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Keto On A Budget: 7 Top Tips For Doing “Cheap Keto” And Winning

The keto diet is one of the most popular weight loss diets. Even people who are not necessarily looking to lose weight often adopt the keto diet to improve various aspects of health, such as blood sugar regulation, energy levels, and potentially controlling appetite.

However, although keto can be helpful for weight loss and health improvements, following keto can also be expensive. Many of the best keto foods are quite costly, making keto difficult to swing financially in the long term, particularly if you are on a tighter budget.

The good news is that it is possible to do keto on a budget if you are mindful of how you buy keto foods and you deliberately try to choose cheap keto foods. 

Although a cheap keto diet meal plan is generally not as nutritious as the keto diet on a limitless budget, doing keto on a budget can be more sustainable long term.

In this article, we will discuss tips for how to follow keto on a budget, the best budget-friendly keto foods, and whether cheap keto foods are as good as the best keto diet foods.

We will look at: 

  • What Is the Keto Diet?
  • Why Is the Keto Diet So Expensive?
  • Keto On A Budget: 7 Tips For Doing “Cheap Keto” And Winning

Let’s get started!

A person at the grocery store calculating prices on a calculator.

What Is the Keto Diet?

Before we look more specifically into how to save money on the keto diet by choosing cheap keto foods and money-saving keto hacks, let’s briefly discuss what the keto diet entails.

Although there is some flexibility and variations in the specific macronutrient ratios on the keto diet, experts suggest that it should involve consuming 70–75% of your calories from fat, 20-25% of your calories from protein, and 5–10% of your calories from carbohydrates. 

Why Is the Keto Diet So Expensive?

First and foremost, it’s helpful to establish that food costs have risen across the board, particularly in the United States, Canada, Europe, and many other nations.

Even the prices of foods that are not permitted on the keto diet, such as fruits and whole grains, have steadily increased in recent years.

That said, the keto diet is one of the most expensive weight loss diets to sustain because many keto diet foods are particularly expensive.

The word organic in wood.

The keto diet is a high-fat diet.

The central foods on the best keto diet meal plans are expensive products like grass-fed beef, grass-fed butter, wild-caught salmon, organic full-fat dairy products, organic free-range eggs, high-quality nuts and nut butters, grass-fed lamb, and other such premium meats, animal products, and fats and oils.

Even looking just briefly at the above list of the best keto foods, it should be apparent that there is a clear trend: many of the best keto diet foods are organic.

Organic foods are raised or produced without the use of any sort of pesticides, fertilizers, and hormones.

Because organic crops and organic meats, seafood, and dairy do not use pesticides and hormones in production, these foods take longer to mature to the state of readiness. 

The longer it takes to grow or produce food, the less turnover or, the smaller the overall yield in a given year. This means that the farmer or livestock producer has a lower ceiling on their potential earning profits, so the cost of organic foods is higher.

Moreover, because there are no pesticides used and organic meats should come from animals that have not been given antibiotics and synthetic hormones, organic foods are more susceptible to various decay, plights, or other issues, which would render them unfit for eventual consumption.

A farm.

Additionally, foods like free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and butter, and wild-caught salmon require much more land to raise the animals, which significantly increases the price per pound or unit of the food.

These are just some of the reasons that organic meat, wild-caught seafood, organic dairy products, free-range eggs, and organic produce cost more than conventionally-grown and farm-raised meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

So, why are the best keto diet foods organic?

To be clear, in almost all cases, it is best to choose organic foods over conventional foods if you have the financial means and access to do so, whether following a keto diet or any other structured or unstructured diet.

However, it is particularly important to choose organic keto foods because of the nature of the primary keto diet foods. 

High-fat, high-protein foods are more likely to become concentrated with the antibiotics and other chemicals used with conventionally raised livestock because the flesh of the animal is being consumed, and these compounds build up in the animal’s body.

Because the keto diet generally relies so heavily on these meats, fatty fish, seafood, whole-fat dairy, and whole eggs, you will be exposing yourself to high amounts of these adverse chemicals if you are always consuming conventional vs organic foods.

The good news is that there are some ways to do keto on a budget while still following the keto nutritional needs. Just keep in mind that cheap keto foods may not be as ideal from a health perspective as premium keto foods.

A person buying nuts in bulk.

Keto On A Budget: 7 Tips For Doing “Cheap Keto” And Winning

Here are some ways to follow keto on a budget:

#1: Buy Keto Foods In Bulk

One of the best ways to make healthy but cheap keto meals is to buy your keto foods in bulk.

Bulk stores like Costco, BJ’s, and even regular grocery stores that offer larger packages will have a lower price per pound or price per unit. You can even find organic keto foods in bulk in many of these stores.

#2: Invest In a Chest Freezer

A good chest freezer usually only costs about $200-$300 at most. 

One of the best ways to save money on keto is to buy keto meats and fish in bulk. Having a chest freezer will allow you to freeze these foods until it is time to make your keto meals. 

You can also shop sales when the best keto foods are marked down at your grocery store. 

Then, you can buy a lot all at once to take advantage of the cost savings and freeze anything you won’t be using right away.

A person at the supermarket.

#3: Choose Keto Foods That Are In Season

Although the keto diet is a very low-carb diet and doesn’t tend to be particularly high in fruits and vegetables, choosing non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits that are in season is a good way to save money.

#4: Select Cheap Keto Food Options

Even within the list of keto diet-compatible foods, there is a range of prices for keto proteins and other keto foods, depending on the ones that you choose.

One of the best ways to make cheap keto meals is to choose budget-friendly keto proteins.

For example, instead of having a lot of wild-caught salmon or grass-fed lamb, both of which tend to be very expensive, you can choose cheap keto foods like eggs, whole turkeys and chickens, canned tuna packed in oil, eggs, bone-in chicken parts, and full-fat cottage cheese.

Frozen foods in bags.

#5: Buy Frozen and Canned Foods

Frozen vegetables, frozen meat and seafood, and high-quality canned salmon and tuna are generally cheaper than buying fresh counterparts.

#6: Use the Whole Animal

Nose-to-tail cooking involves using all the parts of an animal. This is not only more humane, but it is also a great way to do keto on a budget because you will be making use of every dollar you spend.

Using your local butcher, you can buy whole fish, bone-in meat and poultry, and other cuts of meat that may not be as ideal for the butcher to sell.

These meats are cheaper. 

Plus, you can use all of the bones and connective tissues to make keto bone broth, and you can use scraps from meat and animal carcasses to add to casseroles, soups, stews, or other keto meals where you won’t be able to notice that you don’t have the best cut of meat in your dish.

Homemade protein bars.

#7: Stay Away from Prepared Keto Foods

One of the best tips to do keto on a budget is to stay away from prepared keto foods like keto bars, keto granola, keto yogurts, and other keto snacks marketed to be compatible with the keto diet.

Prepared foods usually cost more per ounce, and you can often make your own similar keto convenience foods. 

For example, you can make keto granola with nuts and seeds by buying these items in bulk, and you can make keto protein bars with healthy fats like coconut oil, nut butter, and almond flour yourself.

For more tips on how to best follow the keto diet, check out our guide to some of the top keto diet mistakes here.

Keto diet written on a notebook, a form and measuring tape.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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