Keto on a budget: Money saving tips for shopping, cooking, and eating while on Ketogenic diet.

I have had many people who even though they believe in the effectiveness of the Keto diet, still chose not to follow the diet because they think that the diet is EXPENSIVE.

This is primarily because the foods that Keto encourages, including healthy fats (such as ghee, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter, animal fats, etc.), good quality protein (such as grass-fed meat, tofu, seafood, etc.) and low-starch carbs (such as organic leafy vegetables, exotic cruciferous vegetables, etc.), are typically costlier than the foods used in regular diets, including regular oils (such as corn oil, refined oils, processed cheese, etc.), regular protein (such as grain-fed meats, soybean, eggs, etc.) and regular carbs (such as starchy vegetables including potato, corn, grains, breads, etc.).

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Yes, it is true that most Keto foods typically cost higher when compared to regular foods available in the market. But, if you look at the broader and long-term picture, you’ll notice that Keto actually is more cost effective than regular diets.

Consider the following:

  • Even though Keto foods appear more expensive, the quantity of food consumed is much lesser than the quantity of food consumed in a regular diet. So, if you calculate relative cost of foods, Keto actually triumphs!For example, even though a loaf of bread, mashed potatoes or processed rice might be cheaper, you need to consume them in large quantities to satiate yourself. At the same time, you are satiated rather quickly with a portion of pork chop or a steamed salmon.
  • Foods consumed in regular diets, as we know, increase the risk of many serious health disorders including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, stroke, etc. The treatment or prevention of these diseases can prove to be extremely expensive at a later age. More importantly, they dramatically reduce the quality of life of an individual.However, it has been proven through various studies and researchers, that Keto diet prevents an individual from these threats. At the same time, they improve brain function, organ function, improve sleeping patterns, and keeps you happier and energetic. (Try putting a price on that!)
  • Weight gain, as a result of excessive consumption of carbs and sugars, also affects the quality of life for an individual. Besides increasing the dangers of serious diseases, it impacts the emotional and physical faculties of an individual. Often people respond at a much later stage and have to invest a lot of money in surgeries, treatments, weight loss programs, etc. Of course, there are people who manage to avoid weight gain while being on a regular diet and good for them. But, for the ones who can’t, it can be a big concern.Keto provides the assurance that such weight gain is impossible under this diet. For the very simple reason that you are directly fat for energy. So, there’s very little chance that you’ll gain dramatic weight at any point. Of course, if you consume Keto foods excessively i.e., beyond your calorific requirements you’ll gain weight. But by nature, Keto is an appetite suppressor because it balances hormonal activity of Leptin (the satiety hormone) and insulin (the blood sugar hormone).
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Even if we ought to consider that these parameters don’t work, considering that the benefits will only be realized in the long-run, there are multiple techniques and tips that dieters can adopt to reduce their overall budget and expenses during Keto.

In this article, we will focus on three such point of Keto to identify cost saving avenues:

Shopping on a budget

Buy Seasonal

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Be it vegetables, fruits, nuts or fish, always look to buy seasonal foods. In the globalized world that we live in, all food products are available throughout the year at our beck and call.

However, even though availability remains more or less, prices of products keep on changing. Usually, food products are more expensive during off-season or during the beginning of a season due to short supply-high demand.

By buying seasonal varieties, you can be sure that you’re getting the best deal in terms of both money and quality.

You can find a list of seasonal varieties by food type here or at the US Department of Agriculture website.

Buy in Bulk

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Another great way to save on money is to buy in bulk! Stores, such as Costco, offer products in wholesale prices for all kinds of food varieties. Focus on the products that have greater shelf life and store them away for long-term use.

You may use any of the following websites to identify shelf life’s of different food varieties: TheBalance.com, EatByDate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln,

Even for products with short shelf life’s, you can use different packaging and storage techniques, such as freezing, dehydrating, zip-packaging, etc., to enhance their shelf life and use for a longer period without compromising on their nutrients. Find some great shelf life expanding techniques here 1, 2, 3.

You may even choose to purchase frozen foods over fresh produce if you are on a tight budget. Don’t worry, it won’t matter much from a nutrient or quality perspective.

Avoid Extravagant Items

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No, it is not necessary that you must buy organic foods or grass-fed meats or the most expensive MCT oil. Don’t worry about foods that you can not afford. Create a shopping list of simple foods comprising whole foods, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, dairy products, and nuts, and stick to the list. Don’t even the visit the aisles or stores that sell expensive ingredients.

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Yes, foods are encouraged in Keto but are not an absolute must. The idea is to stay low-carb and get your energy from healthy fats and proteins, whichever way you do it.

Instead of purchasing expensive protein sources such as exotic meat, wild cuts, seafood, etc. stick to equally good but inexpensive meat cuts, eggs, and fish.

If you really want to spice things up, then try different herbs and spices. They are usually cheaper and can turn even the simplest of dishes exotic!

Make the Most of Sales/Discounts/Coupons

Stay on the lookout for sales and discounts offered at your local store and leverage them. Buy in bulk when in sale and store it for later use.

There are many stores that offer coupons and membership cards which provide added discounts for shoppers. Take the membership of your local grocery store and make the most of every offer or deal they have to offer.

Another point worth mentioning here is the advantage of buying from your local farmer’s market. They usually offer more such discounts and deals. Additionally, you can be sure of the food’s quality!

Cooking on a budget

Don’t Waste Any Food

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I have also advocated this very simple habit: DON’T WASTE FOOD. Just because we live in a world of relative abundance, it doesn’t mean that it will last forever.

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Additionally, clearly from a economic perspective, wasting food while working on a strict budget is nothing less than a crime. If you can’t finish your meal at once, freeze them over for later. It will even save you cooking time.

Fall in love with leftovers, especially if you are looking to lose weight. In fact, make a habit of cooking more at one go. It will allow you to reduce the consumption of gas or oils. More importantly, it will save you both time and money.

Don’t Try Exotic Dishes or Recipes

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This is linked closely with avoiding to purchase expensive ingredients. If you want to get the benefits of Keto but don’t want to burn an unnecessary hole in the pocket. Stick to simple dishes with simple ingredients.

Don’t try to go over the top and make every meal overtly special. Yes, recipe images on Pinterest or pictures shared by your friend on Facebook might be too tantalizing. But, believe me, just because it looks good doesn’t mean it tastes good. Stick to the food available in your shopping list and use simple ingredients.

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Of course, mix and match every now and then to keep it interesting. Also, as we mentioned earlier also, go nuts with herbs and spices. Again, nothing too exotic.

Make the Most of By-products

Don’t throw away the animal fat or the vegetable leftovers or the chicken bones. Find a way to incorporate these usual “wastes” into your meals. These are equally nutritious and are unnecessarily wasted in our regular diets.

For example, you can use the animal fats in place of butter for cooking or you can use to use the chicken bone to make bone broth. Similarly, many vegetable leftovers, such as Cauli bottoms, radish heads, etc. that we usually throw away, can be used to increase fiber in your soups and gravies.

Grow Your Own Food

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A difficult prospect, especially if you live in the city, but a great one when feasible. When you grow your own food, you not only save a lot of money but also have the satisfaction to eat your own produce.

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If you don’t have a lot of space, just grow simple herbs such as mint or parsley, or green chilies or lemons in small pots. Yes, you won’t grow much, but the small produce will satisfy your needs.

Eating on a budget

Don’t Eat (Fast)

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The easiest way to save money on Keto diet is to simply not eat. But not a punishment but because fasting is actually encouraged on Keto. Fasting, rather intermittent fasting, helps you get onto Ketosis quicker and you helps in burning extra calories.

Additionally, practicing intermittent fasting is a great way to improve self control over frequent hunger pangs.

Avoid Habitual Eating

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More often than not, we eat out of habit rather than of hunger. As soon as the clock turns 1 PM, we feel the urge to have our lunch whether or not we’re really hungry. This is mostly because our body has been trained to eat during this time of the day. And often, even if we are full, we tend to go for the meal.

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When you get the first thought of eating a meal, ask yourself, do you really need to eat or is it just your body clock ticking? When you eat less, you spend less.

Control Your Portion Size

More of a common-sense tip when you are trying to lose weight. Reduce your portion size to the minimum. Eat only for your daily calorific requirement and not to satiate yourself. Again, if you eat lesser, you’re bound to save money.

Avoid Sides

Yes, a meal might seem incomplete without some form of sides. But, if you are on a budget you can give up on the sides and just focus on the main meal. It might seem to be a drastic step but often sides can counter the nutritional benefits of your main meals.

Avoid Eating Out or Take-aways

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Focus on cooking your own meals, even beverages such as tea, coffee or refreshing drinks. A large portion of our monthly budget goes when we eat out or depend on take-aways. Yes, they are might convenient but extremely heavy on the wallet.

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Additionally, cooking your own meals provides you the control you seek over your meals and ingredients. When done with zest, cooking can be great fun too.

Carry Your Own Snacks

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Another source of major expenditure is inaccessibility of keto foods when outside. So, we are bound to buy an unhealthy snack or an expensive one from a vendor.

Make your own snacks, such as salted nuts, sprouts, scrambled eggs, salad, lettuce sandwiches, zucchini sticks, etc. at home and carry them with you in zip-bags or lunch boxes. Whenever hungry, just reach out to your bag and you’re good to go!

Drink More Water

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Dieters are prone to dehydration on Keto, so it is highly recommended that you stay hydrated at all times. Drink at least 3 litres or 0.8 gallons of water a day. You may also add salts and electrolytes to avoid any lack of minerals caused by dehydration.

But, more importantly, drinking water also saves you a lot of money. It reduces your appetite, so you eat less, and covers up the cravings for beverages for coffee or tea. And, it is mighty inexpensive at least for now!

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Conclusion

Though Keto might seem to be a diet meant for wealthy individuals, it is hardly so. Much of the Keto food advertised over the internet or television programs is typically expensive supplements or fancy ingredients. This is for a good reason. People need to sell stuff to make more money.

But, if you are a little smart and understand the logic of Keto, you can carve out your own simple Keto diet with simple and inexpensive foods, and just as effective. Try these tips when you are shopping, cooking or eating for Keto, and you’ll save considerable money.

Also, we urge you to share your own ideas and suggestions in the comments below. Happy Keto!