As a Domestic Engineer (aka stay-at-home-mom), I take finances really seriously! Budgeting, numbers, and penny pinching is in my blood. I try to make our dollars stretch as far as I can while living within a budget. I’m a total nerd and proud of it!
One question (sometimes a complaint) I get about eating keto is the cost. Folks seem to get overwhelmed by meal planning and grocery shopping for their ketogenic lifestyle.
For purposes of this post, my shopping trip included an Aldi haul and Kroger mini-haul. I’m a huge fan of Aldi. Their prices are unbeatable. I’ve found that I can spend the same amount (within pennies) as I would at Wal-Mart without having to actually go to Wal-Mart (y’all feel me?). I no longer do my bulk shopping at Kroger because I was spending (literally) $50 more per week just for mark-up. Seriosuly, I save receipts and compare! Remember, nerd over here!
However, as someone who lives in a small town, I completely sympathize with those of you who have limited options. That is why you won’t see Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, or similar stores in my posts regularly. So, I want to help those of y’all in the same boat!
B U D G E T & M E A L P L A N
First, you MUST make a budget. After you set your grocery budget for the week, it’s time to make a meal plan. Meal planning is essential to staying on track in your diet AND your budget. I never go a week without writing out a meal plan, unless we’re on vacation or I am sick! It’s that important!
If you’re a girly girl like me, get a cute little notebook to keep track of your meal plan & grocery list in one place. I have one alot like these (you can click on the image to see it on Amazon) and it is always in my purse!
S T O C K Y O U R F R E E Z E R
One way I save money is by making meals that I know always have leftovers. For example, my family loves the barbacoa beef recipe by Wholesome Yum. Every time I make that, I save half of the meat to freeze for a future week. When I make casseroles, I always divide them into 2 pans so I can cook one and save one for later. The more you stock your freezer, the easier it will be to cut your grocery budget in tight weeks/months.
Another way I stock my freezer is by watching for manager’s specials, reduced priced items, and good sales. If I have the extra cash, I’ll buy as much as I can to put back for a rainy day. As Dave Ramsey says, Murphy will show up on your doorstep one day!
S P E C I A L T Y P R O D U C T S
There are so many “keto products” on the market now that carry steep price tags. Are they really necessary to being successful in your keto journey? No, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Are there products on the market that I LOVE and budget for? You betcha! But I only buy them when they fit in my budget! So, avoid the protein powders, MCT oils, cookies, cakes, breads, subscription boxes if you can’t realistically afford them. They will not help you lose weight any faster but they might put you more into debt if you suffer from a case of FOMO (fear of missing out)!
P A N T R Y I T E M S and S H O P P I N G F O R K I D S
One more thing to pay attention to is pantry items. How many extra bottles of ketchup, oils, baking goods, etc., do you have sitting in your pantry? I’d bet there’s a few. When you’re shopping, try really hard not to add extra bottles of “stuff” to your cart. Keep the basics and add special things as needed.
Here are a few things I always have on hand:
- Mayo (I use this)
- Avocado Oil (I use this)
- Sesame Oil
- Reduced Sugar Ketchup
- Mustard (various kinds)
- Soy Sauce
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Arrowroot powder (like cornstarch)
- Xanthan Gum
- Baking Powder
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Cocoa Powder
- Sweetener (I use this)
- Brown Sugar Substitute (I use this)
- Vanilla Extract
- Pork Rinds
- Ranch Dressing Mix
- Lemon Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Balsamic Vingear
- Red Wine Vinegar
Here’s a list of things I buy as needed:
- Canned/jarred peppers (chipotles, roasted red, jalapeno, banana, etc)
- Canned tomatoes
- Unsual ingredients
- Salad dressings
- Baking chocolate
- Seeds and nuts (chia, flax, etc)
When I’m shopping for my kids, I only buy what they’ll eat or drink in a week. I don’t keep extra boxes of goldfish or cookies in the pantry. I’ll buy 1 of each snack item (crackers, granola bars, yogurt) and juice for them for the week. This helps me portion their food, keep my temptation at bay, and avoid throwing away wasted food.
E X A M P L E O F M Y T Y P I C A L S H O P P I N G T R I P
For this particular week, I am using 3 items from my freezer and 3 items in my refrigerator. I built my menu around my budget, what I had on hand, as well as what was on sale. Lunches for my kids are usually pb&j, crackers, a fruit, and treat. Mine and my husband’s lunches include leftovers or snack plates (meat, veggies, cheese, etc).
My menu consists of:
- Low Carb Chicken Rotel (from the freezer)
- Mississippi Pot Roast with Cauliflower Mash and Roasted Carrots
- Crack Chicken and Broccoli
- Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole and Salad
- Low Carb Beef and Broccoli with Cauliflower Fried Rice
I spent $74.18 on foods for my menu and $17.74 on items for my kids (not pictured) for a grand total of $91.92.
I also spent $14.06 on bottled water and diet soft drinks not included in these photos.
Let’s break that down:
What isn’t pictured:
- 3 packs of diet soda on sale 3 for $10
- 1 package of bottled water
- 3 boxes of yogurt pouches (kids)
- milk (kids)
- penne pasta (kids)
- 2 boxes of juice boxes (kids)
S U M M A R Y
As you can see, I purchased real and whole foods to feed my family for the week. I didn’t have to buy Hamburger Helper and Ramen Noodles to feed my family on a budget. Eating keto isn’t hard but you do have to be savvy or you will easily double your grocery expenses.
I obviously did not buy household items in this trip because I didn’t need anything but had I needed it, I would have adjusted as necessary. I also didn’t buy a bunch of extra junk or impulse items. I didn’t go out of my way to buy speciality items either. I stuck to my list and my budget. As a former shopaholic, if I can do it, you can too!
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