chicken breast strips
I am giving you more reasons not to burden yourself with a whole chicken that will probably spoil in the fridge. Chicken breast strips will cost you as low as $0.75 compared to about $10 for a whole chicken. Including this item on the cheapest grocery list will help you skip fast-food nuggets and keep your body healthy.
#40 Pearled barley
Although it may be unfair to compare pearled barley to hulled barley, a more nutritious, pearled barley is cheaper. The price per nutrition content for pearled barley is slightly favorable. Plus, we serve pearled barley as a standalone meal but alongside stews, soups, casseroles, or cold salads. All these items are cheap foods that a $10 budget can afford.
#41 Popcorn kernels
Popcorn is a great snack, but nutritionists discourage microwaving. Plain kernels make great healthy food because of plenty of antioxidants and fiber. Use the stove to pop the kernels and add a few cheap herbs, salt, a few spices, and salt.
#42 Buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour brings decadent pancakes to mind. A pound of these items costs less than $4, and it can serve at least twice. You might think buckwheat flour is a type of grass (like wheat), but this is not even close since the item is not a grass-type.
Why should this be one of the cheap foods to consider? Buckwheat flour provides plenty of dietary fiber and essential amino acids.
#43 Rye flour
Are you thinking of bread? Rye flour is an excellent addition for its toothsome flavor. Rye flour is cheap, and it broadens your baking range when on a tight budget.
Millet has an insane nutrient content for its price, which you will find at an average price of $3 per pound. Plus, you have a wide range of options for a meal plan from which you can be sure of ingesting a substantial dose of vitamin B.
#45 Frozen corn
One ear of cooked corn is a great side dish. The calorie content of a single serving is enough to push you through the day. Corn has a strong fiber and potassium content, all critical for an optimally functioning body.
Whether Icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt, a single serving of yogurt supplies your body with up to 15 grams of protein. Do not avoid yogurt with fat because this substance helps your body to absorb vitamin D.
The USDA lists whey as diverse in terms of nutritional content. 100 grams of whey carry 27 calories, 0.4 grams of fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, protein, and carbohydrates. Yet 83.9 cents buy you an ounce of whey.
Milk may not fill your stomach, but it is one of the few cheap foods you can count on to nourish your body properly. Alternatively, you could add milk to a vegetable smoothie to expand the range of nutrients in one serving.
Like all dairy products, cheese is an excellent source of fat, protein, and calcium. Additionally, a 16-ounce cheese container packs many vitamins A and B-12, phosphorus, riboflavin, and zinc.
Apples are a staple in many households because of their antioxidant richness. Besides being cheap, Apples are ready to eat. Whether you choose to add apple cubes to a salad or not, you will still get a healthy dose of carbohydrates, fat, water, and protein.
A single banana fruit costs about 59 cents, and it gives 105 calories, 14 grams of healthy sugar, fiber, and potassium. The fruit also supplies lots of prebiotic fiber that boosts digestion.
Typically, cantaloupe and bananas gross in a similar price range, which is not the only notable attribute. Like bananas, Cantaloupe contains low calories, but vitamins and other nutrients like potassium are abundant.
Blueberries are great, especially when struggling with bodyweight because of their low-calorie content. You will pay slightly higher for the berries than other fruits, but the nutritional abundance makes it worth every penny. Blueberries are among the healthiest cheap foods you can consume because it combines antioxidants with a great deal of fiber, manganese, and vitamins K and C.
A pound of Kiwi typically costs $2 or less per pound, and the health benefits abound. Kiwis guarantee you more than your daily need of Vitamin C and K, and enough antioxidants and potassium to strengthen your immune function. Experts prescribe kiwis as a regular food item for a healthy body.
Watermelon is a summer fruit that consists of 91% water. The fruit packs a range of nutrients, including carbs, protein, fats, and low-calorie content. Its fiber content is enough to support better digestion.
#56 Honeydew melon
Other than high water content, honeydew packs vitamin C, which is a tremendous stress-fighting nutrient. The diuretic attributes of honeydew make it a tremendous anti-bloat solution at a cheap price.
Nectarines are another hydration at a pocket-friendly cost. One hundred grams of the fruit contain 85% water, a few calories, substantial fiber, and plenty of phenolic compounds. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a nectarine a day keeps apples away!
Oranges are great for a fruit smoothie or salad. Whichever way you serve, oranges will deliver their famed vitamin C content without holding back. The fruit also packs potassium, folate, and fiber. To make the best of the healthy fiber content, it is advisable to eat the fruit rather than squeezing it for juice.
Pears have a higher calorie content than many fruits, but they still make it to the cheapest grocery list of must-use foods for a healthy body. The USDA lists copper and vitamin C as the major nutrients in the fruit. Other notable nutrients and minerals include protein, carbohydrates, vitamin K, fiber, and potassium.
#60 Homemade hummus
Grocery store hummus can be pricey, perhaps because of the packaging. But you will be surprised how cheap the whole thing can be when buying the ingredients (or use those already available) to concoct your hummus at home. You assemble the right ingredients: garbanzo beans, olive oil, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Just blend the whole thing and watch hummus unfold before your eyes!
Pumpkins are on many people’s cheapest grocery list for their low price and easy preparation. Also, you have the flexibility to use the pumpkins in wheat pancakes, bread, or even chocolate muffins. Pumpkins also make great standalone meals if baking is not your thing.
#62 Winter squash
Squash affords you the same versatility that pumpkins do. Unlike pumpkins, squash pack more fiber, and the potassium content is considerable. Did you know you can roast squash without damaging its nutritional composition? Roasted squash may be an excellent base for tacos for veggies.
Tea cannot miss the cheap foods list because it is easy to prepare at home. Studies ascribe therapeutic attributes to tea, specifically for people at risk of strokes and depression. Brewing at home gives you a free hand to limit as much sugar as possible, helping you keep your body weight within a healthy range.
The calorie content of coffee is zero, so are fat, cholesterol, and sugar. One hundred grams of the coffee pack 2 milligrams of sodium and 49 milligrams of potassium, all essential minerals for a healthy body. All the nutritional benefits are great, but coffee’s greater significance manifest in its ability to save you lots of money when you brew at home.
Water is so easy to overlook, yet it is the very source of life we cannot live without. Sometimes our hunger pangs are a sign of a perched body, and a glass or two of water can perform incredible magic. Water has many benefits for our bodies, and we cannot list enough. Make fair use of the faucet in the house, and you will save more money on the grocery.
More Cheap Foods on Your Grocery List?
Often, one feels the urge to settle for less healthy and more expensive food at the nearest restaurant because one cannot compile the cheapest grocery list. Even with plenty of information on the internet, one cannot quickly identify the cheap foods to buy, especially when home cooking is not your thing.
The above-listed items are easily accessible at your local grocer, and they are cheap for real! You realize that the foods pack plenty of minerals and nutrients, meaning you can create a grocery list even when you are not on a tight budget.
If you have more ideas on cheap foods, then leave a comment. I want this to be a resource on the internet of cheap foods for everyone!
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Eggs are NOT CHEAP anymore and need to be taken off of this list please. Just bought a dozen eggs today 2/6/23 for $5 dollars plus tax. Please update this list. Thank you.