41 Must Try Cheap Keto Dinner Recipes for the Whole Family
The ketogenic diet has helped many people lose weight and feel better. But it can be expensive to follow. Check out my collection of 41 cheap keto dinner recipes. You're sure to find something tasty that won't blow up your food budget.
Posted By Sara in Spend Less
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Last Updated: 07/23/2020
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I have a confession: Jerry and I are serial dieters.
We have dabbled in just about every sort of diet or eating plan there is. Seems like everyone and their mom is trying the ketogenic diet to lose weight these days. So of course we tried it.
Based on our experience, I would say that the keto diet produced the best results in terms of pounds lost. The weight came off quick too. I haven’t stuck with it the way Jerry has, but as long as he stays with it, we’ll keep making keto friendly dinners.
While keto is effective for weight loss, one complaint I’ve heard often from people who have tried it: keto is expensive.
Keto can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. If you eat out often, rely on convenient snack foods like low carb protein bars and beef jerky, or buy a lot of pre-made packaged food instead of making your own meals, then going keto can definitely blow up your budget.
Dinner is usually the biggest meal of the day and often the most expensive. So that’s where I often look when I’m trying to stay under budget or cut our food expenses.
I have a great collection of cheap keto dinner recipes to share with you. But first here are some tips for making great tasting keto dinners on a budget.
6 Tips For Making Cheap Keto Dinners
Keeping our food budget under control is something we’ve had to work at. Being on a diet that doesn’t allow foods you usually buy or eliminates food groups often makes controlling costs more diffcult. Here’s what you can do to make cheap keto dinners:
Keep It Simple
We avoid recipes with long lists of ingredients or exotic ingredients we won’t use often. That doesn’t mean we look for bland recipes, but we try not to buy anything unless we’re sure we’ll use it all.
Who wants to end up with a cabinet full of expensive spices and fancy ingredients that were only tried once? One thing most cheap keto dinner recipes have in common is they’re not complicated.
Plan Meals Around What’s On Sale
If there’s a fantastic deal on chuck roast at a nearby supermarket, guess what we’re having this week? You can really save a lot of money if you plan dinners around what’s on sale rather than your cravings.
Grab a flyer or check out your supermarket’s website to see what’s on sale. Plan meals and make a shopping list based on the current sale items and what you already have in your pantry before you leave your house. When you hit the store, avoid putting anything in your cart that isn’t on sale.
Use Cheaper Ingredients
Swap chicken thighs for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Replace expensive cuts of meat with cheaper cuts or ground beef. Since meat is typically the most expensive ingredient in your recipes, check out this article for more ideas to help you save money on meat.
Meat isn’t the only dinner ingredient you can save money on. There are cheaper alternatives for convenience items and other foods we often pay too much for. For example:
- Use dried herbs rather than fresh.
- Buy whole produce and cut it yourself instead of buying pre-cut.
- Get a block of cheese and grate or shred it yourself rather than buying the bagged stuff.
- Purchase a whole chicken instead of parts.
- Buy produce in season when it’s cheaper.
Buy In Bulk, Cook In Bulk
Buying in bulk usually reduces your overall grocery spend. Just make sure nothing goes to waste.
Look for deals at warehouse clubs. Take advantage of buy one get one free or other specials at the grocery store by buying enough for a month or two. Stockpile non-perishable staples when it makes sense.
Spend one day cooking large batches for the week. You can always freeze what you won’t eat right away as well. You’ll save plenty of time and money when you buy and cook in bulk.
The average American family of four throws out a quarter of the food they buy costing them $1,365 to $2,275 per year, according to the National Resources Defense Council. That’s like buying four bags of groceries and throwing one in the trash right when you get home. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what families do over time.
Make sure you store your food properly to avoid waste. Eat, cook, or freeze your most perishable items first. Repurpose leftovers for lunches or have leftovers night once a week.
Get Cash Back On Your Grocery Purchases
Grocery rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 offer cash back on groceries. You just download the app, purchase any products with a rebate available, then scan your receipts or hook up your store loyalty card to get cash back sent to your PayPal account. It’s free money for stuff you would buy anyway.
👉 Sign Up for Ibotta Here and Get Your $10 Bonus then don’t forget to Sign Up for Checkout 51 Here and Get Your $5 in Bonuses
41 Must Try Cheap Keto Dinner Recipes
I’ve tried or am planning to try each of the cheap keto dinner recipes on my list. Your tastes are probably not the same as mine and my family’s, but I’m confident you’ll find something you and your family will enjoy. Here we go:
Soup is not just an appetizer! Soup can be a meal, especially when you choose hearty soups that incorporate a rich base with meat and non-starchy veggies. The keto soups on my list are all tasty, filling, and low cost.
- Low Carb Keto Sausage Kale Soup With Mushroom – Sausage, kale, mushrooms, and chicken broth make for a nutritious keto friendly soup. I love kale and could eat the whole pot.
- Keto Chili – There’s much debate around whether beans belong in chili. If it’s keto chili, there’s no place for them. You won’t miss them anyway with this recipe.
- Beef Cabbage Soup – This soup is tasty and super filling. Substitute chuck steak for the ribeye and use dried parsley instead of fresh to make it even more wallet friendly.
- Keto Broccoli Cheddar Soup – The keto version of one of my favorite soups! It’s not as thick as you’re used to, but it’s just as satisfying.
- Buffalo Chicken Soup – Very flavorful with lots of protein and only four grams of carbs. You can make it pretty cheaply as is or sub leftover rotisserie chicken or thighs for the chicken breast.
Casseroles are budget friendly, easy to make, and there are usually leftovers. Great for busy weeknights and those times when you just don’t have the energy to make anything that takes a lot of effort. There are plenty of casseroles among the cheap keto dinner recipes you find online, but these are my favorites.
- Low Carb Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole – Kid friendly and so cheesy, this casserole could become a regular part of your rotation.
- Low Carb Deconstructed Pizza Casserole – Giving up carbs can sometimes mean giving up favorites and other foods you’ve eaten your whole life. Like traditional pizza. This fantastic casserole will keep those pizza cravings at bay.
- Easy Taco Casserole – Just five ingredients and five minutes of prep time is all it takes to get this taco casserole into the oven. Fridge to plate in about 45 minutes. Perfect when you’re in a rush.
- Cheddar Chicken and Broccoli Casserole – You can use leftover chicken and fresh or frozen broccoli for this dish. Pork rinds give it a crunchy topping without the carbs.
- Chili Verde Keto Chicken Casserole – This flavorful low carb casserole is inexpensive, easy to make, and takes less than half an hour to make including cook time.
- Low Carb Crack Chicken Casserole – Chicken, cheddar, bacon, ranch, eggs, and heavy cream. That’s it! So addictive you might find yourself licking your plate clean.
Beef can easily put you over your grocery budget if you’re not careful. It’s more expensive per pound than chicken or pork and popular cuts are very costly.
That doesn’t mean you have to skip beef to save money. Here are a few of my favorite cheap keto dinner recipes featuring beef as the main ingredient:
- Low Carb Steakhouse Burgers – Bunless and with only 3 ingredients excluding salt, pepper, and fixings you’ll be amazed at how much flavor these keto friendly burgers pack.
- Easy Marinated Grilled Steak Tacos – Flank steak and a simple blend of lime juice and spices. I choose lettuce wraps over low carb tortiallas, but you can go either way.
- Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie With Cauliflower Mash – Shepherd’s Pie was one of my winter comfort foods growing up in the Northeast. This low carb version is keto friendly, cheap, and delicious.
- Keto Steak With Garlic Butter Mushrooms – I love garlic and mushrooms on steak. If you do too, give this one a try. Uses top sirloin, an affordable yet flavorful cut.
- Sriracha Lime Flank Steak – If Sriracha is a staple at your house like it is at ours, you’ll love the simple Sriracha based low carb sauce that complements the meat nicely. Flank steak used to be cheap, but you might have to shop around or wait for a good deal as it’s become trendy among foodies and dieters alike.
Not a week goes by where we don’t have chicken. It’s relatively inexpensive, it’s versatile, and we don’t get bored of it. Here are some low carb chicken dinners worth trying:
- Crispy Keto Chicken Thighs – I used to be afraid to eat the skin, but now I love it as long as it’s crispy. This is a nice recipe for oven baked thighs with delightfully crispy skin.
- Baked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders – Chicken wrapped in bacon with cheese! I had high hopes for this one, and I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations. The whole family loves it.
- Easy Baked Enchilada Chicken – This couldn’t be any simpler to make and it’s so good! Took me less than 5 minutes to prep and half an hour later it’s done.
- Baked Garlic Butter Chicken – If you love garlic butter, you’ll love this recipe. I used full fat cheese and dried instead of fresh rosemary. One of my personal faves.
- Best Ever Chicken Bake Recipe – Chicken drumsticks plus a few simple ingredients you probably have on hand. Should only take you about 5 minutes to put this together and pop it in the oven.
We don’t eat a ton of pork, but it is a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals so we don’t avoid it either. Pork fits into a keto diet well so we do buy it when it’s on sale. Here are a few inexpensive keto friendly dinner recipes featuring pork we like:
- Low Carb Parmesan Dijon Pork Chops – These are marinated overnight and worth the wait. You have to like dijon mustard to like this dish as the flavor is strong. We make these often.
- 4 Ingredient Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce – I make this for Jerry when he’s craving pasta. It still tastes like squash, but you get the spaghetti experience. He enjoys this recipe and we make it regularly.
- Ground Pork Tacos – Whip up a batch of this simple ground pork taco filling and serve with lettuce wraps.
- Pan Fried Pork Tenderloin – With no carbs, very few ingredients, and 20 minutes or so from pan to plate, this recipe makes for an easy, keto friendly main dish.
- Pork Chops & Cabbage – Here’s a quick and easy recipe for keto pork chops that won’t break the bank. The recipe serves two as written, but can easily be doubled if needed.
Seafood is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein. But eating fish on a budget can be difficult.
Frozen and canned are usually your best bets if you’re looking for the best value. If you opt for fresh, bone in skin on options are usually cheaper.
If a recipe calls for any type of white fish, I’ll usually just use the cheapest white fish I can find on sale. Most white fish is mild in flavor, takes to sauces and seasonings well, and is less expensive to boot.
- Tuna Patties – These crispy tuna patties use pork rinds instead of bread crumbs for the coating. Quite tasty and easier than I thought to make.
- Paleo Shrimp and Grits – Only five ingredients make up this quick recipe. It uses cauliflower instead of regular grits so it’s low carb and keto friendly.
- Baked Salmon and Asparagus in Foil – I usually get the bags of frozen sockeye salmon at Costco that comes with each fillet individually wrapped. Defrosting it then baking it in a foil packet with a side vegetable is about as easy as it gets.
- Easy Keto Lemon Garlic Mediterranean Tilapia – My family likes tilapia and I like easy so this recipe is right up my alley. There are instructions for cooking this dish in a skillet or baking it in the oven if you prefer.
- Buttered Cod in Skillet – Here’s an easy recipe for cod that only takes about ten minutes to make. Start with the seasonings the recipe calls for and use your favorite dried herbs for additional flavor.
I can’t count the number of meals I’ve made in my crock pot. I love the ease of one pot meals, how moist and tender everything comes out, and the aromas that fill the house for hours while it’s doing its magic.
Here are some cheap keto dinner recipes to try with your slow cooker:
- Slow Cooker Bacon Cheeseburger Pie – This was a big hit with the family. Somewhere between a quiche and a bacon double cheeseburger. It came out great and you wouldn’t know it was made in a crock pot.
- Slow Cooker Chili Verde – Made with common ingredients and pork tenderloin, this spicy, fragrant dish is perfect on a cold winter night.
- Paleo Slow Cooker Pork Recipe – This ketogenic diet friendly recipe is a perfect example of cooking in bulk using the slow cooker then getting three or four different meals out of it.
- Easy Low Carb Beef Stew Recipe – Unlike most beef stew recipes, there’s not a ton of ingredients in this one. There’s no shortage of flavor either. If you like beef stew, this recipe won’t disappoint.
- Keto Slow Cooker Turkey Stuffed Peppers – I always thought stuffed peppers were a pain to make until I tried it. Very simple to make, low budget recipe with no rice of course.
I got an Instant Pot for Christmas two years ago. I had no idea what to make in it or how to use it. It took me a while to embrace it, but now that I have the Instant Pot has earned a spot on my kitchen counter.
It hasn’t replaced my slow cooker and I don’t make everything in it. I find it convenient and well suited to getting a hot meal on the table in a hurry. It’s also good for cheap keto dinners like these:
- Keto Beef Brisket In The Instant Pot – When you think brisket, you probably think all day low and slow in a smoker, not cooked in an Instant Pot. This came out super tender and delicous so have no fear.
- Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore – This recipe is a great substitute if you miss carb heavy Italian meals while doing keto. At 9.5 grams of net carbs, you can serve this over cauliflower rice if you need to keep that number down.
- Keto Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Mac and Cheese – This recipe calls for cooked chicken so it’s a nice way to repurpose leftover chicken. Cream cheese and ranch dressing make it creamy and your favorite low carb buffalo sauce supplies the heat.
- Low Carb Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff – Creamy and rich without a high carb count, this yummy recipe is also easy to make. You will need a thickener, but if you’ve been cooking keto dishes for a while, you probably have some xanthan gum or arrowroot powder on hand.
- Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken – Cooking a whole chicken in an Instant Pot is something I never thought I’d do. I figured it would come out a bland, goopy mess. Nothing could be further from the truth! Try this recipe for moist, flavorful meat and nice crispy skin. It does call for using several spices, but nothing uncommon and you probably have all of them.