Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Finance

Keto on a Tight Budget (15 Tips for Doing Keto on a Budget)


You can afford to follow the keto diet if you plan your meals, shop smart, and opt for common, low cost foods. You don’t need expensive cuts of grass fed organic meat, fancy ingredients, or costly supplements. None of those things are required for ketosis or losing weight on a ketogenic diet.

A simple meat and vegetable dish, an example of how to do keto on a tight budget.
How to do the keto diet on a tight budget.

If you want to eat keto on a tight budget, you need to be strategic about your food shopping.

That means doing a little bit of extra planning. The effort is worth it if you want to stretch your grocery budget. If you wander around the grocery store hungry and without a plan, you’re almost guaranteed to waste money.

There are also other things you can do to keep from going over your grocery budget. Eating at home and cooking in bulk are examples.

15 Tips for Eating Keto on a Tight Budget

1. Cook at Home

With the popularity of the keto diet and other low-carb diet plans, restaurants and fast food places have become more accommodating. You can order bunless burgers, tell the waiter to skip the bread, and order an extra side of low-carb vegetables instead of rice or pasta.

But ordering takeout and dining in restaurants multiple times a week adds up fast. It’s also harder to count your calories and your macros when you eat out. When you cook at home, you have total control over the ingredient list.

Even if you’re not great in the kitchen, a quick Google search will yield tons of easy delicious recipes that are wallet-friendly and keto-friendly.

2. Meal Plan Around Sale Items

Meal planning helps you stick to your budget and your macros. But don’t just plan meals around what you’re in the mood for or a favorite keto recipe.

Review the weekly sales flyer or check out the grocery store’s website before you go shopping. Plan meals around whatever is on sale plus what you have in your pantry and refrigerator. When you only buy sale items, the savings are automatic.

3. Stick to Your Shopping List

Always write out a shopping list, bring it with you, and stick to it. Knowing exactly what you’re buying before you walk into the supermarket prevents you from making impulse buys.

4. Shop Warehouse Clubs and Discount Grocery Stores

Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Sam’s Club can save you substantial money because they sell items in bulk. Bulk pricing might cost more upfront, but save you more in the long run. As long as you have the space for it and it doesn’t go to waste, shopping at warehouse clubs for keto staples saves.

You must pay a membership fee in order to shop at these wholesale stores, but you can save a lot of money by purchasing bulk quantities of keto foods like quality meats, nuts, eggs, coconut oil, other healthy fats, and frozen vegetables.

Discount grocers like Aldi don’t typically have a big selection and there might be some brands you’re not used to, but they offer cut-rate pricing on pantry staples, meats, and vegetables. Trader Joe’s has good deals on veggies, frozen foods, and some keto-friendly prepared foods. Dollar stores are also a cheap option for keto pantry staples like salt, spices, and condiments.

5. Shop the Bulk Bins

Many grocery stores have a bulk bin section where you can buy items you weigh out and pay for by the pound. Buying out of the bulk bins is usually much cheaper than buying a national brand or prepackaged food. If you like to have a handful of nuts for a snack or seeds and other dry goods are part of your eating plan, you’ll save when you hit the bulk bins.

6. Buy From Farmer’s Markets, Co-ops, and CSAs

Look into farmer’s markets, food cooperatives, and community-supported agriculture in your area. You can get farm fresh locally grown produce often at a significant discount compared to what you would pay for it at a supermarket. You will also be supporting your community.

For co-ops and CSAs, you might have to pay upfront or pay monthly. You’ll save money buying direct, though.

7. Try Store Brands

Name brands don’t necessarily mean better quality. They almost certainly mean higher prices compared to lesser-known and store brands, however.

Store brands are often just as good or better than the more familiar brands you’re used to. Every major supermarket and big-box stores like Target and Walmart have their own house brand for all types of popular foods.

8. Choose Cheaper Cuts of Meat

You’ll do your wallet a favor when you choose cheaper cuts. You can buy canned tuna, sardines, or lump crab meat instead of wild salmon. Swap ground beef for steaks and buy chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. If you don’t want to give up skinless, boneless chicken breasts, you can buy frozen chicken breast in bulk at Costco or other warehouse clubs for cheaper than fresh.

9. Buy Produce In Season

Fruits and vegetables are much cheaper in season than out of season. Shipping out-of-season vegetables from the other side of the world is expensive. Look for non-starchy vegetables that are in season in your area.

If there’s out-of-season produce you have to have for whatever reason, it’s often cheaper to buy it frozen. Frozen vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and then flash frozen. You won’t lose much if anything in terms of nutrients or taste.

10. Avoid Pre-Packaged Keto Diet Foods

Anything pre-packaged or marketed directly to keto dieters is probably overpriced. You can usually get the same thing for less if you’re willing to shop around or make it yourself.

Bagged salad, salad dressing, riced cauliflower, and other pre-packaged low-carb foods almost always cost more than their do-it-yourself counterparts. For example, you can buy a head of cauliflower and make your own cauliflower rice with a cheese grater or food processor cheaper than buying premade.

Skip processed keto junk food like keto cookies. Don’t buy low-carb versions of carb-heavy standards like keto pasta, keto ice cream, and keto bagels. These sorts of fake foods are usually disappointing and cost too much.

Eat whole foods. Prep them and cook them yourself.

11. Skip Anything Grass-Fed, Organic, or Free-Range

If goal number one is getting rid of body fat and goal number two is staying within your budget, stick with affordable fresh meats and conventional vegetables. If you’re doing keto on a tight budget, paying extra for certified foods might not be an option. They are not required for staying in ketosis or losing weight.

12. Keep Meals Simple

Low-budget recipes generally have a short ingredient list made up of readily available, affordable foods and common spices. A simple keto meal doesn’t have to be a bland keto meal. Elaborate recipes, French cheese, and expensive ingredients aren’t required for flavor.

Breakfast can be cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, fresh avocados, or a smoothie. A giant salad with a protein is the perfect keto lunch. One-pot dishes, casseroles, or meat and two non-starchy vegetables make for an affordable keto meal.

13. Batch Cooking and Meal Prep

Designate one day a week for cooking several low-carb recipes. Portion them out into individual meals then refrigerate or freeze what you need for the week. Busy weeknights are a breeze when all you have to do is reheat your favorite meals with no extra prep time.

You can also batch cook versatile main ingredients in addition to complete meals. Roast a whole chicken or cook a few pounds of ground beef. You’ll have what you need ahead of time for multiple recipes.

Cooking in batches is a smart way to save time, save money, and cut down on food waste. Cooking in bulk might seem like a chore at first. You’ll appreciate it on those nights when you don’t feel like doing anything and are tempted to grab takeout or fire up DoorDash.

If you’re new to keto, cooking in bulk also makes sticking to your diet easier. With all your meals prepped and made, you can avoid straying from your eating plan. You’ll have enough homemade meals ready to help you fend off temptation.

14. Don’t Waste Food

The USDA estimates that food waste in the U.S amounts to between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply.

Avoid contributing to that absurd number while you save yourself some money in the process. A good deal is not a good deal if a third of what you buy ends up in the bin.

Eat, cook, or freeze your most perishable items. Store your food properly so nothing spoils. Use leftovers for lunches or have a leftover night or two every week.

Eating keto on a budget is about not wasting food as much as it is about not wasting money.

15. Find Cheap Keto Food Options

I’ve heard people say when you do keto, cheap meals aren’t possible. That simply isn’t true. They just haven’t figured out how to eat keto on a budget.

Many of the foods keto dieters splurge or overspend on have budget-friendly alternatives. There are plenty of keto-friendly cheap foods to buy when you’re broke. Here are some examples of keto food swaps you can make to save money:

Fats

Even though vegetable oils are usually cheaper, stick to healthier options since fat will be your main source of calories. Butter, heavy cream, nut butter, and avocados are staples.

If you do a lot of searching online for keto recipes, you’ll come across indulgent recipes that call for expensive or trendy fat sources like beef tallow, avocado oil, or duck fat. You can create great flavor with bacon fat and extra light olive oil instead. Ghee is simple to make from unsalted butter and is cheaper than buying it at the grocery store.

Proteins

Proteins tend to be the most expensive ingredients in keto recipes. Saving money on meat helps you save money on food overall.

Cheaper options include ground meat (beef or pork), eggs, chicken thighs, and bacon. Canned tuna, sardines, and canned salmon are inexpensive seafood options.

Carbohydrates

Since such a small percentage of your diet will come from carbs, get them mostly from vegetables and low-carb fruits like berries. Add wallet-friendly vegetables like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, lettuce, green peppers, and cabbage to your grocery list.

Sweeteners

Brand name sugar substitutes that are keto-friendly and widely available like Swerve or Lakanto are expensive. I buy stevia extract powder in bulk online from Amazon or BulkSupplements.com.

The Keto Diet on a Tight Budget

If you’ve eaten the Standard American Diet for a long time, starting your keto journey might seem costly. Once you know how to do keto on a budget, it really isn’t any more costly than any other eating plan.

Is the keto diet expensive? It can be, but the keto lifestyle can also be budget-friendly. If you plan ahead, shop smart, and use what you buy, you can do the keto diet on a low budget.

More From Kinda Frugal

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Featured Image Credit: Unsplash



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