Low carb and keto on a budget

Low carb and keto on a budget

People often think eating low carb and keto is expensive. But it really doesn’t have to be. Check out our money-saving tips and budget-friendly recipes below.

How to eat more fatRemember that you should eat roughly equal amounts of protein (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy etc.) as you did before. The main change should be to lower your intake of carbohydrates and, in order to stay satiated, increase your intake of fat. If you’re wondering how to do that, please see our guide on how to eat more fat.

Eating more fat keeps you satiated for longer which means you can go longer between meals. Not having to snack constantly to keep hunger at bay is a saving tip all on its own.

This matters, as some protein tends to be relatively expensive compared to other food. Don’t buy more meat than before, especially not if you’re on a budget. You don’t need it. Use the tips below instead.

Money-saving tips

  • Keep it simple. A meal doesn’t have to consist of many different elements. The fewer ingredients you need, the less money you’ll spend on buying them, right? Our keto cheese omelet is a great example of that. If you have water with that meal, it’ll cost about $3.50 or just under 3€. Compare that to a Big Mac that costs around $5 (4.2€).
  • Use fresh vegetables when they are in season, buy frozen the rest of the year (low-carb vegetables guide).
  • It’s usually a better deal to buy a whole chicken and to cut it into pieces yourself. Don’t throw away the carcass. You can use it to make chicken broth.
  • Look for deals at your grocery store and stock up on things you tend to use a lot of.
  • Learn more about this in our guide on how to make low carb and keto cheaper.

Below, we have listed delicious recipes that will fill you up without emptying your wallet.

What are your best ideas when it comes to living low carb or keto on a budget? Please let us and your fellow readers know in the comments below. Thanks to everyone sharing their great ideas!

Cheap low-carb breakfasts

Eggs are always a great choice for breakfast but especially when on a budget. If you want an egg-free alternative, we suggest cheese roll-ups och why not a cup of coffee with full-fat cream in it?
 

 

Cheap low-carb meals

Keeping meals simple helps staying on budget. That doesn’t mean eating boring or bland food. How about tuna casserole, chicken wings or hamburger gratin? These dishes also make for great lunch boxes which can save you a lot of money compared to eating out.
 

 

Cheap low-carb sides

When in season you can find fresh produce like cabbage, green beans, broccoli and zucchinis for next to nothing. The rest of the year we suggest saving money by opting for frozen alternatives.
 

 

Guides

For more keto information, beyond recipes, check out our guides:

A ketogenic diet for beginners
14-day keto diet plan
Ketogenic diet foods – what to eat

 

Comments

What are your best ideas when it comes to living low carb on a budget? Please let us and your fellow low carbers know in the comments below.

22 comments

  1. Lori Miller
    Grow some of your own vegetables. Americans can look up their county extension office for gardening advice for their area. They also give advice on canning.
    Don't worry whether your food is pristine, local, organic and pasture-raised. Take care of yourself first. Wait until you have more money to worry about the other stuff.
    Buy odd cuts of meat--you might have to get them directly from a rancher. See eatwild.com to find a farmer or rancher near you.
    Grow your own herbs or buy them from the bulk spice section.
    Don't keep your refrigerator too cold: your vegetables will freeze.
    Go easy on nuts and cheese: they're expensive and fattening.
    Avoid recipes that call for lots of ingredients you won't use up before they go bad.
    Eat leftovers! Re-use the aluminum foil if it's clean.
    Drink tap water! If your tap water tastes bad, a home filter is cheaper than bottled water. Refrigerating tap water in a covered pitcher can help the taste, too.

    If you still think eating low-carb is expensive, think about the expenses of eating a cheap, starchy diet:
    Needing clothes in a variety of sizes
    Running to the vending machines or snack bar during the day because you're hungry
    Ordering lattes, cupcakes, desserts and other sugary food when you're out instead of a plain coffee or an entree only
    Acid reflux medication (Mine was $90 per month)
    Dental work
    Diabetes medication (can cost hundreds of dollars a month in the US)
    Other medical problems that can run into tens of thousands of dollars

    Reply: #3
  2. Toni Shelton
    Living on a tight budget and recently diagnosed type 2 myself. My best budget friendly advice is to buy in bulk and shop sales.

    When meat goes on sale I will get 10 to 20 lbs or more at a time and freeze it. (ie. Chicken leg quarters were on sale this week for .34 per lb. in ten pound bags that were already frozen-- I got 20 pounds for less than 7.00 -- I will defrost one ten pound bag and boil it and then portion it out and refreeze for use in other meals -- chicken salad, buffalo chicken dip, chicken stir fry with veggies, etc.)

    Check your local dollar stores. I recently found frozen asparagus spears for .69 a pack. I've also gotten frozen broccoli there cheap. I buy my olives and mini dill pickles there also. Most of them also carry sugat free flavorings such as hazelnut, vanilla and caramel for using in your coffee or desserts.

    Shop your local farmers market. If veggies are in season you can usually get a pretty good price for them, especially if you are buying alot. This summer I ran up on a man who had some really nice squash and zucchini. In stores the price on these were around 1.39 - 1.69 a pound but I bought all he had so he gave it to me for .89 a pound and I took it home and chopped it up and froze what I wouldn't use in a weeks time.

    If you have the resources and space, plant your own garden. This was my first time with gardening so I planted tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets so as not to tear up the yard and try out my green thumb...haven't had to buy a tomatoe all summer long :) I also planted cilantro in a flower pot and re-grew green onions and celery from scraps. You can find out how to do this from pinterest or the internet in general.

  3. Kel L
    Great tips! Thank you.
  4. Ronnie Baughman
    Hi! I'm not sure if this is considered a "tip", but if you think about it....NOT buying/cutting out all the junk crap (processed foods, packaged cookies, chips etc) will in itself save you money! Redirect the funds you DO have towards the fresh foods & meats.

    One tip I do have, is if a recipe calls for a more expensive cut of meat, because it may be a more tender meat, you don't HAVE to use the expensive meat, buy a cheap cut & slow cook that baby to make it tender. That might sound like more work, but not really! Throw that bad boy in the slow cooker w/broth & seasonings in the a.m. & forget about it! This method works for me!

    Thanks! :)

  5. Jennifer
    I enjoyed all the tips, they are great ideas! Another idea that lowers food bills while eating LCHF is to also do intermittent fasting. If you just eat one or two meals a day, getting rid of snacks, both your body and your wallet will thank you.
  6. Saeriu
    Meal planning has been a huge budget saver for us. Planning the meals for the week and sticking to it saves time and money. Otherwise, eating out the garden (fruit, veg, and eggs) like others have said is huge and so is visiting the local farmer's market. I've thought about purchasing a share in a CSA but we grow so much food in our garden that it wouldn't pay off for us, but if you don't have the space for a garden--a CSA would be a fantastic opportunity.
  7. Jan
    Reduce food waste. Monitor leftovers and produce so that you really eat what you've paid for. Keep an organized refrigerator and freezer so you can see what you have. Consider buying smaller quantities of food that you cannot freeze. When the fridge fills, make soup!
  8. Jo
    Coconut! Dessiccated, shredded, flaked- low carb, high fat and it adds a great deal of bulk to many recipes for next to no cost! I add it to mixes such as chia puddings and rissoles and also use it as a base for fat bombs. It is a more recent addition to my kitchen staples but I don't know what I did without it- is so useful, and cost wise, you can't lose!
  9. Marijke
    Typo :
    What are * you’re best ideas when it comes to living low carb on a budget?
    It should be "your"
  10. Gary
    I visit the local meat market and buy a whole ham joint, cut it in half then cook and freeze each bit and prepare eggs each night and make myself and my partner a dinner for each day of the week while iam in work. It's a really satisfying meal and when you add chorizo, Tabasco sauce and mayonnaise it's really tasty and probably costs for a week for two of us the same as someone in work spends in just two days for just one person! If you have a nice meal the night before take it for dinner or freeze it for another time, for some reason all meals on this website taste better the next day!
  11. Bill
    Following various bits of advice on the nutritional value of organ meat, we decided to try Ox Liver -
    Simple recipe of ox liver, onions, streaky bacon and desicated coconut fried in butter.-
    Whole meal for three cost less than £4 or £1.30 each. (340 gm Ox liver cost £1.03)
    Tip is to marinate the ox liver in fresh milk for at least an hour (removes the strong flavour!)
    Fry onions in butter until translucent, remove and cook some bacon in butter,
    now cut liver into small portions and coat with desicated coconut & oragano, salt & pepper
    and fry for about 4 min each side (cooks quickly)
    Serve with roast veggies (green beans, cauliflour, peppers, broccoli etc)
  12. Cindy
    Planning and meal prep is a must for the budget. Comparrison shop. Most stores these days will price match. Especially walmart. Aldi's! Aldi's! Aldi's! Can't beat the prices, their name products are just as good if not better. Good veggie and cheese prices. They have cut my food bill in half! You can sign up for their emails. Most stores these days have a website and you can sign up for the sale ads. Coupons. I don't have much luck with food coupons but it sure helps with the rest of the cleaning and laundry supplies, animal food.
  13. Kate Chiconi
    I make one chicken last for several meals: first, roast with vegies and gravy, then I strip off most of the rest of the meat and use that for a salad or laksa with coconut milk and zucchini noodles. Finally, I make a stock with the skin and bones, pick off the last of the meat and make 3 litres of thick chicken and vegetable soup for my husband to take to work every day instead of junk food. I always cook more than I need for the meal and freeze the remainder, and I make large batches of versatile stuff like ratatouille, freezing half to use later.
  14. Tamara
    Aldi's veggies now are all organic...and they are still cheaper than regular at Kroger!
    Reply: #22
  15. Charlene
    This article is both wonderful and practical--I consider myself the ultimate frugal grocery shopper and I picked up tips here-- even better was I picked up more tips reading the comments.

    My contribution:
    Sunday is our unwinding, keep it easy day. Every week Sunday dinner is a frittata-- any straggling of "to little to eat, too much to dump" leftovers frittata. Simple and never boring because it is different every week.

    Another "to little to eat, too much to dump" meal is use the Diet Doctor pierogi dough recipe and mix and match the leftovers to make a variety of what I call LCHF "hot pockets" Recipe here : https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/keto-pierogi-filled-with-bacon-and...

    I save my bones for bone broth--but I also save all vegetables "ends" and peelings and toss them in too. In the end it all gets strained. I freeze vegetable ends until I have enough for broth.

    Heavy Cream savings-- in my neck of the woods: a pint of heavy cream is $4.69 (.29/oz); quart is $6.19 (.19/oz) and 1/2 gal at Sam's Club is $4.91 (.08/oz). It has never gone bad. It can be frozen in ice cubes trays or freeze dollops of whipped cream on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a zip lock bag. If I have a bunch left over I make the best yogurt ever--instructions on line--it is not as hard as you think.

    I also buy the specialty holiday meats after the holiday.

    I live in California so I have a year round garden. When I buy produce it is almost never at a farmer's market because the prices are inflated because it is so trendy. I buy local produce on the cheap at my regular grocery store.

    Again great article-- thanks DD

  16. Silke
    A great money saving tip is to make a menu for the week and shop for it. Don't take family members or kids when shopping and stay focused. Frozen vegetables are a great alternative. Sometimes you just have to buy cheaper meat and produce which is not grass fed or produce is not organic.
    It I go to my supermarket really early, they lower pricing on a lot of chicken and meat that is close to best sell by date.
  17. Tiffanee
    Love all your tips! We have been eating on an extreme budget for many years, out of choice. There is just too much food waste overall in the US. We buy all produce at Aldi or grow our own, so we are getting organic either way. I also buy grass-fed beef there and when they have a family pack sale or anything really good, I stock up. I get chicken from a farmer who grows his without antibiotics, but because he is pretty far away I only get it a couple times a year. Otherwise, I get the "Never Any" brand from Aldi also. I keep a 'grocery store' in my basement stocked with basic staples all the time and use as needed. I make my own bone broth in the crock pot using chicken feet-for the gelatin- and chicken wings. I add my own veggies and let it go for 24 hours. It results in the richest stock ever, you could not buy it this good, and it costs only a couple dollars for a batch (makes about 3-5 quarts when done). I freeze every herb that I grow in baggies and use through the winter. I buy Kerry Gold butter when I can get a great deal and freeze it, I have an entire basket of it in my freezer!
  18. Tiffanee
    I love the holiday meat deal somebody mentioned above, I do the same. Right after Thanksgiving you can get turkey for a steal, and after Christmas I can get really high quality spiral cut hams for a steal. I cook them and portion into bags to use down the road, and freeze it.
  19. Mike
    I find my dehydrator and vacuum packaging machines very valuable. I make my own jerky, take everyone's left over zucchini and patty pan squash, and I volunteer to clean up people's gardens in the fall and salvage their left over produce. We have many local hunters that just want the trophy when they shoot deer, so we process that meat, etc. And, the vacuum packaging really adds to the freezer life of food. We make our own cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup soups using real cream and fresh mushrooms or chicken. We grow herbs, cherry tomatoes, and leaf lettuce in our bay window. LCHF is not hard, expensive or boring as some have suggested. Oh, and it cured my diabetes and made me half the person I used to be. 378 pounds after insulin and strokes 2 years ago, now 190 pounds and Dr. told his new PA, "he used to have diabetes".
  20. Linda
    Thanks for all of the tips! I love to shop at my local grocery store. They are family owned and regional. They have quick sale meats and groceries at huge savings. I shop those areas first and only buy full price when I absolutely must. I have a deep freeze that is full. Also I am fortunate to live way out in the country, so I have my own flock of chickens. They get all of my veggie scraps and they give me eggs. Their eggs are amazing. The yolks are orange because I free range my girls. They also get anything from my garden that might get away from me. I have been lo carb for about a year. This new year I an committed to become keto-adapted. Just being lo carb has helped me feel so much better. I am looking forward to losing weight and feeling even better.
  21. Peggy
    Cook once, eat twice. I make a double batch of something and take leftovers for lunch. If I haven't eaten it in a few days, I pop it in the freezer. There are some nights when I'm too tired to cook and those frozen meals all ready to go have saved me from the drive thru. I have no storage space, so buying in bulk is out, but my store will "break" packages for me and give me only two chicken thighs from a package of six that would take up space. Buying only what I need every week instead of indulging in the specials that "might come in handy one day" is a money saver for me. Also, I kept a food diary for a month and highlighted food I threw out at the end of the week. Turns out no matter how good a deal green beans are, I just don't like them! Better to spring for a non-sale veggie I will eat than throw money in the trash! I also scan several store's online sale papers on Wednesday so I have a good idea where to go for various items. By the way, we have a new store here called Sprouts that sells organics and meats at way less than grocery store prices. If you have one near you, check it out!
  22. Susie

    Aldi's veggies now are all organic...and they are still cheaper than regular at Kroger!

    Not in the uk, unfortunately

Leave a reply

Reply to comment #0 by