A peek inside this post: Stressed out by grocery prices and looking for the best groceries to buy on a budget? Costs are up and wallets are hurting. Learn which foods to buy on a budget and leave the rest on the store shelf for now!
It’s no secret. Grocery prices have gone up so much.
The woman in front of me at the checkout line mentioned it to me. The gentleman pricing cream cheese brought it up to me just this morning.
The increase in food prices has resulted in many of us learning how to make groceries go further or moving things around in our budget just to get meals to the table for our families.
If you’ve found this post, it probably means your wallet is feeling the strain too. Continue reading for the best groceries to buy on a budget.
Why We are Searching for Cheap Groceries to Buy
Why is it important to be a smart shopper?
We want to get the best bang for our buck. We want the highest yield for our money.
Have you ever found yourself standing in the aisles of the grocery store asking yourself how one pound of ground beef can really cost that much money? And that’s not even the lean beef.
Or maybe you are getting your online grocery order together which contains the same staples you ordered just a month ago but notice it’s several dollars more.
If I were to share with you my favorite list of foods that are low in inflammation and are full of vitamins and minerals, it would look different. Not that some of these items on this list aren’t “healthy” for you because several are.
But this post is about being economical. Spending less and getting more.
Sometimes families go through seasons where eating strictly whole foods has to be put on the back burner for a while and that’s ok. I don’t want you to feel ashamed about that.
What Foods To Buy on a Budget
First and foremost, markdown groceries are amazing. I love getting meat marked down and putting it in the freezer for later use. Same with breads or rolls. We use them right away or freeze them for later.
We also plan our meals around markdown groceries! (Find this and more great tips in How to be Frugal with Groceries.)
Not everybody can find markdowns or has the time outside of work and family commitments to go searching for them.
Without further delay, I did some research with friends and family, asking them to share what groceries they usually buy on their tight budget. I would like to share my findings with you in hopes it gives you some new ideas or maybe refreshes your mind to some you had forgotten over the years past.
Foods to buy on a budget:
- Pancake mix
These are always a favorite. You can change it up by adding different toppings. Our kids always love pancake night.
These are still pretty affordable and easy to pop in the toaster for any meal!
Generic cereal is the way we go, even with those cheesy names our boys roll their eyes at.
Oatmeal is so versatile. You can use it for baking, add it to your meat for your main course, and eat it on its own as a full meal.
- Hot Dogs
Depending on the brand you get, these can still be affordable and can make for a pretty simple meal.
- Hamburger Buns/Hotdog Buns
You can use these for meat, garlic bread, or even a good old Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.
These aren’t as cheap as they used to be. They are still a great filler for chicken/tuna salad or in a breakfast casserole.
Depending on the brand you get, you can serve several people for a small amount of money.
- Sliced cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches are so quick and affordable. Serving it with tomato soup makes it even more exciting.
>>> Need to update your recipes? Check out asiago grilled cheese and spicy creamy tomato soup!
Saltines, wheat crackers, and oyster are just a few favorite crackers that won’t break the break. They are great for dips or to toss in soups.
- Chicken thighs or legs (dark meat is usually less expensive)
We cooked a few chicken quarters last week and used the meat for 3 different meals: grilled chicken salad, chicken and rice soup, and chicken salad.
- Canned vegetables and fruits
It does depend on what’s in season. Sometimes fresh and frozen are more economical.
Another extremely versatile food. Great for stir frys, casseroles, burritos, and so much more.
- Pasta (all kinds)
Boxed pasta can be found at dollar stores and can serve a pretty good crowd. It’s ok to eat pasta without meat!
- Pasta Sauce
We usually have this on our list weekly. If I use a recipe that doesn’t require an entire jar of sauce, I freeze that small portion and use that later for dipping with cheese sticks or other recipes.
- Potatoes (all kinds)
Baked potatoes and sweet potatoes are delicious. You can make a small potato bar so each person can create his own “perfect potato”!
We buy bananas every single week. They are always good and always affordable. If they happen to get brown before we eat them, they get peeled and put in the freezer for banana bread or smoothies.
- Diced Tomatoes
We love to have diced tomatoes on hand. My favorite is the Fire Roasted! They add a great flavor to any dish.
- Beans (Dried and Canned)
Beans are affordable and a great source of protein and fiber and can make meat and soups go so much further.
We always have apples on hand and cut them up just about everyday. If they are cut up on a plate they usually disappear in no time. They also make a great “after school snack” with peanut butter or popcorn.
Still a favorite movie snack for so many families!
Tuna Salad on crackers/buns/marked down rolls makes for a very economical meal.
- Tomato Juice
Great for chili or goulash.
We usually get a big tub of salad for less than $5. It feeds several and we have learned to line the top lid with a paper towel to help our salad stay fresh.
Pork roasts, pork sausage, and pork loins are usually cheaper than beef and chicken where we are. It’s great for soups, casseroles, and pork tacos.
Carrots are such an affordable vegetable. They are packed with so many vitamins as well. Carrots are usually on our grocery list every week for snacks, meals, and soups.
Another affordable vegetable you can add to soups, chicken salad, or serve with peanut butter.
Another staple for so many friends and family and very affordable.
- Peanut Butter
The classic PBJ makes a great snack, meal, or whatever you need it to be.
- Frozen Pizza
Grab the store brand and add your favorite toppings yourself!
- Broccoli/Cauliflower (unpacked or prepped)
Most veggies and fruits are so much cheaper when you cut/prep them yourself. You can toss them on a sheet pan to bake or cut them up for dips.
If you have the time, you can make so many things with a bag of flour: Cookies, rolls, noodles, cake, and much more.
Please Share With Us Your Favorite Food To Buy On A Budget
I hope this list of groceries to buy on a tight budget has been helpful to you! We all want to save a little money whenever we have the opportunity. Whether it’s because we don’t have a choice or because we are saving that money for something else!
We are always looking for suggestions from our readers. What do you have to add to our list?
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6 thoughts on “Best Groceries to Buy on a Budget: get the most bang for your buck”
Awesome post! I don’t have any new ideas to offer, you listed them all. 😊 I used to prepare homemade meals so much more when our girls were little and we were on a super tight budget every month and it really helped. I agree, the prices recently have been getting out of hand, we couldn’t believe the price of even peanut butter which we use as a source of protein, too. I also like beans as a source of protein. I want to learn to make homemade bread and even pasta noodles. Not sure how they will turn out, lol, but if I keep trying I will get it down. Thank you again for this helpful and very practical post … 🙏😘❤️
I’m so glad this post was helpful! We appreciate the feedback. I love the idea of making homemade bread and pasta noodles. I made bread years ago and really enjoyed it but it’s been awhile. I may give it a try again as well!
I had no idea a paper towel would improve the shelf-life of a tub of salad. Thanks for the tip!
Yes! You can also prep salads ahead of time and keep them in a ziplock bag or storage container and add a paper towel to it. If I prep salads for the whole week, I’ll change the paper towel maybe every other day and enjoy crisp, fresh salads all week long! — Just Homemaking
Love all these tips! With my hungry family, we definitely need to stretch meals and snacks. 😂
I am so glad these tips were helpful! It’s so hard to make things stretch with a big family!-Just Homemaking