Hi friends, as the new year approaches, I’ve been getting a lot of messages from new keto-ers about how to get started out on a vegan or otherwise plant-based keto diet. As I’ve been doing this for over 7 years, I’ve amassed quite a few tips and tricks for making my life a lot easier and I thought it was as good a time as any to share them with all of you.
When I first started out on a plant-based keto diet, I really had no idea what I was doing. There wasn’t anyone else out there that I could follow, so I ended up learning a lot of things the hard way. Fortunately, I grew up in a very frugal household, and learned some strategies to make my veg keto diet as cost-effective as possible. I hope this article helps you! Obviously, you don’t need to do everything I do, but even just incorporating a tip or two could save some cash!
So, this is my actual shopping strategy for maintaining a vegan keto diet while budgeting. If you guys are interested, I can do a post of my actual shopping trips/orders. Just let me know in the comments! I’d also love to know what tips and tricks you have!v
Okay, this takes a little time at first, but is worth it in the long run! Ingredient prices can vary wildly from region to region and store to store, so this is something you’ll have to do at your own local grocery stores. Basically, I like to take my ultimate vegan keto shopping list, print it out and take a copy to my local grocery stores. Then, I find the prices for many of the items (making sure to include units!) and write them down. This can help to figure out which grocery store to go to for which products. I usually go to the “budget” grocery store near me, and compare with Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. While most things are cheapest at my local market chain (shout out to Market Basket! Fun fact – my mom’s first job was cashiering for MB back in the day), some things are actually cheapest at Whole Foods (I know!). Most things at Trader Joe’s seem to be around the same price as at WFM, so I tend to only go there if I want specific items I can only get there).
I use this information when making shopping lists, so I can figure out what I need to buy from each store. For instance, many frozen vegetables are cheapest at my local Whole Foods Market, but most dry goods and fresh vegetables are cheapest at Market Basket. So, I make a list for each place and then make my trips accordingly.
Buy Frozen & Stay Seasonal
Yes, fresh vegetables are really tasty, but they also tend to cost a lot more expensive, especially when out of season. To help keep my grocery bills lower, I try to buy fresh veggies only when they are in season (with a few exceptions like fresh greens and celery) and stick with some frozen things for the rest. Frozen vegetables are still quite nutritious (sometimes even moreso!) and a whole lot cheaper.
Frozen Veggies I Always Have On Hand
- broccoli florets
- mixed mushrooms
- cauliflower rice
- asparagus cuts
- collard greens
- artichoke quarters
These are just the things you can pretty much always find in my freezer. It’s nice to have them available for a quick dinner or to toss into a smoothie!
DIY As Much As You Can
This one takes some time, but is definitely a big money-saver. I like to make things like coconut yogurt, non-dairy milk, nut butters and even my own non-dairy buttery spread. It usually costs about half of what the product does when you make it yourself, and tends to be way tastier. I also like making my own food because it lets me customize things to how I like them.
While it may seem time-consuming. Most recipes take about 5-10 minutes of actual work, which is well-worth the cost reduction in my opinion!
Amazon’s Subscribe & Save
I was really skeptical about this at first, but a friend of mine started using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature for diaper/baby supplies delivery when she had her first child, and it ended up saving her so much money (and time!), I figured I’d give it a go for some staples. For those unfamiliar, the basic idea is that you sign up for automatic deliveries of certain products for whatever interval works for you (monthly/bi-monthly/every 6 months/whatever) and you save up to 15% off the already-pretty-low Amazon prices. To save 15%, you just need to have five items.
I don’t do this for everything, but some items are already so much cheaper on Amazon, and I go through them pretty quickly, that it just makes sense to subscribe. You can also stop or skip shipments whenever you want, so if you realize that a monthly nutritional yeast shipment is too much, you’re not stuck with it.
This is my vegan keto essentials subscribe & save order, the hemp seeds and nutritional yeast are monthly, everything else is every 3 months:
Thrive Market is another store I was super skeptical about at first, until my sister-in-law sent me lists of some of the things she’s bought there. There is an annual fee, which really turned me off at first, but when I more than saved that on my very first order, I wasn’t so worried anymore.
I use Thrive for a lot of household products as well (cleaning products mostly), so it isn’t just food, but I do find that I save money if I buy things strategically. Usually, Thrive is great for baking essentials (dried herbs and spices, nut flours), nuts and seeds, nut butters, shirataki noodles, kelp noodles (and other kelp products) and more specialty items. This is a small sampling of the foods I tend to order from Thrive:
Hit The Clearance Aisle & Sales
Okay, so I frequent the clearance aisle at TJ Maxx, Homegoods and Marshall’s kind of a lot. I live pretty close to the TJX global headquarters, and there is a shopping plaza about a half hour from me that has all of their flagship stores. What I’ve learned is that their clearance aisles are chock-full of awesome keto products. In fact, even their non-clearance-aisle prices are good enough to warrant purchasing some items there. Yes, it’s hit-or-miss, but if I’m passing one of these stores (there’s on attached to my precious Market Basket, so I go to that one most), I’ll quickly check out their food and clearance section, just to see if I can get something I need before making an order somewhere else.
Things I find in TJX clearance aisles:
- protein powders
- keto coffee creamers
- superfood powders for smoothies
- coffee & tea
- spices and dried herbs
- alternative flours
I tend to avoid buying nuts, seeds or anything oil-based at these stores, as I’ve found they often have already gone rancid, but for anything with a really long shelf life, it’s a great resource.
I also tend to stock up on annual sales. I know that a lot of companies have Memorial Day and Black Friday sales, so I’ll just wait for one of those and buy stuff then!