18 Foods That Poor People Can Afford: A Detailed List

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Poor! The word that hits everyone’s mind, doesn’t it? No one wants to become penniless, yet a report on annual hunger from the US Agriculture Department shows that above 17 million families don’t get sufficient food to lead a healthy and active life. 

Unluckily, most of the family members don’t even know how the next meal will come. 

And that all leaves to one single question, “what do poor people eat?” To break through all your intrigues, I’m going to reveal the answer. Besides, if money is tight in your situation, too, don’t panic because most of us hit poverty at some point in our life. 

What Do Poor People Eat?

When poverty hits, a piece of loaf feels like sitting on a gold mine. But do you know only a $2 bill can save your day? Not to be surprised, but it’s true. Plus, you’d be surprised to know you’ve been eating a few of those items since you were a kid, and they’re considered as poverty foods. 

Let’s bring the food table.

1. Eggs

These are a dime a dozen that everyone loves, but the price of a dozen eggs may vary where you live and shop. 

According to a report from the US Agriculture Department on “Egg Markets Overview,” which was released last year, researched through the New York market’s wholesale price shows that the price is around 85 cents per dozen. 

However, it’s a go-to food for everyone at any meal, and egg helps a million times in poverty life.

2. Bananas

Bananas are the most nutritious and filling that anyone can buy easily. Though it’s high in sugar, fruits with natural sugar don’t appear to be a health concern. It contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and antioxidants to keep you healthy. Plus, bananas provide healthy fiber. 

Anyway, it’s consumed as a snack, banana pancakes, or a few slices in a fruit-mixed meal.

3. Spinach

If someone is up for eating something nearly equal to any meal, then a couple of spinach will do. It can go with anything as a combo, like spinach combined with whole-grain pasta, spinach omelets, quesadilla, and salad. Each bit of spinach contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, folate, riboflavin, iron, etc. 

Anyone can surely pull a nice healthy meal in a sip, and also, it saves your pennies.

4. Oats

This food is pithy and alimentary to fill an empty stomach and no doubt that they are delicious. They’re full of minerals, vitamins, and fiber — the fiber in it milds the glucose absorption and blood cholesterol levels.  

Anyway, talking of price, there are many famous types of oats – instant, steel-cut, or rolled oats, etc. For example, the price of Quaker Oats Instant comes at $10.70.

Different variations, such as oatmeal, oatmeal bars, and oatmeal cookies, can be a budget-friendly choice. You can prepare oat bread or use it in different recipes. 

5. Potatoes

An inexpensive food that can be made in hundreds of ways, tastes super incredible is stacked with rich nutrition.  You can bake them, fry them, mash them for any recipe or even prepare potato bread. They can be used in soup or side for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

A calculation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that you could get a pound of white potatoes for around 85 cents in June 2020. 

6. Chuck Roast

This food item might not be popular among the poor, but they tend to be truly affordable, filling, and fatty. A small bite of it can make you feel pleased and complete. 

On average, a packet of chuck roast costs $7 as of June 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Options like pot roast, Irish stew, beef stroganoff are solid choices as they’re cost-effective.

7. Ramen Noodles

A 24-packs batch of Maruchan Ramen Noodles goes around $5.76, but the price can go sideways considering your place, shop, and flavor. They’re quite versatile food to replenish your hunger. You can try it out with pepper, salt, bouillon cubes, or broth to taste a thousand times better.

8. Pasta

Who doesn’t love pasta? Most people know how pasta looks and tastes. It’s the supreme cheap food you can say for any poor people. 

This item can be eaten with frozen vegetables to enrich the flavor and nutrition value. And not to forget the versatility – you can have it mixed with multiple ingredients, including spinach, potatoes, chuck roast, etc. 

9. Tomatoes

It’s hard to believe that a meal can come out of using only tomatoes, but indeed, tomatoes are delicious and healthy. Also, they’re helpful for any meal, used as spices to add value to the meals. 

You can have them at a fair price, produce stuffed tomatoes, or even dessert out of it. Plus, one fantastic thing is that tomatoes are great for salad. 

 10. Flour

Once you’ve flour, what can’t you invent? Flour is a source of many unbelievable food items. It’s so versatile to concoct biscuits, pancakes, cakes, bread, cookies, donuts, tortillas, crackers, pot pies, etc. And the far-fetched thing is it costs only $1 per pound. 

11.  Peanut Butter

It’s another cheap food that poor people could afford in a struggling way. Peanut butter comes in large jars in various stores. They tend to last several seasons, are full of rich protein, and are highly filling. And one more benefit to add is kids love peanut butter without a second thought. 

You can have it applied in sandwiches, cookies, or make peanut cooking. Plus, the peanut butter adds a real value in taste like a sauce in most recipes and desserts. 

 12. Canned Tuna or Salmon

People have been consuming tuna and salmon for a long period, which goes the same for now. A can of tuna or salmon can cost you around $1.50 to $3 or even higher, considering qualities and sizes. But to be honest, canned tuna or salmon is highly cheap, stirring its quality and health benefits. 

You don’t have to refrigerate it. And it’s easy to prepare quick meals like tuna sandwiches, tuna melts, tuna noodle casserole, etc. 

13. Box Macaroni and Cheese

Do you remember the Great Depression? I’m sure you do remember this tragic historical event. Back in those saddening days of America, it was a light of hope for everyone. Coming at a beautifully low price, a one-pot meal could serve a whole family. Try to add whatever is near your hand, say canned tuna or peas. 

Nowadays, it’s popular and known as a soothing food, but history never changes.

14. Cinnamon Sugar Toast

It’s another typical food of the Great Depression that saved millions of lives. In the Old American Times, sugar has been like gold for everyone, but it turned out to the staple food for every family during the lamentable event. 

It became cheap and introduced food in a tastier way – cinnamon sugar toast is one of those foods. At present, it’s famous for thinking of it as poor food.

15. Lentil Soup

Soup can let you hustle for days even when you’re totally broke and poor. Making a soup is pretty straightforward and affordable, too, as they come in at a low price. The lentil soup is highly filling and satisfying – a bag of lentils can last for several days.

16. Chicken Livers

Might be amazed to know, but yes, chicken livers are cheap in the warehouse stores, and they taste amazing. But who knew chicken livers were poor people’s food? 

If you’ve been eating it since childhood, probably, you’ll want to have it now as well. In any case, you can combine the meat with vegetables, peas, beans, rice, even pasta, or any other ingredient to delicious meals.

17. Fried Egg Sandwich

How is it possible that egg sandwiches would stand out from the list? No Way! Every restaurant hanging out there is presenting this soothing sandwich in various incarnations, and people love it. But several years ago, egg sandwiches used to be regarded as cheap food items. 

You can eat the fried egg sandwich in multiple ways according to your choice of flavors and spices.

18. Beans and Rice

Whatever you call it – beans and rice or rice and beans – the dish tastes the same, having a living staple dish for poor people. It’s inexpensive and smooth to make. You can add salsa, tomatoes, canned tuna, onions, sausage, or whatever ingredient you want – the taste will get richer and richer. 


I believe now you have got the proper idea of what do poor people eat. Now, if you’re in a similar situation, believe in yourself. Your time will come. We all have been here once in our life. 

Ányways, if the foods mentioned above don’t get a chance to be on your list, you might want to try the food bank. It can be your next door. I know you wouldn’t give it a call due to the waiting period of 1 or 2 hours in a line – just for the sake of beans and rice. But try it out. 

Let positivity shine in your life always. 

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