Keto On A Budget

I have been hesitant to share that I’m trying out the Keto way of eating because truth be told, people are so opinionated these days. In the past I’ve talked about eating Paleo and was told that it was “SO HARD” and “SO EXPENSIVE.” When you’re on a mission to adapt to a healthier lifestyle the last thing you need or want is people being negative.

Apparently Keto isn’t affordable according to many but I’m always up for a good challenge.

Why Keto?

Quarantine 15 anyone? Back in Feb/March I was at my lowest weight that I had been since getting pregnant with my first son. My husband and I had been working out, intermittent fasting and loosely following The Warrior diet. I was experiencing way less anxiety and overall I felt pretty amazing. We then suffered through two bouts of illness, one of which I’m pretty sure was Covid. Natural immunity for the win!

Getting sick was a huge setback for me and then we went into quarantine as a country. Since then I have gained back everything I lost and more through poor eating habits and little to no exercise. The biggest impact this had was on my mental and emotional health as well as my energy levels. I was feeling like total junk!

Weight loss is such an individual journey and what works for one person isn’t going to work for everyone. It makes sense because our bodies are all so unique. I thought about trying The Warrior Diet again but it’s pretty rigid. I have known people who have done Keto and seen great results. A little research shows that the food you can eat while doing Keto is DELICIOUS. But I was of the mindset that it was “so expensive” and I was just starting to scale back our grocery budget.

*As a disclaimer: I’m not here to discuss if Keto is “safe” or right for people. I know there are lots of thoughts about body image and weight loss, today. I’m not a health expert but I am an expert for my own body and I’m sharing what is working for me. Me sharing my lifestyle is not meant as a directive towards anyone.

Dollar Signs.

As I said above I was working on reducing our monthly grocery budget. And by reducing, I was cutting our spending back by at least $200 a month. As a family of four with 2 small children, there was no reason for us to be spending what we were on groceries. We don’t eat organic and no-one has any food allergies. I settled on a budget of $500 a month or $125 a week and this does not include things like tp or diapers. I changed a few shopping habits such as no more shopping at the expensive grocery stores. I started making things from scratch again because convenience foods were running up my grocery bill. I began meal planning again.

At the beginning of the week when I write out my menus, I shop my own pantry and freezer first. I started ordering my groceries from Wal-Mart for FREE pickup. I do this mostly for convenience because grocery shopping with a mask while trying to wrangle two small toddlers isn’t something I enjoy doing. It also forces me to stick to my budget because I order my groceries the night before and if I forget anything, I can’t add to my list. I just wait until next week!

So let’s review some grocery budgeting tips:

  • Make more things from scratch: bread, muffins, desserts, snacks etc.
  • Meal Plan
  • Shop Your Own Pantry and Freezer
  • Order your groceries online to avoid last minute convenience purchases
  • Make your own household cleaners
  • Use reusable items in your home to reduce your waste (and save money on household items)

*During the tp panic buying, we didn’t purchase a single pack of TP because we had reusable cloths if we ran out. It might sound gross but it’s all about mindset!

Keto On The Cheap

So you’re probably still wondering how I fed myself (and my husband) a Keto based diet, plus regular food for my kids all on $125 a week.

I implemented all those tips listed above and also do the following:

  • Apart from some sauces from Primal Kitchen, I do not buy anything else pre-made like Keto snacks.
  • Shop the discount produce and meats
  • Don’t buy organic
  • Make everything from scratch

That might sound like a lot of work but when you experience 5 pound weight loss in the first week and still get to each delicious foods, that is usually motivation to put in the work! No joke, I lost 5 pounds during my first week of Keto. I have also been combining it with intermittent fasting. I don’t exercise apart from the occasional walk with my boys. I am active in terms of taking care of two toddlers all day but I haven’t implemented any intentional exercise. I would probably see a lot more weight come off and I as I progress, I’m hoping to exercise more intentionally.

What Do I Buy?

The first week I started Keto I spent an average of $123. My Way-Mart Grocery bill was around $107 but I took the amount I spent on for all my Keto dressings and prorated it over 4 weeks to give me a weekly average. That gives me the $123.

Here is my exact grocery list from the week:

2 Cartons of large eggs, 3 cans of wet cat food, 1 coffee cream, 1 carton of unsweetened almond milk, 1 can of parmesan cheese, 1 cucumber, 2 bunches of asparagus, 2 cartons of raspberries, 2 packs of bacon, 5 apples, 1 container of mushrooms, 2 packs of cream cheese, 1 bottle Braggs ACV, 1 box of chicken nuggets (for the kids), Frozen Cauli florets x2, 1 bag of shredded cheese, 1 bag frozen veg, 1 small carton homo milk, 2 bags 2% milk, 1 bag clementines, 1 bag lemons, 2 blocks of butter.

Total $107.56

I had the advantage of already owning a few items like almond flour and stevia as well as all the meat I needed for the week. I shopped my freezer! It’s the specialty items that will run up your budget which is why it’s smart to budget for those things and prorate your cost over your monthly budget.

Menu planning ahead of time is probably your most important step. When you menu plan, you can shop for specific items and avoid buying things you don’t need. There will be fluctuations in my budget week to week but for the most part, I know I can keep my grocery bill low.

Example Weekly Menu (Keto Dinners)

Smothered pork chops w/cheesy baked asparagus

Adobo chicken w/green beans

Keto Big Macs w/loaded cauliflower rice

Taco pie w/salad

Garlic Mushroom chicken w/mixed veggies

Keto Mcdgriddles w/scrambled eggs and fruit

Protein style burgers w/cauli Mac n cheese

Chicken bacon ranch bake w/salad

In the Long Run.

See what I mean when I say Keto can be delicious?! I’m not even following Keto SUPER strict and I’m still seeing great results. The only cons are the amount of time it takes to prep, cook and clean up. I’m in my kitchen quite a bit these days but I don’t mind because it produces great food for me and my family to eat. I usually pick a day that I do all my baking and snack prep. Snacks are important with Keto, especially in the beginning as your body adjusts to not having many carbs. I went to bed last night and didn’t wake up hungry once. That is a great feeling!

I’m still very much in the beginning phases of Keto and I don’t know what it’s going to look like in the long run. I think the reason “diets” are considered dangerous or a waste of time by many is because most diets are not sustainable. They tend to be extreme, costly and complicated. I’d like to think of it as more of a lifestyle change. Will I ever eat lots of carbs again? Probably! But for now I’m really enjoying the path I’m on of eating healthier and doing it affordably.

Have you ever done Keto? Did you find it to be expensive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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