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What is the cost of starting Keto?

faq Jun 14, 2021

What is the cost of starting Keto?

This is one of the most common questions I get from people who are on the cusp of deciding to follow this eating lifestyle. Honestly, when I first started Keto it cost me a fortune and I want to save you the beginner’s pitfalls.

Beware of buying too much at the start

At the beginning of my journey I bought all sorts of ingredients for recipes I would never try. In the end I shipped off about $200 of ingredients to friends who were already "advanced" in the Keto lifestyle. I had bought a lot of baking products and I still have about another $200 of the same sort of (unopened) ingredients sitting in my cabinets.

Not only that, but I wasn't prepared for how satiating this way of eating is and I must have consumed only 50% (or less) of other food I bought – some went in the freezer but things like fresh produce went right down the disposal if I couldn’t get it to my daughter's house for a Sunday dinner. This was the outright waste of money that Keto cost me. So not buying that stuff (and I will go into detail below) was money unnecessarily spent.

You'll be surprised at the savings on takeout food and grains

I also wasn’t prepared for the money that I was saving. I easily saved $50–$100 a week on Chinese food take out, fast food, bagels and muffins with take out coffee, snacks, "artisanal" breads and bakery items and fancy pastas. Perhaps a lot of you don’t spend money on the last two anyway — but we have downsized to just my husband and myself, plus he was only home one night a week so we did a fancy dinner, and I always shopped for special foods to take down to my daughter's on Sunday that maybe I wouldn’t buy for myself.

Also, because of this downsizing period in my life I did get salads and sometimes lunches at work, as I was not cooking for a family with the usual casserole leftovers for lunch. Okay, so this might not be where your money goes, but do you buy processed foods and ingredients to make meals? Do you have a basket with chips and pretzels? Do you buy cookies and juice and a ton of fruit? Anyone coming off a SAD (Standard American Diet) will find a savings whether or not you have ever spent a penny on "designer" foods.  

Avoid trying to replicate baked goods

When I made the decision to start Keto my first mission was to make all the foods I was used to having, but to make them Keto. That meant Keto cookies and breads, puddings and even candy! I bought cookbooks that had large dessert sections. Out of all of those, I have made a lemon pound cake and cheesecake cupcakes — and that's all! 

So my first piece of advice when starting Keto is not to spend all your time and money buying things to make fancy recipes and baked goods. This is for three reasons. 

First of all, when you start Keto it really will be easier if you start simple. 

  • “Stuffed to the gills” omelets or simple eggs and bacon for breakfast

  • Deli meat rollups or grab-and-go lunches (salami, cheese, hard-boiled eggs) with salad

  • Simple broiled or baked protein with vegetables or salad for dinner

  • Nuts and/or berries if you must have dessert

Second, it keeps planning and shopping to a minimum without the fuss of getting too many things for ingredients. 

Third, if you eat true Keto you will be absolutely amazed at how hungry you are NOT. I put so many things in the freezer, gave them away, or threw them out because I just was not hungry — and you won’t be either!  

The reality of baked goods on Keto

In terms of baked goods (other than sweets) — I am sorry — but there is NO bread or roll or pizza crust made with almond or coconut flour that will taste like the real thing. Look at my list of cookbooksI tried, I really tried. And this does not include even more recipes downloaded from the web. Sorry but that’s true.

One of my favorite and talented recipe developers is working on a yeast bread recipe. If it tastes like real bread I will be the first one back here to alter this post and give you the link!

You will hear a lot about "Fathead dough" and that is a reasonable substitute for some things (although not the same as a bread made with yeast and flour). I make and use Fathead dough very seldom because it is high in protein because of the cheese, and then any toppings or fillings you use with it will also add protein.

There is no reason at all to fear high protein consumption, but I would rather spend my grams elsewhere. As you will learn more about Keto, you will see guidelines for keeping protein moderate. Some people find it more difficult to limit protein than carbohydrates! 

Getting used to eating within your macros is key

Another reason to start Keto without fancy recipes and worrying about how you will sub out cookies and bread and ice cream is because you want to get really used to eating within YOUR macros. (Although ultimately I recommend not weighing, measuring and tracking your food, you might want to do so at the beginning until you get the lay of the land.)

You want to get a sense first of how much quality and dense food it will take to keep you full and energized. If you use up your carbs or proteins on an almond bread or cookies you won’t develop this sixth sense of how much to eat in order to not run out of protein and carbohydrates before you even hit dinner. Once you have a sense of what you need to be eating then you can start to add in some of your treats and see how to fit them into your day. For a while nothing would satisfy me except my own version of a PB&J: Keto bread, sunflower butter and homemade chia jam. This was my breakfast for weeks along with a nice fatty coffee. But this was my breakfast a year after doing Keto. I have a friend though, who, from the get go, was making Fathead bagel dogs and lemon ricotta pudding.

Substitutions didn't work for me

Why didn’t I start out with all that substitution stuff even though I had plenty of cookbooks and all the ingredients – including about $150 worth of extracts, sweeteners, various thickeners, etc.? It was because I realized early on that all those sweet baked foods would send me into a vortex of bingeing and overeating.

I had a running argument with my same friend who made all the substitutions from the get-go. She insisted that because of the high-fat content of eating this way that one or two fat bombs (like the mini-cheesecake muffins) would fill me and I would be satisfied.

What she could not understand was that I came to Keto with a history of very "disordered" eating. If you take one cookie and finish the box, one chip and finish the bag, one order of fries then drive through the next place to get another order, then you understand that feeling full has nothing to do with it. Not ever.

Being Keto and working with a coach changed all that for me, and I am forever grateful that I found both.

What about organic and grass-fed products?

So anyway – back to the point: Once you get into the swing of Keto and learn how much less food you really need and that you don’t need to immediately buy every ingredient or gadget for baking and cooking, you should find that your grocery bills go way down — even if you are feeding a family.

If you have the budget for grass-fed and organic meats and vegetables, that's great, but you don't need to shop for those. You will find, however, that a little goes a long way and that even with a family to feed, you might start shopping those items. But for now, to start, just eat Keto.

You just need to start where you are

ANY eggs are better than breakfast cereals or pop tarts. ANY hamburger meat is better than a McD’s drive-through meal. ANY fruit and vegetable is better than chips and pretzels.

You do NOT have to break the bank to shop for this way of eating. Make an investment in your health now so you don't have to pay even more down the road. When you work with me, I will help you through the maze of food choices, recipes, shopping lists and meals.

Learn more about this with my book and course:

Book Breaking Free From Diet Prison: Common Sense Keto and Low Carb 

Course Breaking Free From Diet Prison: The Roadmap to Low Carb and Keto Success

Tips for Keeping a Food Journal - Part 1

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