Keto On A Budget: Cheaper Substitutes
The Keto Diet has helped many people reach their health goals and is critical for many to maintain their balance.
While limiting carbs and increasing fat can be incredibly beneficial to losing weight, it sometimes can be very expensive to source some of the ingredients.
In this article, I’ll give you all my tips and tricks and the common cheaper substitutes you can buy to do keto on a budget.
1. Make It Yourself
A few years ago, when the keto diet was not mainstream yet, there was no keto-friendly food available in store.
The industry has since caught up, and there are dozens of keto options for most of the common food items.
While this makes it much easier for anyone following a keto diet, it comes at a significant cost.
A loaf of Keto Bread typically costs about $12 and is often loaded with nasty additives to keep it longer.
The equivalent homemade keto bread such as my Keto Sunflower Seed Bread costs less than $4 to make!
Some bread loaves like my Almond Flour Banana Bread are slightly more expensive at about $6, but it’s still markedly cheaper, and you know exactly what comes into your food!
In the same vein, fast-food restaurants cost several orders of magnitude more than the homemade equivalent. So make your own Keto Orange Chicken, Black Pepper Angus Steak Stir Fry, Keto Chicken Curry, or Almond Flour Pizza.
To save money on a keto diet, make your own recipes! Buying ready-made food always comes at a premium!
2. Buy in Bulk… But Not Always
Some ingredients are recurrent on a keto diet, and if you find yourself buying them over and over again in small quantities, it might be preferable to consider larger batches.
But the most important thing is to compare the unit price. Sometimes, a bigger batch is not always cheaper!
Almond Flour is a good example. Let’s compare Nature’s Eats Superfine Almond Flour.
- 16 Ounces of Nature’s Eats retails for $6.99, or $0.43/Ounce.
- 48 Ounces of Nature’s Eats are sold for $17.99, or $0.37/Ounce, saving 14%
- 64 Ounces of Nature’s Eats are sold for $21.22 or $0.33/Ounce, saving 23%
- 25 Pounds (400 Ounces) of Nature’s Eats are sold for $134.99, or $0.34/Ounce, saving 21%
Surprisingly, the largest batch is more expensive per ounce than the big batch!
To properly compare the price of items, you need to divide their price by:
- Their weight for items in Ounces, Pounds, Grams, or Kilograms.
- Their Volume for items in Fluid Ounces, Quarts, Gallons, Litres, and Millilitres.
- Per unit, for items like eggs.
3. Shop Online With Discounts, Promo Codes, And Distributor Brands
Many shoppers are now ordering their groceries online, and it’s one of the fastest-growing food trends. In 2021, 13% of groceries were bought online in the USA, and it’s expected to grow to 40% by 2030.
Buying online allows for more money-saving tricks, easier comparison, and simpler use of discounts.
Shopping online allows you to compare.
Take keto sweeteners for example. At the time of writing this, 4 pounds of Erythritol retail for $18.97 on Amazon ($0.3 / ounce), while the very same item retails for $32.06 on Walmart.
So it’s essential to not stick to a specific retailer.
While Amazon is often seen as the cheapest option out there, it’s sometimes even cheaper to buy some of your high-volume items on the manufacturer’s website.
You can also grab discount codes in many places to have cheaper prices.
By signing up for free on Sweetashoney, you’ll have access to some exclusive discount codes!
Distributor brands are all these food items that are branded with the retailer’s own name.
They are often, but not always, cheaper than household names.
Take butter for example. A typical stick of butter is sold between $0.50 and $1.8 per ounce on Amazon while Amazon’s own brand, 365 by Whole Foods Market sells for $0.39 per ounce.
There are some counterexamples though, so it’s important to always compare!
4. Meal Prep & Reusing Leftover
Perhaps the most efficient way to save money on Keto ingredients is quite possibly the simplest.
In the USA, 43% of the food you purchase at home ends up as food waste.
So by just halving your waste, you can make an economy of more than 20% on your grocery bill!
Here are a few strategies to reduce your food waste.
Making larger batches allows you to maximize your ingredient use and avoid the pitfall of passing the due date.
Say you purchased zucchinis in bulk, instead of letting them go to waste, make a large Keto Zucchini Casserole and freeze individual portions.
You can then thaw a portion at a time for several weeks.
If you want to make a pie, use up all of your butter and eggs to make my Keto Pie Crust by doubling or tripling the recipe.
Split the dough into pie-sized balls and freeze them!
Casseroles are perfect for reusing leftover meat, cheese, or vegetables.
Pizzas are ideal for reusing chicken, green vegetables, and any leftover keto flour.
5. Use Cheaper Substitutes
Some of the typical keto ingredients are much more expensive than the classic non-keto versions.
But while some recipes don’t mention swaps, there are some substitutions that you can almost always make.
Almond Flour Instead Of Sunflower Seed Flour
Sunflower Seed Flour is a great gluten-free and nut-free flour, but it’s about three times more expensive than other flour like almond flour which can be a 1:1 substitute.
Protein From Eggs
Using eggs is a great way of getting your protein on the cheap.
Beef can be very expensive, in particular the healthier, tastier cuts. If you want to make a high-protein recipe, opt for a couple of eggs instead of your piece of beef!
Erythritol Instead Of Allulose
While most keto-friendly sweeteners behave about the same in baking recipes, they are far from costing the same.
A typical bag of erythritol retails for about $0.3 ounce while Allulose is around $0.6 per ounce, while Xylitol is typically sold for $0.4 per ounce.
6. Buy Frozen
Frozen vegetables allow manufacturers to buy the produce at their lowest price when they’re in season and make them available all year round.
As a result, it can be much cheaper to buy frozen food and vegetables than to buy them fresh, in particular when they’re off-season.
For example, a mango retails for about $1.5 when it’s in season for a weight of about 5 ounces ($0.3 per ounce), and the price doubles off-season ($0.6 per ounce).
In contrast, frozen mango retails at a stable $0.3 per ounce. This is because manufacturers buy in bulk during the peak.
7. Stay In Season
For all the ingredients that aren’t available in the frozen aisle and for fresh fruits and vegetables, the best way to save money is to buy when they are in season.
For example, raspberries are in season between June and October. in the USA.
They are however available in grocery stores all year round, but it’s because in the off-season, they are either grown in heated greenhouses or they come from the Southern Hemisphere.
So it’s not uncommon to see fruits and vegetables double or triple in price when they are not in season.
Buying fruits and vegetables when they are in season allows massive savings.
9. Quality Over Quantity
While you might find advice that in order to save money you should opt for the cheapest alternatives of everything such as:
- Ditch organic versions for the pesticide options.
- Get cage eggs instead of free-range eggs.
- Buy industrially-farmed beef instead of Angus or grass-fed beef.
I absolutely disagree with this approach.
Sacrificing quality might lead to short-term savings, but it will, in most cases, lead to long-term costs.
Lower-quality food items are known to have a tremendously detrimental effect on your health.
While it’s tempting to opt for highly-processed, highly-sprayed cheaper vegetables or fruit, or for the caged, fed with antibiotics chicken, these ingredients are known to increase the risk of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and many other illnesses and diseases.
As a result, I much prefer reducing quantities and using my other money-saving tips than dropping the quality of the food.
You are what you eat.
10. My Favorite Cheap Keto Recipes
Here are some of my favorite low-cost keto recipes for a quick meal or to meal prep and save:
The recipes, instructions, and articles on this website should not be taken or used as medical advice. You must consult with your doctor before starting on a keto or low-carb diet. The nutritional data provided on Sweetashoney is to be used as indicative only. The nutrition data is calculated using WP Recipe Maker. Net Carbs is calculated by removing the fiber and some sweeteners from the total Carbohydrates. As an example, a recipe with 10 grams of Carbs per 100 grams that contains 3 grams of erythritol and 5 grams of fiber will have a net carbs content of 2 grams. Some sweeteners are excluded because they are not metabolized. You should always calculate the nutritional data yourself instead of relying on Sweetashoney's data. Sweetashoney and its recipes and articles are not intended to cure, prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease. Sweetashoney cannot be liable for adverse reactions or any other outcome resulting from the use of recipes or advice found on the Website.