Best Budget Stretching Food


I'm no stranger to living on a tight food budget. Here are the cheapest foods I've found to keep our bellies full. 

1. Dried beans
Cheaper and healthier than their canned brethren, dried beans are packed full of fiber and protein. They are also versatile. You can combine them with rice and salsa for a nutritionally complete meal, mash them to form burgers, or blend them with spices to create a tasty dip. I make a crock pot full of beans at the beginning of the week and then use them in various recipes throughout the week. 

2. Canned tomatoes
Canned tomatoes offer instant flavor to any meal, along with a healthy dose of vitamins. They can make a cheap and quick pasta sauce, add extra flavor to beans and rice, make a quick soup, or provide the base for a casserole. You'll want to stock up on these babies when they go on sale. Last time I stocked up, I bought 12 28oz cans for $0.75 a piece. 

3. Brown rice & whole wheat pasta
Rice and pasta make up the bulk of budget friendly diets and the whole grain varieties, which have more nutrients than their bleached counterparts, will keep you fuller for longer. Again, these are good items to stock up on when they go on sale ($0.80 a pound is usually my purchase point). 

4. In season produce
This is a self explanatory one. If produce is in season, it is more abundant and less likely to be shipped from abroad, making it cheaper. 

5. Oatmeal
This is one of the most budget friendly breakfast foods. It's hearty and filling with good for you fiber and protein. Eat it by itself, whip it up in smoothies, or use it to make granola bars and cookies. 

6. Cornmeal
When your tired of pasta and rice, cornmeal is a great way to add caloric bulk to meals. Use it to make polenta, grits, and corn bread. 

7. Frozen peas
Peas offer a great source of plant based protein and the frozen variety keep nearly forever. Add them to pasta, blend with a little milk and mint for a tasty soup, or mix them up with fried rice. 

8. Eggs
To be honest, I don't like eggs, but they are packed full of protein for such a low price. Perfect for omelets, sandwiches, and hard boiled as a snack. Before cooking, I whisk cracked eggs with a little bit of milk to expand the volume of the finished product and make them fluffier. 

9. Tofu
Fry it, bake it, steam it. Any way you cook it, tofu is a must have in our house. It's ready in a flash and a lighter protein option than beans. It's a bit pricier than some of the other items on this list at $2.50 per pound, but still relatively cheap in comparison to meat. 

10. Dried spices
Spices are the key to not letting your meals tasty like they're made on a budget. Dried spices add flavor depth and make cheap eating go from have to, to want to with a few shakes of the wrist. Generally speaking, a little bit goes a long when it comes to dried spices and they keep for a relatively long period of time. 

Is there any thing I'm forgetting? What are your most budget friendly food buys?

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