On a tight budget? Here’s a list of affordable and essential grocery items

Grocery shopping can be expensive. Picture: Pexels Gustavo Fring

Grocery shopping can be expensive. Picture: Pexels Gustavo Fring

Published Oct 2, 2023


Before you walk into a grocery store, one has to brace yourself for more price increases.

Long gone are the days when I could go to the shop with a R20 note and walk out with a loaf of bread and a litre of milk.

Now just one of those items will set you back almost R20.

I’m constantly shocked by just how little my money can buy these days.

Therefore it’s become important to watch what you spend your money on.

While it would be nice to be able to walk into a store and pop a whole lot of luxury items into the trolley, it’s best to first get the essentials right.

By focusing on essential items and smart planning, you’re still able to have nutritious meals without breaking the bank.

Besides your daily bread and milk, here’s a list of the most basic and affordable grocery items to include on your shopping list.


Rice is a versatile and budget-friendly staple that can be used in a variety of dishes.

It provides a good source of carbohydrates and pairs well with vegetables, meats, and legumes. Opt for larger quantity packages or buy in bulk to get the best value for your money.

Rice is versatile. Picture Unsplash Pille R. Priske

Frozen vegetables

While fresh vegetables are best, it’s often very expensive. Frozen vegetables offer a cost-effective alternative. These options retain their nutritional value and often come pre-cut and ready to use, saving you time and money.

Maize meal

Mielie meal is inexpensive and versatile. It can be used for anything from breakfast to dinner, or as a main or side dish.

Beans and lentils

Beans and lentils are incredibly affordable and packed with protein, fibre, and essential nutrients. They can be used as a base for soups, stews, or salads.

Beans and lentils are incredibly affordable. Picture: Pexels Mart Production


Pasta is a budget-friendly item that can be a lifesaver when it comes to quick and easy meals. Regardless of what type of pasta you choose, you can turn this simple ingredient into a delicious meal by adding just a few inexpensive ingredients.

Canned foods

Canned goods, such as tomatoes, beans, tuna, and vegetables, provide long shelf lives and excellent value for money. They are convenient options for adding flavour, texture, and nutrition to your meals.


While the price of eggs has gone up, it remains an inexpensive source of protein and can serve as the star ingredient in numerous dishes.