The keto lifestyle is hugely appealing to those who want to lose weight [1], lower their blood pressure or spend the day more focused and energized, but the potential costs of switching to a low-carb diet can be off-putting at first glance.

After all,

healthy, low-carb foods like leafy greens, fresh meat, and fatty fish are known to be more expensive than processed and refined carbohydrates.

Starchy staples like white bread and pasta cost peanuts compared to more nutritious foods packed with healthy fats and protein, but the good news is this doesn’t mean a low-carb diet is unaffordable.

In this article, we’ll cover five ways you can improve your lifestyle with the keto diet without breaking the bank.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

The first and most important step you can take to start spending less on your low-carb diet is planning.

By planning your meals in advance, you’re not only giving yourself better control over your diet, but you’re also giving yourself better control over what you spend.

If your local grocery store advertises their upcoming deals with circulars, make sure to grab one so you can plan the following week’s meals around ingredients that you know will be discounted.

Preparing in advance also means you’ll be able to create your weekly shopping list and stick to it without being sidetracked into unnecessary or impulsive purchases which will cost you in the long run.

Without a set list, those impulse buys can quickly lead to binge eating and “cheat days”, both big no-nos in the keto diet. Taking the time out of your week will also help you keep track of your meals and portions which is a vital part of achieving ketosis.

Shop Online

Ask yourself, would you rather spend a couple of hours trawling your local grocery store with hundreds of people (and maybe a kid or two in tow) or sit in the comfort of your home where you can complete your shopping within fifteen minutes and have it delivered directly to your doorstep?

The convenience of shopping online is unparalleled and, more importantly, is saving people more money than ever.

Not only are you saving money on the gas you’d use to get to the store, along with getting a few hours of your life back each week (time is money after all), but you’re guaranteed to find deals online that you won’t see anywhere else.

Amazon always has great offers on things like nuts, flax and chia seeds, coconut oil, and almond flour, and even with shipping, you’re likely to save money.

Additionally, we tend to spend less when shopping online rather than perusing the aisles of a grocery store because we get exactly what we need and deviate less.

There are plenty of online health and wholefood stores around too these days, like Vitacost which stocks over 45,000 different health foods, vitamins, and supplements and offers up to 50% of the retail price with no membership fees and free shipping on orders over $49.

Thrive Market is another standout online store that can give members wholesale prices through the power of direct buyers – think Whole Foods without the price tag! You can start a 30-day membership trial for free to test it out and see just how much you’ll save by buying online.

Buy In-Season

We’re lucky to live in a day and age where if we want an out-of-season vegetable, it’s likely we’ll be able to find it somewhere. This sounds great in theory, but when it comes to buying fresh produce, picking fruit or vegetables that aren’t in-season is going to start ramping up your grocery bill in no time.

As delicious as avocados are – loaded with antioxidants [2], vitamins and minerals and low in carbs – it’s better to wait out the winter.

Not only with the prices drop, but the quality will be much, much higher. Obviously, whether something is in-season or not will vary depending on where you are in the world, but there are plenty of great resources online to keep track of your favorite veggies, including the USDA’s helpful guide.

Finally, make sure to check out local farmers markets in the summer for cheap, organic vegetables that taste better than anything you’ll find in a grocery store.

Buy In Bulk (And Use That Freezer)

While it may be tempting to shop at Whole Foods every week, you won’t find the same prices at wholesalers like Walmart or Costco. Even if you’re at your local grocery store; if you see an unbeatable deal, stock up!

Pantry essentials, seasonings and long-lasting canned goods like coconut are perfect to hoard when you find a good offer. Meat and seafood tend to be the items that push our food budget up the most so when you find them discounted, buy more than you need and freeze for use at a later time.

Frozen vegetables are another great staple to have on hand. Sure they might not be as tasty as the fresh stuff, but they’re healthy, extraordinarily cheap and make a delicious keto stir-fry.

Choose The Cheaper Alternatives

Every food category has products that are over and under-priced, and you can save a substantial amount of money by choosing a cheap alternative without compromising on quality.

Canned fish, for example, is incredibly cheap compared to fresh, but it’s still an excellent source of fat and protein. When you’re buying chicken, the legs and thighs are a lot cheaper than the breasts which cost more because they’re leaner.

This being keto, the fattier meats are actually better! Lastly, remember that you pay for convenience; a whole chicken will cost less than skinless breasts, whole nuts will cost less than trail mix, and pre-chopped vegetables will typically cost you more than the entire thing.

Live Better For Less

The idea that eating healthy costs more isn’t true, as long as you’re prepared to put in some effort. Getting into these money-saving habits will end up saving you time, and if you’re serious about improving your diet, you’ll find that it only takes a few changes in the way you approach food shopping.

A low budget can be frustrating at times, but it’s no excuse!

[1] Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11:2092–2107. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110202092.

[2] Ameer K. Avocado as a Major Dietary Source of Antioxidants and Its Preventive Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Adv Neurobiol. 2016;12:337-54. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28383-8_18.