There’s no getting around it: Eating unprocessed, keto-friendly food can be expensive.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.
Eating keto on the cheap (without sacrificing food quality) is completely doable, with a little know-how and preparation. So if you’re worried about breaking the bank while meeting your health goals, never fear. Just follow these 10 tips:
1. Keep It Simple
Great cooks know that delicious meals don’t have to contain a lot of ingredients. Do a little recon work before you go shopping to find meals that revolve around similar ingredients that you can buy in bulk (more on that below!). Think that might get boring? It’s incredible how many unique and interesting meals can be made with just a few ingredients. Check out this collection of 5 Ingredient Keto Meals if you’re still skeptical!
2. Embrace the Cheaper Meats
In meat lingo, the “cheaper” cuts of meat are the fattier ones (even for grass-fed or organic!). But if you’ve embraced a keto lifestyle, you’re not afraid of a little (or a lot) of fat. Save money by breezing right past the lean cuts of meat to the fattier, skin-on, or dark meats and enjoy a delicious, flavorful, and less expensive meal! For meats that are marbled with fat (and therefore tougher to cut or eat), use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make them tender.
It may also be helpful to check out local forums or message boards to find farmers selling organic, grass-fed meat for very reasonable prices if you buy in bulk.
3. Know Your Keto Basics
Keep this list handy when you prepare your shopping list and decide on your meals for the week or month. This list of keto basics is an invaluable resource in knowing which foods are keto friendly and versatile/can be used in numerous recipes. It may also spark ideas of new recipes or substitutions you could try!
4. Buy in Bulk
Bulk foods can be nearly half the cost of single-package items. The sweet spot is items that have a long shelf life (like MCT oil) or can be frozen (like bacon), and are foods you use often. Buy items like ground beef or bacon in large bulk packages, then portion them out in freezer-safe bags or vacuum-sealed bags, so you aren’t faced with an enormous block of meat later down the line. Freezer-safe, keto-friendly produce can be purchased at a discount in bulk from many farmers’ markets for later use too!
5. Invest in a Chest Freezer
If you have the space, a chest freezer can be an invaluable investment for storing that bulk perishable food. You can find new chest freezers for as little as $150 at retailers like overstock.com, or score a deal for as little as $40 on sites like Craigslist. Take the extra time to label and date the items you store in your chest freezer--there’s nothing worse than staring at a bunch of anonymous baggies.
6. Follow a Meal Plan, and Adjust it Seasonally
When you’re on a budget, wasted or unused food is an extra insult. By following a shopping list and recipes for pre-planned keto meals, you can avoid food waste, stick to a budget, and find new beloved recipes to boot! Try this budget keto meal plan.
Remember, it’s important to adjust this meal plan as the seasons change. Buying food that’s in season and/or local will not only give you the best quality--it’ll be cheaper too!
7. Take Advantage of Coupons
It can be more difficult to find coupons for unprocessed, fresh foods. But it’s by no means impossible! Follow couponing sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady for alerts on your favorite keto foods, and buy in bulk when they go on sale! Check out these tips for getting a hold of meat coupons, and these sources for bargains in the fresh produce department.
8. Shop Smart at the Right Retailers
Whole Foods is wonderful, but it’s not really a one-stop shop for budget grocery shopping. Be willing to shop several grocery stores for the best deals each week, and become familiar with budget grocery stores like Grocery Outlet, Winco, and Aldi. Use caution with Costco. While there’s lots of great deals to be found here, make your purchases very carefully on items you know you’ll use, and double-check prices on Amazon before pulling the trigger.
9. Don’t Neglect Meal Prep
Not only will doing some bulk prep-work for your meals (like cutting up vegetables, portioning out meat, and even adding spices and marinades) save you time throughout your busy week, but it’ll also save you money. Have a prepared and portioned meals that are ready to cook and eat each day will help avoid the expensive temptation to eat out!
10. Explore Online Shopping
Some keto-friendly foods (like coconut flour, for instance) are sold in very small quantities as a “specialty item” in most grocery stores, which means you pay a lot for a tiny amount of food. Shop online, on Amazon or even Walmart, for online-only deals that save you a significant amount on many keto foods.
There’s nothing like the satisfaction of eating delicious meals as part of a healthy keto lifestyle--and doing it all on a reasonable budget. With a little legwork, planning, and creativity you can enjoy all the benefits of eating keto without breaking the bank!