Tips & Advice

Cheap Keto: How to Do the Keto Diet on a Budget

Here, we’ll show you how to do the keto diet on a budget and why that’s perfectly OKSure, everybody would love to eat prime tuna steaks, grass-fed organic beef and lobster tails every day but not everyone can afford that. For many of us, we have to be realistic and balance our food budget. Ignore the keto snobs (and there are several) who think that you must be eating the best of the best in order to do keto “properly”.

If you (like most of us) are in that boat where you have to watch your budget, know that you can eat a ketogenic diet cheaply and reap the massive benefits of the keto diet without spending hundreds at high-end butchers and grocery stores.

So if the best you can do is hot dogs, that’s alright. F (forget) the keto snobs – we have no time for them. Hot dogs are still better than the high-carb, high-sugar junk foods that you use to eat. Stop worrying about spending money on top-of-the-line ketogenic foods. And never spend money on ketogenic supplements, powders and pills – that BS doesn’t work and even if it did, it’s unnecessary.

Some simple ways to save money when doing keto

Before we look at some cheap keto foods, let’s look at a few simple things you can do to lower the cost of keto: 

  1. Buy in bulk. There are lots of bulk suppliers online now, so if you don’t have a bulk store near you or you don’t meet other criteria, e.g. you’re not a business, you can still buy in bulk. Look out for bulk bargains in your grocery store – you will save a lot of money this way. Invest in a chest freezer, buy in bulk, portion and freeze. You will save a lot of money doing this.
  2. Skip any fancy packaged foods labeled “keto”. A lot of food manufacturers are hopping on the keto gravy train and trying to profit by promoting foods like keto bars, fat bombs, shakes or whatever. You don’t need any of them. You can easily cook these types of food yourself and there are many meal plans out there. If you’re not a keen cook, try our custom keto diet plan – and just substitute any pricier ingredients with the ones we’ll show you below.
  3. Choose your cuts of meat wisely. The good news is that a lot of cheaper cuts of meat actually have more flavour – but because they’re tougher and take longer to cook some people think they’re inferior. This is wrong. Not only can cheap cuts taste amazing, they can also come on the bone which means they are packed with added flavour and collagen. Invest in a cheap slow cooker (about $20-25) and slow cook cheap meats – stewing beef, casserole beef, beef chuck – you’ll slash your food budget in half, easily.
  4. Black soybeans. On a keto diet, most beans are too high in carbs. One exception is black soybeans. These may not be to everyone’s taste. However, you can make your budget go even further by substituting a little ground beef for a handful of black soybeans the next time you make a chilli. Or fry some up with some eggs and bacon for lunch. Every little helps.
  5. Buy frozen berries. Not all frozen foods are bad. Yes, you should avoid the frozen meals and pizzas etc. but when it comes to frozen vegetables and frozen fruit, they are actually very good alternatives – sometimes better than “fresh” fruit and vegetables that have been picked days ago and have been in transit for who knows how long. Frozen berries in particular can be a real money saver for when you want a fruit fix.
  6. Skip organic, grass-fed and free-range. Sure, if you can afford them, organic, grass-fed, free-range are the go-to options. However, if you’re strapped for cash, don’t worry about these. You can eat none of these and keto will still work for you. When your budget allows, you can explore the healthier, more expensive options but for now just focus on the bigger picture – getting healthier by starting a keto diet of some kind.

OK, so let’s look at 9 foods you can eat when doing the keto diet on a budget. You can make thousands of different recipes from these, they’re cheap and you can eat these all the time.

9 cheap keto foods for doing keto on a budget

Keto diet on a budget #1: Chicken legs

You can buy a huge pack of chicken legs from your grocery store for very cheap. They might have some additives injected, that’s true. They might have some preservatives and artificial ingredients added, that’s also true. But they’re still way better than the chips, cookies and chocolate bars that you use to eat. These chicken legs have good fat, good protein and you can even keep the bones to make some great bone broth.

Keto diet on a budget #2: Ground beef

Here’s a plus. Higher fat (which is what we want) ground beef is much cheaper than the lean ground beef. The higher the fat content, the better. Does it have preservatives, yes. Does it have fillers and other artificials, again yes. But it’s better than eating processed/frozen meal junk. (Are you starting to see a theme here? Cheap keto, thought not perfect, is still way better for you than any high-carb processed diet.)

And, like bacon, you want to keep the beef fat that is left over from the cooking process for cooking other meals. It’s full of flavour and goodness that you don’t just want to throw away.

Keto diet on a budget #3: Eggs

You can buy eggs very cheaply and their fat and protein content will easily fill you up and keep you full. Boil three of them and splash some tabasco on them and there’s your lunch, for about 50¢. 

Eggs are probably the most versatile food item out there. You can make 50 different meals with eggs or add them to thousands of other recipes to boost their fat, protein and flavor content. You can even put egg shells and membranes in a muslin bag and use them as an ingredient in bone broth. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals and collagen.

So if you’re doing keto on a budget, make sure you always have a good supply of eggs in your kitchen.

Keto diet on a budget #4: Avocados

Wait. Avocados? Those are pretty expensive aren’t they? Avocados on toast, yes – but avocados on their own are not excessive as the supply is so high. But yes, it can depend on where you are. That being said, our grocery store has access to a ready supply and the price is reasonable. 

Like eggs, avocados are great on their own or to supplement other recipes. You can bake with them, cook with them, use them to thicken soups or sauces – without worrying having to use high-starch thickeners. Avocados are also a great source of healthy fat and fibre.

Keto diet on a budget #5: Leafy green vegetables

There are so many super-cheap greens out there: collards, kale, spinach, broccoli, green beans… The list goes on. These greens are full of nutrition and they won’t knock you out of ketosis. Again, you can use them in lots of different ways.

For those of you who aren’t great plant eaters, try sautéing greens in left-over bacon grease with an egg or two – you will hardly notice you’re eating vegetables!

Keto diet on a budget #6: Frozen vegetables

Unless you’re growing and picking your own vegetables in your backyard, frozen vegetables are often more nutritious than so-called fresh vegetables in grocery stores. Grocery vegetables are often picked days ahead and have to be transported. During this time, they lose a lot of their nutritional value.

One study showed vegetables lose 30% of their nutritional value three days after picking. Frozen vegetables however are typically frozen within a few hours of being harvested and their nutritional content is retained. 

So, nutritionally and monetarily, frozen vegetables are great. There’s also no wastage. How often have you bought fresh vegetables only to see them rot in your fridge? We’ve all done it. So, frozen is great. 

Keto diet on a budget #7: Bacon

Bacon itself is not super cheap however it has an added bonus of liquid gold – bacon fat! Bacon fat is just awesome. It’s a source of healthy fats but it’s also very useful for its satiating properties. Bacon is bursting with flavour and if, say, you’re not a fan of vegetables, fry them in some bacon fat and it will feel like you’re eating something meat-based.

Keto diet on a budget #8: Pecan nuts

Pistachios and cashew nuts are a little carby. Pecans however are low in carbohydrates, high in vitamins/minerals, taste great and are among the cheaper nuts you can buy.

Keto diet on a budget #9: Canned fish

Tinned fish of any kind is a good food source when you’re doing keto on a budget. Salmon, tuna, sardines, pilchards, mackerel anchovies – they’re all good for you as they’re high in omega 3 and nutrients. They have good fat, good protein and zero carbohydrates. (And anchovies and sardines are nearly always caught in the wild rather than farmed). 

You should also keep fish bones and skins to use in stock. The only exception to this is plaice which can turn bitter when cooked like this.

A word of caution: don’t eat tuna every day. Tuna is incredibly nutritious and a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. However, it can contain high levels of mercury, a toxic heavy metal.

Natural processes — such as volcanic eruptions — as well as industrial activity — such as coal burning — emit mercury into the atmosphere or directly into the ocean, at which point it begins to build up in marine life. Since tuna are higher up in the ocean food chain, their mercury levels can be much higher.

Consuming too much mercury is linked to serious health issues, raising concerns about regular intake of tuna.

Cheap keto is not perfect but it’s way better than the alternative

With just these 9 ingredients, salt, herbs and spices, you have access to hundreds of different keto meals. Mix, match, substitute or use them as part of other recipes. Don’t let a lack of funds be an excuse to not eat a ketogenic diet.

Some of the above foods are not perfect but they’re still way better than eating the processed crap that surrounds us today: the chips, the chocolate, the cereals, the bread, the artificial foods swimming in sugar. Keto diet on a budget still beats the traditional Western diet, hands down. 

  1. You don’t have to buy “the best”
  2. You don’t have to buy expensive ketogenic foods
  3. You don’t have to buy organic. If you can, do – but if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Just do your best and stop worrying about it.

Remember, this isn’t about eating the best foods nature has to offer. Of course, that would be great if we could afford it but we need to be realistic. This is, for many people, about reclaiming their health, losing weight, lower your blood glucose and insulin, eliminating inflammation.

Cheap keto is better than non keto and a lot of people are in the same situation. Don’t worry about it, just do your best.


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