Carbs are cheap. They can sit on the shelves for a year and even then there’s not much difference in taste or nutritional value. This is why they make up the bulk of your grocery stores and the majority of the fast food menus in America. But, should you really be eating foods that can sit that long in the first place? When you start throwing out phrases like “organic” and “grass-fed,” people generally start thinking more about their wallets than their health. That said, following the ketogenic diet doesn’t have to mean that you break the bank. This short guide will teach you how to make the most of your ketogenic shopping list. Are you ready to discover the ins and outs of keto on a budget?
Steak | Photo Credit UnSplash
The Importance of Meal Prepping
Before you completely dive in to the ketogenic lifestyle, it’s important to know where the items on your shopping list can overlap. Rather than choosing random ingredients that don’t mix with other recipes, choose items and foods that you can use over and over again. If you’re inexperienced in the kitchen, keep it simple in the store. Similar to the importance of batching tasks for productivity, prepping meals for the week will save you time and money. This could mean baking 6-8 chicken breasts at once, tossing some ingredients in the crockpot, or simply making up a batch of keto-friendly jalapeno popper egg cups for keto on a budget.
Kitchen Appliances to Consider
There are several important items for a keto on a budget kitchen. Some are more expensive like a air fryer, while others, such as the vegetable spiralizer, can be purchased for a few dollars.
Here are a few recommend items and their purpose:
- Cuisinart Grind & Brew Coffee
- or Heavy Duty Coffee Grinder
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Blender, Food Processor
- Stainless Steel Strainer
- Slow Cooker (Crockpot)
- Vegetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer
- Kitchen Scale
- Soufull Chef’s Knight
- Silicon Baking Mat
- Silicon Muffin Trays
- Rubbermaid Tupperware
For a general playbook, benefits guide, and meal plan for two, make sure to visit our “30-Day Playbook” to learn more. Before we move on to our more advanced ingredients and meals, let’s breakdown what types of foods can be found at your grocery store to stick with keto on a budget.
Keto On A Budget – Breakfast
For this guide, we’re going to discuss the basics of a healthy, ketogenic breakfast. However, as your body moves from glucose to ketones, it’s possible that you can get away with a protein shake or bulletproof coffee for a quick breakfast on the go.
For those who want something tasty in the morning, consider these recipes:
Bacon Egg Cups from KetoConnect
For this meal, you can really toss in whatever ingredients you like, similar to an omelet, but here’s one of our simple favorites:
- 12 large eggs
- 6 slices bacon
- 3 oz shredded cheese
Start by cooking the bacon on the stove top or microwave. Some people even bake bacon in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the bacon cools, crack a single egg into each individual muffin tin compartment. Chop the bacon into ¼ inch pieces and add about ½ strip of bacon to each of the egg cups in the container.
Then, add ¼ ounce shredded cheese to each egg cup. Break the yolks with a fork a stir up the egg cups. Bake for around 25-30 minutes at 350. This can be shared, eaten at once, or stored for a week of meals.
[Each egg cup is 119 calories, 10g protein, 1g carbs, 9g fat and around $1 each]
Mini Jalapeno Frittatas by Ketoship
These small frittatas are simple and they even freeze well so they’re great for batch cooking, which means it’ll be easier to stick to your diet. This is another treat where you can substitute veggies to taste.
- Hot sauce
- Cayenne pepper / paprika
- Jalapeno peppers, chopped
- Onions, chopped
- Spinach, chopped
Whisk up your eggs, hot sauces, and spices. Then toss in your jalapeno peppers and other chosen veggies.
You can pour this mixture into a skillet or onto a muffin pan (with the skillet, you’ll simply cut in triangles like corn bread or pizza, after baking).
For a skillet, cook on the stove top until the bottom becomes solid, like an omelet. Then, toss some cheese on top and throw into the oven on 350 degrees.
You can stir the skillet mix but make sure not to break the bottom.
In the oven, using a skillet or muffin tin, simply check after a few minutes to see if the mixture has a golden brown top. Eat while hot or store in the fridge overnight or freeze for future treats.
[Each frittata is 100 calories, 10g protein, 1g carbs, 9g fat and about $1.25 each]
Keto On The Go recipe from Tools of Titans
This next recipe comes from the book of interviews, Tools of Titans. It’s a little less traditional, but ketogenic researcher Dominic D’Agostino swears by it. He starts each day like this:
- 4 eggs, cooked in butter and coconut oil
- 1 can Wild Planet brand sardines
- ½ can Crown Prince oysters
- Asparagus or another vegetable
D’Agostino travels with sardines because they’re a great source of protein and fats. He’ll also munch on macadamia nuts.
The eggs and asparagus can be cooked in a skillet or heated up in a microwave. The sardines and oysters can be eaten right out of the can.
Throughout the day, D’Agostino sips on bulletproof coffee, which is the more traditional breakfast for many keto followers. This might include:
- Black coffee
- MCT oil (Quest Nutrition)
- Kerrigold grass-fed butter
- MCT powder
Dominic D’Agostino will actually have half a stick of butter in a thermos of coffee, along with 1-2 scoops of power and several tablespoons of MCT oil.
For newbies, consider a cup or two of coffee with 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter, and 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil or powder.
Keto On A Budget – Lunch
A simple ketogenic lunch or dinner might simply include a hamburger steak or chicken breasts with asparagus or Brussels sprouts, but there are also more complex meals that can be made.
Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad from OhSnapLetsEat
- 5 c baby kale / spinach
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 avocado
- ½ lb uncooked shrimp
- Various spices
- Coconut oil / butter
Some recommended spices include cumin, Old Bay, chili powder, cayenne pepper, but mix and match for your spice preference. For the dressing, also pick up:
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic
To keep this recipe simple, consider a sugar-free, store bought dressing. To add a little something extra, toss in some lime juice.
For the recipe, heat up your oil in a skillet over medium and toss in the garlic and cleaned shrimp with your spices. Cook until the shrimp is pink in color, the set to the side.
Divvy up your kale and spinach between bowls then chop up the cucumber. Cut the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.
If you’re making the dressing from scratch, toss all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and then drizzle it over the salad as desired.
Paleo Avocado Tuna Salad from CookEatPaleo
This meal can be served in the avocado shell or on a plate.
- Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp hopped onion
- 5 ounces canned tuna
- Sea salt
Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the middle into a bowl. Leave the avocado shell with about ¼ of inch thickness on each side (if servicing in the shell).
Add the lemon juice, onion, and avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork. Then toss in the tuna, salt and pepper, and stir. Fill the avocado shells or toss the mix on a salad.
Oven Baked, Bacon-Wrapped, Chicken Tenders from LowCarbYum
These can be served as an appetizer on game day or as a main dish.
- 16 slices bacon
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- Various spices
Recommended spices include paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and thyme, but mix and match per your tastes.
Preheat the oven to 425 and then line two rimmed baking pans with aluminum foil. In a zip lock bag, toss in the herbs and shake.
Place the chicken tenders in the bag, close it, and then shake. Coat the chicken and then remove it to wrap each piece in a slice of bacon. Bake for 35 minutes.
Keto On A Budget – Dinner
As you’ve seen above, the goal is to create meals that closely resemble the ketogenic ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs.
Things like low-carb protein shakes, avocados, and excess grass-fed butter or bulletproof coffee can help you fill in the gaps to hit your macros and keep energy levels high.
Easy Pork Stir Fry from LowCarbMaven
- ¾ pound pork loin, cut in strips
- Olive oil
- Minced ginger
- Minced garlic
- 12 ounces broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
- 1 bunch green onions, cut in 2 in pieces
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Sukrin, or coconut sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Place a wok or skillet on medium heat and add the oil to coat the base. Toss in the pork and let it cook half way through. When the bottom turns white, stir the pork and cook through. Remove it from the pan.
Dump the various vegetables into the bowl and cook covered for one minute. Add the pork back to the mix and stir them together.
Allow for the sauce to thicken and then toss in the spices. Pour excess sauce over the mix for flavor when you serve.
[Each meal is 226 calories, 19g protein, 6g net carbs, 12g fat and about $4-5 each]
Bangin’ Coconut-Lime Skirt Steak from WickedStuff
- 2 lb grass-fed skirt steak
- Coconut oil
- Lime zest
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- ¾ tsp sea salt
In a bowl, combine coconut oil, lime juice, zest, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and the salt. Marinate the steak with this sauce for about twenty minutes.
Transfer the steak into a skillet and add any excess marinade to the mix. Sear the steak on both sides until done, which should be 4-5 minutes each side.
Serve with asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower rice or your favorite keto-friendly veggies.
Chipotle Steak Bowl from Tasteaholics
- 16 oz skirt steak (chicken also works)
- 4 oz pepper jack cheese
- 1 c sour cream
- 1 handful cilantro
- 1 splash tobacco sauce
- Salt and pepper
Season the meat with salt and pepper and heat up a skillet. Cook the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side and let it rest while you make the guacamole (cook longer if using chicken instead of steak).
Slice the steak into bite-sized strips and divide into four servings. Shred the cheese over each portion and then add guac and sour cream to each. Splash a little hot sauce on at the end for taste.
[Each meal is 620 calories, 33g protein,5.5g net carbs, 50g fat and about $4-5 each]
Master Frugal Ketogenic Shopping
All in all, when it comes to keto on a budget, the key is to mix and match the same items for the bulk of your meals. Grab proteins like eggs, steaks, tuna, fish, hamburgers, chicken, and pork. Then move on to veggies.
Some ketogenic vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, kale, and spinach. Other staples include onions and peppers, but be careful with peppers as they do have some hidden carbs.
For even more ideas, consider visiting the ketogenic community where dozens of keto followers discuss their tips and tricks for “Frugal Keto.”
“Eggs are cheap. Super cheap. They keep in the fridge for long periods of time and they are easy to prepare,” writes one Redditor.
Another writes, “Pork shoulder. Usually about $11 gets me 3-4 meals. Can’t beat that. Just takes 4-5 hrs to cook.”
The question that brings on this conversation reads, “I have a friend/coworker that seems interested in trying keto for some weight loss, but she’s convinced “it’s too expensive to eat that way.”
“…I admit I don’t need to worry about sticking to a budget for groceries, so I don’t have much advice.”
From there, dozens of keto followers chime in to discuss tips, routines, and keto on a budget rules to live by.
Advanced Ketogenic Ingredients
On the ketogenic diet, you’re rebuilding your body and that requires using the right tools or equipment. These items will help you stick to the diet in the beginning, which has been known to be the hardest time.
- Avocado Oil
- California Hass Avocadoes
- Swerve Sweetener Bakers Bundle
- NuNaturals Stevia Liquid
- Emulsified MCT Oil
- Blanched Almond Flour
- Organic Coconut Flour
- Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- Unflavored Beef Gelatin
- Raw Coconut Soy Sauce
- Whole Bean Coffee
All of these items can be found on Amazon.
All in all, the ketogenic diet can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it, which is also true for keto on a budget.
For beginners, it’s best to stick to the basics, but if you’re getting tired of the meals, consider digging into some more complex treats like cauliflower mashed “potatoes” or even some low-carb, dry wines.