How to follow the keto diet on a budget

Brian Acton


Brian Acton

Brian Acton

Contributing Reporter

Brian Acton is a contributing reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance news. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, USA Today, MarketWatch, Inc. Magazine, and HuffPost. 

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The ketogenic diet exploded in popularity in 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down. Advocates of the low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and high-fat diet claim it delivers weight loss results, though critics have questioned the diet’s long-term sustainability and focus on saturated fats.

Either way, there’s no doubt that many are turning to the keto diet to shed pounds. But diets that ditch the carbs are often viewed as expensive and hard to affordably maintain.

Keto followers don’t need to spend a lot of money to maintain their diet. Here are five tips to save money.

1. Plan your meals ahead of time

“Plan your meals in advance to prevent impulse buys and reduce food waste,” said Robert Santos-Prowse, clinical dietician and author of The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.

Going to the grocery store without a game plan can cause you to fall off your diet. You might make unhealthy impulse purchases or accidentally pick up something that isn’t keto-friendly. Planning out your meals for the week and making a grocery list will help you stick to your guns — and save you money.

2. Buy in bulk

Buying some of your keto ingredients in bulk can help you save a lot of cash over time.

  • The keto diet suggests using a lot of oils for cooking, including olive oil, butter, lard, palm oil and coconut oil. But buying these oils in smaller packages means you’ll be repurchasing them frequently. Buying your oils in bulk — or at least, in the largest containers available — will help them last longer.

  • Nuts and seeds, a staple for many keto dieters, can also be purchased in bulk and frozen for months at a time to keep them from spoiling.

  • When it comes to getting your protein, buying meat in bulk and freezing them can drastically reduce your expenses.

Bulk stores like Costco and Sam’s Club will be your best bet to get a lot of food for a lower price, but larger portions from traditional grocery stores can also help you save.

Read more on buying in bulk.

3. Hunt for the best deals

Planning your meals ahead of time saves money, but planning your meals around what’s on sale can help you go even further, said Santos-Prowse. Check your local deals and supermarket circulars to find out what’s on sale for the week and plan accordingly. Clipping coupons and comparison shopping can help you extend savings even further.

Another way to save? Grocery reward programs. Here’s a roundup of the best ones.

4. Save on fruits & vegetables

To get the best prices on fresh vegetables, buy the produce that’s in season in your area, said Santos-Prowse. Focusing on the vegetables that are currently in abundance can help you keep costs low (and will also help you eat the freshest ingredients).

Also many fruits and vegetables are just as healthy when purchased frozen, and they’re generally much cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Frozen produce can be tossed in the freezer as soon as you get home — it will last much longer and you can eat it at your own pace.

Here are some more ways to save on fruits and vegetables.

5. Avoid prepared foods and eating out

Prepared foods are not nearly as cost effective as cooking a meal yourself. The cost difference between eating at a restaurant and cooking at home is obvious, but you need to be careful at the grocery store as well. You will be charged a premium for something as simple as pre-chopped fruits and vegetables — doing the labor yourself at home will offer significant savings.

Want more ways to save on groceries? Check out our list.

Image: Ursula Spalding