Cheap Grocery List: Cheapest Groceries to Buy When Money Is Tight

If you’re looking to save money on feeding your family, don’t miss our cheapest groceries list and what to buy for the most savings. 

If you’re looking to save money on feeding your family, don’t miss our cheapest groceries list and what to buy for the most savings. 

Food expenses are one of the largest items in every family’s budget, with most households spending an average of $4,875 on food.

So how do you save money on groceries without sacrificing what your family needs? And where do you buy cheap groceries?

Here is our cheapest groceries list and how to save when shopping it.

Where to Buy Cheap Groceries

Which grocery stores have the cheapest prices? In the U.S., visiting these stores is a good bet to find cheap groceries. Options will vary depending on your location, so plug each of these cheap grocery stores into Google Maps to see what’s near you.

  • Aldi
  • Costco (if you shop enough to justify a membership)
  • Walmart
  • Lidl
  • Grocery Outlet
  • Fareway
  • Market Basket
  • Winco
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Food4Less

If your area has a local discount store, make sure to stop in and see what they have as well!

Cheapest Groceries List for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Get Great Savings With Generics and Store Brands

Did you know that according to Dave Ramsey, you can save as much as $500 or more a year by switching your grocery purchases to store brands just for dinner alone?

Many generic and store-branded products are made in the same factory and name brands, they just have a different label and a lower price. Not only can you save money on these cheaper grocery items, chances are your family won’t notice a taste difference either! 

Consumer Reports offers research that generic brands measure up when it comes to quality and taste, and you can save 20 to 30% on the price.

Want to start buying generic store brands gradually before you replace all your family favorites?

Start with grocery items that are mixed with other items such as baking supplies, rice, pastas or canned veggies that will be added to dishes other than eaten by themselves.

This is often done by professional chefs who are looking to cut costs in the kitchen. Later, try switching to store brands on other items to save even more. Generic brands to buy include:

  • Rice 
  • Pasta
  • Canned goods
  • Cereal
  • Dried Fruit and nuts
  • Granola Bars
  • Meats 
  • Yogurt, milk and cheese
homemade bread

Make Your Own Baked Goods

While purchasing pre-made baked goods at the grocery store can be a delicious indulgence, the truth is that making them yourself is not only cheaper, but can also be a healthier option as well.

We have been making a lot more bread, rolls, treats and more at home during the last few months of social distancing and these new homemade versions are our new favorites. When shopping for at home baking, some of our must-have supplies are the following.

  • Flour
  • Sugar and Brown Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla
  • Baking Soda 
  • Baking Powder
  • Yeast
  • Salt
  • Honey

In addition to making items from scratch, pre-made mixes for items such as cakes, bread and pizza crusts can often be affordable to purchase for meals at home.

Watch for sales and promotions to get the best price and stock up on your family favorites to make meal preparation easy on a budget. 

cheap groceries

Freeze Your Food Costs With Frozen Food

While most people believe that fresh is best when it comes to produce, the truth is that frozen food can offer a lower price with far less food waste.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are usually picked and frozen at the optimum time and can offer great quality and an affordable price. 

Have fresh produce that your family won’t be able to consume before it spoils?

Consider prepping and freezing or canning it to maximize its lifespan and so that you can enjoy later.

We often freeze bananas, strawberries and more to use later in recipes and smoothies. 

Freezing meat can also help maximize your meal expenses.

Consider breaking it up into meal size servings before freezing and buy on sale to get the best price.

If you have the freezer space for even more savings, consider purchasing meat in larger quantities such as a quarter or half a cow or pig.

Split your purchase with friends or family members to save even more. 

Clip Coupons for The Most Savings

Yes, couponing is still a great way to save money on groceries and it’s easier than ever before! 

There are more ways to save with coupons than ever before and no scissors are required.

If you have a smartphone you can use apps to save on groceries such as, Ibotta, Savingstar, Checkout 51 and Fetch Rewards to save on groceries and get cash back on items you purchase. 

Pro tip: You can even get free grocery coupons by mail.

Add Meatless Mondays to Your Menus

Meatless Mondays aren’t just a trend to eat healthier, they are easier on your budget too! By working in one or two days a week where meat is not on your menu, you can cut food costs and open your family up to different ways of eating.

Cheap grocery items to stock for meatless Mondays include tofu, eggs, squash and beans.

Buy in Bulk

When grocery shopping, buying in bulk can be a great way to save on items your family uses in large quantities. Cereal, snacks, beverages and even meat can have a lower cost per serving when bought in large amounts.

When shopping for bulk buys, analyze the numbers and make sure the savings are worth the expense and that your purchase won’t expire before your family has the opportunity to put it to good use.

When purchasing bulk meat, I often repackage and freeze in serving sizes for individual meals.

Buy for Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can also be one of the most affordable.

Cheap breakfast groceries include oatmeal, bread, Cream of Wheat, cereals and eggs.

Add in canned or frozen food for extra flavor and nutrition.

Check out these 20 Dirt-Cheap Meals Under $5.

Refresh Your Fridge

Do you often throw away expired food?

If so, your family may be buying too much and this waste can really add up! 

Clean out your refrigerator and organize your groceries neatly so that you have a better idea of what products you have on hand.

Move items that have upcoming expiration dates to the front of the fridge, and if needed, use a marker to more clearly mark use by dates to keep them more visible.

Consider investing in clear, resealable containers to make storing and identifying leftovers easier. Affordable refrigerated groceries include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk, Cheese, Yogurt and Dairy Products
  • Lettuce or Salad
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Carrots 
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Peppers
  • Condiments (ketchup, mayo, etc)

Create a Stockpile of Canned Goods

Recent product shortages have made more of us aware of how important it is to have a supply of canned goods on hand.

Canned soups, fruits and veggies are important staples for most families and with a long shelf life, they can be good for several years after purchase.

Watch for sales and try different store brands to save money when purchasing canned goods and stock up when there is a great price.

Here are some of our top picks for cheap canned goods.

  • Canned Legumes and Beans
  • Tuna, Chicken and Salmon
  • Broth and stock (vegetable, chicken, etc)
  • Canned Fruits and Vegetables
  • Soups and Sauces
  • Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce
  • Salsa

Spice Things Up

Does your family’s diet need more flavor? Adding spices can be a thrifty way to add more variety to your family’s menu.

Must-haves for most families include salt and pepper, taco seasoning, gravy mixes, Italian seasonings and bouillon for soups and sauces.

Consider growing your own fresh herbs in a garden or window box to add to various recipes, or dried versions can be purchased affordably.

A little goes a long way with spices, so investing now can add flavor to your favorite recipes for weeks and months to come. 

Stock Up on Sides

Side dishes can be an affordable and appetizing way to expand your menu without increasing your expenses.

By having delicious sides, you can add variety on a budget and reduce costs on your meats and main dish, as well as serving dishes your family loves.

Cheap grocery items to buy include:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Cooking Oils 
  • Potatoes
  • Tortillas
  • Bread & Breadcrumbs 

Even with rising food costs, buying the groceries that your family needs doesn’t have to be expensive.

No matter what your family enjoys eating, there are lots of ways to save on the foods you love.

Saving money on your grocery budget is easier than you think, and smart shopping is an important step in getting started.

This cheapest groceries list is a great way to start saving.

Consider combining it with meal preparation to save even more.

Get more tips on how to save money.

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