9 College Keto Foods When on a Budget

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/09/2023

On a nippy Sept morn, I was standing in the middle of my small college dormitory room, looking at a stack of textbooks that cost more than I spent on monthly food.

I had just decided to take on the keto diet – yeah, you know it: low carbs and high fats. But let's face it: college life doesn't come cheap, nor does eating healthy.

Keto on a shoestring... or so I thought as I juggled between keeping up with classes and trying not to blow all my cash on avocados and grass-fed beef.

The challenge was real. How could I follow this lifestyle without breaking the bank? Could there be an easier way?

Months have passed, filled with trial and error, grocery trips, and, yes - some truly delicious meals. Now imagine this: there are ways to go keto successfully.

Understanding the Keto Diet on a Budget

The ketogenic, or keto, diet is an eating plan that emphasizes low-carb and high-fat foods. This eating pattern can help manage appetite by limiting the consumption of processed carbs, which can often cause overeating.

But following this diet doesn't have to be expensive. You can remain healthy while keeping costs low by being judicious in your food selections and incorporating strategies like intermittent fasting into your regimen. Let's explore further.

Making Smart Food Choices

Making informed food choices is crucial to keeping costs down on a keto diet. Opt for whole foods over processed ones whenever possible because they're generally less expensive and more nutritious.

Fasting Intermittently: A Money-Saving Strategy

Besides helping with weight loss and boosting metabolic health, intermittent fasting can also help keep your grocery bills in check as it reduces the number of meals you need to prepare each day.

Ketogenic foods

Shopping for Keto Foods on a Budget

Finding affordable keto-friendly foods can feel like hunting for treasure. But with stores like Trader Joe's and Costco, you've got some great maps to start.

Finding Inexpensive Greens

Bulk buying greens can be a cost-effective way to get your daily dose of leafy vegetables—places like Trader Joe's offer cheaper options that give you more bang.

Bulk salad is a good choice because it’s inexpensive to get those leafy greens into your diet without overspending. Plus, preparing a big bag of mixed leaves makes meal prep faster.

The Secret Power of Bulk Shopping

To keep within budget while shopping at Costco or Trader Joe’s, consider purchasing their larger packs of meat or dairy products. You’ll save money and ensure you’re stocked up on high-fat protein sources necessary for your keto journey.

Affordable Protein Sources for a Keto Diet

Sticking to the keto regimen can be difficult, particularly when you're watching your wallet. But don't worry. You have some affordable protein sources that align with your low-carb lifestyle.

The Benefits of Sardines

Sardines might not be everyone's cup of tea, but they pack quite the nutritional punch. Rich in omega-3s and protein, sardines are an affordable dietary powerhouse. The best part? They're wallet-friendly, too.

Economical Chicken Cuts

Chicken thighs and wings might just hit the spot if sardines aren't up your alley. These cuts cost less than others, like breasts or legs, and they provide substantial amounts of protein necessary for your keto diet.

Squash as a Protein Source

I bet you didn’t see this one coming – squash is another economical way to meet your daily protein needs on keto. When cooked right, it becomes soft enough to eat quickly while maintaining its high nutrient content - all without breaking the bank.

Cost-Effective Fats for a Keto Diet

Finding affordable sources of healthy fats is critical to staying on track with your keto diet. Two standout options are grass-fed butter and summer sausage.

Grass-Fed Butter on a Budget

Despite its reputation as expensive, grass-fed butter can be found at reasonable prices in stores such as Trader Joe's or Costco. Stores like Trader Joe's or Costco offer quality grass-fed butter at affordable prices.

Summer Sausage as a Fat Source

If you're craving something meaty, look no further than summer sausage. Summer sausage is an ideal choice for keto dieters as it provides both protein and fat while being affordable.

Remember, eating healthily doesn't have to be expensive; you must know where to look.

Affordable Keto-Friendly Vegetables

Thriving on a keto diet doesn't mean breaking the bank. Budget-friendly, nutrient-dense vegetables are an excellent fit for the keto lifestyle.

Take cabbage, for instance - this humble cruciferous vegetable is an unsung hero in affordable nutrition. It's high in vitamin C and fiber, perfect for maintaining a healthy gut while staying within your carb limit.

The Benefits of Cabbage

Cabbage may not be as popular as other green vegetables, but its nutritional value is nothing to ignore. Cabbage is abundant in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which can help reduce inflammation and aid digestion.

Beyond these health benefits, what makes cabbage shine brighter is its affordability. This green gem costs less than most other veggies without skimping on nutrients - making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious keto dieters.

Budget-Friendly Meat Options for Keto Diet

Selecting the correct kind of meat is essential when trying to stay within a budget while adhering to the keto diet. Organic hamburger is an excellent option that doesn't break the bank.

Opting for Organic Hamburger

You might ask why organic hamburger? If grass-fed beef isn't affordable, this can be your go-to choice. It's less expensive but still packed with essential nutrients needed in a ketogenic diet.

certified humane organic eggs

The Value of Pasture-Raised Eggs

Eggs are another great source of protein and fat – two pillars of the keto lifestyle. Specifically, pasture-raised eggs offer more nutritional value compared to their counterparts.

They're also quite economical, which makes them perfect for college students who need high-quality protein without overspending.

In essence, making intelligent choices like these allows you to stick with your keto goals while staying within budget constraints - showing us all that healthy eating does not necessarily have to be costly.

Keto-Friendly Snacks

Finding the perfect keto-friendly snack is essential when satisfying your cravings while staying in ketosis. One tasty option that combines the best of both worlds is keto mac and cheese snacks.

These portable delights offer all the creamy, cheesy goodness of traditional mac and cheese but with a low-carb twist.

Packed with protein and healthy fats, these keto mac and cheese snacks are delicious and help keep you on track with your ketogenic diet goals.

Whether you're looking for a quick bite between meals or a savory treat to curb your hunger, these snacks make it easier than ever to stick to your keto lifestyle.


Surviving college is a challenge. Sticking to the keto diet while doing so? That's the next level.

Yet, with strategic planning and smart shopping, you can enjoy 'college keto foods on a budget.' Keep your carbs low and focus on high-fat foods like grass-fed butter or economical proteins such as sardines and chicken thighs.

Pile up those greens from bulk salad purchases at Trader Joe's or Costco. Don't forget squash for that affordable protein boost!

Add inexpensive vegetables like cabbage to your meals - they're loaded with nutrients! Opt for organic hamburger if grass-fed beef seems pricey.

All in all, maintain balance without compromising health. Keto is possible even when you're pinching pennies!

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan