From grass-fed meat to pre-made bone broth to fancy cheeses, many people think eating a keto diet is expensive. While it certainly can be, this doesn’t have to be the case!
Eating keto on a budget is completely doable with some planning and a few strategic tweaks. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! This article will share money-saving tips, a budget-friendly keto grocery list, meal and snack ideas, and more.
What Is a Keto Diet?
Let’s start with some basics. The keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that follows this macronutrient formula:
- 60 to 75 percent of your daily calories from fat
- 15 to 30 percent of your daily calories from protein
- 5 to 10 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates (carbs)
By keeping carbs very low (20-50 grams per day), your body shifts from burning carbs for fuel to burning fat. This fat-burning state is called ketosis, and it’s been shown to produce many benefits, including weight loss, more stable energy, reduced need for insulin in those with diabetes, improved brain health, and reduced hunger.[*][*][*][*]
With these health improvements, you may even save money down the road from reduced healthcare costs!
Grocery List for Eating Keto on a Budget
Just because you’re sticking to a budget doesn’t mean your keto meals will be boring and bland. There are plenty of budget- and keto-friendly foods to include on your grocery list, including:
- Meats/proteins: Whole chickens, chicken thighs, eggs, canned tuna, pork chops, organ meats, frozen ground meats, cottage cheese, plain full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Healthy fats: Walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, flax seeds, nut butters, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, shredded coconut, canned coconut milk, butter.
- Non-starchy vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, celery, green beans, mushrooms, spaghetti squash, bell pepper, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, arugula, cauliflower.
- Low-carb fruits: mixed berries, lemons, limes.
- Flavor enhancers: Herbs and spices
Money-Saving Tips for Eating Keto on a Budget
Buying the nutrient-rich foods above can still add up quickly, so here are some tips for stocking up on keto essentials without breaking the bank.
#1: Buy in Bulk and Bundles
Purchasing certain foods in bulk can help you significantly reduce expenses. Things like shredded coconut, nuts, and seeds can be found in bulk bins at most grocery stores.
Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club carry a wide array of foods in bulk at discounted prices, including healthy cooking oils, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, cheese, and keto-friendly protein bars.
Additionally, many health food companies offer keto-friendly products in bundles at a discounted price. For example, IQBAR offers bundles of our keto and vegan protein bars that are discounted by 5-15%.
#2: Freeze What You Aren’t Able to Consume
If you live alone, you might be thinking you wouldn’t be able to consume all of the contents of bulk food before it goes bad. This is where a freezer comes in handy!
Let’s say you buy a pack of chicken thighs at Costco. You can separate the thighs into individual servings and freeze them to prevent them from spoiling.
You can do the same with fresh bulk veggies like zucchini and broccoli. If veggies are starting to go bad, chop them up (if not already chopped) and freeze them so you always have some on hand to add to your meals.
#3: Look for Sales and Stock Up
Always be on the lookout for a good deal! If you have room in your freezer and pantry, stock up on meats, veggies, oils, nuts, seeds, and other keto essentials when they’re on sale. For pantry items, just be sure you’ll be able to consume them before their expiration date.
#4: Pick Your Battles
Most keto guides advocate eating only organic produce, free-range, grass-fed meat, and wild-caught fish. Here’s the thing: if your budget is stretched thin, you might have to make some compromises or switch things up.
Maybe you opt for chicken that is hormone-free but not free-range. Or perhaps you buy certain fruits and veggies (like the “Dirty Dozen”) organic but buy conventional for the rest.
You might also try switching up the kinds of meats you purchase. Organs and fatty meat joints tend to be cheaper (and more nutrient-dense!) than leaner cuts.
#5: Opt for Frozen Over Fresh
Generally, most frozen fruits and veggies are more affordable than their fresh counterparts. Plus, they last longer and have been shown to have essentially the same nutritional value as fresh produce.[*]
Of course, it’s always nice to have some fresh produce on hand. When buying fresh, try to stick to fruits and veggies that are in season, as they tend to be less expensive than those that are out of season.
#6: Plan Your Meals
It can be helpful to plan your meals ahead of time before going to the store. This way, you know exactly what and how much to get, which helps prevent buying too much of something or making unnecessary impulse buys.
On top of that, prepping a few meals or foods like chopped veggies, hard-boiled eggs, and shredded chicken can help you stick to your plan during the week and avoid pricey take-out orders.
#7: Repurpose Leftovers
Do your best to never throw out food you cook. Either freeze your leftovers or repurpose them in upcoming meals.
Here are a few ideas to repurpose your leftovers:
- Add leftover cooked veggies to omelets, soups, or stir fry
- Wrap your dinner leftovers in lettuce wraps for lunch the next day
- Use leftover meat bones to make bone broth
Meal Ideas for Keto on a Budget
Not sure what to whip up with your budget-friendly grocery store finds? Here are some ideas to spark inspiration:
- Cottage cheese or full-fat Greek yogurt with berries and nuts/seeds
- Smoothie with berries, greens, nut butter, and coconut milk
- Fried eggs with sautéed spinach
- Bell pepper and mushroom omelet with cheddar cheese
- Lettuce cups with ground turkey, non-starchy veggies, and plain Greek yogurt
- Tuna salad stuffed in red bell peppers
- Stir fry with chicken thighs, broccoli, cauliflower “rice,” garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds
- Turkey roll-ups with sliced peppers, avocado, cheese, and cucumbers
- A beef or turkey burger topped with cheese on a bed of greens with a side of asparagus
Budget-Friendly Keto Snack Ideas
Most keto meals are filling and satiating enough to hold you over between meals, but there are, of course, times when meals are further spread out or you just need a pick-me-up. In these cases, try one of these budget-friendly keto snacks:
- Full-fat Greek yogurt with frozen berries and nuts/seeds
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
- String cheese
- Celery sticks with nut butter
- Cottage cheese with tomatoes and cucumber
- Keto-friendly protein bars like IQBAR
A Final Word
With rising costs, more people than ever are looking to save money on their everyday expenses. We appreciate that it can be difficult to access healthy keto food on a budget, but we hope some of these ideas make your path to healthy living a little easier.