Strategies To Control Your LCHF / Keto Food Budget
By: Todd Gamel, RN
December 19, 2016
In my eighteen years as a chef, there were two principles that were drummed into my thick skull, 1) never throw any food away that could be used in another recipe, 2) whenever possible, do not buy prepackaged foods, rather make everything you can from scratch. All of these principles are just as valid for low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or Ketogenic Diet (Keto) home maker as they are for the restaurateur. Let’s face it, most of us have a limited number of food dollars to spend each month, and embarking on a LCHF or Keto lifestyle can be a little more challenging financially. Therefore, being able to maximize your food dollars is very important, and while LCHF and Keto diets can be more expensive, they do not have to be.
Most of the focus of this blog has been about how to save money by making meals from your family from scratch or through the use of limited prepackaged ingredients. Why? Simply because you can generally prepare a larger selection of better quality LCHF and Keto foods cheaper at home than you can purchase at a supermarket or restaurant. Believe it or not, most of the time preparing foods from scratch takes about the same amount of time as using prepackaged foods and mixes, but the cost savings can be anywhere from 50 to 70%. That’s like getting a 50% raise in your salary, and who would not like that? So, lets examine some beneficial strategies you can implement to help stretch your LCHF and Keto food dollars and make better, more nutritious meals for you and your family and keep you “keto strong”.
Create a Menu/Meal Plan
Creating a weekly menu or meal plan will actually help stretch those precious food dollars. By planning your meals, you will know exactly how much and what type of food you need to purchase to feed your family. A menu plan, keeps you from buying unnecessary items and allows you to stretch a food product (chicken, hamburger meat etc…) over several meals during the week. This is especially important when you are on a limited income. Buying a 5lb package of hamburger to use for keto spaghetti one night, tacos the next, and keto meatballs on another is far cheaper than buying five individual 1lb packages.
The bottom line is that a meal plan helps you maximize purchases and minimize waste which saves you money. As I mentioned, having a food or menu plan will help you purchase only the foods that you need for the week thereby maximizing your food dollars. I admit that since we have built up a pretty extensive pantry over the last few years, I do not do this on a regular basis anymore, but if you are just starting out, it really helps. Do not forget to get the kids and your spouse involved, choosing quality keto meals they will all enjoy will help you to be more successful with your LCHF/Keto meal planning sessions and eventually meeting your LCHF and or keto goals.
Use Those Food Coupons
Using coupons to increase the buying power of your food dollars can be an extremely effective strategy. I am not talking about ‘extreme couponing’ like you may have seen on television. In this instance I am talking about using coupons to help reduce the cost of items on your shopping list. Using coupons to purchase food that you do not need is a waste of your hard earned money. Having said that, if you have additional left over money in your budget and the item(s) are something that you can stock your keto friendly pantry with and use later, then purchasing these items may be a good idea. But keep in mind, just because you have a coupon does not mean you have to purchase something.
Competitive Price Shopping (Competitors Ads, and Fipp App)
I have had several emails from people asking why I mention Walmart so often in my articles. Two reasons really, in rural East Texas where I live, we have a Walmart and a Brookshires that’s it. The one thing that Walmart does that really helps stretch our food dollars is they accept competitors ads. In plain English, they price match. So every grocery store in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area that has a weekly grocery ad is accepted at my local Walmart in Canton, TX.
What we used to do was look on-line at each of the grocery store websites and print out their ads, but that costs way to much money in paper, and ink and takes way to much time. Now we simply use the ‘Flipp’ app on our smart phones to see all the local sale ads in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Recently they had added the ability to log onto the ‘Flipp’ website and look adds on your home computer, you cannot transfer you selections to your smart phone yet, but hopefully in the near future you will be able to. Generally we can find multiple items that are LCHF and Keto staples (meat, poultry, eggs) at 30 – 50% off our local Walmart prices. Which Walmart then matches. I think you get the picture, using comp ads is one of the best ways to stretch your food dollars, and it is the one strategy we use the most. You can find out more about the ‘Flipp’ grocery app in my article ‘Saving Money With Flipp’. And no I get money from them, but their app saves us a ton on money each year.
Update (June 28, 2018) – Unfortunately, our local Walmart has stopped price matching, so this strategy that we used quite effectively is no longer available to us. Whether or not this is a nationwide practice I do not know. Having said that, if you live in a metropolitan area in which you have many different supermarket chains available to you, than you may still be able to benefit from using the ‘Flipp’ application on your smart phone.
Specialty Stores Will Kill Your LCHF, Keto Budget
I am sorry if this offends you but it’s the truth, food stores like Whole Foods, Fresh, Central Market, and Natural Grocer’s will quickly destroy your food budget. If you need a specific item or ingredient that you cannot find at your local supermarket, then by all means go there to get it, but do not buy the bulk of your food here if you want to maximize your food purchases. Whether you like the company or not, Walmart can save you a ton of money on your food budget and they are my go to supermarket. I am telling you upfront, that shopping at Walmart is a financial for me and my wife. My local Walmart takes competitors adds (see below) therefore, it’s like shopping at twelve different grocery stores at one time. It may not be cool to shop there, but Walmart will save you money, nuff said.
If you are fortunate enough to have one of the club membership grocers like Sam’s or Costco nearby, then you can buy many LCHF and Keto friendly food items in bulk and save quite a bit of money. For example, we had previously purchased a 14 ounce jar of organic coconut oil at Aldi’s for $4.99 ($0.35 per ounce). Last week we purchased a 128 ounce (1 gallon) container of organic coconut oil at Sam’s Club for $17.49 ($0.13 per ounce). Btw, that’s a 63% savings. You can also purchase many meats and other LCHF/Keto staples here in bulk and save a considerable amount of money.
The Internet, The World At Your Fingers
Since you are reading this blog, then you are well aware of the information and opportunities that you an find on the internet. We use Amazon quite a bit to help us with some of our more speciality item purchases. As Amazon Prime members we do not pay for any shipping on ‘Prime’ related items and this saves us a lot of money throughout the year. We recently purchased 4 pounds of organic almond flour online for the same cost as purchasing 1 pound at a local retailer.
If you not an Amazon Prime member or use other online retailer’s just be aware of the shipping costs. I really hate paying more for shipping than the actual cost of the item. Amazon Prime is not free, it costs about $120.00 a year, but as we live in a rural setting we use Amazon often and we save more money in a year than the cost of the membership. If you live in the big city, then buying locally may be a better option, but using the internet is a great shopping and money saving resource.
Avoid Prepackaged, Premade Foods
One of the best ways to prepare LCHF and Keto friendly meals is to make all your own seasoning mixes and condiments replacing prepackaged foods with your own homemade recipes whenever possible. Ounce for ounce, prepackaged foods cost you more money than just about anything you can buy. If you do not believe me just take a look at beef jerky. Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky is $6.48 for 6 1.2 ounce packages, that’s $0.92 cents per ounce or $14.72 per pound. You can make your own LCHF and Keto friendly jerky for $0.55 per pound, that’s a 41% savings. Heck even fillet mignon or T-Bone steak do not cost $14.72 per pound. So do you really want to pay those kind of prices for prepackaged foods? I should think not!
Buying prepackaged foods when you can make you own is like throwing your hard earned money out the window. In addition, making your seasonings, condiments, and mixes allows you total control of the carbohydrate count of the food you eat. That’s why there are so many recipes on our blog that teach you how to make your own LCHF and Keto spice mixes, salad dressings, and condiments.
Purchase And Use A Vacuum Sealer
If you are going to buy foods and cook in bulk (recommended) then you will need a way to store all of that food so that it will not go to waste. The best tool for this job is a vacuum sealer. We use the Foodsaver brand (actually we have worn two of them out), but any brand will work. Way before we began to eat LCHF we purchased our meats in bulk and vacuum sealed them and threw them in the freezer. A practice that will continue today. The initial cost of a vacuum sealer can put some people off ($100 – $150), but the money you will save over the years will be well worth the investment.
Personally my wife and I still use these strategies to help stretch our food dollars. By having a menu plan you can begin to stock your pantry with LCHF and Keto friendly non-perishable items that will allow 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.
The one thing I have not listed here that we do is plant a fall and spring vegetable garden in addition to raising our own chickens and meat rabbits. Not everyone has the ability to do this, but if you do, supplementing your food budget with fresh vegetables, free range eggs, and meat can be a tremendous way to help feed your family healthy nutritious food. 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. So, until next time stay keto strong my friends.
Related Article On Our Blog: