Low Cost Low Carb – Keto on a Budget

Tips & tricks to eat low carb for less!

Fact Checked Approved on Mar 1, 2024
Our stories are all thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by The Low Carb Grocery team to ensure that any health related recommendations made in the article are completely unbiased, accurate and reflect the latest relevant research and health guidelines. That being said, you should always consult your doctor before making significant dietary changes.

Low carb foods on a budget

The ketogenic (keto) diet is a high fat, low carb eating plan that aims to put your body into a state of ketosis. This is where your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates and can therefore be a great diet option for those looking to lose weight. Not only does keto help people shed unwanted pounds, but it also offers plenty of other health benefits, such as better blood sugar control, improved mental clarity, better digestion, and more.

Keto on a Budget

With a limited intake of carbs, many people think it’s difficult and expensive to follow this type of diet. Keto diets can get expensive when you are buying many low carb, carb alternatives such as low carb bread, pasta, protein bars, and so on. Although these products can be very helpful for filling up on the go or helping to crunch a craving, observing a high fat, low carb diet can successfully be done with regular foods that you may already have in your fridge or pantry.

This article will go over some perfect keto-friendly options to add to your next shopping list to ensure that your diet is successful without breaking the bank.

Budget Friendly Low Carb Foods

There are several ways to save money while following a low carb diet, but the best way to do this is by properly understanding the requirements of a keto diet, so you’re able to shop sales and specials while at the grocery store.

  1. Canned Food

Foods like beans, sardines, and other canned food can be a great way to get your macros in without spending a fortune. Buying bags of dried beans, lentils, or chickpeas is often very affordable and a great way to bulk up your protein intake. Additionally, cans of beans, lentils, or chickpeas are often discounted and are shelf stable, so they’re a great thing to stock up on when on sale.

The same is true for cans of tuna, salmon, sardines, and other fish and seafood for a hit of healthy fats and protein.

  1. Stock Up on Meat When on Sale

Fresh meat can often be quite expensive, but if you live near a grocery store or have a large freezer, frequently checking for sales on near-expiry date meat is a great way to get fresh meat for a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, opting for ground meat or meat organs such as livers or hearts, can be a more affordable alternative to whole cuts.

  1. Eggs

Eggs are such a great way to easily up your protein for a low cost. They are such a versatile food and can be incorporated into your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Hard-boiled eggs make for a great snack on the go or a quick breakfast, whereas a fried egg can be cooked atop a stir fry or other dishes for extra protein. They are very easy to cook and offer plenty of nutritional benefits.

Power up with healthy low carb egg breakfasts here!

  1. Low Carb Vegetables

Vegetables can certainly get expensive, but there are plenty of ways to shop them in an affordable manner. For certain veggies, such as spinach, kale, green beans, and peas, getting the frozen variety can be much more affordable and stays good until you’re ready to cook them.

Additionally, understanding what vegetables are in season where you live can greatly help reduce food bills. Local produce is almost always more affordable, so base your meal plans around seasonality and you’ll be able to incorporate healthy, low carb vegetables into every meal.

Vegetables like cabbage are a great option to bump up your vegetable intake for less. One whole cabbage shredded and stored in your fridge can provide you with additional veggies for multiple meals.

If you get good sunlight in your home or have a couple of empty windowsills, you can also try growing some of your own greens to cut down on costs. Lettuce, green onions, celery, carrots, boy choy, and more can be regrown from kitchen scraps to keep you full for less! Learn how to do this here.

  1. Plant-Based Protein

Even if you eat meat, never underestimate the ability of plant-based proteins to fill you up for less! Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all packed full of protein and very affordable. Most blocks of tofu will cost you $3 or less and make for an extremely versatile way to pump up your protein. Tofu also comes in different firmness levels, making it easy to add tofu to soups, sauces, stir-fries, and more! An additional benefit of these plant-based proteins is that they take on the flavour of whatever you are cooking or marinate them in, making it easy to switch up flavours during the week to create a more satisfying, varied diet.

Don’t forget about edamame either! Check out your grocery’s freezer section for shelled edamame or edamame in a shell. The shelled version can easily be boiled for three minutes, drained, and tossed in olive oil and salt for an excellent, high-fibre snack. The shelled edamame can be added to salads, stir-fries, soups, and more to bump up the total protein.

  1. Low Carb Dairy

Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and other white cheeses can be great keto-friendly additions to your shopping list as well. White cheeses tend to have a relatively low carb content in comparison to their yellow or orange counterparts. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese also work as great bases for sauces or dips to up the protein level.

Cheese can vary greatly in cost, depending on the type of cheese you’re buying. So, shop around, learn what you like, and wait for good sales to stock up!

Meal Planning Is Crucial for Budget Friendly Meals

Meal planning is a must if you want to do keto on a budget. It helps eliminate some of the decision-making and takes the guesswork out of planning meals. Figuring out your meals ahead of time will help avoid those costly impulse buys and will help you stick to a solid food budget.

However, as noted above, sometimes going to the grocery store, and seeing what’s on sale can help extend your budget. To help do both, plan out the meal, but stay flexible on the main protein so you can change it up based on what is priced well and what looks good at the grocery store. Remember to plan your meal plan based on the vegetables in season to help your produce budget go further. Something like cabbage or frozen spinach will almost always cost you less than artichokes, asparagus, and snap peas.

To help plan for success, start with a weekly meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with some snacks in between. Pick meals that work for your lifestyle, keep you full, and that you actually enjoy eating.

It’s also important to know yourself and your eating habits in order to succeed. Making one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner that you can reheat all week is far simpler and quicker. However, if you hate eating the same thing every day, this won’t be successful, and you’ll likely find yourself ordering take-out and throwing the leftovers out at the end of the week.

If you crave variety, you can still batch cook for the week, you just need to get a little more creative. Buy five chicken breasts, but use a couple of different marinades, change up your veggies, and the method of cooking.

Looking for some delicious homemade keto snacks to keep you satisfied in between meals? Check out Delish’s 49 Keto Snack Recipes for some inspiration!

Smart Shopping Tips for Success

Here are 9 Budget Meal Planning Tips According To A Dietician!

To get the most out of your hard-earned dollars, we’ve included some of our favourite shopping, cooking, and snacking tips below!

  1. Buy in bulk – If you don’t already own a standalone freezer, consider investing in one! This will make it easy to buy meat and fish in bulk and shop at places like Costco to save money. Additionally, you can bulk cook and freeze single-portion meals for later, to avoid takeout meals when you’re too busy to cook.
  2. Keep affordable, low carb snacks handy – Make sure you have affordable, easy-to-prepare snacks at the ready to keep cravings at bay. Things like cheese cubes, jerky snacks, or cut veggies and hummus all make for delicious ways to refuel throughout the day.
  3. Be creative with vegetable substitutions – Replace potatoes with lower carb options such as turnips, yams, and rutabagas. These vegetables often keep for a long time and are less expensive than potatoes.
  4. Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love – Love hamburgers? You can still have them! Simply replace a hamburger bun with portobello mushroom caps. Craving French fries? Try our delicious Jicama fries for a low carb fry you’ll love!
  5. Watch out for high sugar, high carb condiments – Many condiments, even savoury ones, include high sugar and carb contents. Make sure to check the labels when shopping for condiments and sauces. There are also many different marinades, sauces, and other condiments you can easily make yourself! Check out our favourite Keto Friendly & Low Calorie Sauces & Condiments
  6. Make your own salad dressings – Many people enjoy eating their daily salad with a little bit of dressing. But why not make your own dressing at home? All you need is some extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Mix in herbs and spices and give it a shake! Making your own dressings also provides you with an opportunity to up your fat content for the day if needed with things like olive oil, avocado oil, and mayonnaise.
  7. Egg crepes make the perfect substitute for tortilla wraps – Try making a simple low carb alternative to wheat, corn, or spelt flour wraps using eggs! Simply beat some eggs with water or cream until well blended, then pour the mixture into a hot, oiled pan and cover the pan in a thin layer. Fry the egg crepe on both sides until fully cooked through.
  8. Go for frozen fruits and vegetables – fresh fruit and veggies can often be rather pricy, especially when not in season. When possible, use frozen fruit and vegetables instead to save some money!
  9. Use canned fish and meat – Fish and meat are great sources of protein. However, they can be rather expensive. Get a few cans of your choice of canned fish, such as tuna, salmon or sardines, and a couple of cans of chicken or turkey meat. These are versatile options for low carb meals. Wait until they’re on sale and stock up for extra savings!
  10. Store your leftovers properly – Store your leftovers in quality, air-tight containers, or reusable storage bags. Proper storage is important to avoid wasting food that has spoiled.
  11. Get creative with your leftovers – Get creative by swapping your leftovers for your next meal. Slice whatever leftover grilled chicken you have and throw it in a salad or toss it into a soup or stir-fry. Save leftover veggies for an omelet the next morning! By changing the method in which you eat your leftovers, you can avoid getting bored of eating the same thing every day.
  12. Make your own broth or stock – Making your own chicken, beef, or vegetable stock is easy! Keep your meat bones by adding them to a freezer bag as you eat the meat, and when the bag is full simply boil them away in a big pot with herbs for several hours. Strain, refrigerate and voila! For vegetable stock, the same process applies, except instead of bones you need to collect your vegetable scraps (carrot tops, onion skins, etc.) in a freezer bag until ready to make your broth.
Eating Low Carb on A Budget Is Possible When Planning Ahead

Eating low carb on a budget requires planning, shopping wisely, and getting creative in the kitchen. Once you’ve mastered that, it’s easy to eat keto for less! Low carb food can be delicious and by following these simple, easy, and effective tips, you can enjoy a low carb lifestyle that doesn’t break the bank.

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