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The 11 Budget Shopping Foods & Essentials in Kenya

This post is on how to stretch your little food budget in Kenya and get more out of it than you normally would. Budget eating doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy eating, all options outlined are healthy and organic foods.

Ever been so broke that you are actually scared to check your account balance? Yeah, me too. Don’t stress, it is perfectly normal. 

In that situation ship, it means you have to be more budget-conscious in order to survive. This starts with the food choices you buy, how to use minimal energy, and how to make your budget food tasty. Budget foods don’t necessarily have to be bland.

We will start with versatile ingredients that you should shop for so that you can make a variety of dishes from them. The next post would be recommended dishes you can make from the very listed ingredients.

Let’s get into it.

What are the most versatile ingredients?

  1. Eggs
  2. Rice
  3. Potatoes
  4. Flour
  5. Dry Pasta
  6. Dry Legumes
  7. Cabbage
  8. Omena
  9. Avocados

1. Eggs

Expect to pay around KSh 400 per tray ( 30 Pieces)

There is a reason cash-strapped campus comrades invest in eggs and keep a lot of them: These ovals are generally cheap and can last a long time without special storage. Plus they are versatile and can make dishes from breakfast to dinner. Also, they pack one of the highest protein content in a serving

It is advisable to buy eggs in bulk for better deals, buy in trays instead of individual pieces. Also, don’t buy them from the supermarket but from a local egg dealer for better freshness and an even friendlier price.

2. Rice

Expect to pay around KSh 250 for a Kg 

Yes, we are on a budget, but that doesn’t mean we should get the cheapest rice brand at the supermarket. Buying a slightly middle-priced rice is good since it puffs up upon cooking, so you cook a small amount and get more, plus it tastes much better. 

If you need help selecting a rice brand then I recommend this post: Grocery Guide: 10 Popular Rice Brands in Kenya 

Rice is a versatile lunch dish in Kenya and it can accompany numerous other foods to make good dishes; this will be covered in the next section of this series.

3. Potatoes

Expect to pay around KSh 100 for a Kg 

Potatoes, especially during seasons can get extremely affordable. They don’t require special storage like refrigeration, and they have a decent shelf life of weeks (if you get them fresh and store them in the dark)

4. Flours

Expect to pay around KSh 200 for a 2 Maize Meal

Expect to pay around KSh 190 for 2Kg Wheat Flour(Ngano)

Expect to pay around KSh 180 for a Kg of Sorghum (Wimbi )Flour

Flour is the most basic ingredient in Kenyan kitchens, especially maize flour. It is so basic that the mention of “flour” already means maize flour; with or without context. Maize flour is used to make ugali, the national dish.

Grocery Guide: The 10 Popular Maize Flour Brands in Kenya 

However, even on a budget maize meal is not the only flour you should keep, other options are wimbi flour(sorghum & millet), and all-purpose wheat flour.

Wimbi flour is used to make porridge; uji, and that is it about it. 

Wheat flour on the other end, I recommend you get all-purpose flour instead of single-purpose wheat flour like self-raising. All-purpose will give you the flexibility to make whatever you want. To get the best wheat flour for you, check this post. Grocery Guide: The 10 Best Wheat Flour Brands in Kenya (2023)

Since we are on a budget, the wheat flour products that are relevant here are pancakes and chapatis. Don’t be a clown, mandazis are out of question since we can’t afford deep frying, we are on a budget remember! Vegetable oil prices are still high.

5. Dry Pasta

Expect to pay around KSh 100 for 400g spaghetti

Having rice daily can be monotonous, so to switch that up we occasionally need to throw in some Italian goodness, pasta, and spaghetti specifically; as it is the most common type of pasta in Kenya

Pasta is generally made with a special wheat flour and water, that is it. Spaghetti is generally affordable.

 But you may want to treat yourself with specialty artisan pasta once in a while even if you are on a budget, if you feel like you are tired of basic pasta and want some top-shelf spaghetti, then check this post: Review: The 5 Best Spaghetti Brands in Kenya

6. Beans, Lentils & Green Grams or Pulses

Expect to pay around KSh 200 for 1Kg of dried legumes

Get the dried versions of these since canned ones are relatively expensive for their offering.

All these are plant proteins, the difference from animal proteins is the absorption rate, which is lower in the plant variants.

These are a good vegetarian option as they substitute meats. They can be cooked to different textures and paired with a lot of other foods to make good complete meals.

Dried green grams cook relatively faster than beans, but it is advisable to use a pressure cooker to save energy as it will take hours on the stovetop. Your other option is using a jiko.

Also Read: Should You Buy Jikokoa Or the Normal Jiko?

If you however fancy convenience, you can just buy pre-boiled beans or legumes from your downstairs kibandasky.

7. Cabbages

Expect to pay around KSh 40 for 1Kg of cabbage.

Cabbage is despised by many, including me,( because I had ugali cabbage in high school which was traumatic); but it is a good option in budget shopping. 

It has a good shelf life compared to other vegetables that wilt off just in a matter of hours. Cabbage can keep for days and up to a week if refrigerated.

Cabbage is inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways, as a vegetable primarily, stir fry, or in salads.

8. Omena

Expect to pay around KSh 250 for 1Kg of dried omena.

For the last time, omena is not cat food. I mean it can be, but it isn’t that primarily. Omena is typically Silver Cyprinid, or Lake Victoria sardines, which is funny since omena aren’t actually sardines, Read more

 Omena are inexpensive and easy to store, cook them to accompany ugali or chapatis

9. Avocados

Expect to pay around KSh 100 for 1Kg of unripe avocados.

Avocados on themselves are not technically a main ingredient, but a really good side that can be used to add depth and creaminess to your dishes. Avocados are relatively inexpensive, and they really go a long way.

You can start by substituting processed margarine, and instead use mashed avocados on your bread, this is avocado toast.

 At lunch, you can add avocado slices to your plate of rice & beans, githeri, or whatever you possibly could be eating at lunch.

To finish off the day, add avocados as a side to your ugali and vegetables supper.

The fats in avocados are healthy and that should be the least of your concerns. I personally love avocados and keep them by my side at all times. 

It is advisable to buy green unripe avocados from the market, as they cost less than half compared to if you bought them ripe. 

Ripe your avocados in sequences so that you can have a constant and continuous supply. 

My preferred method is, covering some in a brown khaki bag, and storing them behind the fridge, and this is the quickest way to ripen avocados. The hot exhaust air from the fridge’s condenser does the magic.

10. Tomatoes & Onions

*Prices are so volatile to even document

Tomatoes and onions are the only basics you need when making stews, (which are common in Kenya)

I actually realized we stew everything, even eggs lol, I love those stewed eggs, they literally got me through campus

Since you gonna need a lot of these bad boys, buy them from the market in bulk to get good deals. 

For tomatoes, get them slightly ripe and firm so that they can keep for long. Storage should be in a fridge probably, for longevity.

Onions on the other hand require no refrigeration, just store them like potatoes; in the dark away from light. If you don’t have a dark place, then invest in a black or non-transparent container. 

How is light bad for onions and potatoes, you ask? Well, light makes your onion bulb start growing shoots, since the bulbs already have water needed for germination, it’s the light they were missing. Same story with potatoes.

11. Matumbo 

Matumbo is the best option and substitute for meat and steaks, I mean we are on a budget. 

What is matumbo? They are basically tripe and intestines of cows and goats. Tripe is the stomach lining, and intestines are intestines LOL.

Matumbo is so cheap and cost less than half of what typical meat would cost you. 

Learn more about matumbo and get a recipe as well here

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