Best Cheap Grocery List on a budget

notebook cheap grocery list

Budget Friendly Groceries to buy when you are broke

When you are looking for ways to save money, usually your food budget is a big contributor to your expenses. And so trimming the grocery budget is a a great place to start.

But grocery shopping while on a tight budget can be hard. I get it, I promise. But, it is totally possible.

When we were paying down debt, I had $350 to feed our family of 5 for a month. Just $350!

We focused on buying cheap foods and creating grocery lists with those foods to make this happen. I made meal plans with dinners made from those inexpensive groceries and still managed to keep my family well fed.

cheap groceries

When you need to spend less on food and groceries, creating a cheap grocery list is a great way to stretch your food budget.

This list of affordable food will help you get started in creating your own cheap grocery list to work with when planning meals for your family.

Note: some links in this post contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no cost to you. Click here for our full disclaimer

Save Even More on your Cheap Grocery List

One of the best ways to save even more money, no matter if you are buying the cheapest foods or not, it to get paid to grocery shop.

How does this work? Easy! Sign up for FREE programs that will give you cash back for the cheap grocery items you purchase.

I have two ways that I like to make this happen.

The first is to use Ibotta. It is a totally free app on your phone. You sign up and start scanning your receipts immediately.

When the app finds a match in your receipt to a promo being offered, you get a kick back! Boom, you just made money back on your already cheap food.

Click here to sign up for Ibotta and start saving right away! You even get $5 to start, just for signing up!

Then, I like to double dip my savings. After I scan the receipt into Ibotta, I will also scan the receipt into Fetch Rewards.

Fetch Rewards is different. Instead of earning direct cash back, you earn points. And those points can be redeemed for gift cards to big retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart. 

And the best part? You can now scan in online shopping receipts. So you can redeem fetch rewards to get an amazon gift card. Then use that gift card to make a purchase on Amazon, then scan the receipt from that purchase and earn more points! Talk about a winning cycle!

Click Here to sign up for your free Fetch Rewards account. You get 2000 points just for joining!

What is the Benefit of Buying Inexpensive Groceries?

Buying super cheap foods is a great way to help your food budget stretch farther than it normally would.

When money is tight and you still need to buy groceries before the next payday, doing all you can to buy groceries that are inexpensive will allow you to put food on your table and stay within your grocery budget.

You can use the cheap grocery list on an ongoing basis, if you really want to cut down your grocery bill for the long term. Or you can use these ideas only when needed.

Either way, having these this list of budget friendly groceries in mind, when needed, will be a huge help in lowering costs and keeping your food budget low.

The cheapest grocery List

The following list of foods are some of the cheapest groceries that you can buy. They are also pretty basic staples in our home and in my grocery shopping trips.

Buying budget friendly foods really can be a way of life, and you can still eat well.

Dave Ramsey refers to a list like this as a Rice and Beans diet. Because buying cheap groceries, and eating cheap foods, really can work when you are trying to save money.

So let’s get started!


Eggs are a staple of a cheap grocery list. They are nutritious and filling. You could have scrambled eggs for breakfast and not spend more than $0.50 on breakfast!

Also, eggs are used in a lot of recipes and dishes. So any cheap grocery list needs to have eggs on it.


Bread is going to be another staple, whether we are talking cheap groceries or not. Bread makes a great cheap breakfast, is a necessity for sandwiches for lunch, and a great meal stretcher at dinner time.

Yes, you could spend a lot of money on the nice, fancy breads. But, in our house, we routinely get the less expensive bread for about $2 a loaf. 

If you really want to go inexpensive, you can make your own loaves of bread for less than $1 a loaf! That does take some time and dedication, but it could work.

bread as a cheap grocery list item


Rice is definitely on the cheap foods list. You can buy white rice in big 10 or 20 pound bags for just a few dollars. Brown rice is healthier and more filling, but a little more expensive.

We use rice in so many of our family meals. We usually have rice under some kind of sauce with shredded meat. It ends up being super yummy and filling.


Another inexpensive staple in our house is pasta. You can buy a whole pound of spaghetti noodles for a $1 or less!

I use pasta in dishes like spaghetti, homemade mac n cheese, skillet chili mac and so much more! I have tons of pasta casserole dishes that make using this food easy and yummy!


Beans are definitely one of the most affordable food items you can buy. And, as a bonus, they are healthy for you and filling! Combine beans with rice and you have a complete protein.

You can buy dry beans or canned beans. Dry beans will be the cheapest option, but they do take time to rehydrate and cook. Canned beans are easier to just rinse and use.

I have collected many recipes that use beans during my hunt for budget friendly meal ideas. They really are pretty versatile and a great addition to a cheap grocery list.

Canned Tuna

I have always been a tuna fan, and I love that it is another cheap food. Canned tuna is great because it lasts a long time as food storage, and can be used in many dishes.

It is a great way to make some sandwiches for lunches or add protein to a salad.

Canned Tomatoes

I will be honest, I don’t often buy fresh tomatoes, I just don’t like them. But I need to have canned tomatoes on hand for so many recipes I make. They add extra flavor and nutritional value to a dish. 

And, if you are making homemade spaghetti sauce, they are a necessity. Plus you can  use canned tomatoes as a substitute in dishes that call for fresh, if the fresh tomatoes are just too expensive at the moment.

Frozen Vegetables

Don’t be deceived and think that frozen veggies are less healthy than fresh. Most of the time they are frozen immediately when picked. 

I always keep a stock of frozen veggies on hand. They are definitely a cheaper food. They are often used my recipes and they make for an easy way to add a vegetable as a side to dinner.


So many recipes call for onions to enhance the flavor and texture of the dish. I like to get the pre-bagged onions as I get the right amount and they last me a long time.

Plus, getting several in a bag for a low price helps me focus on other areas of my food budget.

Definitely keep onions on hand.


Potatoes are one of the lowest priced foods you can find. When you can buy a 5 or 10 pound bag for just a few dollars, you know you found a winner for the budget grocery list!

Potatoes are great to add to meals, make into a soup, or to eat on their own in a baked potato bar fashion. 

potato as cheap grocery list item


Bananas are a great cheap fruit to add to your grocery list. My kids LOVE bananas and when I buy them, they often disappear quickly.

Fruit in general makes great snacks or additions to meals. Though it can be hard to find ones that fit the bill of being a cheaper food. Bananas definitely meet the criteria. These should always be on your tight budget grocery list


Apples are available at the best price in the fall. However, it is possible to find less expensive apples all year round when you buy some of the more generic flavors (Gala for example).

Having apples on hand also make for a quick snack idea, or add on to a meal. Definitely keep apples on the list.


When it comes to meals, your meat for the meal will be the most expensive ingredient. Of the meats you can buy, chicken is going to be your least expensive option.

Do your best to buy chicken when it is on sale. And check the price between frozen chicken and fresh chicken breast. You might be surprised at what you learn.

One of the most cost effective ways to buy chicken is actually to buy a whole fryer chicken. You can cook it up like a rotisserie chicken, eat it that way one night and then use the excess meat in some other meals later in the week.

Peanut Butter

When you want to get a lot of bang for your buck, peanut butter should be on your grocery list. Peanut butter is a great source of protein, which means it will be more filling and you don’t even have to use that much of it.

Peanut Butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple in our house. And that is because they are so quick, easy and affordable! A serving of peanut butter on two slices of bread and some jelly is one of the cheapest lunch foods probably known to man.


Regular oatmeal oats are a great food item to add to your list. You can make it over the stove or in the microwave. And even though it is plain, it is easy to add flavors with things already in your pantry like brown sugar, and combine it with some fresh or frozen fruit.

Oatmeal is filling and healthy and a great addition to any budget conscious grocery list.

Mac n Cheese

I know macaroni and cheese isn’t on the super healthy side of things, but it definitely is on the affordable side.

If you buy the store brand, this definitely becomes an inexpensive food item. I will admit, we usually buy the name brand mac n cheese. But when one box (for less than $1) feeds all my kids for lunch on a day, it is worth it. You can always make this more healthy by adding in frozen veggies and sides of fruit.

Meal Ideas for a Tight Budget Grocery List

Now that you have a good list of foods you can buy on a tight budget, what do you do with them? Well, you need to come up with recipes that use those foods in your meal plan.

Below are just some of the meals that can be created using the foods from the grocery list above. The ideas are endless…

Budget Breakfast Ideas

Scrambled Eggs
Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana
Oatmeal with fruit
Fried eggs with Toast
Fried Potatoes with eggs

Affordable Lunch Ideas

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Mac n Cheese
Egg Salad sandwiches
Baked Potatoes

Inexpensive Dinner Ideas

Chicken and rice
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Whole Rotisserie Chicken with onions and potatoes
Baked Potato Bar
Bean and rice burritos
Potato Soup
Chicken Taco Soup

whole cooked chicken cheap meal idea

Find more cheap meal ideas here:
$50 Per Week Meal Plan
Best Dirt Cheap Meals

Final Thoughts on Cheap Grocery List

I definitely know what it is like to need to feed your family on a tight budget and come up with a grocery list that won’t break the bank (or the budget).

I want you to know that it is possible. Hopefully this list of inexpensive food ideas has given you some good ideas for foods you can buy to feed your family, without it costing a fortune.

Again, you can use this list to help you get to the next payday, or to use on a consistent basis to keep your food budget low.

Meal planning, and keeping a small food budget, is a huge help when working on big financial goals, especially when paying down debt.

What are your favorite cheap foods and meal ideas? I would love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments!

Best Cheap Grocery List on a budget

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