As we continue to see the cost of food soaring in price (by up to 20% on certain products) keeping your kitchen stocked with budget-friendly foods has never been more essential.
These staples can help you rustle up some delicious, cheap meals and cut down your supermarket bill.
So, what is the cheapest food you can buy at the supermarket to help you save money?
Keep reading to find out...
What are basic food staples?
A 'staple' food is an item that is eaten regularly, has a long shelf life, and can be used for lots of different meals.
These basics can be kept in your cupboard or frozen in your freezer, meaning they will last longer and help you cut down waste, as well as save money.
What groceries should I stock up on?
There are lots of different items you can stock up on to help save money, depending on your eating habits.
For example, if you're a regular cook or baker, it pays to stock up on things like spices, flour, and other essentials.
However, if you're on a tight budget and are looking for basic cheap meals like spaghetti bolognese, for example, then you'll want to stock up on pasta and tinned tomatoes.
The main staple foods that can help you cut down your grocery costs include:
Cheap cupboard staples
1. Tinned fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are key to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, but they can be expensive when you buy them fresh.
Instead, consider swapping out fresh produce for tinned (or even frozen) fruit and vegetables. They taste no different but could help you save a small fortune on your shopping bill!
Rice is the perfect food staple, as you can bulk up most meals with it. It's great for batch cooking big meals like chilli con carne and adding to curries. A packet of 1kg rice currently costs around £1, making it a great, budget-friendly cupboard essential.
Pasta is another hero staple product to stock up on at the supermarket if you're on a budget. It's great for making big family meals like pasta bakes, and you can also cook it in advance and freeze it, making it super convenient for mid-week meals.
A pack of Fusilli or Penne costs 80p or less in most supermarkets, and spaghetti is also less than £1.
If you're a keen baker, all purpose flour is the perfect cheap cupboard staple for whipping up your favourite sweet and savoury treats like bread, biscuits, pie crusts, pizza dough, and more.
5. Herbs & spices
Herbs and spices can add some flavour to your dishes and help spruce up those less exciting mid-week meals. Popular ones include black pepper, coriander, cumin, ginger, and turmeric.
These retail between £1-2 but last so much longer than the fresh alternatives.
Cereal is a cheap and cheerful breakfast option for busy families and offers a healthy way for you to start the day if you're on a tight budget.
Cereals like Branflakes are high in fibre and vitamin D, and will help keep you fuller for longer. Always look for the supermarket own brand, which can work out up to as much as up to £3 cheaper than the branded version.
Condiments like ketchup and mustard are also key cupboard essentials for any household. Again, it's best to pick up own brand versions, which are a lot cheaper than the big popular brands.
8. Peanut butter
This may sound like an odd one to include on the list, but peanut butter is a versatile cupboard staple. You can have it on toast, on sandwiches for lunch, pop it in a smoothie, and even use it for baking.
Cooking oil is another cheap essential to keep in your cupboards. You can use it for frying, cooking, baking, and even as a salad dressing or dip for bread.
There are different types of cooking oil, including sunflower oil, vegetable oil, and olive oil. These will vary in price, but generally, cheaper options such as sunflower oil start around £3 for a huge 2L bottle.
10. Beans & lentils
Similar to tinned vegetables and rice, beans and lentils are also the perfect way to bulk up a meal on a budget. Canned options such as kidney beans are great for adding to chilli, bean burgers, and curries.
A pack of lentils are also quite cheap and can also be used for curries, salads, and soups.
11. Gravy & chicken stock
Gravy and/or chicken stock is another hero product to have in your cupboards. Gravy tastes great with pretty much any meat and chicken stock can help add extra flavour to any dish.
If you're looking at choosing between the two, gravy is a slightly cheaper option, costing less than £1 for a can of gravy granules, which also last longer. Whereas chicken stock cubes tend to cost between £1.50-2 for a pack.
12. Tinned meat & fish
Similar to fruit and vegetables, buying tinned meat and fish can really help cut costs on your next supermarket shop.
You can purchase chicken, steak, hot dogs, tuna, salmon, and even full meals such as an all day breakfast, all in a tin for convenience.
These vary in price, but are most often cheaper than buying these products fresh. Plus, you can store them in your cupboard for longer, helping you to reduce waste.
Potatoes go great with most meals like Sunday roasts, and are ideal for whipping up quick meals and sides like jacket potatoes.
It's worth weighing up how many you use throughout the week, and which type you prefer, as you can then adjust your shopping list accordingly.
Bread is another essential item on most people's grocery shopping list, so it's no surprise it's made it on our list!
Starting at less than 70p a loaf in supermarkets, it's a cheap and tasty carbohydrate, which can be used for sandwiches, toast, baking, and more.
You can pick up bread even cheaper if you visit a supermarket first thing in the morning or last thing at night when yellow stickers offers are available, and can also freeze bread to make it last longer.
If you love to bake or take sugar in your tea or coffee, this is another cupboard must-have. Sugar is super cheap in most supermarkets, costing less than 50p in some stores. So it's definitely worth having a pack, just in case!
16. Tea & coffee
Speaking of tea and coffee, these are two other essentials to keep stocked up on. These don't have to be by expensive brands either. Value versions of both tea and coffee can be quite cheap, costing less than £2 for a pack.
What goes better with tea and coffee than biscuits?? Whether you fancy treating yourself or your guests, you can stock up on biscuits like bourbons or custard creams for as little as 50p!
18. Rice pudding
Rice pudding may sound like a random thing to keep in your cupboard, but at less than 70p a tin, it's a great, budget-friendly dessert option for both adults and children!
19. Tinned soup
In addition to tinned meat, fruits, and vegetables, tinned soup is also another staple, which can help you hit your five a day target. Soups such as tomato or chicken are around 50p a tin and are perfect for a quick lunch or tea.
Crackers are another cheap and cheerful cupboard staple, with own brand cream crackers costing just 30p in some stores. You can have them with soup or create your own snack toppings using things like cheese and tomatoes.
Cheap fridge/freezer staples
Whether you love a cup of tea or coffee, or have cereal for breakfast every day, there's no denying that milk is an essential in most households. However, fresh milk can be expensive.
Try switching to a long life or UHT milk as a cheaper alternative. This can also help you waste less as it lasts longer and you can store it in the cupboard before you open it.
Butter is another essential for most households and can be used for sandwiches, toast, baking, and more. For a basic pack of own brand butter, you're looking at paying around £1.50.
Eggs provide a cheap and easy way to get more protein into your diet. You can make standard egg recipes like scrambled eggs on toast, omelettes and boiled eggs, but also use them in other meals like when you're baking or making burgers.
Cheese is another great product to keep in your fridge, as you can add it to pretty much anything you cook. From cheese on toast, to pasta bakes, and everything in between, cheese is definitely a staple to add to your list!
The type of cheese you choose will affect the amount you pay for it, but a general cheddar cheese will cost around £2 for 250g.
25. Frozen meat
Frozen meat often works out much cheaper than buying fresh, and you can often buy in bulk to save money on products such as chicken and mince meat.
Top tips for stocking your cupboards & fridge on a budget
On top of the list above, here are some of our tried and tested ways to save money when stocking up your fridge and cupboards on a budget:
Take a list & meal plan for the week
Writing a list and planning out meals for the week can help avoid any temptations once you get to the supermarket!
Get creative with your budget
If you've got a strict budget, think about how you can make it stretch further. Shopping the yellow sticker corner, using loyalty card points, and taking advantage of coupons and in-store cashback deals and freebies are all ways to save money at the supermarket.
Try the world food aisle
If you often skip past the world food aisle, now is the time to get familiar with it, as it can help you save money on cupboard essentials.
Quite often, things like lentils and sauces work out cheaper for the same amount (or bigger quantities) when you pick them up from these aisles.
Buy in bulk
If you can afford to, sizing up or buying in bulk can help you save money too, especially for packet products like pasta and rice.
Check out more top tips in our Cost of living tips from the UK Money Bloggers.