2020 has presented many challenges and a need to adapt on many levels. Managing money is a matter on most people’s minds, and stretching the food budget as much as possible is ideal to remain low-carb without breaking the bank.
A ketogenic diet is whatever you choose to make it. You can opt to eat top-shelf fare if your funds allow for it. Still, home-canned corned beef with a side of sauteed cabbage is a fantastic mealidea to stretch a dollar without getting caught up in the trappings of eating lower quality, highly-processed foods that may compromise health to save money.
Luckily, there are loads of budget-friendly, low-carb, high-fat foods, like eggs or mackerel, you can use as a basis for your keto meal plan. Plus, utilizing fresh, canned pantry foods or store-bought items like pork rinds can go a long way to diversify your meals throughout the week on the cheap.
It’s possible to eliminate carbs, increase healthy fat intake, and leverage things like shopping sales, using coupons, and canning foods in-season when most affordable to extend your food dollar. Keep reading if you want tips on how to enjoy all the flavors available while remaining frugal.
Budget-friendly Keto Foods to Try
- Eggs: The egg is probably the perfect keto food. Eggs are a complete protein and a handy item to have hard-boiled or scrambled for a fuss-free keto meal in a hurry.
- Heavy Cream: You can use heavy cream in your morning coffee, or you can be a bit more adventurous and whip up some homemade whipped cream to top some berries or even make beginner-friendly and delicious butter!
- Lettuce: You may be surprised to learn how easy it is to grow lettuce at home, even indoors, to have a super-low-cost produce option on-hand at all times. Give varieties like arugula or Black Seeded Simpson for a delicate choice that’s perfect for nutrient-packed, cost-effective salads!
- Tomatoes: From its hearty texture stewed into marinara or pizza sauce to using this savory and slightly sweet fruit in a fresh and crisp salad: it’s a fantastic item to keep in stock to impart an extra boost of flair to every meal. Plus, tomatoes can last on the shelf for years if canned as standalone stews, condiments, or sauces.
- Fresh or dried herbs (e.g., rosemary, thyme, cilantro, etc.): Spices add so much flavor to meals for mere cents a serving; keep your pantry well-stocked with a variety of herbs and spices to liven up your meals.
- Mushrooms: Toss some shrooms into a pan with grass-fed butter and herbs for a simple yet satisfying keto side dish.
- Olives: Adding kalamata or other varieties of olives to salads and other meals is a great way to add a significant depth of flavor with ease.
- Winter Squash: Swap out starchier veggies with squash for all the feels and none of the guilt. Spaghetti squash and other varieties are quite affordable and can work in many different applications, making it a staple food on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
- Cucumbers: Crisp and crunchy cucumbers add something special to salads, sandwiches, and bunless burgers. Plus, they’re light on the budget and make a great eye soother when used in facials.
- Chives: Growing herbs is an easy way to boost flavor in recipes while curbing food costs. Chives are super simple to grow in a small windowsill pot, even from store-bought stalks, and you can harvest your bounty for several cycles; it’s like multiplying your food supply—a great way to save!
- Broccoli: Pair these nutritious florets with a silky and creamy cheese sauce for a leisurely breakfast bake you’re sure to enjoy. This dish certainly takes these already hearty and delicious veggies to the next level.
- Bell Peppers: Just as one of a thousand options: stuff a bell pepper with olives, mushrooms, white onions, and cheese and bake until the cheese is golden and bubbling for a budget-friendly meal selection that keeps carbs low and the budget balanced.
- Zucchini: Make some zoodles or veggie lasagna strips for a tasty and satisfying meal that will help you get the kids to eat more vegetables without them even realizing it!
Affordable and Delicious Keto Meal Ideas
Slow Cooker Keto Chili: This dish is an excellent low-carb option for many reasons. Primarily, having a healthy and hearty portion of chili made ahead can make mealtime a breeze.
Keep in mind that chili and soups are perfect meal-prep recipes to have handy. Purchase the meat and other pricier ingredients on sale, then make and freeze or pressure can soup for a convenient meal, ready in moments whenever needed.
- Keto Savory Pie with Zucchini: This delicious pie is a fantastic treat any day of the week. It’s simple to make, and leftovers just get better over time.
Zoodle Keto Alfredo with Bacon: Again, make it a point to purchase bacon and other potentially pricey meats and animal products on sale whenever possible and then freeze, cure, or pressure can them so you can continue to reap the benefits of your frugality throughout the year, even if real-time prices rise.
Plus, you can pickle and otherwise preserve your zoodles with the use of pressure canning to prepare for many noodle nights to come.
- Keto Pumpkin Walnut Bread: Take advantage of the affordable prices on canned pumpkin or snag one fresh from your local shop or farmer’s market. This bread is a nice treat with just enough of a touch of sweetness to feel like something special on your plate.
- Creamy Keto Pumpkin Soup: Some nights can only feel complete if snuggled up to a warm cup of savory soup. This recipe is so easy to make, and it’s perfectly paired with a keto grilled cheese sandwich wedge—on keto-friendly bread, of course.
- Creamy & Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup: If you’re looking for keto comfort food on a dime, this recipe fits the bill perfectly. It’s a snap to whip up a batch or two and keep some on-hand to satisfy a cheesy craving on-demand.
- Keto Ridiculously Loaded Radishes: Root veggies like radishes are fantastic fillers, brimming with fiber, and are lean on their carb impact and cost—wins all around!
Golden Keto Cauliflower Bake: This magical cruciferous vegetable makes converting everything from faux mash to low-carb rice or pizza crusts an accessible reality on keto.
Plus, cauliflower plays so well in this recipe, and the dish’s combination of cheesy goodness and hearty boldness is an excellent option!
10 Tips to Maximize Savings
- Shop sales and buy in bulk to take advantage of case discounts.
- Familiarize yourself with your local market’s coupon policy and stack store and manufacturer’s coupons, in combination with weekly specials, to get the most for your money.
- Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables for the most competitive pricing.
- Make meals from scratch to avoid convenience charges of pre-made food as needed to reign in monthly food costs.
- Comprise meals of loads of dark leafy greens and other seasonal low-glycemic veggies to ensure you’re getting ample fiber to feel fuller for longer.
- Consider doing Meatless Monday to temper food costs and lighten your carbon footprint to boot.
- Barter with friends and family to gain strength in the numbers of the community. Swap freshly-grown herbs for some eggs from a neighbor, or bake some bread in exchange for some local honey!
- Eat what’s on sale. It’s not uncommon to choose our meals on a whim, but it’s wise to be flexible when looking to save on grocery costs.
Plan meals around what’s on sale and stock up on staples when costs are low to eat through over time.
- Join your supermarket’s shopper’s savings club to receive notifications about weekly deals, giveaways, and coupons available.
- Follow other frugally-minded people online to get innovative ideas to maximize savings.
We’ve dedicated several articles to live a budget-conscious lifestyle while on keto, and the following are our top picks to direct you to the best resources to help you create loads of delicious low-carb meals while keeping costs in check.
Also, we know minding macronutrient intake is paramount on a ketogenic diet, especially carbs. Winging it at weight loss can prove frustrating and unsuccessful. We’ve found that many see significantly improved and more expedited results using a customized keto meal plan targeting weight loss.
Remove the guesswork from your keto journey and begin to achieve more consistent results by taking our 30-second questionnaire and accessing your personalized keto meal plan for weight loss in moments!
Online and In-person Discount Outlets:
- Netrition.com: The prices of products offered by this online keto-friendly superstore is a genuine find for anyone on a low-carb, high-fat diet because of their wide variety of hard-to-source products and ingredients at a bona fide bargain.
- Thrive Market: Once a member for a nominal fee, Thrive Market offers a vast selection of nutrient-dense, keto-friendly foods up to 50 percent off retail prices.
Amazon.com: You can source everything from an air fryer to your favorite keto fare and supplements here. Plus, Amazon often offers significant flash sales and accepts state-based food assistance programs like SNAP (EBT) to broaden access to huge savings and speedy free delivery with half-priced Prime membership for state program participants.
Plus, there are free keto ebooks available on Amazon, and the site releases new offerings regularly. You may be interested in checking out the following if you’re on a low-carb, high-fat diet:
- Keto Diet: Low Carb Recipes for Beginners
- Ketogenic Cookbook for Weight Loss
- 50 Top Ketogenic Recipes: Quick and Easy Keto Diet Recipes for Weight Loss and Optimum Health
- The Effective Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: The Ultimate 5-Week Meal Plan for Sustainable Weight Loss
- Ketogenic Diet: Do’s And Don’ts For Beginners
Honest Bison: Grass-fed and finished meat is always the highest standard, but centering your meal plan around this generally higher-priced meat may prove cost-prohibitive when on a leaner budget.
Fortunately, premium grass-fed and minimally processed options like Honest Bison offer significant seasonal discounts of up to 20%!
- Butcher Box: This keto-friendly meat box service offers an abundance of high-quality items that are perfect for anyone seeking to curb carbs. Plus, the company provides incentives like 10 pounds of free meat with your first order to sweeten the deal!
- Aldi: Keto dieters with this store in their area are likely aware of its large inventory of favorable offerings. The store’s Countryside Creamery heavy cream at an impressive $1.99 a pint to delicious prosciutto panino at $3.99 for 4 oz, along with dozens of other selections, is priced right for anyone looking for deals on low-carb, high-fat fare.
Costco: Many keto dieters are likely familiar with Rao’s tomato sauce, and that’s likely because it’s delicious. Check out your local stores as their prices tend to be best on this super-versatile staple item.
Plus, you can often track down tasty keto snacks like Whisps cheese crisps, Folio’s cheese wraps, along with a plethora of other low-carb food finds within their signature Kirkland brand (e.g., peanut butter, seaweed snacks, macadamia nuts, etc.) that’s so popular among members, at a bargain.
Sam’s Club: Source gut-healthy snacks for the kids, like Nature’s Garden Probiotic Keto Snack Mix, or stock up on wholesale meats and fish to get the best price per pound.
Also, pair wholesale shopping, meal prepping, and food preservation methods, and you’ll save loads while having the confidence that you and your family are eating the best quality food you can access.
- Trader Joe’s: Not a fan of big-box, membership-based options? Trader Joe’s is an excellent cost-saving outlet that offers a wide range of store brand products of outstanding quality at what sometimes feels like at-cost pricing—the savings are significant every day of the week!
- Whole Foods: Wait, before you scoff, just listen. Whole Foods may not be known for its affordable pricing, but you can save 10% if you buy items by the case.
- Target: The iconic red and white aisles of this outlet contain loads of keto-friendly foods like Wholesome Allulose Zero Calorie Keto Sweetener, Kerrygold butter, bargain-basement-priced store brand eggs, and so much more!
- Walmart: There are loads of keto finds at Walmart, and their prices are easy on the budget. Items like dairy are well priced, and many other items like low-carb canned green beans within their store’s Great Value brand catalog.
We are lucky to live in a time of many keto food options, and a little digging can even score some pretty amazing deals on low-carb-friendly foods.
Plus, here are ideal outlets to buy dairy at a discount:
- Butter: You’ll do well at Aldi, Walmart, Target, Costco, and Sam’s club if you’re sourcing butter on a budget. All noted stores offer low prices, and butter is a staple on a ketogenic diet, so you can never have too much.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Whether it’s the star in morning coffee or the base for homemade whipped cream or butter, heavy cream is an excellent ingredient to keep handy on keto. Target, Aldi, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Costco all provide affordable options.
- Cheeses: Walmart, Aldi, and Sam’s Club provide a plethora of delicious cheese options at fantastically-low prices!
- Sour Cream: You can score this tangy topping at Target or Aldi for a steal. However, you can also easily make some at home; Google it!
- Cream Cheese: Walmart’s Great Value brand is a very budget-friendly cream cheese option, and you can also find comparably priced options at Wegmans, Target, or Aldi.
- Eggs (not dairy but worth a mention): Wegmans, Aldi, Walmart, and Target are all excellent sources for affordable eggs—a true keto staple worth keeping well-stocked in your refrigerator, whether fresh; hard-boiled, or even pickled!
Opting to make meals at home more than eating out all the time will quickly show returns in the form of direct savings and having a firmer handle on what’s in your food. If you follow only one suggestion and make more dishes from scratch, you’ll see your food budget stretch significantly further.
Implementing just a few simple approaches to eating keto on a budget, as we’ve shared, is a stress-free way to reap all the benefits of fat-adaptation, like rapid weight loss and enhanced mental clarity, without busting the budget.
Keep an eye out for weekly sales, connect with your local farmer’s markets to enjoy fresh and local foods, and consider joining a cooperative like a CSA to partake in a service where you get to enjoy seasonal produce baskets at significant savings throughout the month.
You’ll notice many ingredients appearing over and over again in popular keto recipes. From eggs to heavy cream or almond flour, some foods are just ubiquitous to the low-carb kitchen. Make an effort to purchase commonly-used ingredients in bulk to stretch your food budget further.
There’s no need to feel deprived because you mind your money. Get creative with meals and turn whole, natural foods into culinary delights with the aid of a few inexpensive ingredients.
A slight tactical purchasing and planning will prove highly beneficial along your keto journey. Take from the suggestions noted above in terms of your needs and what works best for you. Happy deal hunting!
- Candler, W., & Kennedy, G. (2008). Food cost stabilization using food coupons*. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue Canadienne D'agroeconomie, 23(3), 33-45. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7976.1975.tb00955.x
- Baines, J., & Rutishauser, I. H. (2020). Contemporary food use: Food supply and food consumption. Food & Nutrition, 230-2
- Food insecurity: Special considerations for women’s health. (2015). Food Insecurity and Public Health, 156-177. doi:10.1201/b18451-12
- Majid, K., & Grier, S. (2010). The food Mail Program: “When Figs fly” – Dispatching access and affordability to healthy food. Social Marketing Quarterly, 16(3), 78-95. doi:10.1080/15245004.2010.503009
- Focus on the future to save more money. (2016). PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e510352016-001
- Home food Preservation costs. (1986). Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology Journal, 19(5), V. doi:10.1016/s0315-5463(86)71637-4
- De Oliveira, M. G. (2020). Controlling costs and purchasing food. Food and Society, 447-471. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-811808-5.00025-8