Do you think the keto diet will be expensive? Here’s a quick guide to cheap keto meals and the 8 ways to eat keto for less.
The keto diet is an amazing way of eating that is packed with weight loss and health benefits. Thankfully, with its emphasis on healthy Whole Foods, cheap keto meals are still possible. All it takes is a little planning.
While prime steak and lobster are both keto friendly food and delicious, there’s not too many of us who can afford this every day.
At the other extreme, burgers and pork rinds are also keto friendly and ridiculously cheap, but to be honest they’re not exactly the stars of the healthy eating world.
So, somewhere between the steak and the pork rinds you’ll need to find some nutritious whole foods that won’t require a mortgage.
Here are the 8 rules which in my opinion will save you a lot of money and make the keto diet affordable.
Rule 1 for cheap keto meals
Take a tour around your town and look out for the best value stores, or farmers markets.
These may not be the closest, but unless they are literally hours away, visiting them is going to save you money.
Don’t get into the habit of calling by that convenient but expensive shop on your way home.
It’s amazing how quickly this will have you hunting in your pockets for your last few dollars.
Following on from this, it makes sense to do a big, bulk shop when you do stretch your legs to the value store.
Look out for special offers, bulk buys and less well-known brands or the store’s own brand.
For nuts, olives and oil, its normally possible to bulk buy in a health store online. Most online sellers offer great prices on bulk buys for these items.
Even when savings are small, its surprising how they can add up in no time.
Rule 2: learn to cook a few basic meals
OK, I know I’m going over the basics here, but it’s worth saying again. Buy in-season, single ingredient foods.
You’ll know when a vegetable is in season because it will be super cheap.
Don’t pass by this opportunity to keep some of your cash in your pocket.
Buy as much as you can fit in your freezer. Avocados are great for this. Buy them when they’re piled high in the store. They freeze very well.
The only vegetable that I dislike frozen is cauliflower. I don’t think it has a great texture after freezing.
If you have a bargain pile of cauliflower, make cauliflower mash and freeze that rather than the whole vegetable.
Avoid ready meals. Not only are they nearly always made with seed oils and/or added sugars, they are stupidly over priced.
Your own versions of ready meals are rarely as difficult as you imagine, plus you’ll know exactly what’s in them.
Find yourself a simple recipe for one each of your favourite meals.
A good curry, fish plus sauce, bolognese sauce plus a few others will have you feeling like a chef in no time.
Make a note of the ingredients you’ll need for these dishes, and make sure you have them in your kitchen.
If you’re going through a really tough patch with the cash, do a little snooping and find out when the meats are reduced in your store.
As long as you can eat your bargain within a day or so, you could be getting a great deal.
I’d rather do this than resort to buying the cheap carb heavy alternatives. Leave your ego at the door and think of your health.
In my town, it’s possible to get tinned meat which is super cheap and as good as fresh.
You do need to read through the ingredients list though. Be suspicious of any tinned meat that has more than a few carbs.
As meat is almost carb free, this is going to be a good sign that there are hidden sugars lurking in that tin.
Rule 3: Mince
Think meatballs, lasagna made with courgette slices instead of pasta. Spiralized courgette, mince and some flavorings for a great low carb spaghetti bolognese.
Personally I make sure that the mince is 100% meat. If it’s not, the chances are that the carb count is going to be high.
To keep to the keto diet, make sure the mince has plenty of fat.
Mince seems to vary a lot in price, so do a bit of research. Again, this is an item that is much cheaper when you buy in bulk.
Rule 4: Chicken
Don’t fall for those little pre-packaged collections of wings, or breast. Buy the whole damn chicken.
Whole chickens are very much cheaper, and you know you’re going to eat it.
Roast the chicken, and portion it up according to what you want to do with it. For example, a bag of chicken cubes for stir fries or chicken strips for a keto friendly lasagna. Get creative.
Pick off the legs and wings to have for tasty snacks or to take to work.
Rule 5: Eat organ meat
Become a friend of the less popular cuts of meat.
Liver, for example, has fallen out of favor but its fantastically healthy. Fried slowly with onions and a gravy, and you have a very tasty meal for next to nothing.
Rule 6: Fish
If you’re on a budget but want your fair share of omega 3, there are cheaper ways of getting it than eating salmon.
Herrings, kippers, sardines and tinned tuna are all great sources of omega 3 at a much lower cost.
If you’re not familiar with kippers do yourself a favor and try one. Cooked with just a pat of butter, you’ll have a nutritious meal in just a few minutes.
Don’t pass by the freezer section when you’re looking for fish. Frozen salmon is very much cheaper than fresh, and just as good.
Tinned salmon can be even less, although it does have a different taste.
White fish, and mixes of fish are both cheap options. Search through the freezer to find some cuts of fish that you haven’t tried before.
Rule 7: Dairy products and eggs
Without a doubt, grass fed butter, free-range organic eggs and hand crafted cheeses are ultra healthy.
But Let’s get real here.
When you’re stretching your budget, its not going to reach those sorts of foods.
They may be the best, but ordinary eggs and regular butter is still better than buying breakfast cereals or margarine.
Choose regular cheeses, these are cheaper and are still keto friendly.
Save the hand-made-by-an-artist-in-a-cave cheeses for when you’ve got money to spare.
To be super thrifty, buy strong, mature cheese. If you’re using it to add a little flavor you will need less to get the same result.
Rule 8: Cook as if you live with a crowd
Never, ever cook for one. This includes all of you who live alone.
I never make a bolognese or lasagna for less than six. Once the meal is ready, it’s portioned up and the extra portions go into the freezer.
Not only is this a lot cheaper, it also gives me some great quick meals for when I’m too busy to cook, or just feeling lazy.
I also tend to hard boil eggs at least six at a time. Again, they’re great as snacks, or for a packed lunch.
The keto diet emphasizes nutritional whole foods that are high in fat and low in carbs.
While this will cut out the ultra cheap high carb foods (think cake, cookies, pasta) its still possible to eat cheap keto meals.
They will still be nutritious, there is no need to feel that you can only afford the bargain carb loaded stuff.
You can eat simple meals on keto that are both good for your health and your bank balance.
A meal of chicken, seasonal vegetables and a home made gravy is going to be better than any ready meal, and loaded with healthy protein and fats.
A cheese omelet for example will only cost a few dollars and is super healthy.
So, try to make your meals with some good protein, low carb vegetables and plenty of fat.
You’ll be surprised how much goodness you can get for much the same price as all that cheap and harmful high carb processed stuff on sale.
There’s no need to miss out on all the amazing weight loss and health benefits of keto.
Follow these rules, and you’ll be reaching all your health goals without having to sell the house.