Eating low-carb can be expensive as cheap ingredients such as rice, potatoes, bread, pasta and beans are often used in meals as the filler – think lasagne, chilli con carne and shepherd’s pie for instance. Meat and fish can be expensive, but there are ways to eat a low-carb diet without incurring huge grocery bills.
- Use the cheap cuts. Cheaper cuts of meat (such as those labelled “stewing” or “braising” cuts in the supermarket are much cheaper than quick cooking cuts, such as steaks or chops. If you own a slow cooker, you can make up fantastic stews with these cuts too.
- Eat chicken legs, not breasts. Again, chicken legs are much cheaper than breasts and much more versatile too as they aren’t as easy to overcook as the breast. If you want a great recipe for chicken legs, try this delicious, spicy stew.
- Shopping later in the evening means you can often bag some meat bargains – supermarkets mark down the meat that is about to reach its sell-by date. You can either cook it that evening or put it in the freezer straight away.
- Buy eggs at the farmers’ market. In general, farmers’ markets tend to be really expensive (though the quality is superb), but I’ve always noticed that the eggs are cheaper than the supermarket – and much tastier. They are often free-range and organic too.
- Develop a taste for liver. Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is, so if you can develop a taste for it you’ll be consuming a product which is not only very good for you, but is also much cheaper than meat. My local supermarket stocks 227g cartons of chicken liver for 50p. Fry up sliced onions in butter for a delicious accompaniment.
- Bulk buy nuts, ground almonds and spices – they are cheaper bought this way. Nuts are a healthy snack, ground almonds can be used in low-carb baking and spices can add lots of flavour to your meals.
- Use tofu. Tofu is relatively cheap, when compared with meat. The secret is to marinate it before cooking to add in lots of flavour. There is a great recipe by Nigel Slater for marinated tofu stir-fry here.
While processed, high-carb foods tend to be less expensive than the fresh, natural foods you find on a low carb diet, you might view a slightly higher food budget as a long-term investment – one that will benefit your health and greatly reduce your chances of suffering health problems as you get older.
If you have any other tips for budgeting on a low carb diet, please do feel free to drop us a line.
Pic thanks to Images of Money on Flickr.