Keto life: It’ll whittle your waistline and your wallet. But is keto on a budget impossible?

Of course not! Cash-strapped friends, rejoice. Here’s how to avoid spending all your hard-earned bacon on… bacon.

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It’s tough eating healthy on a budget. Throw in strict fat, carb, and protein ratios and your grocery list starts to feel like tug-of-war between macros and money.

Follow these tips to stick with keto without breaking the bank.

1. DIY your snacks

Keto is all the rage these days, which means the snack aisle is chock-full of keto-friendly bars, nut butters, fat bombs, shakes, and protein powders.

Packaged snacks are convenient, but they also cost a pretty penny. So skip the processed foods and grab a handful of nuts instead. DIY = more bang for your buck.

2. Get strategic with your meats

Steak might be the darling of the keto-verse, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your protein from cheaper sources. Grab roast beef instead of ribs. Pick up a package of boneless chicken breasts instead of thick, luscious bacon.

When you’re choosy about your meat cuts, you can have your cheddar and eat it too.

3. Don’t forget the veggies

It’s easy to think that eating keto = butter, cheese, and meat. But you can and should fill your cart and plate with affordable veggies too!

Wanna get super thrifty? Rice your own cauliflower. Spiralize your own zoodles. Eat a giant salad where meat shines as an accessory instead of the main event.

4. Bank on black soybeans

Wait, whaaat?! Aren’t beans too carby for ketosis?

In most cases, yes. But black soybeans are a magical exception. Clocking in at about 1 net carb per 1/2 cup, they’re a yummy, cheap, keto-friendly alternative to regular black beans and chickpeas. Fill your plates, friends!

5. Say it with us: Buy in bulk

Buying massive amounts of staples like nuts is an easy way to save time and money. That’s especially true when you’re stocking up on $$$ items like almonds and cashews.

Pro tip: Keep bulk items fresh by storing them properly. Nuts should be kept in a cool, dry place — usually, a back cabinet or pantry shelf is just fine.

6. Swap the avo for EVOO

Avocado is a star in the keto community. It’s a whole food, it’s packed with healthy fats, and it has a little fiber kick to keep you regular. But it’s also expensive.

It’s possible to get a good dose of fat without smashing avocado on everything. Maybe buy a bottle of avocado oil instead. Better yet, stock up on extra-virgin olive oil. Oil does *not* stand in for the nutritional goodness of an avocado… but the point is to get creative about getting your fill of fat in affordable ways.

7. Head to the freezer section

Frozen fruits and veggies are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts. And if you’re hankering for fruit — a real treat for keto eaters — you’ll find a rainbow of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more in the freezer section.

The best part? Frozen foods won’t go bad for months. This is especially important for fruit, since you’ll probably be eating it as only an occasional treat. (Half a cup of blackberries clocks in at about 11.5 grams of carbs.)

8. Go bargain-hunting

Clipping coupons is so old-school, but it works! Pay attention to the sales on meat and veggies at your local supermarket. We’re especially fond of Trader Joe’s for affordable, low sugar meal-prepping.

Don’t be afraid to try new discounted veggies or cuts of meat either! Getting frugal *can* be fun if you go into it with an open mind. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

9. Pick your battles

Most keto advocates push for organic, free-range, grass-fed meat. It’s easy to understand why. From “hormone-free” to “all-natural,” these labels just look and sound healthier.

Here’s the thing: If your budget is stretched thin, you might need to make some compromises.

Maybe you pick up some chicken that’s hormone-free but not free-range. Maybe you avoid the so-called “Dirty Dozen” — the fruits and veggies purported to be most tainted by pesticides. Maybe you buy your eggs from a local farmer who has organic eggs but doesn’t have the “free-range” label.

The point is: Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Your goal is healthier living, and you can do it on a budget!

10. Get eggy with it

Speaking of that local farmer’s eggs… those little shells are *packed* with nutrients, including healthy fats and protein. Eggs are a great, affordable alternative to meat. And they’re versatile — think savory frittatas, scrambled eggs on salad, and egg rolls in a bowl.

Basically, if you can’t afford to put meat on the table for dinner, reach for the eggs instead.

11. Preparation is key

Anyone who’s done it knows that meal-prepping makes life easier. Fun fact: It also makes life cheaper.

Think about how many times you go through the drive-thru or grab a $5 protein bar just because you forgot to pack your lunch for the office. Consider how much that omelet costs at the cafe versus what you’d pay for the ingredients to make it at home.

When you plan your meals, you know exactly what each breakfast, lunch, and dinner costs. You get to control what you spend.

Need some keto inspo to get started? Ready, set, prep.

Cheese-crusted keto omelet

Hello, cheesy goodness! As the name suggests, this breakfast delicacy has crunchy cheese crusts that are reminiscent of quiche.

But the best part is that it’s filled with affordable foods like deli meat and tomatoes. You can even switch up the ingredients and use whatever veggie or meat is on sale at the supermarket this week.

Keto egg cups

Remember, eggs = protein on the cheap. And these keto egg cups will *not* make you feel like you’re missing out on flavor or presentation. They’re simple and packable, and you can fill ’em with whatever affordable spices, veggies, or meat cuts you have on hand. Easy-peasy.

Keto pancakes with berries and whipped cream

TBH, the psyllium husk powder in this recipe doesn’t come cheap. But did you know you can swap it out for ground flaxseed?

Stock up on flaxseed in the bulk food section (it’ll come in handy in so many smoothie recipes!) and berries in the freezer section. Voila — you’ve got a delicious, nutritious keto breakfast that doesn’t break the bank.

This year is all about work-from-home life, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t meal-prep for your workday lunch hours (you *are* taking time for a midday stretch sesh in the living room, right?).

Give these keto-friendly noms a whirl this week.

Bacon-wrapped keto meatloaf

Meat surrounded by meat — does it get more keto than that? This little protein-packed bundle of joy is great because it’s versatile. You can use lamb or pork (we all can probably guess which one’s cheaper) and oregano or basil. And because this recipe doesn’t use a whole package of bacon, you can save the rest for another meal. Bonus!

Easy oven fajitas

No grill? No problem! These fajitas are a snap to make, and delicious to boot. Ditching the tortillas makes them low carb, and using chicken breast instead of steak makes them surprisingly affordable.

Slow cooker white chicken chili

You’ll save money, carbs, and TIME with this recipe. It’s the epitome of “set it and forget it.” Plus, who doesn’t want a warm, filling bowl of chili as the weather turns cold?

Once again, using chicken instead of beef saves $$$. Bonus: It can be frozen for leftovers next week or next month.

Keto low carb chicken stir-fry

Nope, we’re not done with chicken yet! This low cost dinner has just 7 net carbs per serving. Like some of the options above, it’s also versatile. Swap out veggies as you please and use whatever deliciously fatty oil you have on hand.

Stuffed low carb cabbage casserole

Cabbage gets a bad rap. It’s simple, it’s watery, it’s used as a cheap filler in soups. But cabbage is also full of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

This cabbage casserole is the stuff of low carb, low cost dreams. Made up mostly of ground beef and — you guessed it — cabbage, it’s a great make-ahead supper when you’re waiting for payday.

Coleslaw

Cabbage strikes again! Simple, suuuuuper low carb, and cheap AF, this is a side you’ll make again and again.

Oven-roasted vegetables

This recipe includes vegetable suggestions and a delectable balsamic vinegar topping. It’s as easy as whisking up the vinegar, chopping the veggies, and timing everything right. Take your pick of the vegetables on sale at Trader Joe’s this week to keep the cost as low as possible.

Healthy green bean casserole

This is the perfect winter side dish. Crunchy green beans offer about 7 grams of carbs per cup, so this should fit into most keto meal plans. Snag a bag of frozen green beans on sale to stretch your dollars.

Sure! There are plenty of 7-day keto meal plans floating around the interwebz. We’ve taken a look at the best ones to give you a general idea of what an affordable weeklong keto diet could look like.

Our goals:

  • Keep your food in a cost range of $4 to $8 per day. (Please note: The cost of groceries varies wildly across the United States. That’s why we’ve given a ballpark number.)
  • Stick to the ketogenic diet macro breakdown: 55 to 60 percent fat, 30 to 35 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbs.
  • Aim for no more than 25 grams of net carbs per day (that’s total carbohydrates minus fiber).

Monday

  • Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg with tomatoes on a bed of greens (bacon optional!)
  • Lunch: Cobb salad topped with cheese and grilled or roasted chicken
  • Snack (optional): Celery sticks
  • Dinner: Ground beef and veggie stir-fry topped with almonds

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs cooked in butter on a bed of greens (bacon crumbles optional!)
  • Lunch: Bowl of sautéed chicken and broccoli over riced cauliflower
  • Snack (optional): Handful of nuts
  • Dinner: Crustless (or cheese-crusted!) frittata with a side salad topped with bacon

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Egg cups
  • Lunch: Cobb salad topped with hard-boiled egg
  • Snack (optional): String cheese
  • Dinner: Roasted chicken breast with broccoli (side salad topped with bacon is optional!)

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg with tomatoes on a bed of greens
  • Lunch: Giant salad of greens, broccoli, shredded cheese, and chicken or bacon
  • Snack (optional): Handful of nuts
  • Dinner: Ground beef, broccoli, and riced cauliflower

Friday

  • Breakfast: Veggie and egg scramble cooked in butter
  • Lunch: Cheese-stuffed chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli
  • Snack (optional): Celery sticks with salsa
  • Dinner: Giant salad topped with EVOO, avocado (optional), and bacon

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs on greens or keto-friendly peanut butter smoothie
  • Lunch: Cobb salad topped with eggs and bacon
  • Snack (optional): Handful of nuts
  • Dinner: Chicken breast on a bed of cauliflower rice, side salad optional

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Cheese-and-veggie omelet smothered in salsa (yum!)
  • Lunch: Seasoned ground beef topped with veggies, salsa, and avocado
  • Snack (optional): Keto-friendly smoothie or deli meat rolled up in cheese slices
  • Dinner: Veggie-and-chicken fajitas (no tortillas) with a side salad topped with bacon

You might’ve noticed that several foods repeated in the sample meal plan. By using the same ingredients over and over, you can save money (buy in bulk!) and prep time.

These foods are affordable building blocks for a week of eating keto:

  • chicken (Price-shop for the best deal — a whole frozen chicken? rotisserie chickens on sale? a couple of packages of chicken breasts?)
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 8 ounces of butter
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 2 or 3 avocados
  • 1 bag of almonds
  • 3 or 4 heads of lettuce or other leafy greens
  • 8 ounces of cheddar cheese
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • a handful of fresh tomatoes
  • broccoli (If fresh, snag a couple of heads; if precut, grab 3 or 4 bags.)
  • 1 bottle of keto-friendly salad dressing
  • 1 package of celery sticks (optional)
  • 1 package of string cheese (optional)

Depending on your region and the season, some ingredients might be super expensive, while others might be a great deal! Here are some common swaps that might make sense for your budget.

  • For meat: Sometimes ground beef is on sale. Sometimes chicken breasts are a steal. Once in a while, you’ll find a hefty chunk of discounted bacon. In keto world, your focus is on macros (protein, fat, carbs), not the specific food itself. So feel free to swap one meat for another whenever the price is right.
  • For avocados: If guacamole is on sale, grab a container and leave the fresh avocados for next time.
  • For broccoli: When zucchini is in season, stock up on that instead of cauliflower and broccoli.
  • For salsa: Chop your own tomatoes, peppers, and herbs for a DIY salsa that’s cheaper than the ones on the shelf.
  • For butter: Grab coconut oil in bulk when it’s on sale. Use it in place of other oils or butter.

The ketogenic diet relies on protein and fats, which are often budget-busters. But with a little forethought — and a lot of meal prep — you *can* stay in ketosis without breaking the bank.

Stick to affordable cuts of meat, steer clear of fancy packaged snacks, and get ready to rock ’n’ roll in the kitchen. Bon appétit!