Do you think Keto on a Budget is nearly impossible? When you think of going on a Keto or low-carb diet, do you automatically assume that your grocery budget will be expanding?
No matter what preconceived ideas you have about the expense side of doing a Keto or low-carb diet may be, I am here to show you how reasonable it can be.
When considering costs, do remember to keep in mind the many potential health benefits of switching from a highly processed diet to one of whole foods and less sugar.
Here you will find concrete ideas, not just more of the same as buying in bulk, on sale, and prepping ahead. While those things are certainly helpful, you can find a lot of information of that sort already on the internet. You don’t need more of the same.
The Easiest Way to Do Keto on a Budget
What I offer here is an insight into how to view your food choices. Making Keto easy involves more of a change of thinking and habits than a general list of grocery budget ideas.
One of the fundamental ideas to grasp is that the common, primary bottom line of Keto, low-carb, and Paleo diets is the emphasis on REAL FOOD. That does not mean the cute, commercial, packaged convenience items being added to our grocery shelves daily. Keto, especially, is currently a buzz word in marketing. That doesn’t make these products a good choice regarding compliance, and they certainly are not friendly to a tight budget. It is inevitable with the rise in interest in lower-carb diets, that the big food manufacturers are losing sales of traditional snack foods. Their answer to maintaining their bottom line . . . create more appealing products, but market them as being Keto, whether or not they indeed are.
Getting over the attitude that Keto is expensive is mostly a matter of changing you’re thinking. How much of your previous food budget was used on sugary drinks or juices? How about snack foods? Or ice cream? Or potato chips? Now that these foods are no longer part of your food budget, that expense is gone too. You should now be able to shift that part of your food budget to purchase more nutritious foods.
Nuts can be expensive, but they make a great keto snack. How to keep the cost down? You will need to measure them to stay on your low-carb path and you will only be eating an ounce or less at a time, not bowls full!
Granted, you won’t be eating steak and lobster every night, but you can stay on budget. Did you ever stop to think how close the per pound price of potato chips is to the per pound price of ground beef? When you think of the difference in nutritional value, those chips soon lose some of their appeal.
Keto and Low-Carb Meal Plans
At the beginning of your Keto or low-carb journey, you will likely experience a lot of confusion and feel like there is an insurmountable amount of information to learn. And some sources of information contradict each other. Keep it simple in the beginning by learning the basics first.
While it may seem easier to follow a specific meal plan, that may not be the best choice. You will likely be faced with several recipes that include expensive ingredients that you don’t have readily available and have not yet learned how to use.
Start with simple meals that include eggs, meat, fish, cheese, nuts, leafy greens, above-ground non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. Forget the rice, grains, bread, and beans for now.
Lazy Keto on a Budget
What is my suggestion? Start with the basics of Keto or low-carb. In the beginning, focus on simple meals. Avoid complicated recipes that include time-consuming sauces, gravies, and coatings. These “extras” are often where expensive, unusual ingredients are required.
A basic piece of meat, with or without seasoning, along with a mixed green salad and an additional cooked or raw vegetable, can make a perfectly fine Keto lunch or dinner meal. Super simple and very budget-friendly.
Another option for the main meal is a salad that contains everything you would want in a meal from the standpoint of nutritional value. Short on ideas? Check out our recipe, The Everything Keto Salad, for a starting point. Edit and alter to meet your needs. It is a great basis for using up leftovers.
Easy Keto Meals on a Budget
One of our favorite breakfasts is an omelet with an ounce of freshly cooked bacon bits, chopped fresh spinach, cheese, and a small amount of heavy whipping cream. Some days we add mushrooms, onions, peppers, or other vegetables. If you are short of time or your mornings are too busy for cooking, you can prepare the bacon and vegetables ahead of time and add in the morning. Alternatively, you can put the same ingredients in muffin tins and bake ahead, ready to reheat when needed. Super easy and a well-balanced option for a Keto or low-carb breakfast.
In the beginning, do not worry about creating “replacement” foods for your favorites, especially in the area of baked goods. Learning how these special ingredients behave takes a bit of time and patience.
If you are really hungry for a sandwich, check out our Sandwich Chaffle recipe. It is an easy, quick way to create a bread substitute if you want a sandwich.
Learning Keto Baking Can Come Later
Almond or coconut flour in place of wheat flour is not a simple one-to-one substitution. The volumes are different. The textures are different. Their properties are different.
And non-sugar sweeteners are a whole different matter. Some are one-to-one substitutes, some brown; others don’t, some crystallize, others don’t. Yes, substitutions can be learned and mastered, but there will be plenty of time for that after you have adjusted to your new way of eating.
These ingredients are expensive, and you can count on throwing out a few failed recipes while learning how to use them. I feel it is best to add these after you are comfortable with your new way of eating.
Looking to satisfy a sweet tooth and add to your diet’s fat content? Try our Low-Carb Chocolate Mousse or Low-Carb Caramel Cheesecake Mousse recipes. These recipes are satisfying and have a high level of success.
A Side Benefit to Keto and Low-Carb Diets
It may not initially be apparent to you that when you start eating more nutritious and higher fat content foods, the volume of food you eat will likely decrease. I know we have certainly experienced this in our household. We are both frequently full with less food on our plates than in the past.
Other Tips for Doing Keto on a Budget
- As always, be aware of sales and where it may be appropriate to buy in bulk.
- Prepare less expensive cuts of meat in an Instant Pot or slow cooker.
- Utilize local farm markets when possible.
- Consider growing your greens indoors in the off-season.
- Keep Keto friendly snacks on hand . . . nuts, string cheese, etc.
Kim has been living and thriving as a lifestyle controlled Type 2 Diabetic since 2015.
She loves keeping up with current research as well as experimenting in the kitchen to keep her low carb diet interesting and flavorful.
She lives in East Central Wisconsin with her husband and loves to travel whenever possible.