20 Healthy Frugal Foods to Buy When Broke!

When you are broke, it can be a difficult challenge to trying living on a limited food budget. However, just because you’re poor, it doesn’t mean you have to survive on ramen noodles and butter bread.

According to many nutritionists and dieticians, when you are trying to stretch your money, some food, of course, will be a much better choice than others.

Regardless of how you purchase your food, always make sure you try to buy locally if possible.

This is for two reasons:

  • One, it helps support the local farmers and you know where the food is coming from.
  • Secondly, local food will almost always be organically grown, free of toxic pesticides and much cheaper than your grocery store equivalents.

To make the most of your health (for cheap), here are 20 healthy frugal foods to buy when broke:

#1. Pinto Beans ($.60 per 15 ounce can, $0.30 per 1/2 cup)

Pinto beans are healthy and cheap. If you are a big fan of beans, you will be glad to know that they cost less than $..60 per 15 ounce can, on average. With pinto beans, you can prepare tasty refried beans at home: Just mash them together with spices and garlic on the stove. Pinto beans are a delicious addition to any homemade salad, soup or burrito and are packed with fiber and protein.

#2. Organic Eggs ($3.50 per dozen, $0.19 per egg)

Eggs are a quick fix when you are in need of some good protein. Eggs also make a very versatile food, easy to incorporate in a wide range of recipes. Add them to a crepe, scramble with veggies or make a frittata.

#3. Peanuts ($4 per 8-ounce bag, $0.50 per ounce)

In its natural form, raw peanuts or even peanut butter can be a very healthy treat. Peanuts are considered a great supply of healthy fats when eaten in moderation. You can also reduce your risk of heart disease by eating regularly.

#4. Almonds ($5 per 8-ounce bag, $0.60 per ounce)

Almonds, like peanuts, are a good choice for that extra dose of protein. You can eat them raw or add them to a bowl of oatmeal or cereal. They are rich in fiber and a healthy monounsaturated fat and are known to reduce the risk of diabetes and help manage your weight.

#5. Lentils ($1.50 per pound, $0.12 per 1/2 cup)

These legumes act as a great meat replacement for burgers and can also add richness to soups and curries. Lentils are not only very rich in antioxidants but also have more protein per pound than beef.

#6. Black Beans ($1.50 per can, $0.30 per 1/2 cup)

These healthy and cheap beans pack fiber as well as potassium, calcium, and folic acid, and you can preserve most of its cancer-fighting antioxidants by boiling them at home. You can also use them to prepare a black bean taco or cook up a delicious black bean soup.

#6. Oats ($1 per pound)

Oats are low in fat, high in fiber and are great when prepared as oatmeal or mixed in with other recipes such as high-protein oatmeal peanut butter balls.

#7. Canned Salmon ($2.50 per 14.75 -ounce can, $0.20 per ounce)

Canned salmon is an omega-3-packed seafood and can either be eaten raw out of the can or can be spread on a cracker. When purchasing, however, just make sure salmon was ethically sourced and is labeled as Alaskan pink salmon, red salmon or Sockeye salmon.

#8. Canned Tuna ($1.50 per 5-ounce can, $0.30 per ounce)

Tuna is another cheap source of healthy omega-3. You can incorporate the canned tuna, just like salmon, on a cracker, sandwich or even in pasta. Like the canned salmon, don’t be cheap with your purchase. Make sure the tuna is labeled as “pole caught” and has the Marine Stewardship Council’s seal of approval.

#9. Brown Rice ($2 per pound, $0.18 per 1/4 cup)

Brown rice is known to be healthier than the white rice and can be great on its own or even mixed in with veggies. Unlike white rice, the side hulls and brans provide a “natural wholeness” to the grain, which are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

#10. Grapes ($1.50 per pound, $0.75 per cup)

Whether you have added them to a salad or eat them raw, grapes have been known to reduce cholesterol as they are high in antioxidants.

#11. Watermelon ($5 per melon, $0.30 per cup)

The watermelon is a super food in the fruit world that’s packed with vitamin C. If you’re extremely frugal, wait until the summer when you can purchase larger watermelons for a few bucks.

#12. Kiwi ($0.40 per kiwi)

Kiwis, another great super fruit, are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and a lot of antioxidants.

#13. Bananas ($2 per bunch, $0.50 per banana)

Bananas are filled with potassium and fiber and one of the easiest foods to take on the go. A banana is known to contain essential nutrients to help aid digestion, heart health and even help you lose weight.

#14. Cantaloupe ($3 per small melon, $0.50 per 1/2 cup)

Cantaloupes are packed with antioxidants and are known to be very good for potassium, vitamin B, magnesium and fiber. If you’re the one who doesn’t mind the seeds, it’s good to know the seeds provide a measurable amount of omega-3 fat.

#15. Pears ($1.75 per pound, $0.85 each)

According to a study, white pears can prevent stroke, but other tasty varieties such as the Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett can offer benefits as well. Pears are packed with benefiting nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. If that’s not enough, they are a great low-calorie food, only containing 60 calories per 100g.

#16. Apples ($0.75 per apple)

Eating apples can help you reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and asthma, and like a banana, it’s so easy to take on the go. Apples are known to be rich in flavonoids, dietary fiber and carry important antioxidants.

#17. Oranges ($1 per pound, $0.50 each)

Oranges are high in vitamin C content, as well as potassium, folate and fiber and are practically given away when they are in season.

#18. Canned Pumpkin ($2.50 per 15-ounce can, or $0.75 per 1/2 cup)

Pumpkin has a high content of carotenoids, a powerful antioxidant. You can add canned pumpkin to muffins, smoothies, curries, veggie burgers, and more. When choosing a brand, make sure the ingredient label says “organic pumpkin” and nothing else.

#19. Canned Tomatoes ($1.80 per 14.8-ounce can, or $0.50 per 1/2 cup)

Tomatoes have a high content of lycopene, another powerful antioxidant and can be mixed in with a ton of dishes. You can use canned tomatoes for homemade stews, sauces or bean chili.

#20. Broccoli ($2 per bunch, $0.50 per 1/2 cup)

Broccoli has high levels of vitamin C and folate. You can use this veggie tossed in frittatas, stuffed in potatoes, blended into a soup or cooked with a bit of olive oil and garlic.

About the author: Stephanie Lynch is a freelance writer who helped create the cost helping database called Howmuchisit.org. When she’s not helping consumers find out what things cost, she’s enjoying time with her family or hiking the local Arizona trails.




About the author

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! I believe in living green, organically, and natural in every aspect of our lives. My mission is to help educate you on how to live green, help save our environment and to help you and your family live a happier, healthier life!

18 thoughts on “20 Healthy Frugal Foods to Buy When Broke!”

    1. Hi Terez,
      I am so glad you stopped by to read some of my information. Thank you so much and I am so glad that my articles and information are helping you. That is the purpose to help educate people on how to live healthier and greener. Have a healthy, happy & blessed Easter.

  1. It’s time to rethink our shopping lists! These are some of our favorite foods and thankfully they are light on the pocketbook too! Thank you for sharing 20 healthy frugal foods to buy when broke at the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I’m pinning and sharing.

    1. HI Deborah,
      Thanks for hosting Healthy, Happy Green & Natural blog hop and sharing my article. I am so glad you eat these foods that are healthy and economical.

  2. Unfortunately here in Canada prices on many of the items listed are twice or three times as much. I do use bulk food for things like rice and beans to cut down on costs. I also grow a lot of my own vegetables during summer. – Margy

    1. Hi Margy,
      Your location definitely makes a big difference in price and also availability. Glad to hear that you do your own gardening – that certainly saves a lot of money and your know what in your food. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

  3. What size can of pinto beans costs $3?! I live in Pittsburgh, PA, and a 15-oz. can of pinto beans is 60c-90c here, and the same for black beans–although your other prices are similar to what I pay.

    These are great suggestions that really prove that eating healthy food CAN be affordable. Another food I’d put on the list is kale; it’s very nutritious, it’s versatile, and it tends to be affordably priced year-round in most parts of the U.S. because it grows all year in states like Alabama and Georgia. Of course, organic is the better choice but usually more expensive.

    1. Hi Becca,
      You are right beans pinto and black are usually less than $1 and usually about .60 per 15 ounce can. I did have it is $.30 a 1/2 cup which would be 8 ounces and $.60 for 15-16 ounces. I somehow was looking at a much larger can, but I will change that because it does make more sense since most people do buy a 15 ounce can. Thank you for pointing that out.
      I agree Kale is a good choice. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a healthy, happy and blessed day.

  4. Hi, and thank you for this list. I would comment as several have done here, that the price listed is VERY different here in Oregon, your prices are MUCH LESS than what we pay for items, especially from local farmers. And just a comment on canned: BPA!!! I would ALWAYS try fresh or frozen over canned from the store (your own home-canned are slightly different) due to the BPA in canned foods, ESPECIALLY acidic like tomatoes. But great list, nonetheless.

    1. Hi Carol,
      You are correct about the price differents and the BPA although I have seen more and more cans now that are BPA free. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I totally agree we that the time of year and where you live can change the list and prices. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

  5. All of these are staples that I buy every week, except for the meat. With a family of 4 and living on a tight budget I can get all of our groceries for the week for AUD$170. Take into account that groceries in Australia are uber expensive I think we are doing pretty well. Great post and thanks for sharing with HHGN party.

    1. Hi Leah,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Depending on where we live and what is available definitely changes the prices and how we eat. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

  6. You start out the piece saying buy local but add in tropical fruits that are not even grown in the US, is this article from another country where these things are grown? Also it is cheaper to buy legumes in a bag and cook them at home than buying them in a can. Other than that it is a very interesting list, can you do one by season? I know a lot of people who do not even know what is grown in each season.

    1. What the article actually says is — “always make sure you try to buy locally if possible.” It is not always possible to buy local and different locations have different foods available at different times of the year.
      I guess it depends where you live if you can get beans fresh or not – especially when there out of season. They are not always available year round in all locations and depending on where you shop whether they are cheaper or not.
      This is just a guideline – its not set in stone. Many items can vary by locations and availably.
      Doing a seasonally article is a little hard since it depends so much on where you live. But it is a good idea and I’ll definitely consider it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found my article interesting and helpful. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day!

  7. What a fantastic list! I completely agree. I always thought canned tuna didn’t have much Omega 3 though and the NHS website in the UK seems to agree with that. I’m not sure why canned tuna particularly is lower than fresh on this? It’s still a great source of protein though and I used to make tuna “bolognaise” style ragus with it when I was a student.

    I still eat loads of red and green lentils now even though my student days are long over. They’re so filling, tasty and cheap.

    1. I think maybe through the processing of canned tuna it looses it omega-3 and they use a different source of tuna in cans than they do in fresh. I have also read different opinion on whether oil based or water based tuna is better. What I understand is that when the oil based tuna is drained as many people do you can lose some of the omega 3 since because it mixes with the natural fat of the tuna. If you choose the water-packed tuna instead usually people aren’t as likely to drain therefore since oil and water don’t mix you keep more of the omega 3 in the meat of the tuna. At least this is what I have learned. Glad to hear that you eat lots of red and green lentils – they definitely are tasty and filling. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day.

Would love to know your thoughts!

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