Think keto on a budget isn’t possible? Think again. Eating a high-quality ketogenic diet without breaking the bank is achievable, even if you don’t have much to spend. It just takes a little extra planning and getting clever with available resources.
After the initial investment from overhauling your kitchen cupboards, chances are you’ll end up saving money on a low-carb diet.
This post will give you tips on how to do keto on a budget, including ways to save money (in both the short and long term) and how to calculate your “return on investment.”
10 Tips to Maximize the Ketogenic Diet on a Budget
When trying to do keto on a budget, these top tips will help you stay on track both with your eating plan and your finances.
#1: Buy in Bulk
When trying to save money grocery shopping, buying in bulk can make a serious impact. It’s tempting to shop at Whole Foods for your items — or even your regular local grocery store — but you won’t find the bargain prices you would at wholesale stores like Costco, Walmart, or Sam’s Club.
Other affordable stores include Aldi and Trader Joe’s (which, as it turns out, both share the same owner). Finally, search for local farmers markets for a butcher or farmer who offers a CSA or subscription-based program.
When you find a good deal, take advantage of it. Stock up, purchasing items like coconut milk, seasonings, and pantry essentials by the case, rather than a la carte. Meat and seafood can put a serious dent in your grocery bill, so if you find meat on sale, purchase more than you need and freeze what you don’t use.
Buy several bags of frozen vegetables and store them. While you might prefer the taste of fresh produce, frozen veggies are much more affordable, make an excellent dinner even when the fridge and cupboards are empty (hello, stir-fry), and prevent food waste.
To save on time, download and print the complete keto shopping guide. Everything you need for your keto diet is already on the list.
#2: Cook in Bulk and Freeze Any Leftovers
If you’re already buying the food in bulk amounts, cook in bulk too. Batch cooking is an excellent way to ensure you always have meals and snacks in the house. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves you time.
Choose one day each week to meal prep. Sunday works for most people, but it might be a different day depending on your schedule. Spend the day grocery shopping, jotting down a meal plan, cooking, and portioning out meals in easy, grab-and-go containers.
If you cook more than you can consume in one week, simply freeze what you do not use. If you have the space available, some people find that a deep freezer is a worthwhile investment. It allows you to batch cook well in advance, and store those budget-friendly finds.
#3: Look for Offers and Discounts
When you shop at the grocery store, use deals and discounts to your advantage. When meat nears its expiration date, stores will often discount it by as much as 20%. If you’re meal prepping that very day, this is an opportunity to find high-quality, grass-fed meat at incredibly low prices.
BOGO (buy one, get one) deals are another common grocery store promotion. Search for BOGO deals in the produce and butcher sections, then scan the aisles for offers related to pantry staples. You can really do keto on a budget this way, so get used to scanning weekly flyers and in-store promotions for good deals and coupons.
#4: Stick to Your Shopping List
Without a clear list of what you plan to buy, there’s a 99.9% chance you will buy more than planned. Impulse purchases are a real thing. Go to the store with a list — and only buy what’s on that list — to ensure you do keto on a budget.
#5: Use a FoodSaver
A FoodSaver is a vacuum intended to seal and extract air from plastic bags. By using a FoodSaver, you can freeze meals and prevent freezer burn. An added bonus? It frees up space in the freezer, which you’ll need for bulk buying and cooking.
#6: Shop Online
If you can’t find deals locally, shopping online can save a tremendous amount of money. Amazon has plenty of low-priced offers on nuts, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, flax or chia seeds, and spices.
These are often cheaper to buy online than in-store, even with shipping. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get two-day shipping, and you can subscribe to certain products to have them routinely delivered to your doorstep.
Another online source is Thrive Market, which has a similar business model to Amazon. Unlike Amazon, Thrive Market only focuses on organic, niche items (think Whole Foods without the Whole Foods prices).
Another online resource is Nuts.com where you can buy nuts in bulk online for a discounted price. There are also plenty of places to buy grass-fed meat online (ButcherBox comes highly recommended) within a subscription plan.
#7: Stick to Affordable Produce and Meat
When it comes to fresh produce, there’s a wide range of cost per pound. Broccoli, green beans, and spinach are fairly affordable options. You can incorporate them into almost any recipe.
Cauliflower is typically more expensive, but its versatility can be well worth the cost. Other items like red bell peppers, avocados, or orange bell peppers, are usually more expensive.
You can say the same thing about meat and seafood. Is filet mignon expensive? Absolutely — so don’t buy it. Buy affordable cuts of meat like bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, ground beef, cod, tilapia, and nitrate-free bacon. Eggs are also affordable, and hard-boiled eggs make for a great keto-friendly snack option.
#8: Take Note if Your Grocery Bill Goes to Beverages, Not Food
If you’re complaining about your food bill but still spend $5 every single day on a latte, here’s a painful realization: That latte isn’t even food. And if you’re grabbing a $20 bottle of wine every time you hit the store (or worse, paying a $50 bar tab each Thursday at happy hour), those line items add up.
Quit the pricey drinks and alcohol and switch to water. If you need caffeine, make your own coffee or tea at home and carry it in a mug. As for alcohol, you should probably cut back altogether — it’s full of sugar anyway.
#9: Make “Ingredients” From Scratch
As much as possible, make things like salad dressings, dips, flours, salsas, guacamole, nut butters, soups, and salads from scratch.
Not only will it save you money, but it will prevent you from eating food additives and added sugar. There are plenty of keto recipes — including those for condiments, sauces, and dressings — that you can work into your keto meal plan.
These kitchen appliances can make cooking much easier:
- Food processor or blender
- Pots and pans: You don’t need anything fancy, just some cookware that’s high-quality enough to boil and fry your meals each week
- Knife and cutting board
- Jars and containers for storing
#10: Always Buy Whole vs. Chopped
Buy the whole chicken instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Buy the whole stalk of celery instead of pre-chopped celery. Buy whole almonds instead of an almond trail mix. Buying food that isn’t “convenient” will be kinder to your wallet. Instead of spending more, take a little time to chop, store, and freeze the food yourself.
How to Calculate Your Return on Ketosis
Eating keto doesn’t have to break your wallet. Don’t let tight budget concerns keep you from making your health a priority. Use what you have to make this diet work for you, even if it takes a little extra planning and preparing.
Amid all this penny-pinching, take a one-minute test right now to calculate your ketosis return on investment (ROI).
Part 1: Quantifiable Return on Keto
Pull out a piece of scrap paper and answer these questions to the best of your ability. Don’t spend too much time on it.
- What are your meals like on keto vs. non-keto? Are you eating less volume and less frequently?
- What are your beverages like? Are you consuming less alcohol and caffeine?
- What are your snacks like? Are you eating fewer snacks due to fewer blood sugar spikes and crashes?
Your ledger might look something like this:
Part 2: Go Deeper Into Quantifiable Returns
The benefits of ketosis are mental, physical, and psychological.
Here are some examples of various benefits.
- Mental: Improved clarity and focus
- Physical: Fat burning, improved athletic performance, and weight loss
- Psychological: Fewer mood swings and a heightened sense of well-being
How does this increased productivity, clarity, and well-being affect your bottom line? How would a longer, healthier life increase your lifetime earning potential? Those added benefits are the return on investment for your health.
Keto on a Budget: You Can Make It Happen
Take these 10 practical tips for keto on a budget, give it one month, then assess. How much did you spend? How do you feel? Are you more productive, do your workouts feel stronger, and do you feel better about yourself?
Ask yourself this question: Is the price of being healthy worth it? Don’t let budget concerns derail you. Many people in the first half of life waste their health trying to make money. Then, in the second half of life, they spend money trying to get their health back. It’s time to budget your time, energy, and hard-earned money into what really matters to you.