In this article: When money is tight you can reduce your food bill and stretch your meals by using these 7 frugal foods!

When money is tight the biggest fear is:; how will I feed my family?

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I’ve been there, I know that grocery shopping when you are broke can feel horrible and you would do anything to reduce how much you spend at the grocery store and still feed your family healthy foods.

And while it may not seem like it sometimes, making things from scratch is a whole lot cheaper than buying premade items.

Below are 7 frugal foods that are super cheap to buy and you can make a ton of cheap frugal meals with them to help each dollar stretch even further.


Frugal Living: When money is tight, learn how to reduce your grocery bill and make your meals go farther by using these 7 frugal foods!


7 Frugal Foods to Stretch Your Food Budget


Here are my top 7 choices for frugal foods that are super cheap to buy and offer a lot of flavor options. Many of the meal ideas are mix and match- meaning you combine a couple of these items together into one meal.


jars of bulk dry goods



Rice should be a staple in any kitchen. It is very filling, healthy, and super easy to prepare.

The larger bag of rice you buy, the cheaper it will be. Rice keeps well in an airtight container, so it’s okay to buy a large bag and use it over a couple months time.

You have choices when it comes to rice: white, brown, basmati, jasmine- though the latter 2 are a little more expensive.


My Favorite Ways to Cook Rice:

Rice and Beans

Garlic Butter Rice

Mexican Rice

Fried Rice with Eggs

Rice Pilaf (with frozen vegetables)

You can also add rice as a filler in soups, burritos, or as a side dish.





Eggs are a super frugal food. You can get eggs little as $1.00 per dozen in many places. Or maybe you have a neighbor who raises chickens who you can barter with for eggs.

Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats.

You have a ton of options when it comes to eggs either in meals or on their own


My Favorite Ways to Use Eggs:

Scrambled, fried, or hard boiled

Deviled eggs

In an omelet with cheese


For extra protein in waffles and pancakes

Dutch baby


French Toast

You can also use eggs in egg salad or breakfast casseroles.


close up of oats



Oats are a wonderful, filling food with a lot of health benefits.

Oats are a frugal breakfast food that costs way less and lasts longer than a box of cereal or processed frozen breakfast item.

Oats are easy to cook and you can add additional items to add variety to your bowl.

Try adding things like dried fruit, jam, frozen berries, bananas, maple syrup, cinnamon, or brown sugar to your oatmeal to spice things up.

You can also make granola with oats. Homemade granola is much healthier than store bought granola and much cheaper. You can use less sugar and add things like nuts and berries to make it even more healthy.



While it may seem like picking up a $1 loaf of white bread at the store is cheaper, and in some cases this may be true. But do you really want to buy the CHEAPEST possible bread for your family?

If you take a look at the ingredients label on most bread products, you will find a long list of things you probably don’t understand. I can get a 5lb bag of white flour for about $1.50 at Aldi- and I can make about 5 loaves of bread with that one bag with just a few cents in extra ingredients.

And there’s a lot more you can make with flour than just bread. You can make:






Pizza crust

And then if you add in other milled grains such as cornmeal, you have even more options. Having flours on hand mean that you can make any kind of baked goods from scratch.


close up of pinto beans


Dry Beans

Dry beans are a very frugal item that offers a lot of meal options and a lot of nutrition.

Dry beans are much cheaper than buying cans of beans, and you get more per bag. Actually you can get about 4 cans-worth of beans from a one pound bag of dry beans.

You also have a lot of choices when it comes to dry beans: kidney, pinto, black, chickpeas, northern white, etc.

Cooking with dry beans does take more preparation, since they do need to be soaked or precooked. But you can do this in a slow cooker without a lot of effort.
I like to use my Instant Pot to cook dry beans really quick!


My Favorite Ways to Use Dry Beans:


Refried Beans

Bean Soup

Ham and Beans

Baked Beans

Roasted Chickpeas


You can also add beans to a lot of recipes such as black beans and rice.

I showcased this same post in my 20+ Frugal Meal Ideas article, but it’s worth sharing again. Check out how this mom made 4 different meals from ONE pot of beans.


close up of bulk peanut butter bucket label


Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a quick, frugal food that is a must if you have kids.

Peanut butter is full of protein and healthy fats (if you are buying the natural kind).

I highly recommend NOT buying your regular peanut butter spread as it is full of hydrogenated oils and sugar.

Instead look for a peanut butter that’s only ingredients are peanuts (and maybe salt). We buy 9 lbs buckets from Azure Standard

Peanut butter can be added to baked good, spreads, and stir fries to add flavor and extra nutrition.


My Favorite ways to Use Peanut Butter:

Plain, on a spoon :)

Peanut butter sandwich

Peanut butter and celery

Peanut butter with sliced apples

Spread of toast, crackers, or waffles

Peanut butter smoothies


frugal foods: lentils of different colors



And finally, lentils. Lentils are often overlooked in the world of frugal foods, but they have a lot going for them.

Lentils are legumes that are high in protein and fiber, but low in fat and calories.

You can get red lentils, green lentils, or black lentils- each are just a little different in taste and texture.

Lentil may not be as frugal as some of the other items on this list, but because of their nutritional value to do get more for your money.


My Favorite Ways to Use Lentils:

Lentil Soup

Dosas (fermented pancakes from red lentils and rice)

Lentil Burgers

To stretch meat in recipes (like tacos or sloppy joes)

You can also cook them up with just some seasonings as a filling side dish.


Other Frugal Foods for Meals

Below are some other frugal foods you can add to your grocery list to reduce the cost of your grocery bill:

Day-old bread




Frozen vegetables

Whole chicken


Tips for Stretching Your Food Budget Even More

Shop at discount stores such as Aldi- seriously my bill is half as much for twice as much food.

Ditch the convenience food– a box of Mac and Cheese may only be $1, but a block of cheese and a box of macaroni isn’t much more but you get 10x as many servings.

Buy in bulk– Many of the items on my list above I buy in bulk and save even more.

Check out my posts on 19 Ways to Save Money on Groceries for more ideas.


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