How to Do the Keto Diet on a Budget
Starting any new diet can be a daunting financial prospect. After all, it can be tough to build affordable, healthy meals according to a strange new diet strategy with unusual or exotic ingredients. There’s good news, though. You don’t need to be a high roller to eat a high-fat diet. You can eat wallet-friendly, delicious meals that support your ketogenic lifestyle. Here’s how to do keto on a budget:
- Establish a food budget.
- Plan to cook at home.
- Shop where the deals are.
- Ditch the conveniences.
- Save big on meat and other proteins.
- Choose affordable produce with low net carbs.
- Buy low-cost and healthy fats.
- Skip the snacks.
1. Establish a food budget.
Before you hit the grocery store, you need to determine what your food budget actually is. List out your income and other expenses and decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend on groceries. This number is a clear spending limit that will guide your shopping strategy and choices.
2. Plan to cook at home.
Eating out frequently can bust your food budget fast and it may not be great for your diet. When a restaurant prepares your food, you can’t be completely sure of what’s in it. So, to preserve your bank balance and accurately keep tabs on your nutrition, plan to cook most of your meals at home. Not sure what to make? Dishes like stir fry or bacon cheeseburger casserole fit into a low-carb diet.
To add cooking to your to-do list without getting overwhelmed, try to plan your meals. It’s exactly as it sounds — you decide what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Then, you only buy the ingredients that you’ll need to prepare those meals (no snacks or random extras). Finally, you set aside some time each week to cook meals in batches, stashing your creations in food storage containers.
This disciplined process will ultimately save you time and money. Your shorter grocery list will keep your trips to the store budget-friendly. Your ready-made, portioned out meals will reduce the temptation to order takeout and eliminate the annoying and time-consuming game of deciding what to eat for dinner every night. Plus, if you make enough food, you’ll have leftovers that you can freeze to stretch that budget even further.
3. Shop where the deals are.
To get the most out of every dollar spent, you need to shop smart and find the best deals. In season, farmer’s markets are a great place to buy fresh, low-carb, and affordable produce. For everything else, head to Trader Joe’s or another local grocery store known for its bargains. When you need to replace staples like oils, spices, and nuts, hit up a warehouse store and buy them in bulk.
Don’t forget to shop for sales and buy the store brand versions of goods whenever possible. Over time, those savings will really add up. To get to the next level with your meal planning game, create recipes exclusively based on what’s on sale each week.
4. Ditch the conveniences.
Life gets crazy busy sometimes, so it’s only natural to look for shortcuts. Unfortunately, though, you pay extra for convenience. To save money, try implementing these tips:
- Avoid pre-cut vegetables and chop them yourself.
- Skip the processed keto diet bars and eat nuts instead.
- Save bones from meat and make your own bone broth.
- Try jazzing up your tap or filtered water with some lemon, muddled berries, or mint.
- Make your own salad dressing or condiments. If you’ve got extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and some spices, you’re good to go.
5. Save big on meat and other proteins.
Meat, seafood, and other proteins can easily bust your food budget, but there are several ways to get what you need without breaking the bank:
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat. Substitute a rump roast for ribeye, a pork shoulder for bone-in pork chops, and a whole chicken for chicken breasts to get the flavor you’re looking for at a fraction of the price.
- See if your community offers a meat share. You may be able to buy a quarter, half, or full cow. While expensive upfront, you would save money pound for pound compared to grocery store pricing. And, if frozen properly, you would be stocked up on beef pretty much forever. A quarter of a cow yields at least 150 pounds of meat!
- Try frozen or canned fish. Tuna, mackerel, and salmon all support the keto lifestyle. Please note: tuna can contain high levels of mercury, so consume in moderation.
- Try black soybeans or lupini beans. They’re low in net carbs and pack an affordable, yet filling protein punch.
6. Choose affordable produce with low net carbs.
Vegetables are an important source of vitamins and nutrients, but many are starchy and high in carbohydrates, which doesn’t fit in with your ketogenic diet. To get your veggie on while still promoting ketosis, fill your shopping cart with produce like cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, rutabaga, mushrooms, cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy greens. They’re tasty, versatile, and the perfect foundation for a cheap, low-carb meal.
7. Buy low-cost and healthy fats.
Ketosis and the release of ketones (which burns your body fat) can occur if you exercise vigorously, practice intermittent fasting, or eat a diet that’s low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in healthy fats. To make sure you always have enough fat sources on hand, stock your fridge and pantry with some of these affordable ingredients:
- Produce: fresh avocados (when in season)
- Oils: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil (buy these in bulk)
- Dairy: butter, sour cream, heavy cream, shredded cheese
- Meat and protein: eggs, peanut butter, ground beef
8. Skip the snacks.
One of the possible effects of being in ketosis is a reduced appetite. If this happens to you, you won’t need to snack much between meals. That means you’ll eat fewer calories and save money! Of course, it’s probably wise to have a few keto-approved snacks on hand to satisfy any rogue cases of the munchies. Think almonds, hard-boiled eggs, or frozen berries (a great low-carb way to sneak in some fruit).
If you’re just getting into the ketogenic diet or you’re trying to figure out how to make it more affordable, be assured that you can do keto on a budget. These money-saving tips and meal ideas will help you pursue the lifestyle you want — without breaking the bank!
Tell Charlie: How do you do keto on a budget?