Budget Low-Carb Eating

How to Save Money While Eating Low-Carb

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Is it possible to follow a low-carb diet while on a budget? In a word, yes! Here I have lots of great tips and ways to look at your eating from a cost-savings perspective.

1. Introduction: Low-Cost Low Carb

Here are general tips for saving money on a low carb diet, plus some perspective on the costs of eating in a way that is low in carbohydrates.

2. Low-Cost Low Carb Advanced Strategies

Learn how one low-carb blogger fed her family for a week at $3 per person per day, and other advanced strategies for low-carb eating on a budget.

3. Back to Basics

When thinking about saving money while eating a diet low in carbohydrates, it helps to go back to look at the basics of the diet, and think about how we can save money on each one. When we do this, we realize how we often spend a lot on non-essentials. Then we can figure out which of those "extras" we want to add to the basics.

The basic elements of a low-carb diet, which make up the vast majority of the foods we need to eat, fall into three categories: protein, vegetables, and fats. Let's take each one, and find ways to save money. Bear in mind that I'm only talking about cost, and leaving aside other important considerations, for example, the importance of eating a variety of foods, the nutritional value of any given food, convenience, the distance the food traveled to get to you ("carbon footprint"), organic vs not, the care the animals received, etc. On the other hand, the good news along these lines is that a low-carb diet will usually be based largely on fresh (or frozen) whole foods with little processing.

4. Saving Money on Protein

This tends to be where people spend the most money, often unnecessarily (hint: a low-carb diet doesn't need to be high in protein. Find out how to save money on high-protein foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soy, and dairy products.

5. Saving Money on Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are a vital part of any low-carb diet.

  The biggest money-waster is often that fresh vegetables go back before you can eat them.  The second you realize that you might not get to those fresh Brussels sprouts that you bought with the best of intentions, freeze them! ome vegetables, such as peppers, can simply be cut up and dropped into a zip-lock bag.  Others, like spinach, can be wilted in hot pan first (seriously, it takes less than two minutes).  But don't wait until they start to get yucky!  Freeze as soon as you start to think you might not eat the veggies right away.

Of course, if you know you are likely to waste fresh produce, you might want to consider just buying frozen veggies in the first place.

Another tip is to buy seasonally, or to grow a few easy things yourself.   Herbs are easy to grow, and some easy vegetables such as zucchini need very little care.  A surprising number of vegetables can be grown in containers. 

6. Saving Money on Fats

The third basic category of food in a low-carb diet is fats. Once you know how much carbohydrate and protein you need, and you've stocked up on low-carb vegetables. the rest of your calories will come from fats.  The good news from a budget standpoint is that fats are a less expensive way to get calories than protein.

  Healthy oils such as olive oil, or a high-oleic form of sunflower or safflower oil are good choices.  Unfortunately, the least expensive oils such as corn oil or the regular safflower oil, are very high in omega-6 fats, so I try to avoid them.

Other high-fat foods include avocados, coconut oil, coconut milk, and nuts.

Saving Money on Extras

After getting the basics of a low-carb diet, we'll want to add certain extras to round the diet out. Here's how to make economical choices and save money.

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