You know that sinking feeling: the grocery bills keep increasing, there’s two-week-old broccoli gone rotten in the fridge, and there seems to be an endless supply of random ingredients in the pantry. For a family on a budget, this just doesn’t work. This list of affordable foods makes for versatility, flavor, and healthy eating for a family on a budget. Take a look.
One of the most versatile proteins, eggs can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on how you prepare them. If you live in an area where there are farms nearby, you might make a separate column labeled “farm stand items” since you can often find fresh, local eggs at really low cost. Otherwise, expect to spend $2-$7 at the grocery store depending on what type of eggs you choose. If you’re really aiming for a true low budget grocery list? Places like Costco or other wholesale locations will have large quantities of eggs for a low cost. You just might have to make a lot of omelets…
Conveniently, spinach goes really well in omelets and is packed with all sorts of vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great base for salads, can be easily added to stir-fries, or blended into smoothies without being noticed for an added boost of nutrients. If you buy large containers of spinach, you might opt to freeze some to later be added to cooked dishes and save the fresh spinach for salads, as greens can wilt quickly. Expect to spend $2-$3 for a prepackaged bag, or buy it in smaller quantities from the bin of loose greens to avoid wasting spoiled leaves.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and they’re also the perfect healthy snack. More affordable than berries or many other fruits, you can snack on them alone, sprinkle them with cinnamon, or dip them in peanut butter to add a little protein. During apple season, stock up on local varieties of the best apples you’ll ever eat. Expect around $2 a pound for organic, slightly less for conventionally grown.
Pasta and Rice
Both are typically available in bulk, are easy to cook in a variety of ways, and are a filling meal when paired with veggies and a simple sauce. Gather a repertoire of make-at-home sauces and you’re in business with these ingredients that don’t go bad.
It’s way easier to stick to your family budget for groceries when your dishes are flavorful, and garlic packs a punch that can boost the flavor of just about any dish. It should be a staple on your budget grocery list — go for the raw heads of garlic rather than the pre-chopped version for better taste and lower cost. At $2-$5 per pound, less than a dollar will get you plenty of garlic!
If you are a meat eater, you know that purchasing different types of meat can get expensive. Keep your grocery budget low by opting for chicken often, and experiment with the variety of ways it can be used. Make your own wings with some barbeque sauce, roast a whole chicken and have meals for days, or go the simple route and choose a chicken breast that can be seasoned and cooked quickly and easily. Market prices vary.
A surprisingly powerful flavor ingredient. Zest the peel or add a squeeze of lemon juice to salads or other dishes, like chicken, for a citrusy zing. If you live in an area where citrus grows, look for local lemons! At the store, they go for around $1.50 per pound.
For the ultimate in budget grocery list items, purchase your beans dried for just a few dollars and have a protein source that will last your family a while. Soak them overnight depending on the bean, and they’ll be ready to cook for use on salads, with rice, or in soups. Lentils are a quick and easy bean that you can cook with your rice for a complete protein source. Easy! If time is a factor, choose beans that are already cooked and canned. Bags of beans: $1-$2 per pound of dry beans. Canned beans: around $2 per can.
While we’re on the subject of groceries, have you seen our tips for creating a healthy grocery list on a budget when you’re moving? Check out our new apartment grocery list and make sure not to miss any of the essentials.