Save money by skipping boxed pancake mixes, tortillas, and some breads and try making these things from scratch instead. Bread, for example, can be made with just flour, water, yeast, and salt. If you have a busy schedule, start by making a loaf of bread or two on weekends to use during the week. You can also make up your own pancake mix (blend all the dry ingredients in advance and store them in an airtight container) so that it’s ready to go on weekend mornings.
One of the cheapest fruits available, bananas are packed with nutrients your body needs. While they’re great for snacking, they’re also easy to incorporate into meals; try adding them to nut-butter sandwiches, mashing them into sweet potatoes, or freezing peeled bananas (with plastic wrap pressed against their surface) to use in smoothies.
Whether they’re fried, sautéed, or caramelized, onions provide a great flavor base for a number of dishes. They costs very little and, as an added bonus, the root ends of your onions (which you might normally throw away) can be planted and used to grow more onions indoors, even if you live in a small space.
As long as you have eggs in your refrigerator you have a meal; top everything from rice and beans to pasta with an over-easy egg for a quick and filling dinner. Or, make boiled eggs as a quick way to fill sandwiches and top salads. Even though the cost of eggs has risen recently, they still remain an economical source of protein; they average less than $2 per dozen in most U.S. cities.
There is a common misconception that white potatoes are less nutritious than sweet potatoes. The truth is both types of potatoes provide you with important vitamins and nutrients. Stock up on potatoes of any kind; they’ll last a long time in your pantry, can be cooked in a number of ways, and cost very little compared to other types of food.
Dried beans and lentils are some of the least expensive foods you can buy at the supermarket. Though they take a little bit of advance planning (dried beans usually need to be soaked in cold water overnight before use), they are a delicious way to add fiber to your diet. Try tossing cold cooked beans on salads, making curried lentils, or learning to make a simple rice and beans dish.
Buying a whole chicken requires a bit more prep work but it will save you money. Best of all, you can render the chicken fat and save it in a glass jar in your refrigerator (instant butter replacement), and use the leftover bones to make super-flavorful chicken stock.
Don’t spend money buying lots of different types of rice. Even recipes that call for specialty ingredients like wild rice can be made with super-healthy and filling brown rice.
These nutrient powerhouses are cheap and versatile. Mash them with honey and a pinch of ground chipotle pepper for a healthy vegetable side dish, cut them into ribbons as a quick and easy replacement for pasta, or roast them whole in the oven with orange juice and cinnamon. That’s a lot of deliciousness for about $1 per pound.