Budget Shoppers Are Sharing The "Cheap But Underrated" Foods That Anyone Who Cooks Should Be Adding To Their Grocery List

    “Bruh, I don't give a crap what time of day or night it is. You put it near me and I'll be scarfing it down before I can even say 'thanks.'"

    If you're anything like me, you're probably rethinking all the grocery items that you've always added to your cart on autopilot. I mean, even my go-to "cheap" items have become unjustifiably pricey lately — which is why I was thrilled to come across a Reddit thread where r/Captain_Ass_Clown asked budget shoppers to share their favorite "underrated" cheap foods.

    I've already added several of the ingredients below to my shopping list, and I'm truly stoked to see how much I can end up saving. Every little bit counts!

    1. "Cabbage. Try shredding some and sautéing it in a pan with some oil and a little bit of bouillon until it's nice and wilted. You can toss it in with noodle dishes! It bulks it up so nicely for hardly any money at all, and it soaks up sauces really well, too."

    stir-fried cabbage

    2. "Canned chickpeas. Drain them, add salt and pepper, plus a pinch of sugar and whatever spices you like. Drizzle them in oil, then pop them into the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400ºF. It's such a great, cheap, and low-calorie snack."

    chickpeas in a can

    3. "Sweet potatoes. I use them in burritos in place of expensive meat. Cut them into chunks, season with cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt, and toss with some oil. Bake until tender, in the middle with some light charring on the outside."

    sweet potatoes being added to a baking sheet

    4. "Costco rotisserie chickens. One chicken will feed me and my husband for two meals each, plus some snacking, and the carcass can be turned into a truly amazing bone broth. That's a lot of bang for just about $5."

    shredded up rotisserie chicken meat that fills up a container on a scale

    5. "Lentils! Lentil soup is the best, and dal is truly awesome. They're healthy, filling, versatile, and delicious."

    lentil curry in a metal bowl

    6. "Cottage cheese is the best. Costco sells large quantities for like $4!"

    pouring whipped cottage cheese into the original cottage cheese container

    7. "Buying dried beans instead of canned. With inflation, canned beans are much more expensive than they used to be. Store-brand canned black beans are a minimum of $2/can around me, and even more for other types of beans or any kind of premium brand or organic. Back-of-the-hand calculations suggest that dried are still cheaper even with the cost of energy required to cook them yourself."

    8. "Canned tuna! I like to reheat it in some soy sauce and add some garlic and ginger powder with a bowl of rice. It’s warm, filling, and tasty on a budget. I make it all the time and add avocado, green onion, and cucumber when I have some extra cash, and it really takes it to the next level."

    9. "Tofu. It's legit $1 per pound now and it can be used in so many dishes, from stir fries to smoothies."

    10. "Imitation crab, or imitation seafood in general. It's often made from pollock, and even though people turn their noses up at it, it tastes really good."

    11. "Canned baked beans for me. If you buy them in plain tomato sauce, you can doctor the sauce and make them feel really special. Sure, it's not 'gourmet,' but you can make quite a few BS versions of your favorite meals — add bacon for pork and beans, add some smoky hot sauce and eggs for a Tex-Mex style breakfast...lots of reasons to buy a 12-pack when they're on sale!"

    12. "Instant ramen. So cheap and so versatile. For lunch, I'll do two packs with some cut-up, grilled chicken thighs and frozen mixed veggies. I have an electric kettle in my office, so after 10 minutes of waiting, I'll have the easiest lunch ever. Costs me maybe $2."

    13. "Actual popcorn kernels, the non-microwavable kind. It's so underrated when it comes to the variety of flavors it plays well with."

    14. "For seafood lovers: mussels! They're the cheapest food at the seafood counter, and they're so easy to prepare with frozen french fries or just some crusty bread."

    15. "SAR-EFFING-DINES. They're healthy, delicious, eco-friendly, and so darn cheap."

    16. "Potatoes for baked potatoes. They're cheap to buy, always easy to prepare, and there are so many options to gussy them up with cheap (but tasty) fillings."

    17. "Buy lots of onions! There are so many possibilities when it comes to turning them into a delicious meal, but I love French onion soup. Though recipes call for it, you really don't need expensive Gruyère cheese. It's fine with any Swiss cheese, or even mozzarella."

    18. "Spam. Bruh, I don't give a damn what time of day or night it is — you put Spam musubi near me and I'll be scarfing it down before I can even say 'thanks.'"

    19. "Chicken legs, which are the thigh and drumstick together. When I barbecue them with charcoal and make a good sauce to slather them in, people get way more excited than they do over just another average steak. The legs are just about $4.50 per kilo compared to maybe $30 for the steak."

    What cheap food item or ingredient do you always add to your grocery cart? Tell us all about your favorites in the comments below.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.