The ketogenic diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet that causes your body to go into a state of “ketosis.” It makes your body get energy from fat instead of food carbs. This diet was originally designed for diabetics and is now even popular with athletes and bodybuilders.
The meals like keto on a budget feature a high level of healthy fat and a moderate level of protein. Different versions include things like slightly more carbs or protein. That said, the primary goal is to swap out carbs for protein/fat. This, in turn, results in muscle/strength gains and fat loss.
It might seem impossible to maintain the keto diet on a shoestring budget. This is especially true since foods high in fat/protein might seem more expensive than carbs. However, there are various ways you can save money. It’s all about knowing what plans, meals, and ingredients to pick. For example, tuna, beans, cabbage, lentils, broccoli, and spinach are relatively cheap compared to a Big Mac or filet mignon. Some tips and tricks can help you save even more. It’s important to learn about them so you can get the most value from your keto meals while staying in ketosis.
What’s Keto-friendly Food?
This is an important issue to take up before getting to the nitty-gritty about meals and how to save money. Keto-friendly foods are low-carb and high-fat options like meat, eggs, greens, and olive oil.
These foods will help you stay in a state of ketosis. That forces your body to get energy from fat stores instead of calories.
If you’re starting then try to keep carbs under 10% or so. You can make tweaks later like adding more carbs before workouts or boosting protein. However, 5% of carbs is a good starting point.
The keto diet starts with high-fat. That said, we’re not talking microwave popcorn or chicken fried in lard. You’ll want to avoid “bad” fat like saturated and trans-fat. The “good’ fats are from sources like fish, avocados, and coconut oil. Studies show that such foods ironically seem to lower the risk of high blood pressure/cholesterol and even heart disease.
Then there’s a moderate level of protein, which should be about 30% for the basic keto diet. This can include options like meat/fish, full-fat milk, and beans. In some keto diet versions, you can tweak protein so it’s a little higher. However, 30% if a good starting point.
Finally, there are carbs on the keto diet. How low should you go? In general, you should start at about 10% or so. This is especially true if you’re used to eating a high-carb diet. It will take some time to shift to the ketogenic diet’s low-carb requirements.
After a time you could drop the carbs some. However, the lowest you should go is about 5% or so when you learn the ropes of the keto diet.
Finally, like other diets, you should avoid unhealthy food. That includes high amounts of salt, white sugar, and bad fat. You should also stay away from stuff like artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Cheap Keto Meals
If you want to do keto on a budget you have many options that are healthy, low carb, and high fat. Here are some meal ideas:
1. Boiled eggs with mayonnaise
This is an interesting one because we always hear that eggs are high-cholesterol and “hold the mayo” is good advice when eating. Egg yolks are only unhealthy if you already have high cholesterol levels.
How about the mayo? The real stuff is made from oil and egg yolks. Make sure to look for this instead of stuff like sandwich spreads. Check out the ingredients label and make sure the oil is full of good fat.
2. Mackerel and egg plate
This one features the fatty fish with a fried egg. There’s also lettuce and onion. The meal is complete with extra healthy fat from real butter and olive oil dressing.
3. Cheese roll-ups
This one has a cheese-like cheddar or provolone that’s used to wrap up real butter. How could you go wrong with this one?
4. Baked eggs
For some reason, we usually don’t think much about baking eggs. This meal includes eggs, and beef, pork, or lamb. It also includes some shredded cheese for extra good fat. You can’t go wrong with this recipe’s perfect keto combo of meat, eggs, and cheese.
5. Scrambled eggs
This can be a great keto dish if you do it right. Some real milk will add healthy fat and give you a smooth texture. You could even add some veggies like tomatoes and green onions to keep it low-carb.
6. Frittata w/ fresh spinach
This is an Italian omelet or no-crust quiche. The spinach might be somewhat expensive depending on factors like the time of year. However, the other ingredients like the eggs will be quite low-cost. When you want a cheap yet tasty option this is an “eggcellent” dish.
Tips for Cheap Keto Meals
Here are some helpful tips to make cheap keto meals:
1. Look for supermarket deals
When you see them make sure to stock up on stuff you need for your keto meals. It will cost you more money in the short-term but could save you money since you can get lots of keto meals from those ingredients in the future.
2. Plan ahead
You could plan not only for the day’s meals but even for the next week. This can save you money in several ways. You can get all your ingredients in one trip to the supermarket or farmer’s market. You’ll then end the need to dine out or get food delivered. This approach will also help to reduce waste.
3. Go with cheaper substitutions
This is one of the best ways to save money on keto meals. Pick basic meats instead of specialty cooked meats. You can save even more by picking uncooked meats. Go with basic cheeses instead of the pricey imported stuff. Select non-shredded cheese and do it yourself to save a few bucks.
If you’re going to buy nuts then buy basic ones like almonds or walnuts. Avoid exotic options like macadamia. Pick almond meal or even almonds vs. almond flour.
4. Buy fresh veggies (when you can)
When possible add in-season, low-carb fresh vegetables to save money and get more nutrition. When selecting greens, go with the basics. Options like kale are more expensive than spinach and Romaine lettuce. During the other times of the year, you could go with frozen veggies.
5. Surf the web
You can find tons of keto-friendly recipes on the internet. Variety is the spice of (keto) life so you’ll want to mix it up when preparing meals.
6. Don’t complicate things
Go with the basics. Fewer ingredients mean cheaper meals for keto on a budget.