Hey everybody and welcome back to Ketosmash! I’ve got part 2 of our keto on a budget series here this week
and boy was it a challenge. I gave myself the challenge to be able to buy for myself an entire week of meals for $60 CAD (or $48.75USD). Let’s just say it wasn’t the easiest challenge as it meant not buying things I didn’t need such as Diet Pepsi and sticking more to clean eating and lots of meal prep. It also meant relying on a lot of ingredients we tend to be able to stretch, such as spices, that are expensive on the first buy but generally last a couple of months. Lastly, there were some items on this list that I normally don’t need to buy too often, such as chia seeds, that we’re able to help me make many meals for a small cost. Before we get started on the grocery list and meal prep ideas that go with that list, take a look at some important things to note prior to prepping!
Meal Prep for Beginners:
1) Have all your containers, pots, pans, etc ready to go. Also pre-heat your oven if you have many items that are being done at once in it.
2) Understand that you may not get everything done in one day and that’s okay. Most foods have a “taste date” as I like to call it where after a couple of days in the fridge, they aren’t nearly as glamourous tasting. If that means prepping half of the week and then finishing up Wednesday, that’s perfectly okay! Just carve out your time for that Wednesday to continue.
3) You can mix and match the meals above. If you feel like chicken lasts better than beef for lunches and pre-prepping those for the week, then switch them out. Most of the lunch and dinner meals can easily be heated up in microwaves at work and taste great the next day.
4) If you are cooking different meals every single day for breakfast and lunch, prep will take much longer. I tend to get super lazy about lunch and breakfast prep and just prep the exact same meal for every day of the week. I’m also a leftover queen; take advantage of less cooking if possible.
5) Items such as red peppers, onions and garlic can be pre-cut for meals. Investing in little Ziploc bags to keep pre-cut veggies will allow you to prepare your veggies in advance and just toss them into the meal easily without having to do any slicing and dicing. The same can be said for meats for your dinners.
6) Try to avoid items with dairy for pre-cooked meals. They can spoil faster than most things. If you wish to add dairy to your meal, bring it aside to add to your meal last. Things like cheese to add atop zucchini spaghetti are best to add just prior to microwaving rather than on the Sunday of prep.
7) If you need to cook meats, cook them in batches. Most of the recipes I posted have the sausage, pork and beef cooked before being added to the other ingredients. To cut down on time, cook the entire batch at once.
8) The meals above are ideas for you! You do not need to use them. If you wish to keep the costs even lower, keep it even simpler. Ground beef with salad and dressing with a little cheddar makes a great meal! I just know I don’t mind spending a tad more to eat things I personally love. Keeps me away from fast food joints!
9) Understand that you will not get it perfect on the first try! Meal prepping takes lots of time to get down to a perfect science for you. Remember what works and what doesn’t for you as you continue to prep in the months ahead.
10) Invest in proper meal prep containers. Companies such as Meal Prep Haven have fantastic microwaveable containers that come in 1, 2 and 3 compartment sizes. Take advantage of their sales and stock up!
Now on to the grocery list. As stated above, your list may look quite different from mine, especially for families. The one great thing about buying for a family rather than a single person is that it’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk than it is to buy in singular person portions. As you can see from my list, I went for much cheaper cuts of meats such as chicken thighs and quarters over things like chicken breast. Now, this does mean that the items on the list have naturally more fat than their more expensive counterparts but it also means you need a lot less to flavour the meats! Also, I do say to also buy a lot of vegetables frozen. I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d avoid buying fresh but I do have a good reason; frozen vegetables are much cheaper than fresh and, unless they have preservatives added in, have the exact same nutritional content. Why spend more if you do not need to? Sometimes saving money means cutting a couple of corners and that is okay!
The Grocery List:
Lean ground beef or a 50/50 ground beef and pork split (approx. 1-2lbs)
1 dozen eggs
1 container coconut milk or almond coconut milk (approx. 1L)
1 bag cauliflower rice or cauliflower florets
1 bag frozen broccoli
4 chicken thighs
2 chicken leg quarters
1 can keto-friendly pasta sauce or make your own
1 bag chia seeds
1 bag frozen Brussel sprouts
Mozzarella or cheddar cheese (whichever you prefer)
1 carton cream
3-4 small zucchini
Fresh garlic or pre-minced garlic
Pork rinds of any flavour
Italian sausage – the meat or fully formed sausages
Mixed salad bag
2 red peppers
What We Should Already Have:
Spices – taco seasoning made mix, Italian seasoning and some garlic
Vanilla or other extracts |
Salad dressing – either homemade or keto-friendly
A spiralizer or mandolin for our zucchini
Keto-friendly cooking oil or butter for frying
Meal prep containers – I personally love the
Now that we have our grocery list and must-haves, let’s get started on making some meals and get into our meal prep!
Hard-boiled eggs with chia pudding side
Omelette with Italian sausage
Keto scotch eggs
Bunless burgers with a side salad
Meatballs with zucchini spaghetti
Cauliflower beef casserole
Stuffed pepper with a side salad
Pork rind encrusted chicken leg quarters with broccoli cheddar/mozzarella side
Pan-fried seasoned chicken thighs with Brussel sprouts au gratin
Italian sausage with pasta sauce over zucchini or cauliflower rice
Pulled taco-seasoned chicken (using chicken thighs) over salad
Cauliflower fried rice with eggs, chicken and mixed vegetables
What is great about these meals is they are so versatile and most of the prep for each of these meals is simple. As stated in the meal prep for beginners section, most of these meats can be cooked before being added to the recipes. As someone who tends to stick to making meatballs for the week, I just cook them all in a pan on one day for the week and just heat them up as the days pass. Sides such as salad require no prep whatsoever and can be added last minute as a side for chicken or beef dishes. Side dishes such as the Brussel sprouts au gratin and cauliflower fried rice make an indulgent addition to dinners that have lots of flavours and while they take a bit of time to prepare, they are worth the wait. For the boiled eggs and breakfast cups, they can be prepped on Sunday and last all the way through till Friday. A tip for boiled eggs is to keep them in their shells so that they stay fresher longer. If you wish to prep every single meal on Sunday, you can prep the raw ingredients into smaller bags in order to just toss them into their respective meals quickly though I wouldn’t recommend this for breaded items. Nobody said meal prepping meant no flavour!
Part 3 of our budgeting on keto series will discuss what happens when we eat outside of our homes while sticking to our keto goals! Till next time, keep calm and keto on!