Budget Survival
cheapest foods raw

The Cheapest Foods

These are the cheapest foods I’ve found. They’re what I called power foods when I started Five-A-Day. Many of these foods are going to be carbohydrates and fats. I utilized a nutrition database at the website (Nutrition Data) to discover and verify a lot of my findings. Let’s get right into it.

Cheapest Foods


Oats are the superheroes of cheap foods. A man once told me (playing on the idea of “you are what you eat”) that he wanted to be healthy as a horse, so he ate oats every morning. I don’t know how equine his health is, but oats do pack a killer cheap food kick!

When I did my research, I found that oats give you a whopping 1500 calories per $1. I always thought oats were bland, but I find savings like that to make them substantially more appetizing. The good thing about them is that they’re such a cheap food that you can dress them up with almost anything, even with a dollop of expensive maple syrup or any other power topping, and still have a Five-A-Day meal. If you want some extra savings, try pairing oats with another power food.

Another benefit of oats is that they come in instant forms, which saves you time and saving time is the perfect ally for the budget conscious. Oats also usually come in fortified versions with vitamins or minerals, saving you also from having to seek essential nutrients from more expensive foods. Truly a cheap diet superhero!


Recently, saturated fat has become vindicated in health circles. Apparently dietitians railed on the creamy concoction unjustly. That’s good news for the budget conscious on the cheap diet, because fat sources like butter make for some great calories per dollar, coming in at a smooth 1000 calories per $1.

Obviously, I wouldn’t advocate going out and purchasing some deep fried butter on a stick (though that always piqued my curiosity) or eating it raw. However, if you have an excuse to add butter to something, then it sounds like a budgetary necessity! Just make sure you have some extra fibrous food along with it so you feel appropriately full with the high amount of calories you just took in. Add it to a baked potato or some vegetables and you have one of the cheapest foods around.


In the mood for spaghetti? Pasta is one of the cheapest foods that, while giving you a carb crash if you eat too much, gives you a killer calorie/dollar ratio.

I found that a pound of pasta costs around $1.25 while delivering an awesome 1,600 calories. You could probably live very cheaply off of butter and pasta alone (those clever Italians!) Of course, the problems come in when you need to add expensive toppings to the pasta. For example, I found out that a half-pound Spaghetti meal with ground beef and jarred sauce cost 3.25. Protein is expensive!

Cheese (Cheddar)

My father apparently knew something I didn’t since he put cheddar cheese melted atop of most anything he ate! Cheese to me always seemed so expensive, but it’s actually a really great deal if you buy it in bulk.

I found that I could get 2 lbs (32 oz.) of cheddar cheese for around $8, making it a cheesy 450 calories per $1. I was pleasantly surprised, since I love cheese but avoided it because of the price tag. Now I found out you can put it on literally anything and that it would actually improve the value of a meal, breezily meeting and surpassing the Five-A-Day criteria!

Stay Tuned

As I continue my research, I’m going to update this article with the cheapest foods and ingredients that help you say “goodbye!” to spending, both time and money wise. If you have any cheap food favorites, let me know in the comments below!

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