When I first started my adventure with ketogenic diet, I was worried it’s going to be an expensive one. After all, meat costs a pretty penny, and it’s the basis of many keto-friendly recipes.
A few months in, and I am happy to report I was wrong. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat one, not high-protein. In fact, unless you have a hardcore workout regime, too much protein can kick you out of ketosis. You don’t need to eat steak every day; hell, you can even stick to vegetarian diet AND the keto way of eating at the same time. If you’re willing to give keto a try, but are worried about the financial impact of the diet, fret not. The good news is, keto can be done on a tight budget, as long as you know some basic tips and tricks.
- You don’t really need to increase your meat consumption. Yes, you might end up buying more meaty snacks (I’m thinking salami sticks and deli meats), but they will replace crisps and sweets, so it should all even out nicely. Also, chances are you won’t be hungry all the time, so you’ll end up snacking less than you used to on a standard diet.
- If you’re a meat eater, buy your meat when it’s on offer. Check the current deals in supermarkets (this website is a great tool for this), or, if you’re lucky enough to have a great local butcher, see if they can offer you any discounts if you buy in bulk. When buying chicken, get a whole bird rather than portions; it’s much better value, and should last you for a few good meals and some bone broth or stock.
- Fattier cuts of meat are cheaper than lean ones, and so is beef mince with a higher fat content, so you might end up paying less for your meat than you do now!
- Think of all the things you’ll never need to buy again. Bread, pasta, biscuits, chocolate bars, cereal – you name it. I still buy dark chocolate every now and again; you would think the more expensive brands would be best, but, in fact, this one is my absolute favourite, with this one being a close second.
- Meal prep is key. If you have a busy week ahead of you, try preparing your meals in bulk on Sunday. I usually make a bacon and cheese frittata and grab a slice for breakfast, and it tides me over until Thursday. I also prepare some meat for salads. Pulled pork and beef brisket are my personal favourites. I use a slow cooker, but you can easily prepare it in the oven. Then, I just assemble the salads on a daily basis. For dinner, you can make a large casserole or aubergine/courgette lasagne; many of the recipes available online make 8-10 servings, so you can freeze the leftovers and use them as needed.
- Snacks. As I’ve mentioned before, you might end up not snacking as much as you used to, but when you need a little something, try bacon crisps: grill or fry rashers of streaky bacon until crispy, then store in the fridge and nibble on them whenever you feel like it. Try dipping them in cream cheese – divine!
- Frozen broccoli and cauliflower is just as good as fresh, and much cheaper. Same goes for spinach.
- If you can’t afford organic eggs, go with free-range ones. It’s cheaper to get bigger boxes, so go crazy and bulk up. Chances are you’ll be eating a lot of eggs anyway, so it’s well worth it.
- When it comes to cheese, check the label. Own brand often beats branded products, and helps you save some money, too. Example: Philadelphia has 4g carbs in 100g, but Tesco’s own brand cream cheese only has 1.8g, and it’s half the price.
- Fats. You’ll be spending a bit more on butter, cream and oils, but as long as you steer clear of fancy brands, you shouldn’t spend much more than you already are
So, realistically, going keto should not burn a hole in your budget – and who knows, it might even save you some money in the long run!
Have you got any tips for LCHF eating on a budget? Any favourite recipes you’d like to share?