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One of the biggest struggles people have on keto isn’t learning how to start a low carb diet, overcoming a weight loss stall, or finding a remedy for keto flu… it’s budgeting time and money to cooking low carb meals. Rest assured, it doesn’t take pounds of bacon and cheese or hours in the kitchen to create easy cheap keto meals for you and your family. Let’s go over the basics for building cheap low carb meals and delicious cheap keto dinner recipes for all to love!
Tips for Making Cheap Keto Meals On A Budget
Cheap keto meals don’t have to be difficult! Here are some of my best tips:
1. Prioritize Foods That Are In Season
Seasonal foods in your area generally cost less than in season produce shipped from other regions. Shop farmers markets and grocery sales to get the best low carb fruits and keto vegetables, and build meals around those components… or get your produce shipped to you!
2. Buy Foods In Bulk
Buying in bulk allows you to pay a lower price than buying each item individually. If you have the storage space and make a plan to buy foods you actually eat, buying in bulk can substantially lower your cost per meal when you cook. Ways to buy in bulk include:
- Stocking up on nonperishable keto grocery items when they go on sale
- Buying and freezing large quantities of meat (such as a portion of an entire cow — it’s true!)
- Visiting the bulk section in a standard grocery store and getting only the amount needed for a single recipe
3. Choose Cheaper Protein Options
Who says you have to eat fancy steaks for every meal on a keto diet? You can easily assemble cheap low carb meals with budget-friendly cuts or meatless protein options. Try these:
- 80/20 ground beef
- Bone-in chicken parts
- Whole chicken and turkey
- Large beef and pork roasts
- Canned meats, such as tuna
- Cottage cheese (full fat)
I prefer to find grass-fed and pastured meats for their flavor and health benefits, but these proteins will fit keto macros regardless of how they were raised. You can even get budget-friendly meat shipped to your door!
4. Load Up On Low Carb Vegetables
Vegetables add bulk to cheap keto meals, so you can eat less meat. They also have more fiber to keep you full and cost less per pound than most proteins. There are so many to choose from, too — see the full keto vegetables list here.
5. Consider Frozen Produce
There are so many reasons to buy frozen produce over fresh!
- It stores longer – No need to worry about fruits and veggies going mushy in the fridge if you can’t use them right away.
- Frozen sometimes tastes fresher – Crops are frozen shortly after picking, so if fresh produce travels far to get to you, the frozen versions may actually have a fresher flavor and more nutrients, despite the impact of the freezing proces.
- You’ll always have options – Instead of relying on takeout, you can pull together a last-minute cheap keto dinner recipe using basics from the freezer.
- You can stock up during sales – If your budget allows, pick up extra frozen fruit and veggies when they go on sale to save even more.
6. Meal Plan As Much As Possible
A cheap keto meal plan sets you up for success! Here’s why:
- You can create meals around budget-friendly foods
- Avoids last-minute (a.k.a. expensive) takeout or trips to the drive-through
- You’ll have a plan for how to use leftovers and avoid food waste
- A plan encourages you to only buy what you need — nothing more
Whether you use pen and paper or an app (the Wholesome Yum app includes macro tracker, custom keto meal plans, automatic grocery lists, recipes, and more!), it’s a guaranteed money saver and the easiest way to create cheap keto meals ahead of time.
7. Meal Prep When You Can
Cheap keto meal prep means making enough of something to last several days or a week, and packing it up into individual containers. (I like these glass ones because they have vented lids!) Many people do low carb meal prep on Sundays. This saves tons of time throughout the week, but it can also save money because it helps reduce food waste.
In addition to individual containers, sometimes meal prep just means making enough of something to last several meals. For example, you can bake a loaf of keto bread and use it for multiple things during the week.
Get all your meal planning and prep list done for you with the Wholesome Yum app! In addition to curated keto meal plans each week, you can also customize every part of your plan, track your macros in real time as you add foods or recipes, save your favorite meals, shop from an auto-generated grocery list, print plans for later, and so much more!
8. Use What You Have
Before you go to the grocery store, always check your fridge, pantry, and freezer for the ingredients you need (or close substitutes). Plan cheap low carb meals around these items first, so you can use them up and avoid purchasing unnecessary food.
9. Freeze Extras
When you look at the low carb recipes on my website, notice that the recipe cards all have a box for number of servings. Go ahead and increase that serving count, because it takes almost the same amount of effort to make a double or triple batch of something! Then, freeze most of your cheap keto bulk meals. You’ll have an effortless low carb dinner ready to go for another day.
If you have extras of a particular food (say, spare broccoli or an avocado about to go brown), you can prep and freeze those too! (Here’s how to freeze avocados, by the way.)
Want to learn how to make 6 cheap keto freezer meals in 2 hours? Get my Easy Keto Freezer System! Get the tools to prep and freeze individual foods, plus dozens of freezable keto recipes and reference lists so you can cook cheap low carb meals on your schedule.
10. Share Entrees For The Family
One challenge that I repeatedly hear about from readers is trying to find cheap low carb meals for yourself when friends or family aren’t on board. It’s totally doable! You can make it easier on yourself (and cheaper by not cooking two separate meals) if you prepare a shared healthy main dish for everyone to enjoy that happens to be naturally low carb, like sirloin steak, pan seared chicken breast, or baked salmon. Then, make a keto side dish for yourself and regular potatoes/rice/whatever for people that want them.
11. Shop Bargain Stores
If you have the time to hunt for good deals, shop at your local food outlets or bargain food stores. Many offer meats, dairy, and produce at steep markdowns, which you can use right away or freeze for future cheap low carb meals.
12. Use All Your Scraps
Your grandma was right about never allowing food to go to waste. Using up all your food can stretch your grocery budget and help you make more components for cheap keto meals. Try these methods:
- Cook an entire chicken and use the bones to make homemade bone broth
- Add wilting produce and nearly-expired meats to soups, then freeze leftovers
- Sneak small amounts of cooked meats and veggies into keto casseroles
- Have leftover nights regularly throughout the week to clear out spare foods
13. Buy Keto Foods Online
Have trouble with impulse buying? Buying online helps you stick to your grocery budget, because you can get exactly what you need and see the total before making a final purchase. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Order specialty keto ingredients online from stores with markdowns and price matching
- Subscribe to keto ingredients you use regularly, such as almond flour or sweetener, for added savings
- Order groceries online from local physical stores for pickup
15+ Cheap Keto Dinner Recipes
To get you started, I’m sharing over 15 of my favorite easy, cheap keto dinner recipes. And, many of them are versatile enough that everyone in the family can enjoy them. You can also browse my lazy keto meals, many of which are budget friendly as well.
Keto Taco Salad
With ground beef and tons of veggies, this cheap keto dinner recipe should be on your regular rotation. Done in 20 minutes!
Keto Egg Roll In A Bowl
All the flavor of takout, without the high price tag (or carbs!). It takes 15 minutes and uses budget-friendly ingredients like ground meat and cabbage.
Easy Chicken Fajitas
Lots of veggies make this the perfect cheap low carb meal for weeknights. Use chicken thighs to save even more!
This dish is loaded with classic burger flavor, all while using ground beef and budget-friendly cauliflower rice.
For the biggest budget friendly option, make the basic version compared to the other flavor variations. Perfect for cheap keto meals where you want bread!
Fried Cabbage And Sausage
Two naturally frugal ingredients come together in a mouthwatering one-pan meal!
One of those cheap keto meals that tastes delicious anytime of day! This one uses mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini, but you could easily swap in other produce.
Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Wings
Cook them low and slow, then crisp them up on a sheet pan — it only takes 10 minutes of hands-on time to make this cheap keto crockpot meal.
Smothered Pork Chops With Onion Gravy
Thanks to budget-friendly ingredients like cream cheese and onions, this cheap keto family meal makes the juiciest meat and sauce with minimal work.
No wheat noodles here! This naturally gluten-free dish makes a cheap easy keto meal because it uses ground beef and lots of fresh produce.
Keto Cabbage Soup
So simple, so hearty! This recipe uses ground beef, but ground turkey or chicken would taste delicious as well. Plus, you can make it in an Instant Pot or slow cooker.
Cauliflower Mac And Cheese
Cheap keto dinner recipes don’t need meat! This one gets to the table fast with whole ingredients like heavy cream and real butter.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Make it with fresh or frozen produce for just 5 grams of net carbs per serving. One of the best cheap keto family meals that everyone at the table loves.
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
This naturally keto-friendly cut of meat gets super crispy skin with a few simple techniques!