A big concern for many people when learning about the keto diet is that it is going to be very expensive. With all those fatty cuts of meat, dairy, oils, and fresh vegetables, you may be wondering if it is possible for those on a budget to follow the keto diet.
While it is possible to spend a lot of money while eating a keto diet (as with anything), when you take into account you will no longer be buying frozen meals or ready-made baked goods, or getting takeout regularly, it will start to balance out. You may even find – depending on how you ate before – that you actually start to save money!
So, the big question, how do you eat keto on a budget?
8 Simple Steps for Eating a Keto Diet While on a Budget
It is easier than you may think, and none of these tips involve extreme couponing or dumpster diving!
1. Be Prepared
(I feel that should be the first step for anything in life – am I right?)
What I mean by ‘be prepared’, is know what you’re working with. Figure out your macros specific to your needs, based on the number of calories you will be eating each day. This way you can work out exactly how many grams of fat, protein, and carbs to incorporate into your daily meal plan.
It is difficult to know how to spend less on groceries when you don’t even know how much, and of what, you should be buying.
2. Make Everything Yourself
And I’m not just talking about your main meals.
Nut butter, shredded cheese, salad dressing. All of these are
very yummy expensive when bought premade – but very easy to make at home.
A good food processor or strong blender will aid you greatly in eating low carb on a tight budget. If you don’t have one already, scout the thrift stores to score a used one at a big discount!
A Crockpot is another kitchen appliance that will end up saving you money in the long run. You can cook a big batch of a recipe, portion it out, and keep in the fridge or freezer to eat up later. (If you want to learn more about meal prep and planning, have a look at our Beginner’s Guide To Meal Planning On Keto In 4 Simple Steps)
3. Keep it Simple
This is one my favorite parts of the keto diet – meals can be super simple, while also being healthy and nutritious. Even if you end up cooking every day, it doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. (Unless you enjoy cooking elaborate meals, of course. Then you go on right ahead.)
Keep the likes of almond flour, erythritol, and other specialty ingredients for special occasions. Your meals, for the most part, should consist of meat, vegetables, and a fat like butter or olive oil.
If you’re worried about getting bored with your meals, then look at incorporating spices into your recipes. Different spice combinations can make your basic chicken dish taste very different each time!
4. Choose the Fatty Cuts
Skip the low fat, white cuts of meat and go straight for the darker, fattier options.
The fattier cuts of meat are often cheaper – which works in your favor both for your diet and for your wallet.
So what cuts of meat do you look for?
Chicken legs and thighs (bone in and skin on). Skip the lean ground beef and get the 75/25 version. Go for streaky bacon and pork loin.
For the amount you get, bacon does tend to be on the pricier side. To help fit bacon into your budget, look for the “offcuts” or “odds & ends”. These are the bits of bacon that are irregularly shaped, and not “neat enough” to be packaged and sold in the normal packs. Because of this, it tends to be much cheaper (plus they are often fattier pieces than you would find normally).
To take the savings even further, use the bones for bone broth, and keep the fat drippings for cooking. (I have even been known to pour the fat from pork chops over my salad as a dressing!)
5. Eat Seasonally
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to get variety in your diet.
It is also a top tactic for budgeters, as fruits and vegetables are much cheaper when in season. The reason for this is that when fruits and vegetables are in season, they are abundant, and locally-grown options are easily available. Out of season, however, the fruits and vegetables that are not in season are imported, at a much higher cost.
For example, bell peppers and broccoli are in season in the fall, while asparagus and avocado are in season in the spring.
If you’re looking for low carb vegetables with the best price per nutrient, you can’t go wrong with spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. Cauliflower especially, as it happens to be extremely versatile.
6. Don’t Let Food Go To Waste
Food waste – apart from impacting your wallet – is a global environmental problem. So there is more than one good reason to avoid throwing out food that has gone bad.
There are a variety of ways you can avoid wasting food.
To start with, buy only what you need. If you plan out your meals for the week before going to the grocery store, then you can write a shopping list with the exact quantities of what you will need.
If you see vegetables starting to wilt, either chop them up and freeze, and cook that same evening. Some of the best meals come about by using up ingredients that are sitting in the fridge.
If you end up with leftovers, package them up and put in the fridge for lunch the next day.
Scraps of vegetables can be added to meat bones in a bag in the freezer for your bone broth.
7. Bulk Bulk Bulk (or, the three Bulks)
I’m not talking about your muscles here – I am talking about bulk buying, bulk making, and bulk freezing.
Look out for bulk deals on meat and vegetables. (Be careful to compare it to the per-pound price for smaller amounts to make sure it really is a good deal!)
Then, take your ingredients and prep your meals for the week in one go. If preparing all your meals in one go feels a bit too daunting, you can just prepare the ingredients separately. You will still get the time and money saving benefits. For example, you can cook a full pack of bacon, then separate it out into ziploc bags for breakfast recipes.
Once you have prepared your meals (or elements of meals), then it is time to put everything in freezer-safe containers or bags and place it in the freezer, ready and waiting for you.
8. Cut Out The Drinks
This is a tough one for many people.
Cut out the diet sodas.
I am serious.
Not only is it bad for your wallet, but also your health. It even negatively impacts your weight loss efforts (but that is a topic for another day!)
Stick with water, coffee, and tea (but mostly water). Get a good quality water bottle to keep with you, so you don’t end up having to buy water.
And there you have it – 8 simple tips to help you get started with eating keto on a budget!