Thursday, August 9

Frugal Low Carb Diet?

With all the reports of an obesity epidemic I want to avoid the sedentary lifestyle and associated health risks. So, as well as being a frugal guy, I'm also active in the gym. At times, this leads to something of a challenge.

Most of the cheap foods that I can really save money on are carbohydrates. There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but I'm going to be cutting my carbs. For my current dietary experiment I'm going to have carbs at breakfast time, but then I'll stay near zero carbs the rest of the day.

The theory here is that I won't be doing an Atkins style diet, such that I won't worry about ketosis, but that I'll keep insulin levels low for most of the day. This should result in conditions that make it difficult for my body to store circulating fats.

The problem?

Protein is expensive! I'll have to eat meats, cheeses, eggs and various other low carb foods including healthy fats.

While shopping yesterday I picked up a few items that will help me stick with cheaper meats. So, as well as the spices I always keep in the kitchen, I've added various low carb salad dressings. I find these can be less expensive than similar marinades and sauces located further down the aisle. As an example, one of the dressings I picked up is bacon and roasted onion flavor. I expect that might be good with the chicken thighs that I've stocked up on.

A couple other basic ideas are pickles and mustard. Pickles are very low carb and are great to eat before your regular meal as fillers. I am finding that the garlic pickles provide a filling sensation without activating my sweet tooth. Mustard, on the other hand, is something that can last a long time as only a little bit is really needed at a time. It's great with most cuts of beef - including ground beef.

Anyhow, while this dietary experiment will end up costing me more in terms of grocery expenses, it's what I've decided to do. So, now my job is to find frugal ways to support this plan. Frugality isn't simply denying yourself things, it's also about finding inexpensive ways to support your lifestyle choices.

Any frugal low carb tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Note: Included in this week's festival of frugality.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I notice you didn't mention eating beans. Do they have a higher carb count, or were you just not thinking of them?

Don't forget eggs, which can be very inexpensive. There are recipes out there for crustless quiche etc.

My recipe for Spicy Thai Noodles uses peanut butter-you could cut the sugar by using splenda, and then instead of pouring the sauce over noodles, you could pour it over veggies-it would be very cheap, and very delish. (

Do you like eggplant? Right now while it is cheaper for the summer you can use it to substitue for that chewy meat feeling in spaghetti sauce or stirfries. Just make sure to prepare it correctly by salting it and then rinsing it to draw out some of the bitterness and moisture.

I used to make a "meatloaf" where I added pureed (or smashed) veggies such as canned carrots, beans to the meat, then cooked it in a casserole dish. It sort of spread the meat out (although it was way looser than a normal meatloaf-you could probably fix that with some eggs)

Anonymous said...

Some people raise thier own chickens and build a house for them. They give you not only eggs but, low carb meat and you decide what chicken feed to give them. Beans are high carb I was told by a Dr.. Tuna and fish is the best for you. You said you love to fish. You could fish and freeze them in a freezer for extra space. Leaner meats are available cheaper at Sam's club and Costco. The membership fee pays for itself fast. Jerky is best too. They have great deals on it at those two wholesale clubs. They even send out coupons, have rebate programs for Executive membership where you get money back and more. Baked chicken is best for low carb. Veggies of course are great for you too. They make veggie patties available at Super Walmart for a couple bucks. Good luck and have a great weekend. Thanks, Annette

Leanne said...

Protein can be found in dairy too, cottage cheese, fat free cheese, and you can get the immitation crabmeat fairly reasonably too. High in protein low in fat, use in a sandwich, part of a salad or add fat free cheese to melt on top with butter spray. Bumblebee makes these new sensations, flavored tuna you can get pretty cheap with a coupon and sale. London broil this week in our local supermarket was $1.49 lb, stock up when you find it.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Jenn, Annette, Leanne, thanks for the suggestions.

I'm happy to report that I'm noticing changes as a result of cutting out carbs from lunch time until the end of the day.

I'm also thinking I'm going to mix things up a bit and alternate carb restricted days and normal days. Probably starting on Monday.

Meredith said...

The hardest part about a low-carb lifestyle for my husband adapting it for brown bag lunches. No more sub sadnwiches!

To compensate, we buy the low carb breads at a bakery thrift store. Carb Down Flat Out wraps are often reduced-for-quick-sale in the bakery section of our grocery. Then, I found some Tupperware containers for leftover protein dinners from the night before. He also takes tuna and egg salads on a bed of lettuce.

Good luck! We have found that dropping the high carb snack foods evened out the cost of increased protein in our grocery budget.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Meredith, excellent information. Thanks for taking the time to tell me these ideas.

Anonymous said...

you can also use zuchinni grated as a filler in meatloaf,chile and other ground beef dishes. That cuts down a little on the meat used. My family doesn't even taste the zuchinni.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frugal Guy, great post! Here are some of my tips:
I suppose you already did the homework, meaning read a lot about dieting. Following the Atkins-diet can cause serious illness or damage to the liver and kidneys (to high protein content). So be sure to drink more (water) than before. The problem with a low carb-diet is that 99% of the foodstuff found in shops contain added sugar. Read the list of ingredients; when sugar is second, third of fourth on the list, DO NOT BUY/EAT it! Eating less carbs often means eating more "alternative stuff", containing a lot of sugar (and salt). So when you want to diet, start with reading the labels of the foods you normally eat. Then search for alternatives without added sugars (or aspartame). And that is really hard to find these days. Only the local farmer's market and the organic foodmarket sell the good stuff.

Good luck with dieting and enjoy the good food,
yours sincerely,
Maarten Beisterveld
Leiden, the Netherlands

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