Skip to Content

The Cheapest Foods in the Grocery Store

The Cheapest Foods in the Grocery Store

Saving money in the grocery store means making smart choices about what to put in your cart. Choosing items with high nutritional value and low price tag can ensure that your family can eat well on a budget. Let’s take a look at the best foods to watch out for on each aisle.


Fruits and vegetables are well endowed in the nutrition department, and fortunately many are very affordable. For the best value, avoid highly perishable or delicate produce and anything that’s been prepared for you. Shop in-season produce to get the best prices, and be sure to keep an eye out for the bargain bin where over-ripe or gently bruised produce is often sold at a deep discount.

  • Russet potatoes
  • Onions
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Bell peppers
  • Baby carrots
  • Squash
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges


Like the produce arena, many of the items in the dairy are very affordable. In terms of nutrition, you’ll find excellent sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D here. They’re also very multifunctional, so being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to suffer a repetitive menu; for example, add sugar and chopped fruit to plain yogurt for breakfast, or leave it unflavored to use as a sour cream substitute. Although dairy lasts longer than fresh produce, it’s definitely not something to leave ignored in the fridge, either.

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheddar cheese


Check for a manager’s special or discount section; many grocery stores offer low prices for meat that’s nearing its sell-by date. Meat prices fluctuate with the season. You can usually buy a turkey for less than a dollar per pound after the holidays, so pick one up for your freezer then. Organ meats like liver are cheap and often packed full of vitamins once you you develop a taste for them. Otherwise, the cheapest meat option will usually be chicken.

  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Chicken breasts
  • Chicken drumsticks/thighs
  • Whole chicken
  • Hot dogs
  • Organ meats

Frozen Foods

It’s often cheaper to buy frozen whole foods than fresh, even though the nutritional value is often comparable, if not the same. You don’t have to worry about the food going bad, either, which means there will be less waste in your kitchen.

  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Edamame
  • Potatoes
  • Cod
  • Tilapia
  • Meatballs

Canned Goods

Like the frozen foods aisle, canned goods have the advantage of longevity, and they’re also often much cheaper than their fresh counterparts. This list may seem short, but the fact is that the canned foods aisle may well become your best friend when you’re on a strict grocery budget.

  • Beans
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Applesauce
  • Sliced fruit
  • Pasta sauce
  • Refried beans
  • Soup
  • Tuna

Pantry Staples

Dry goods like beans and rice are cheaper than their canned counterparts, and don’t need the assistance of a fridge or freezer. In fact, as long as they don’t get wet, these items can last virtually forever.

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Brown rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Lentils
  • Vegetable oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Jam
  • Raisins

Before you shop, use your local store’s weekly ads to prepare a grocery list in advance to maximize savings as well as develop a meal plan for the week. Never visit the grocery store on an empty stomach, either. You may wish to avoid traveling down aisles that primarily sell overpriced snacks and processed foods. This helps you avoid temptation and stick to your budget.