Best Cheap Food to Buy When Broke

Ashwin Honawar

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Food is one of the basic needs of life.  Unfortunately, more than 44 million people in the USA face food insecurity- meaning not being able to get enough good quality food to eat. Poverty is one of the main factors for this food insecurity in the US, combined with other factors such as locations that make access to supermarkets and food banks difficult.

At the same time, there’s also a large number- an estimated 11 million persons in America- who face food insecurities occasionally because they don’t have money. This is a temporary situation in such cases, caused by unemployment or the absence of savings.

Regardless of what category of persons you come under, it’s always possible to buy good and nutritious food, even when broken. American stores are stocked with cheap foods to buy when they are broken. You can also find superb deals on food when shopping online if you have access to the Internet through a computer or smartphone.

In this article, I will speak about these 10 cheap foods to buy when broke. Before I do that, it’s worth knowing how much money Americans spend on food every year.

How Much Americans Spend on Food?

The Department of Agriculture says that an average low-income American household of four persons spends $5,090 on food, which is 31.2 per cent of their annual earnings. In stark contrast, a high-income household spends $15,713 on food every year, which represents eight per cent of their total earnings. These figures were compiled by the Department of Agriculture at the end of 2022.

These statistics also consider inflation in food prices, which are rising continually due to various factors, such as an increase in transportation costs caused by hikes in fuel charges. At the same time, the average incomes of American households have also risen marginally between the years 2021 and 2022.

Despite these figures, Feeding America reports that over 53 million Americans turned to food pantries in 2021, which was an increase of 20 per cent over 2020 or the COVID-19 pandemic year.  This dependence on food pantries comes on the heels of widespread unemployment and economic downturns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finding Cheap Food in America

These figures also prove that you can get enough good quality and nutritious food anywhere in the US, even if you’re broke. As a matter of fact, most food pantries near you that are run by large organizations don’t ask for your identity or other details when handing out free food.

Just in case you don’t wish to go to a food bank and get your supplies, it’s still possible to get cheap food in the USA. You don’t really need to look hard. Just search for coupons from various superstores such as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and others.

In fact, most stores in the US have special discounts on specific days of the week. Then we have several special offers such as ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ on similar ones on food items. If you’re broke or wish to save money on food, it could be worthwhile to take these special offers.

Also Read: How to get free food in 20 simple ways.

Cheap Food To Buy When Broke

Even if you get special offers and weekly or daily discounts on foodstuff at your nearest supermarket, it’s still worth knowing what cheap foods to buy when broken. It could serve you as a quick guide or reference chart while shopping for food when broken.

1. Bread


An average American consumes some 53 lbs of bread each year. This means almost a pound of bread every week, considering that a year has 52 weeks and, sometimes, 53 weeks. One of the reasons is that bread is a staple food in the USA and is available cheaply.

2. White Flour

White Flour:cheapest food

Walmart, for example, advertises that its all-purpose white flour is available at $0.33/lb.  This means you’ll spend only $3.33 on a bag of 10 lbs, or about 4.94kg. This is good news for people who have less money or are broke. You can buy white flour and make bread or any other food that can be baked in an oven.

3. Rice

Rice: affordable thing to buy

Another superb cheap food to buy when broke is rice. In the US, 1lb of rice costs about $1.50, though cheaper and more expensive varieties are also available.

When cooked, half a pound of rice can serve five people easily. This means your 1lbs of rice can be served for at least two meals. Rice is versatile and can be cooked in many ways, including with vegetables, beans or chicken for a tasty meal.

4. Potatoes


With prices ranging between $0.39 and $0.83 per pound, potatoes are the best option if you want something filling and cheap. They are available everywhere, and you have a variety of options to cook potatoes. They can be grilled, fried or tossed into other foods such as rice.

5. Ramen & Noodles

Ramen & Noodles

Ramen and noodles are considered poor people’s diets. That’s because a packet of 60gms to 75gms instant noodles costs just about half a Dollar.

All you need to do is toss the contents in water and boil for a couple of minutes for your meal to be ready. Of course, this can’t serve as your main meal every day. Yet, noodles and ramen are good when you’re broke.

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6. Pasta


Pasta, both packed and fresh, is available very cheap at your nearest superstore. For example, macaroni or spaghetti costs about $1.43/lb in the US, which is quite affordable.

You can cook raw pasta and garnish it with vegetables, meat, eggs, and spices according to taste. Pasta makes a wholesome meal at any time of the day and tastes good, too.

7. Banana


Priced at $1.26 per kilo, banana is your best friend if you’re broke and need to fill that hungry belly. Bananas are loaded with vitamins and minerals and also deliver a firmly large dose of carbs and some protein.

Bananas don’t need any preparation. Yet, if you wish, it’s possible to fry a banana with some batter or bake it with some flour.

8. Yams


A kilo of Yams will set you back by only about 0.40 to $1. Most people are unaware that yams can be boiled and eaten with some salt and pepper. Or, they can be mashed and eaten with beans or vegetables.

Yams can also be fried or baked, as you wish. There are countless foods that you can make with yams, and recipes are available on the Internet.

9. Pancake Mix

Pancake Mix

Good quality pancake mix is available at prices starting at $1.49 for a 2-lb pack. This quantity is quite enough to prepare stacks of pancakes for the entire household if needed.

Simply add milk or water and cook as desired. You can serve it with honey pancake syrup or even sweetened milk. Pancakes are nutritious and filling in every way and make an ideal meal.

10. Eggs


The prices of eggs swing in the US retail market. However, the standard price is usually around $1.76 for a pack of 12 eggs. Any nutritionist will tell you that an egg is a complete meal in itself.

Eaten in the right quantities, eggs can give you enough protein, carbs and nutrients. However, eating too many eggs in a single meal can have bad effects on your health.


These top 10 foods are easily available everywhere and can sustain you well if you’re broke for any reason. The other option is to get free food from your nearest food pantry.

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