1. Quick Summary
  2. Frozen Vegetables
  3. Ground Chuck or Ground Beef
  4. Tofu
  5. Lentils
  6. Oats
  7. Boxed Pasta
  8. Rice
  9. Potatoes
  10. Canned Tomatoes
  11. Popcorn
  12. Conclusion

When trying to save money at the grocery store, setting a food budget and buying less expensive items is best. Frugal people know what these items are. So we will give you ten grocery store items that frugal people always buy.

1. Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are affordable and nutritious. They’re frozen immediately after they’re picked, so they keep all their vitamins and other nutrients. Frozen vegetables are great when the vegetable you want isn’t in season. You can stir fry them or make soup. They’ll also go great with pasta. And they’ll generally be under a dollar for a 12-ounce bag. Frozen fruits are another affordable and nutritious option, perfect for homemade smoothies and offering longer storage compared to fresh fruits.

2. Ground Chuck or Ground Beef

Ground Chuck or Ground Beef

Ground beef is usually sold for around five dollars a package, and it goes with just about anything. Use half the package and make it stretch with canned pimento or black beans. It'll be healthier, and you can freeze the rest for later. Traditional grocery stores have ground chuck which is made from leaner cuts than ground beef - generally, you can find good deals on ground beef at grocery stores so most people have this choice of meat as part of their household essentials.

3. Tofu


For you vegetarians, tofu is a cheap way to get your protein. It can go on tacos, stir fry or quiche. Although some brands are a little pricey, depending on the store, you can buy tofu inexpensively. It can cost as low as two dollars for a 16-ounce package. If you're able to avoid buying tofu until it goes on sale, a pro-tip is stock up on large quantities at the sale price so you can have some always on-hand.

4. Lentils


For healthy food that's also cheap, frugal people stock up on lentils. A bag of lentils at Walmart can cost as low as $1.34. Mix them with a burger to make it stretch, or put it in spaghetti sauce instead of meatballs. Also, there's now several options of brands, including a store brand which will definitely be the most cost effective option.

5. Oats


Add spices or fresh herbs to this dish, and it's hearty and delicious. It also lowers cholesterol levels. You could make oatmeal cookies or granola. There are even ways to bake it with vegetables. It costs under five dollars.

6. Boxed Pasta


Whether you serve it with butter or sauce, pasta is a family favorite and it's a household essential. A box of pasta can feed an entire family and usually costs less than a dollar. Opting for store brands can further reduce costs, as these versions are often just as good as name-brand products.

7. Rice


A bag of rice can last a long time and be added to countless dishes. It can be a side or combined with other ingredients to be the main course. A small bag of rice usually can run between one dollar and five dollars, depending on where you shop. Or buy in bulk and save more money. Just don’t buy brown rice in bulk; it tends to go rancid before white rice. Consider purchasing rice in bulk from warehouse clubs for significant savings.

8. Potatoes


If you're not into rice, potatoes are also a cheap food. They have vitamin C and potassium if you eat the skin, too. You can bake them, mix them with recipes, or eat them as a side. They usually go for less than a dollar a pound.

9. Canned Tomatoes

Canned Tomatoes

If you’re frugal, you’re probably buying canned tomatoes instead of fresh. Canned tomatoes are easy to add to soups, spaghetti, sauce, and Tex-Mex recipes. A can costs as low as a dollar in some stores.

For those who prefer fresh ingredients, buying fresh produce in bulk from stores like Sam's Club or picking up fresh produce from Fred Meyer can be a budget-friendly alternative.

10. Popcorn


Buying dried popcorn kernels will save you money. Don't buy expensive microwave popcorn. Buy popcorn kernels in bulk and enjoy movie night. A seven-ounce bag will cost about two dollars.


You don’t have to sacrifice taste and nutrition to save money—frugal shoppers know this. It basically comes down to comparing grocery store prices and meal planning.

Bob Haegele

About the Author

Bob Haegele Bob Haegele

Bob Haegele, your personal finance guru, draws on years of experience to simplify complex financial concepts and offer actionable advice.

Dedicated to helping you achieve financial success, Bob is here to guide you through every step of your journey to financial freedom with expertise in areas such as investing, student loans, and credit cards. His work has appeared on Business Insider,, and other nationally recognized outlets.

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