Skip to Content

13 Foods That Stretch Your Budget

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

If you’re struggling with low funds this week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget! Use these foods to create delicious meals with little money.

There are some weeks when the budget is super tight.

And sometimes you wonder if you’ll be able to eat anything that week besides ramen.

But, there are some foods that are insanely cheap and will help keep both your stomach and wallet full. If you plan carefully, you can use these foods all week, in many different meals, and not get bored!

Here are 13 foods that stretch your budget. How many of these are in your house already?

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

Oats ($2.00)

A container of rolled oats can go a long way. You can make a simple bowl of oatmeal with a half cup of oats and one cup of water, and you can add peanut butter and a banana for a quick, filling breakfast. Other favorite oat recipes include:

Super Banana Oat Bars

Honey Vanilla Granola

Peanut Butter Banana Baked Oatmeal

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Pasta ($1.00)

You can make so many simple dinners with a box of pasta. Whether it’s just adding a simple jar of sauce, or adding chicken and olive oil, a box of pasta will serve a large family or create a ton of leftovers. Here are some favorite frugal pasta recipes:

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

One-Pot American Goulash

Potatoes ($2.00)

I love how potatoes can be used any time of day. Dice them up for hash browns, or bake them in the oven as baked potatoes. I’ll even make a simple potato soup with leftover potatoes, carrots, onions, and whatever else I have laying around.

Broccoli Cheddar Baked Potatoes

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Onions ($1.50)

A bag of onions is super cheap and is handy to keep around the house for adding flavor to your meals. Dice up an onion and add it to ground beef/turkey every time, or slice them and use them in fajitas.

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

Carrots ($1.25)

Carrots are one of the vegetables that are pretty cheap year-round. I can get a 2-pound bag for a little over a dollar at Aldi. While baby carrots are convenient, you can save some money by peeling and slicing carrots yourself.

Eat them as snacks, or shred them and add to salads or cook with ground beef/turkey. The carrots will cook down and add volume without changing the taste!

Rice ($1.50)

Instant rice may be more convenient, but bagged rice gives you more for your money. I use a rice cooker to basically set it and forget it, which really helps during meal times. You can add rice to any Asian, Mexican, or other recipes to make them more filling for just pennies.

American Red Beans and Rice

Spanish Rice in the Rice Cooker

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

Dried beans ($1.50)

Dried beans seem intimidating, but trust me, they’re not! You can use my simple method of cooking dried beans in a slow cooker to make this a hands-off process. Beans are high in fiber and have a decent amount of protein, making them an excellent addition to a vegetarian meal.

Plus, it’s hard to get bored because there are so many types of beans! Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and even lentils.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Bananas ($.48/pound)

You can buy a couple good-sized bunches of bananas for like $2.00. They’re one of the cheapest fruits you can find year-round, so make them part of every shopping trip. Eat them with peanut butter for a snack, top them on your oatmeal or cereal, or freeze them and make banana ice cream- my newest obsession.

Double Chocolate Spinach Banana Muffins

3-Ingredient Banana Cookies

Banana Pancakes

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

Apples ($.69-$1.29/pound)

While apples are cheapest during Fall, you can still get apples fairly cheap the rest of the year too. I never liked apples because of the inconvenience of cutting them, until I bought both a corer and slicer; now preparing apples only takes seconds! Add diced apples to your oatmeal or pancakes, or slice them and eat with a dip that contains peanut butter and yogurt!

Eggs ($.60 per dozen)

Eggs are one of my favorite sources of cheap protein. I won’t go a week without buying at least one or two dozen! Every other week or so I’ll hard boil eggs in the oven for breakfasts/snacks, and use the rest for miscellaneous breakfasts and dinners.

Spinach Mozzarella Egg Bake

Sausage Egg and Cheese Casserole

Frozen vegetables ($1.00)

When you can find them on sale, frozen vegetables are an amazing substitute for fresh. They’re just as healthy (as long as you buy the ones that have only vegetables as the ingredient) and are quick to prepare. Throw a bag in the microwave for an easy side, or add them to soups or casseroles to get your veggies in!

Canned tomatoes ($.50)

Keep canned tomatoes in your pantry to add to chilis and soups. Some stores like Kroger will have them on sale a lot, although I’ve found that Aldi has the cheapest price.

Instead of buying jars of spaghetti sauce, I’ll buy a couple cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to make my own. It makes far more and tastes amazing!

If money is tight and you need cheap food to last you the week, here are 13 foods that stretch the budget and keep your stomach full!

Chicken ($1.89/pound on average)

Chicken is one of the cheapest meats you can buy. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are convenient but cost a lot more than their bone-in companions. However, get them only on sale and you’ll still end up saving money! Keep an eye out for marked down rotisserie chickens too, because you can de-bone them and use the meat in any shredded chicken recipe.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

Simple Chicken Fajitas

What other foods do you buy regularly to help stretch your budget? Share in the comments below!


Friday 12th of October 2018

This is a good list! I also like to buy rotisserie chickens, even at full price because I make my own bone broth out of the carcass after we eat all the meat. I cover the bones with water in my crock pot and add a couple of tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it sit for about an hour (this helps to draw out the nutrients in the bones), then I cook on low in my crock pot for 24-30 hours. I just get to it anytime after 24 hours that I am able. About the last five hours of cooking, I add in an onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a couple stalks of celery (I also will save the inner small stalks with leaves from celery and just throw those in), and a carrot and some salt. I do about a tbsp for a big crock pot full. This always makes me about four quart jar sizes of delicious broth. Costco has great prices on these chickens and Meijer often has them on sale for 4.99.

I would also add checking whatever the sale produce is for the week. Aldi usually has some good prices on certain items weekly.

Cheese is also something that I get for pretty cheap when I take advantage of sales and can be used in all sorts of ways.


Friday 12th of October 2018

Thanks for all the tips, Sara! I keep meaning to make my own broth but never get around to it.


Friday 12th of October 2018

We do A LOT of beans and rice at our house. Also, this isn't a type of food but a method of cooking, I can stretch a package of meat like nobody's business. We started saving money and stretching our grocery budget when I came to terms with meat not being the main part of the meal but a side portion. Thanks for the great tips, Jamie. I look forward to them!


Friday 12th of October 2018

Thanks, Jodi! I'm always amazed at how well people can feed "larger" families. =) Rice and beans are amazing, though!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.