Eating LCHF / Keto On A Budget: Red Meat, Pork & Poultry
By: Todd Gamel, RN
December, 23, 2016
If you are new to the low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic (Keto) lifestyle, I am going to encourage you to do one thing for the first three or four months until you have developed good eating habits, and that’s follow the ‘KISS’ principle. Of course ‘KISS’ is normally an acronym for ‘keep it simple stupid’, but I also like to think of it as meaning ‘keto is simple stupid’. Now, before anyone gets riled up, the point is that following a keto eating program is really easy if you purchase the correct foods and prepare them properly. My advice is that you stay away from the LCHF and Keto dessert recipes as much as possible as overeating of these so called “fat bombs” and other low carb treats can blow you right out of ketosis. Once you have the basics of the Keto lifestyle down and have been doing it for several months, then slowly start adding some “treats” to your eating plan.
In my previous article, I talked about strategies you can use to help stretch your food dollars when you embark on a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic (Keto) lifestyle. While it might cost a little more to eat LCHF and Keto due to the increased amount of protein sources, money should not be your biggest hurdle, most people fail because they purchase the wrong foods, or do not prepare enough ready meals during the week. Now that you know where to buy food and how to store it, let’s examine what to buy in order to help you meet your weight loss goals.
I mentioned that Keto is simple, well it is, you have only one goal, and that is to keep your total carbohydrate intake less than 20 grams a day. Sounds hard right? Well actually it is pretty simple, and I am going to show you how to accomplish this goal without breaking the bank and help you to stay “keto strong”. Let’s face it if you do not have LCHF and Keto friendly foods in your home, then you are destined to fail, and no ones wants that. So let’s look at some of the basic type of meat and poultry that you should be looking for on sale when eating LCHF and Keto.
Cheaper Cuts Of Meat and Poultry
First, all unprocessed meats and poultry contain zero carbohydrates, so on LCHF or Keto you generally want to purchase cheaper cuts of meat. Why you ask? Well, the great thing about cheaper cuts of meat is that they are higher in fat, and that’s exactly what we are looking for when eating LCHF and Keto. In fact, cheaper beef and pork roasts generally have more fat, and purchasing chicken (thighs and legs) in family packs with the skin on is far cheaper than purchasing lean chicken breasts. Yes, remember natural fats from animal products are good, and triglycerides are bad. Btw, animal fat does not normally contain any triglycerides.
For now, don’t worry about your beef being “grass feed” or your chicken being “organic” or “free range”. We are in budget mode, and these options cost way more, and there is no guarantee that they are actually what the label states. If you want to purchase these types of items later then go for it, for now our focus is getting you started on keto without wiping out your food budget. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about buying inferior cuts of meat, I am talking about purchasing the cheaper higher fat cuts, that many so-called “health addicts” think are bad for you.
Fat is flavor, a rib-eye or sirloin steak with a good amount of marbling is far more tasty, and less apt to dry out on the grill then one with less fat. Having said that, we generally do not purchase a lot of steak, but when the opportunity presents itself (i.e. it’s on sale) we purchase it and place it in the freezer for later use. Our primary source of red meat protein comes from roasts, and ground beef. If you have the disposable income to purchase steak on a regular basis then I suggest rib-eye as one having the best fat to protein ratio and is also one of the best tasting cuts, sirloin would be my next choice.
Beef Stew Meat – Forget buying the pre-packaged beef stew meat and buy the whole roast instead. Doing this and cutting your own beef stew meat will save you about 20 – 30% off your purchase, and you have the option to either cook it as a whole roast, or cut it up and use it for many other Keto dishes that require cubed beef.
Ground Beef – Forget about the lean and go for the fat! Use the high fat hamburger (73/27) when making hamburger patties, meat loaves, meat balls, spaghetti, or cooking tacos. It is also great for hamburger stew and Keto dirty rice made with cauliflower. Not only is the higher fat better for you when you are on a LCHF diet, it is easier on your wallet. They only time that I buy lean ground beef is when I am making my own jerky (it needs to be lean to prevent spoilage), otherwise, go for the fat.
Roasts – Chuck, pot or rib, it does not matter. We purchase which ever ones we can get on sale. Beef roasts are used in a variety of recipes at our house. In addition, to cooking them whole, we cut them up to make beef stew meat that can then be used to make, stew, chili, curry, and even barbecue. Purchase the cheapest you can find and trim it if you wish. For slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes the type or grade of roast doesn’t matter as the cooking process will tenderize the meat. Again the emphasis is to purchase the cheaper roast to stretch your food dollars.
There are obviously other cuts of beef, that you can buy and incorporate into your menu plan (ribs, flank steak, brisket, etc…), but the ones listed in this article will supply you with the most bang for your buck which is extremely important when you are doing Keto on a budget.
You can purchase whole chickens and break down the carcasses and use the bones for bone broth, or you can simply purchase legs and thighs. Legs and thighs with the skin on can usually be purchased in family packs and I can often find them on sale for as low as $0.49 per pound, but more commonly in the $0.69 – $0.99 per pound price range. Especially if you are willing to purchase the 5lb bags of legs and thighs which are often sold at even cheaper prices. I have never really been satisfied with the 5lb bags of legs and thighs, they always see to taste different to me, so I generally just purchase the family packs of legs and or thighs when I can get them on sale. Unless you just get a great price on whole chickens, I recommend purchasing the legs and thighs when just starting on your keto lifestyle.
Legs (Drumsticks) – Depending on the size of the drumstick the grams of fat and protein vary, but on average the protein to fat ratio is about 2:1. When it comes to calories, 48% of the calories come from fat, and 52% of the calories come from protein.
Thighs – Depending on the size of the thigh the grams of fat and protein vary, but on average the protein to fat ratio is about 2:1. When it comes to calories, 58% of the calories come from fat, and 42% of the calories come from protein.
Yes, you can buy split breasts, and whole chickens if you like, but you will get your best value when you purchase the family packs of drumsticks, thighs, or leg quarters when they are on sale. Purchasing whole chickens allows you to make bone broth which is full of Keto goodness, but if you are just starting out I would rather you focus on keeping your carbohydrate count under 20, then attempting to learn to many things at one time. Get the basics down first, learn to spend wisely, and then expand your repertoire.
Also known as the other white meat, pork can be an important part of your Keto meal planning, unless of course you do not eat pork for religious reasons. So if pork is a no go for you, then skip this section, but for everyone else, pork is a big part of the LCHF and Keto diet. We generally avoid purchasing traditional pork ribs and baby back ribs unless we can get them at rock bottom prices, simply because you are paying for way to much bone as opposed to meat.
Bacon – Bacon is your friend when you are on a LCHF of Keto diet. Having no carbohydrates and being high fat make this crunchy goodness a dietary staple for many following a LCHF or Keto eating program. You can eat almost all the bacon you want when doing Keto, but I would not recommend eating a pound of bacon a day, there are simply better sources of protein, but having 3 – 5 slices of bacon with your breakfast, and having some crumbled in your salad are definitely acceptable. I eat three slices of bacon everyday with my breakfast, so we go through a lot each week. Btw, the fat to protein ratio of bacon is about 1:1, that’s one gram of fat for each gram of protein.
Just be careful when selecting bacon, there are some varieties that have sugar such as ‘Maple Bacon Flavor’. It may indicate that there are no carbs on the package, but the USDA let’s them list an ingredients as zero carbs, it is is generally < 0.8 grams per serving.
Breakfast Sausage – Another high fat low carb breakfast option is pork sausage. While the percentage of fat may vary between brands, most ground pork breakfast sausage is 20 to 30% fat. Unlike bacon, breakfast sausage does have some seasonings and spices (including sugar) that can cause it to have about 1 carb per ounce, so make sure you check the label. Breakfast sausage is a great ingredient for making Cajun style sausage with cauliflower rice (aka. dirty rice).
Chops – Pork chops (blade, rib, and center cut) are a great source of both protein and fat. Like chicken, purchase them in the family packs to maximize your savings. Just as with beef, the lower cost cuts have more fat, however the protein content is the same. If you think there is too much fat on the cheaper chops, then you can trim them, but we do not worry about it, we simply eat the fat. Every couple of weeks the Hispanic markets in the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) area have pork chops on sale in the family packs and we get them priced matched at our local Walmart. While the fat content will vary depending on whether the chops, are thick or thin cut, pork chops generally have a 1.6:1 protein to fat ratio with 54% of the calories coming from fat, and 46% from protein.
Hams – Cut from the hind leg, hams can be another good source of protein. Care must be taken however to ensure you get the best possible ham when you are on a Keto of LCHF diet. Fresh hams are your best choice, smoked or cured hams can also be a good choice if they contain no sugars. Stay away from most spiral cut hams as they generally contain sugar. You will also want to avoid any hams that contain one of the following in the description ‘honey’, ‘Black Forest’, Virginia, Maple cured…etc Always look at the label to determine the sugar content. Even if it states zero carbs, if it has one of the previous words in it’s title choose another type of ham.
Roasts – Whether it is a pork butt (aka Boston butt), shoulder (aka picnic), or blade roast like beef, purchase which ever pork roast you can get on sale. In general, the protein to fat ratio for pork roasts is about 1.3:1, however 39% of the calories the calories from pork roasts come from protein, while 61% come from fat. Trimming some of the fat from a roast can reduce the fat percentage, but remember when eating LCHF and Keto, fat is good. Pork roasts are used in a variety of recipes at our house. In addition, to cooking them whole and served sliced as a roast, we use them to make pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, with our LCHF barbecue sauce. Like beef, they can also be used to make, stew, chili, and various curries. Purchase the cheapest roasts you can find and trim them if you wish. For slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes the type of pork roast doesn’t matter as the cooking process will tenderize the meat. Again the emphasis is to purchase the cheaper roast to stretch your food dollars.
There are many different meat related protein sources that you can purchase when on a LCHF and Keto diet. Obviously, you want to purchase the ones that you and you family will enjoy. I have listed some of the best purchases you can make if you are on attempting to eat LCHF or Keto on a budget. Remember to use the money saving strategies that I discussed in my previous article ‘Strategies To Control Your LCHF/Keto Budget’. Having your refrigerator, freezer and pantry stocked with LCHF and Keto friendly items allows you to make more recipes from scratch allowing you to stretch your food dollar even more, especially if you can buy them when they are one sale.
Yes, you can purchase whole chickens, and beef and pork ribs which have a lot of bones so that you can make nutritious bone broth, but such purchases are more expensive. If you are on a limited budget, or are just starting out I would ask that you concentrate on purchasing the types of items listed in this article to get you successfully of your weight loss journey. Once you have become somewhat comfortable with the LCHF and Keto lifestyle, then you can expand your skill set to making bone broth and examining purchasing other items. Having said that, if you can find while chickens, turkey’s, or ribs at super low prices, then by all means purchase them.
As always, I hope that you have found this article informative and beneficial for you and your family, if so please take the time to share it with your friends so that they can benefit as well. Until next time, stay keto strong my friends.
Similar Articles On Our Website: