The ketogenic diet involves significantly reducing the intake of carbohydrates and replacing them with fat. It prompts the body to enter a state called ketosis, causing the fat to be burnt for energy. Increasing the intake of fats means adding more fats to your diet. These fats can be found in animal-originated products and other foods high in (good) fats. Many of these foods have a high price tag, but some options can help you inexpensively follow keto. This article shares how you can manage keto on a budget.
Managing keto on a budget – Choose affordable high-fat oils
Avocado oil is an affordable alternative to avocado fruit. It is a reliable source of monounsaturated fats that will help you stay in ketosis and protect your heart’s health at the same time.
Coconut oil contains saturated fats, especially medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
MCTs are burnt for energy, keeping you fit. Coconut oil can be used as an ingredient for baking, roasting and sautéing various foods to add to your diet.
Olive oil is another vegetable-originated source of monounsaturated fat, also packed with antioxidants that protect your cells against the action of free radicals. Olive oil has become the staple of many healthy recipes.
Take a look at our article ‘What are the Best Fats for Keto?‘ for more keto friendly fat options.
Add non-starchy vegetables to your meals
Some non-starchy vegetables carry high amounts of carbs, which you need to limit in your keto diet. However, by keeping an eye on your daily carbohydrate intake, you can include these foods in your meals, as their benefits for health, mainly for the heart, are significant.
Rather than choosing the expensive precut variants, you can buy veggies such as cauliflower or lettuce whole and then learn how to chop and cut them like a professional. Buying in season also helps to keep the cost down.
Check out our article ‘Your Guide to Keto-Friendly Vegetables‘ for an extensive list of vegetables you can include in your keto diet.
Choose low-carb beans
Many beans have a high carb content which can break your daily limitation of this nutrient. However, there are two notable exceptions: black soybeans and Lupini beans.
Black soybeans contain just 1 g of net carbohydrates per half a cup portion, while Lupini, a brined white bean, holds 2 g of net carbs per quarter cup portion.
They are both price-wise and packed with nutrients such as calcium, fibre, iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium and make an excellent choice for various dishes.
Keto on a Budget – Buy frozen instead of fresh
Many keto-friendly fruits and veggies like berries, broccoli or cauliflower are more affordable in frozen versions than fresh.
Berries, for example, have fewer carbs than other fruits – 3,4 g of net carbs per quarter cup portion. That makes them the perfect choice for keto smoothies, topping syrups and baked desserts such as muffins. Fresh, they cost more and tend to spoil in a short time. Frozen, they can be stored for a long time in your fridge and make it easier to manage keto on a budget.
Use eggs as a cheap and healthy keto fat option
With 4.8 g of fat, 0.4 g of carbs, and 6.3 g of protein per piece, eggs are one of the best sources of fats that you can add to your Keto diet. They provide other healthy nutrients such as iron, minerals and vitamins.
Eggs also contain two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, known for their capacity to fight several diseases, decreasing the risk of macular degeneration caused by age, the principal cause of blindness in senior adults. Choline nutrient found in eggs contributes to brain development and improves memory.
Eggs are cheap, easy to find, can be consumed in many ways, can be included plain or mixed in various recipes and most importantly, will keep your body in a state of ketosis.
Choose wisely the meats for your diet
Several factors influence the price range for meats. Choosing the one that fits your budget is easy if you conduct a bit of research at your local market, grocery store or nearby supermarket. Pork roast cut or pork shoulder instead of rib eye and chicken thigh instead of the boneless breast are options that help you stay within the limits of managing keto on a budget.
Buy nuts for keto in bulk
Foods in bulk are a cheaper way to make healthy reserves for your keto diet, and nuts are at the top of the list. Many nuts contain nutrients such as fatty acids and Omega-3, providing the fat you require while on keto.
Nuts also contain vitamin B and E, calcium, magnesium, copper and selenium. Properly store these nuts, so they stay fresh.
Plan your groceries and prep ahead
Planning your groceries before buying them helps you avoid unnecessary purchases, so make a list before you head to the store and stick to it.
Preparing meals ahead is also a helpful strategy to stay on budget, especially when following a diet, because:
- meal preparations help you save time and money;
- it makes your life easier – when you have already prepared meals, you will no longer have to face decisions like “what to eat tonight”;
- can be the trigger for several good habits in your life: you drink more water, you become more motivated to work out;
- you will eat better, as you will have at your disposal healthy, convenient options;
- the proper portions obtained during meal prep will keep you healthy;
What groceries should you buy when you follow keto on a budget?
A few examples of affordable keto-friendly foods are:
- Healthy fats: flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, shredded coconut, and nut butter – in bulk. Frozen cubes of coconut and canned coconut milk, buy avocados on sale to freeze the flesh. Butter and cheeses on special are all inexpensive sources of fats.
- meats/proteins: whole cooked chickens that you can freeze after portioning, eggs, pork chops, canned tuna, chicken thighs, frozen ground meats, fresh meats on sale to keep frozen, plain full-fat Greek yoghurt;
- non-starchy veggies: cauliflower, zucchini, lettuce, spaghetti squash, broccoli, asparagus, celery, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, cucumber, spinach, arugula – by them when they are in season, on special or in frozen version;
- Low carb fruits: strawberries, clementines, plums, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, kiwi – when they are in season, on special or frozen.
Cheap keto snacks
Keto snacks help you manage your hunger until the next main meal, and there are several affordable options you can choose from:
- frozen berries of your choosing and full-fat Greek yoghurt;
- celery sticks accompanied by cottage cheese;
- slices of your favourite vegetables with nut butter;
- one or two hard-boiled eggs;
- a handful of your favourite nuts and seeds;
- dark chocolate with 70% or more cocoa content.