10 Groceries To Buy From Walmart When You’re Broke

Jan 9, 2020 Mountain View / CA/ USA - People shopping at a Walmart store in south San Francisco bay area.
Sundry Photography / Getty Images

Inflation is expected to cool down in 2023 — but in the meantime, we’ve all still got to keep our fridges and pantries stocked with groceries. In order to do so, many consumers are veering away from traditional supermarkets and heading to big-box giants like Walmart, which is famed for its mega discounts across various retail categories.

Perhaps surprisingly, though, Walmart doesn’t always offer the best deals on food items (take meat and maple syrup, for example). So, what groceries should you buy from Walmart when money is tight? Let’s have a look

Peanut Butter

“If you like peanut butter, you can buy a huge 64 oz jar of the Great Value brand for around $5.98, which is roughly 9.3 cents per ounce,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “You can obviously eat things like peanut butter sandwiches, but you can also add it to other things for a flavor boost.”


“Speaking of peanut butter sandwiches, pick up some Great Value bread on your trip and you’ll be set for a good bit,” Ramhold said. “A loaf of white bread is about $1.32, so you could stock up and freeze what you don’t need right away. Or if you prefer honey wheat, Great Value makes that but it’ll set you back about $1.78, so it’s slightly more expensive than the standard white bread.”

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“A gallon of Great Value milk is about $2.81, whether you prefer whole milk or 2%,” Ramhold said. “It’s not the cheapest item to buy if you’re broke, but it’s a healthy thing to have on hand, and the price isn’t too bad as long as you stick with the store-brand. Plus, if you want cereal for easy meals, it’s a must-have unless you prefer your cereal dry; in that case, milk is still good to have on hand to make things like oatmeal a little creamier or boxed mac and cheese tastier.”


“Oatmeal gets a bad reputation for being bland, but if you know how to cook it, it’s pretty much a blank canvas,” Ramhold said. “Stick with the store brand again and opt for the containers of either old fashioned oats or quick cooking oats — don’t bother with the packs of instant oatmeal. The instant stuff is tasty but it’s loaded with sugar — if you cook your own from the ‘plain’ stuff, you can control what goes into it, so you can still make it sweet if you prefer, but without going overboard. Plus the value of the canisters is much better than the boxes of individual packets. For example, Great Value oats (either old fashioned or quick cooking) is about $3.98 for a 42 oz container or 9 cents per oz; a box of Great Value packets (20 packages of 1.05 oz each) is about $3.28, or 13 cents per oz.”

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Dried Pasta

“You can’t go wrong with dried pasta, and Great Value offers plenty of different kinds to choose from, whether it’s rotini, penne, spaghetti, elbows, bowtie, fettuccini, egg noodles and more,” Ramhold said. “Most boxes of pasta are about 92 cents each, though you’ll obviously pay more for larger quantities — for example, a 2lb box of elbow pasta is around $1.88 while a bag of egg noodles is around $1.43.”

Pasta Sauces

“Whether you want to just heat them up and pour them over pasta or use them as ingredients in other dishes, the prices are pretty great at Walmart, especially if you stick with the Great Value brand,” Ramhold said. “Standard tomato-based sauces are around $1.48 for 24 oz jars, while a 22 oz jar of alfredo sauce will go for slightly more — about $2.28.”

Canned Tuna

A tuna sandwich (or, if you have more time, a tuna casserole) is an easy way to get a big dose of protein. You can get a four cans of Great Value Chunk Light Tuna in Water, 5 ounces at Walmart for $3.68 — cheaper than what similar products go for at Dollar General.  

Top Ramen 

Top Ramen and the word “broke” go so well together that Top Ramen should probably weave it into its marketing copy. Dollar stores are great places to stock up on Top Ramen, but if you are already at Walmart, you could do worse than buying the Nissin Top Ramen, Chicken Flavor, New, 3 ounces, 48 count for $26.20 — which could work out to under 55 cents a meal. 

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Seasoning Packets

“From brown gravy to taco seasoning to ranch dressing mix and more, these packets are great for keeping on hand to mix things up,” Ramhold said. “If you opt for the Great Value brand, you can expect to pay anywhere from 40 cents to 50 cents per packet or so, which means you can add a lot of flavor to a basic meal for very little price-wise.”

Canned Veggies

“These are non-perishable, so you can easily stock up and hang on to them until you need them, and things like green beans, corn, or sweet peas are about 58 cents each for 14.5 oz cans,” Ramhold said. “If you’re having a hard time getting your hands on fresh produce, this is a good compromise, as you’re still getting veggies, and they can be doctored up with salt and pepper to taste decent enough.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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