Filet mignon and premium cold-pressed oils are excellent and healthy options on a ketogenic diet, but neither item is particularly cheap—especially if you're on a tight budget.
Some know how to follow a ketogenic diet when all is plentiful, and options are limited, but some may doubt that it's possible to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet on a limited income.
While there are loads of more expensive keto food options to tickle the palate, it is entirely within reach to approach a keto diet without breaking the bank.
Whether you're in between work, making a more concerted effort to save to achieve a financial goal, or are of college-age, and on a pizza and Ramen noodle diet, we have options to share to fit your budget.
Plus, buying food in bulk and preparing most meals, at least mostly, from scratch will also reduce the cost of meals to stretch your food budget.
Eating on a keto budget and maintaining variety requires a bit of thought and consideration. Still, once you focus on eating within your budget, and monitor sales and other food deals to save as much as possible, along with eating what's in season, you'll likely see a significant reduction in your monthly food costs.
Also, there are direct or cooperative delivery services (e.g., Instacart, Postmates, Door Dash, etc.) from which you can receive your groceries from some of your favorite bargain supermarket chains (e.g., Trader Joe's, Wegman's, Aldi, etc.) delivered to your door with zero-contact.
Again, a ketogenic diet is a program that one can experience on a budgetary spectrum. The eating style can work on a fixed or lavish income.
Thankfully, many of the food staples on a ketogenic diet like eggs are incredibly affordable and needed in so many low-carb, high-fat recipes. While pasture-raised eggs may run you a pretty coin, you can find some form of eggs to get the job done no matter your budget.
We want you to begin to enjoy keto in either lean or abundant times, and to this end, here are some affordable keto staples to keep on hand, especially if you're tightening your purse strings:
Eggs: Although the U.S.D.A. estimates the average cost of eggs to increase from 2019 to 2020, the mean price per dozen remains around $1.35.
Whether you make a simple cheese omelet, use the eggs in a baking recipe, or decide to give a go at making some chaffles (a.k.a., keto waffles), eggs are an essential food to keep on hand when eating a keto diet.
Also, eggs can be an easy and quick snack or the main feature as lunch when hard-boiled or in a classic egg salad.
Whole Chicken: Making a baked or rotisserie chicken during meal prep each week is an excellent and budget-friendly way to keep the carbs low on a budget without getting bored.
You may pair a rotisserie leg and thigh with skin-on with some steamed broccoli and then use the remaining chicken throughout the week in sandwiches or salads; there are many ways to use tender and flavorful chicken leftovers.
80/20 Ground Beef: Although you may have passed by the 80/20 variety beef before embarking on a low-carb, high-fat diet, it's preferred on keto and is usually more affordable than its leaner counterparts (e.g., 97%/3% lean beef, etc.).
Opt for 80/20, high-fat, beef when shopping, like the ground chuck variety, as this cut of meat is often cheapest and also satiating thanks to its high-fat content.
Chuck Roast: This shoulder cut of beef is inexpensive and best when cooked down low and slow or tenderized in a pressure cooker to avoid tough meat.
Chuck is an excellent cut to use in a pot roast or beef stew, as it is a hearty cut of meat that quickly absorbs seasoning and salt for a delicious and savory result on the cheap.
Flank Steak: The sound of steak may make you think it will burn a hole in your pocket and break the bank, but not always. Flank steak is a widely available abdominal cut of beef that works well in keto tacos or a quick and easy low-carb stir-fry recipe.
Also, flank steak is a perfect cut for marinating and grilling or searing. Just be sure to cook quickly as the meat will get tough if overcooked.
Lamb Shoulder: Although often a pricer keto option, especially if you go for loin ribs or chops, which are pricier and tinier cuts of meat, lamb shoulder is generally a more cost-effective option that's perfect for anyone following keto on a budget.
The shoulder cut can have a chewy feel, but this occurrence is avoidable if you brine the meat with a citrus liquid or a dry brine mixture. Also, this cut of beef responds well to braising, allowing the meat to remain tender and juicy.
Plus, pairing beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce is also one of our keto favorites. Use whatever cut of meat suits your budget and know that leaner cuts of meat are often more expensive and cook faster.
Also, consider a keto fast like the Beef and Butter fast, and know that you can do it on a budget and still achieve amazing results! Here's an article we recently shared that's dedicated to the best way to approach the Beef and Butter fast to maximize results.
Also, check out the following seafood options ideal for anyone eating keto on a budget:
- Tuna (canned or in a packet, in olive oil)
- Salmon (canned or in a pack, in olive oil)
- Smoked Oysters (canned or in a packet, in olive oil)
Healthy fat is a staple of any ketogenic diet, and some options are pricey. However, it's wise to buy some healthy fats on sale or in bulk to curb costs while hitting your set macros.
Here are some nutritious and cost-effective fats to keep on hand if living a ketogenic lifestyle:
- Shredded Coconut (in bulk)
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Hearts
- Nut Butters
- Flax Seeds
- Avocado (freeze the flesh to extend the life of the fruit)
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Milk
- Ghee (on sale or homemade)
Non-starchy vegetables (in-season, on sale, canned or frozen):
- Green Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bell Peppers
- Spaghetti Squash
Low carb fruits (in-season, on sale, or frozen):
Money-Saving Keto Tips:
In addition to enjoying the full range of foods noted above, shopping wisely can also cut down on monthly food expenses. Here are some valuable money-saving tips to help you mind your waistline and your budget on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Shop locally. Your supermarket options may vary based on your location. However, regardless of store options, your local farmer's market is an excellent source of fresh and cost-efficient keto food options.
Avoid fancy, packaged foods. A keto diet is no longer just bacon and eggs. Many companies are catering to those living a low-carb, high-fat lifestyle. However, packaged foods can quickly break the bank. Opt for fresh, frozen, or canned foods to save some money.
Add non-starchy veggies to your plate. Fat and protein often take center stage on keto. However, it's essential to add non-starchy vegetables to your meal to boost your fiber intake and help you feel fuller faster while curbing each meal's cost.
Choose your meat selections wisely. Many factors determine the price of meat—your location, the cut, and whether organic, pasture-raised, and pasture-finished all influence price.
You may want to select roast cuts of beef over the rib eye as the former is usually a third the cost of the latter. Also, go for chicken thighs over breasts for savings as well as extra fat and flavor.
Plus, if you're in the market for pork, you'll want to look for shoulder cuts over bone-in options priced by weight and include the weight of the bone in that overall cost.
Shop bargain stores like Wegman's, Aldi, Target, or Trader Joe's. There are bargains to be found all around us, and sometimes getting the best deal means knowing which foods to buy where to maximize savings.
Also, many bargain markets offer their brand of foods that are delicious and more affordable than some national brands.
Consider Meatless Monday. Again, it's vital to add low-glycemic vegetables to all your meals whenever possible, but skipping meat on Monday is another way to save on cost.
There are many tasty and keto-friendly meatless meals one can make on a budget. Check out our article dedicated to meatless keto meal ideas here.
Stock up on low-carb beans. Organic lupini beans and black soybeans are high in fiber and low in carbs. Plus, these bean options are cost-effective and come in at two grams of net carbs and one gram of net carbs per serving, respectively.
Plus, the noted bean options are great to buy in bulk and work well in a variety of main dishes, soups, or stews. Plus, as a side note, lupin flower is an excellent option to buy in bulk and add to your meal plan as an additional option to almond and coconut flour.
Buy frozen instead of fresh fruit. How often have you purchased loads of fresh fruit with the earnest intention of making heaps of smoothies or other dishes only find the majority of it spoiled before you get to enjoy it?
Buy smaller amounts of fresh fruits for immediate use and turn to frozen or canned options to stock your pantry on a budget.
Join a meat food share or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group to snag deals. Local farmers provide a fantastic resource to the community, and in turn, joining a CSA helps support the livelihood and existence of smaller family farms.
Plus, shopping with CSAs provides the freshest food and offers discounted fare—including beef, pork, and produce.
Skip organic, grass-fed, and free-range foods. Quality is always essential, but forgoing organic, grass-fed, or free-range foods is a great way to reduce your grocery bill.
However, certain foods are known to absorb more pesticides and insecticides when cultivated. It's best to opt for organic options or limit consumption if eating the following conventionally-grown foods:
Plus, one large egg has 4.8 g fat, 0.4 g carbs, and 6.3 g protein, which can easily fit into your keto macros. In 2018, a dozen eggs cost $1.25 on average—just about 10 cents per egg, according to the Farm Bureau—super affordable!
Rely on meal preparation to cut costs. Planning meals and making freezer-friendly dishes is an excellent way to save money.
We recently posted an article sharing our favorite keto freezer meals to try that we think you'll love. See our latest meal prep and freezer-friendly keto meals here.
Plus, we've created a 30-second quiz you can take to access your own customized keto meal plan for weight loss to add additional and helpful structure to your keto diet to accelerate results.
Choose high-fat, low-cost oils from plants. Hemp hearts, butter, and avocado are excellent sources of fat, but plant-based oils are an excellent alternative if the options mentioned above are out of your price range.
Sauté your spinach in avocado oil or olive oil, or add a tablespoon of MCT oil to your keto coffee or nutrient-dense smoothie to keep micronutrients and healthy fats elevated on a budget.
Buy keto-friendly nuts and seeds in bulk. Whole Foods is not necessarily known for its bargains. But you can snag savings if you buy foods by a case of 12 for a 10-percent discount or shop for your nuts or seeds in the bulk section.
Here are some affordable and keto-friendly nut and seed options to add to your pantry:
- Pili Nuts
- Pistachios (limited)
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Peanuts (limited)
- Sesame Seeds
It may initially seem like eating a ketogenic diet, as you stock up on loads of nuts and high-quality oils, is pricey. However, once you get into the flow of the lifestyle and your appetite naturally diminishes, eating less—and therefore spending less—you'll see how affordable the diet is in no time.
Plus, once you consciously add non-starchy veggies to your meals, you'll feel fuller faster and see the pleasant result in a significant change in your monthly keto food costs.
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- Having a Healthy Summer on a Recession Budget. (2011). PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e518912012-001
- Knowler, S. (1987). Healthy Eating On A Budget. Nutrition & Food Science, 87(5), 7-8. doi:10.1108/eb059447
- Badger, B. K. (2014). From Food Deserts to Food Swamps: Health Education Strategies to Improve Food Environments in Urban Areas. Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy, S4(01). doi:10.4172/2165-7904.s4-002