Any diet can be affordable or expensive depending on your food choices and spending habits. So, yes, it’s possible to do keto on a budget.
The key is to plan ahead, know which meats and veggies cost less, and prioritize whole foods (or clean keto). This will allow you to save money while reaching your health goals at the same time.
Read on to discover how to do it, including a sample cheap keto meal plan for the week and budget-friendly keto snacks to eat.
How Do You Follow Keto on a Tight Budget?
Ketogenic diet meals focus on items like meat, eggs, poultry, seafood, non-starchy fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds. Saving money on these items requires a more strategic approach. In other words, don’t buy something on impulse just because it’s keto-friendly!
Use these tips to stay on track with your low-carb diet without going broke.
1. Research and follow a meal plan.
One of the best reasons to do advance meal planning is that it keeps you from buying foods you won’t actually consume soon. This translates to fewer items in your shopping cart and reduced food waste.
The first step to meal planning is to know which foods are allowed on keto.
You might need to check your pantry, fridge, and freezer for keto-friendly ingredients that can still be used for your next meals before they expire. For example, herbs and spices like onion, garlic, and paprika. Leftover meat can be chopped up to make keto soups, stews, and salads.
Knowing which recipes to cook for the week is essential. You can base your recipes on what you currently have in your kitchen or research affordable keto meals online — there’s a lot to choose from!
2. Buy foods in bulk.
It makes sense to buy in bulk when you’re carefully budgeting your food expenses. Just make sure you’re shopping at wholesale stores like Costco, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. If you have extra time, you can even compare prices to save more.
However, keep in mind that you don’t have to buy everything in bulk. Choose wisely. This is where we go back to the importance of planning your meals ahead. Otherwise, you could end up buying packs and cans of items you won’t be using anytime soon.
If you need ideas of keto foods to buy in bulk, these would include frozen veggies, seasonings, nuts (in shell), and frozen meat and poultry.
3. Prepare meals ahead of time.
When life gets busy — and you’re also trying to save money — make-ahead meals can do wonders.
By cooking large quantities of food in advance, you’ll always have a convenient low-carb meal ready. Then all you need to do is reheat a meal in the oven when it’s time for lunch or dinner.
You can maximize batch cooking by first researching recipes that call for the same ingredients, such as onions, cauliflower, or lemon juice[*]. This will give you the advantage of buying these items in bulk.
Another benefit is that you’ll be less likely to order fast food (which tends to be high in carbs) since keto meals are always available at home.
4. Choose inexpensive meat cuts and produce.
Grilling ribeyes and filet mignons every night sounds great, but it’s not cost-effective.
Make sure your cheap keto grocery list includes affordable meat cuts and seafood such as ground beef, ground chicken, pork chops, chicken thighs, pork loin, tilapia, and sardines. For produce, options include broccoli, bagged spinach, green cabbage, and celery.
Don’t forget eggs! Chicken eggs and quail eggs are great for breakfast and snack time, plus you can use them in salads and a variety of baked keto recipes. Eggs aren’t just affordable, but they’re also perfect from a nutritional standpoint — they contain essential fats, proteins, and micronutrients[*].
5. Skip grass-fed, organic, and free-range options.
While these labels indicate that your meats, eggs, and organic produce are higher in quality, they’re definitely not cheap keto foods. If you have extra cash, go ahead and buy them. But, if you’re trying to save, regular varieties are completely fine.
And just because they’re “regular”, doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight or improve your health on keto. Don’t let this mentality cause you to revert to a Standard American Diet (SAD), which promotes inflammation and disease.
6. Look for meat that’s on sale.
Offers and discounts are everywhere if you know where and how to find them.
A lot of stores usually sell meats nearing their expiry dates (“best if used by” label) at a much cheaper price. In fact, discounts can reach as high as 20%. You may even find grass-fed meat at incredibly low rates.
In addition, check company websites, flyers, and meat packages for coupons.
Keep in mind that it’s probably best to cook (advance meal prep) these discounted meats as close to their “best if used by” date as possible to take advantage of their rich flavor. Otherwise, keep them in sealed containers and freeze them as soon as you get home.
7. Chop them yourself!
It’s a lot cheaper to cut or grind your own meat at home than to get pre-sliced meats since processing the meat adds to the cost.
Although the latter is more convenient in terms of saving time, buying a whole animal or partial animal is economical — especially if you follow a keto carnivore diet or cook for a large family that eats meat.
Aside from being able to enjoy various cuts and benefiting from their different nutrient profiles, you’ll also consume their organs (liver, for example), which are highly nutritious. This is great for keto dieters who follow a nose-to-tail approach.
Helpful tip: Make sure you have the necessary tools to butcher your own meat, such as a grinder, steak knife, and boning knife.
8. Stock up on frozen veggies and fruits.
Compared to fresh produce, frozen veggies and fruits are more wallet-friendly, plus they take longer to spoil.
Great low-carb veggies include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower rice, and green beans. You can steam them, saute them with leftover meat, and enjoy them as a side dish.
On the other hand, go for frozen fruits like blueberries and strawberries. Like frozen veggies, they’re more affordable keto foods than their fresh counterparts. You can use them in a variety of smoothies, popsicles, and other low-carb desserts. Or feel free to put them on your Perfect Keto cereal as toppings!
9. Forget processed foods.
Cutting out processed foods (or eating less of them) can help you grocery shop faster while reducing your shopping expenses. And more importantly, it gets you to eat healthier.
Consider making your keto snacks, dips, and dressings from scratch instead. There are tons of easy recipes that will show you how to make keto chips, energy balls, fat bombs, pancakes, and cookies.
10. Stick to your shopping list.
Without a clear list to base your foods on, there’s a huge chance you’ll buy more than what you’ve planned. Impulse purchases are a real thing, so, always go to the grocery armed with a list as part of doing keto on a budget.
Speaking of a shopping list, check out the next section for helpful ideas.
Keto on a Budget Shopping List
You’ll be surprised that this cheap keto grocery list has plenty of foods to meet your nutrition needs. They’re available at discount stores like Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi.
- Meat/poultry/seafood: ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken, chicken thighs, eggs, tilapia, sardines, mackerel, tuna, pork chops, pork loin, pork belly, steaks (round and chuck), oxtail, organ meats (liver, tongue, tripe, gizzards)
- Non-starchy fruits and veggies: frozen broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, cabbage, spinach, celery, fresh cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, and other keto options you can afford
- Plant and animal fats: nuts in shells, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado on sale, chia seeds, butter, cheeses (cheddar, parmesan)
- Beverages: black or plain coffee, tea, sparkling water
Sample Keto Meals on a Budget
This keto on a budget meal plan includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods that are under 30-50 grams of carbs. Plus, they’re full of protein and healthy fats.
- Breakfast: classic bacon and eggs, served with plain coffee
- Lunch: meatballs made of ground beef, minced garlic, and parmesan cheese
- Dinner: chicken egg drop soup
- Breakfast: bulletproof coffee (plain coffee, butter, and MCT oil)
- Lunch: chicken bites wrapped with bacon, served with mayo or cheese
- Dinner: baked tilapia and asparagus
- Breakfast: ground pork or tuna patties
- Lunch: crispy chicken wings, served with onion rings
- Dinner: corned beef and cauliflower has
- Breakfast: pancakes (made of eggs, almond flour, and cream cheese)
- Lunch: beef-stuffed cabbage rolls
- Dinner: pork chops with garlic cream sauce
- Breakfast: nut butter smoothie topped with crushed almonds
- Lunch: brussels sprouts cooked in a creamy, cheesy sauce
- Dinner: slow cooker braised oxtails (ingredients include beef broth, garlic, onion, and fish sauce)
- Breakfast: tuna, egg, and avocado slices
- Lunch: sauteed ground pork, cabbage, and cauliflower rice
- Dinner: roasted chicken and green beans
- Breakfast: egg cups (a mixture of eggs, bacon slices, and spinach)
- Lunch: shredded chicken and cheese with a veggie side dish
- Dinner: chuck steak bites, cooked in butter and garlic
Budget-Friendly Keto Snack Ideas
Here are foods you can snack on that are both low-carb and affordable. Our list includes homemade and store-bought options:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cheese slices
- Fat bombs using our SuperFat nut butter
- Bone broth (using a variety of bones, keto veggies, and spices)
- Pork rinds (fried in animal fat)
- Canned tuna
- Nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
- Strawberry and avocado smoothie
Yes, You Can Do Keto Diet on a Budget
Eating delicious and healthy meals on a limited budget is absolutely possible. Don’t let budget become a barrier to following a diet that improves fat loss, physical performance, and mental health.
Use these tips to enjoy affordable keto dishes that will nourish you and your whole family. Keeping your body fit this way (along with strategies like exercise and stress management) saves you money, too, by eliminating hefty medical expenses.