So, you want to eat healthy, but your wallet is kinda freaking out about the adjustment. From the depths of your pockets, it whispers, “No!” convincing you that grocery shopping for whole, nutrient-dense food is a big money suck.
We’re not going to lie; it can certainly stretch your budget if you don’t go into it with some sort of strategy in place, but let’s think about it in a new light.
Snack cakes, fast food, and pre-packaged freezer meals are cheap and easy to make, saving you both time and money. The problem? You still have to eat them three times a day.
Now, unless you’re option for value meals at your chosen drive-thru three times per day, that money is stacking up.
If you kept close tabs on each dollar spent on food including coffee shop pastries and lattes each day in addition to groceries, you’d likely be surprised at all of the goodies you could get if you made that your weekly budget.
Plus, you have to get into the mindset of viewing your diet as an investment in your health. Fueling the body with real food means less doctor’s visits, taking less time off of work due to illness, more energy, and a better chance at living a long and fulfilling life.
Now, that’s something you can’t put a price on.
The keto diet, in particular, can really run up a bill. Paleo was bad enough with all of its meat and fresh produce – undoubtedly the most expensive items in the grocery store.
Keto steps it up a notch, and it can feel really intimidating to have the best ingredients to make the most interesting and delicious recipes while sticking to the whole low-carb thing.
It’s not rocket science, though; there’s just a learning curve, and we’re here to help you through it.
Keep your ketones and your earnings in check with our best tips for following the keto diet on a budget.
1. Go for almost expired
Meat is one of the main subjects on the keto diet. We’re not telling you to seek out expired meat, but you’ll often find meat with a nearing ‘use by’ date on sale for 20-50% off!
You can buy the bargain meat and either cook it right away or freeze it for use later. If you’re more of a food safety purist, you might also find deals on foods with impending ‘best by’ dates, which are less close to spoiling, but have been sitting past their prime.
2. Look for BOGO deals
Many grocers have weekly BOGO deals – especially on meat. You can buy one roast and get another free? Well, consider it your lucky day.
This often happens with larger cuts of meat which stretch further anyways. Just freeze the other one for later.
3. Make it yourself
Forget perusing the aisles for compliant foods. Most condiments, dressings, and other goodies are loaded with sugar anyways.
Investing some time into making those kitchen staples like mayo, salad dressings, and more DIY style will save you tons of money over time and allow you to control the quality of ingredients. Invest in a food processor and/or immersion blender for the ultimate ease in doing so.
4. Use those spices
Food is nothing without a little spice. When it comes to keto, you’re going to be eliminating some foods that make you miss the variety in flavor profiles. Spices can fix this.
Stocking up your pantry with quality spices (which you can buy in bulk to save even more) and your favorite spice blends is going to save you money and time in the long run, giving you the confidence to feel better about working with what you’ve got at any given time.
5. Buy in bulk
No matter what “diet” you’re following, this is the ultimate rule for sticking to the budget each week. Buying in bulk tends to cost more up front, but you’ll be able to stretch that supply much further.
If you plan your weekly shopping around one large bulk shopping trip, you’ll be able to cut back your average weekly bill immensely, especially if you’re shopping for more than one person.
Purchasing a membership to a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s club is worth it for deals on foods like meat, fish, oils and butter, cheese, nuts, spices, and sauces.
6. Get to know your local farmer
Buying grass-fed, pasture-raised meats is notoriously expensive. Fortunately, buying in bulk and sourcing that meat locally ensures the best possible price and quality. Local farms will often sell whole animals for a fraction of the cost per pound when you buy the entire lot up front.
If you have the storage space and the initial funds to do so, this is one of the best ways to eat sustainable meat on a budget.
7. Don’t always opt for frozen
One of the most common budget hacks for grocery shopping is to purchase frozen veggies. While nutrition remains the same, it’s not always cheaper.
Make sure to do price comparisons between fresh and frozen for common keto veggies like peppers, onions, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. Fresh veggies generally taste a bit better, so if the price discrepancy isn’t too high, it’s probably better to go for fresh.
Don’t be so quick to draw conclusions, though. With spinach, you can generally purchase more fresh for less.
8. Shred your own cheese
The keto diet is pretty heavy on the cheese. It’s delicious, nutritious, and loaded with healthy fats. Plus, it can be added to just about every meal. While buying the pre-shredded bags of cheese is tempting, the blocks of cheese are almost always less expensive, and it doesn’t take much prep work.
Investing your time will save you money down the road, and you could easily use the shredder attachment on your food processor to do the work for you in record time.
9. Shop online
Online shopping is notoriously good for scouting out deals. You can use Amazon to subscribe to pantry staples and save. Many websites that require membership will often allow a trial period with potential coupon codes to use.
You can also switch between brands depending on what’s on sale. You’re also more likely to find coupons to use online. Overall, it allows you more flexibility in finding what’s affordable when you need it. It also saves much more time than hopping around to different grocery stores hunting for deals!
10. Ditch diet drinks
Some people who follow the keto diet are still guzzling down sugar-free colas and energy drinks. We won’t even get into why those are bad for your health, but they’re not doing your savings any favors.
Choose water, tea, and even coffee instead. These are things you can source either for free or for very little money without wreaking havoc on health. Another alternative is to purchase a Soda Stream to make seltzer water at home, in case you’re missing the carbonation.
11. Snack on high-fat foods
Those high-fat foods are going to keep you full, keep you in ketosis, and you don’t need much to achieve either. Snacking on fattier foods means getting more bang for your buck in terms of calories.
A spoon of nut butter, a handful of nuts, or half an avocado hardly puts a dent in your wallet while giving you a substantial calorie/fat boost. You get a lot for a little, and that’s what budgeting is all about!
12. Eat nose to tail
When you don’t discriminate, more options are available to you. This means better luck for your budget. Eating foods like organ meats and using the bones to make stock for other meals is a great way to stretch your dollar.
Grinding up liver and other offal with other ground meats can stretch the supply and help you stomach those nutrient-dense organ meats if you’re not a huge fan of them already. Get to know your local butcher and they’re bound to have some great deals on ethical offal!
13. Don’t waste your food
In the same vein of eating nose to tail, food waste is as bad as throwing away cold, hard cash. It’s a big problem in the U.S., so eliminating that waste is important for your wallet and the environment.
Don’t buy food you’d like to eat – buy food you’re going to eat. Make sure to label foods that you freeze so you know which foods to use first, and when the food is going to spoil. Build your list on research rather than blind faith, and purchase foods in quantities that make sense.
It’s better to have too little and make a mid-week grocery store run than to toss a bunch of smelly food at the end of the week.
14. Keep it super simple
If you’re looking around at keto recipes, you’re probably seeing some obscure ingredients pop up. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to be making low-carb pizza and keto desserts to stick to the plan.
Those ‘extra’ ingredients are going to run you up a bill, so keeping it simple if you’re feeling overwhelmed or easing into a bigger budget is key. Meat, plenty of healthy fats, and some veggies will do you just fine!
15. Buy the cheap cuts
The cheap cuts of meat are a game changer. Once again, like most things that save money, they take a bit more time to work with, but it’s worth it. Cheap cuts of meat are great for stews (especially if you butcher your own stew meat), curries, and soups.
Simmering the meats long and slow, using a crock pot, or pressure cooking them will yield delicious results for half the price. Plus, cheaper cuts tend to be fattier, making them highly suitable for keto dieters.
16. Meal prep like a pro
Batch cooking is one way to enforce a lot of these tips. It will help you cut back on food waste, use food that’s going to spoil soon, turn cheaper, tougher cuts of meat into tasty foods, and stock the freezer up for the future.
Learning how to meal prep efficiently on the keto diet can be a game changer – especially if you’re cooking for more than one.
17. Eat your eggs
Eggs are a lifesaver on the keto diet. They’re a far less expensive source of protein – even from pastured chickens – than most other meats, and they combine that protein boost with plenty of fats to keep you fueled up and fat-adapted.
You can often buy eggs in bulk, too. Going through 2-3 dozen eggs per week individually is not uncommon when eating low-carb, so don’t be afraid to stock up (or get chickens!).
18. Eat bacon ends and pieces
The full slices are overrated, besides maybe for food photography’s sake. Doing the keto diet without bacon is practically a sin. Looking for bacon ends and pieces gives you all the bacon flavour you desire with a pretty sweet discount.
19. Ditch the lean meats
You want all the fat you can get on the keto diet. Lean meats like chicken breast, 90% or more ground beef, fat-free ground turkey and the like are more expensive and less valuable to keeping your ketones in check.
Opt for chicken thighs and fattier mince when you can for big savings.
20. Visit different stores
If you have the time to do so, scouring for deals is often worth it. Consider a part of town that makes commuting to 2-4 grocery shops easy for you, and get to know the prices.
Alternatively, you can shop at different stores weekly by stocking up on the best deals at one, and going to the next to stock up during the week after. Consider it research, make it a habit, and watch the savings flow.
We want to know how you save money! Let us know, and make sure to share this with anyone who claims, “Healthy eating is too expensive.” There is always a way to go after what you want, and health and vibrancy are truly priceless.
Check out some of our favourite keto cookbooks for more inspiration when planning your grocery list and meals for the week.
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