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The very low carb, high fat ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular, mainly as a tool to lose weight.
Following a keto diet involves limiting carbs to fewer than 50 grams per day and increasing your fat intake. As a result, the diet tends to be high in animal products, fats, and other low carb foods like avocado and coconut. (
These foods can be expensive, especially for individuals with a limited grocery budget. Still, there are ways to follow a keto diet in an affordable way.
This article provides tips, grocery lists, and meal ideas for eating keto on a budget.
Most meals on a keto diet consist of low carb proteins, such as meat or eggs, oils, non-starchy vegetables, and high fat foods, such as avocados, coconut, or nuts.
Here are some tips for stocking up on these keto meal components when money is tight:
- Buy in bulk. Purchasing foods in bulk can help you cut down on expenses. Things like nuts, seeds, and shredded coconut can be found in bulk containers at most stores, and cooking oils can be purchased online or at a discount store in large quantities.
- Look for sales and stock up. If you have room in your freezer, stock up on meats, vegetables, and even avocados (you can freeze the flesh) when they’re on sale. You can also take advantage of nonperishable goods like nuts, seeds, and oils at a discounted price and store them in your pantry.
- Buy vegetables that are in season. Seasonal vegetables, as well as locally grown ones, tend to be less expensive than veggies that are out of season. Plan your meals around when certain non-starchy veggies are in season.
- Go for frozen over fresh. Most frozen fruits and vegetables, like keto-friendly berries, cauliflower, and broccoli, are more affordable than their fresh counterparts. Plus, they last longer, so you don’t have to worry about wasting money on produce that spoils if not eaten quickly.
- Start a meal plan and prep routine. Making a plan for your meals before you head to the store can help you avoid unnecessary purchases. What’s more, prepping a few meals or foods like boiled eggs and shredded chicken ahead of time will help you stick to your plan throughout the week and prevent expensive take-out orders.
- Opt for cheaper proteins. Eggs are an incredibly affordable, keto-friendly food that you can use in a variety of meals to cut back on food costs. You can also save money by buying cooked whole chickens and using or freezing all parts, and getting cheaper cuts of meat like pork, beef sirloin, ground chuck, and chicken thighs.
- Skip the packaged keto-friendly foods. Keto ice creams and snack foods may sound tempting, but their price points can add up. Instead of stocking up on these foods, get your whole foods first and reserve these fancier options as a treat.
The following grocery list includes keto-friendly foods that won’t break the bank.
- Meats/proteins: eggs, canned tuna, whole chickens, chicken thighs, pork chops, frozen ground meats, discounted fresh meats to store in the freezer, cottage cheese, plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- Healthy fats: bulk amounts of shredded coconut, walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and nut butters; avocado and olive oils; avocados on sale (freeze the flesh for later); frozen coconut cubes and canned coconut milk; cheeses, butter, and ghee on sale
- Non-starchy vegetables (in-season, on sale, or frozen): zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, green beans, spaghetti squash, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, arugula, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers
- Low carb fruits (in-season, on sale, or frozen): raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, plums, clementines, cherries, blueberries, kiwi
In addition to sticking with these foods, shopping at Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Costco, or discount grocery stores can help you find the most affordable prices.
Here’s a 7-day meal plan with affordable keto meals. The non-starchy vegetables, meats, and nuts or seeds on this menu can be swapped out with what’s on sale or in season.
Keep in mind that the ideal number of net carbs eaten on keto depends on the individual. These meals may or may not fit your specific needs.
- Breakfast: 3 egg and cheese omelet with spinach, side of frozen berries
- Lunch: chicken soup with shredded chicken, broth, celery, garlic, herbs, and topped with plain Greek yogurt
- Dinner: pork chops with sautéed green beans and almonds
- Breakfast: cottage cheese with frozen strawberries and seeds
- Lunch: hard-boiled eggs mashed on cucumber slices, topped with hemp hearts and full fat salad dressing
- Dinner: lettuce cups with ground turkey, frozen non-starchy vegetable mix, and plain Greek yogurt
- Breakfast: smoothie with frozen raspberries, nut butter, spinach, and coconut milk
- Lunch: tuna salad stuffed in red bell peppers
- Dinner: cauliflower “rice” (bought on sale or made in the food processor) stir fry with frozen broccoli, shredded chicken, sesame seeds, garlic, and ginger
- Breakfast: fried eggs with sautéed spinach cooked in butter or oil
- Lunch: turkey roll-ups with plain Greek yogurt, sliced peppers, and cucumbers
- Dinner: bunless burger on a bed of greens topped with cheese, side of roasted Brussels sprouts
- Breakfast: full-fat Greek yogurt with nuts
- Lunch: salad with hard-boiled eggs, cheese, sliced peppers, mushrooms, and lemon olive oil dressing
- Dinner: ground chuck meatballs served over spaghetti squash, tossed in avocado oil and Parmesan
- Breakfast: bell pepper and mushroom omelet with shredded cheese
- Lunch: arugula salad with canned tuna, cucumbers, radishes, sunflower seeds, and olive oil dressing
- Dinner: chicken thighs with coconut cauliflower soup
- Breakfast: nut and seed porridge made with canned coconut milk
- Lunch: egg salad made with plain Greek yogurt on celery sticks
- Dinner: pork tenderloin, eggplant, and zucchini cooked in butter and topped with cheese
Keto snack options
Most keto meals are filling enough that you may not feel the need to snack. But if you get hungry between meals, try one of these budget-friendly keto snacks:
- sliced veggies with nut butter
- full-fat Greek yogurt with frozen berries
- a handful of nuts or seeds
- 1–2 hard-boiled eggs
- string cheese
- celery sticks with cottage cheese or pimento cheese
- 70% or more unsweetened dark chocolate (or Stevia-sweetened chocolate)
- homemade kale chips roasted with healthy oils
While some popular keto foods can be expensive, it’s definitely possible to follow a keto diet without breaking the bank.
You can stick to your budget by purchasing foods in bulk, shopping sales, and choosing cheaper proteins and fats.
If you need inspiration for affordable keto meal ideas, refer to this article and meal plan.