Tips and Tricks: Saving money!

One of my first images of the ketogenic diet is the picture used in the NYT magazine article, Epilepsy’s Big Fat Miracle:

Stephen Lewis for The New York Times; Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil

That made my stomach turn a little bit. Now that Nora has been on the diet for 8 months, we know it’s not quite like that. We eat bacon about once a month. Nora gets about 4 slices total over a few days when I make up a package. She eats WAY more butter than this, but less cream nowadays. And WAY more macadamia nuts. And avocados aren’t in the picture! So I’ll update the picture with one of my own, from last night’s stock-up grocery shopping trip:

Feeding a kid on the ketogenic diet is not cheap, particularly if you are looking for high-quality fats. Pictured are some of the big-ticket items that I picked up for Nora last night. Some will last for several months, like the coconut oil. I’m not sure if this 5-pound bag of macadamia nuts will last us the month, but it will come close.

Now the saving money part: On the second Tuesday of every month, our local natural foods co-op, First Alternative, has Owner Appreciation Sale Day. Member-owners get 10% off their entire purchase! Even better, member-owners can order a case of any product for a 10% discount. Pick it up on owner sale day, and you get the additional 10% sale day discount off the discounted case price. Genius. They don’t hide this possibility, but I’m not sure that many people know about it. Your local co-op or grocery store might offer similar discounts on case orders; it’s common at all of the co-ops I’ve shopped. And it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I’ve mentioned before that I bought English Double Devonshire Cream in a case of 12. At $8.89 per jar, that’s some savings. Now that we are using less Double Devonshire Cream (Nora no longer eats “Norgurt” every day now that she is off Depokote sprinkles), I just buy a few at a time on owner sale day to last the month. It’s my mayo substitute (we hate mayo). I have been ordering a case of Primrose cream cheese, which comes in a 3-lb brick and costs $12.87, so we save $1.29 on the case discount and another $1.16 on owner sale day, for a $2.45 savings.

But that is small potatoes. We have dramatically increased our use of other high-priced items in recent months. Coconut oil and macadamia nuts are now staples, and we go through them like crazy. A 12-16 oz jar of coconut oil will cost between $8 and $12. This month I ordered a 7.5 pound jar of coconut oil, pictured above. It will keep indefinitely, so I will refill our smaller jar for daily use. The original price for the whole jar is $65.18, or $8.69 per pound. The case discount subtracts $6.51, then the sale day discount takes off another $5.37, for a total savings of $11.88. Now we’re talking savings.

We’ve also been going through macadamia nuts like crazy. After grinding them into butter, they are the main ingredient of many of Nora’s baked goods. Ted went to the store and bought some from bulk one day, which sell for $18-20 per pound, depending on the store. When the cashier weighed them, they came to over $40. She suggested that he could put some back (some friends will remember that Ted came home with a $40 bag of arborio rice the size of his head one day, so he’s got a reputation for “bulk” buying). But in the case of the macadamia nuts, we needed them all and he declined the opportunity to put some of them back.

The 5-pound bag of macadamia nuts pictured is a case, ringing in at $89.45, which is $17.89 per pound. The case discount is $8.94, then the sale day discount takes off another $7.55. That’s a $16.49 savings! Now I can justifying buying a nice bottle of wine for after the kids are in bed.

A few other things above that I did not buy in a case, but add up to significant savings with 10% off on owner sale day:

  • 2 bottles Double Devon Cream: $17.78; $1.78 savings
  • 2 Rotolini, reg, $8.89, on sale for $7.39 before discount; $5.48 total savings
  • Greek Gods Traditional Plain Yogurt: $2.99; $0.30 savings
  • Almond Oil (trying for the first time): $10.99; $1.10 savings
  • Small bottle Carlson Fish Oil: $22.69; $2.27 savings
  • Avocados: on sale 2 for $3; $0.30 savings
  • Organic Valley Heavy Cream: $3.79; $0.38 savings

Adding up everything I bought yesterday for the whole family, I saved $34.08 on the owner sale day discount and a total of $21.05 on the case discounts. $55.13 total savings, not including sale prices on some of our regular products. That helps the food budget a whole lot.


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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

7 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Saving money!

  1. Hi — I’m so happy to have found your blog. My son has failed three meds now and we are hoping to start the diet soon. We live in Portland. I look forward to all your tips!

    • Anne–So glad you found us! We can meet at a park in PDX sometime and share some keto-treats! We are happy to share all that we know, now that we feel like we have this under control. It is hard to get started, so feel free to contact us anytime. How old is your son, and is he also seeing Dr. Wray? –Christy

      • We have been seeing a different doctor, Jennifer Huffman at Emanuel, but we have an appointment with Dr Wray in a few weeks, hopefully to get going on the diet. I’ve been hounding them to fit him in sooner. My son, Samson, is 3.5 — lots of other health issues though that make him complicated. Would actually love to chat further! I’m at

        • Just let us know if you have any other questions. Nora adores Dr. Wray. He is specially trained in the keto diet, but he also keeps every other tool in his medical kit. I have appreciated his problem-solving approach with us. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

          Until then, we started feeding Nora on the low-glycemic index diet early on, before meeting him, taking out refined sugars and starches. I think the gradual approach also helped her acceptance of the diet. She didn’t do the hospitalized induction so it was less of a shock to her emotionally because her food didn’t change overnight. It can’t hurt to start trying the basic philosophy behind the diet, maintaining a low and steady blood sugar level. Just don’t push it too far into ketosis without supervision.

  2. Hi Christy. I just found your blog and skipped through a bit. I saw you mentioned Nora now eats raw vegan diet. You mean you make keto diet raw and vegan? My son is on keto diet as well ( second try ). It is not working for us any longer as it used to and I am shifting towards raw diet. But i find it so hard and time consuming to incorporate raw diet into keto diet. Do you have any raw keto recipes to share?

    • Hi Natasha–sorry to mislead you, that was an April Fools joke, to say that Nora is on a raw food diet too. But in that post, I included a keto recipe that was inspired by a raw food diet recipe. Macadamia Monster Mash. Check out that recipe for one option, but otherwise, it would be tough to do a raw food vegan diet, as you know. Lots of coconut oil and coconut milk maybe! Good luck.

      • Bummer! I should’ve read more carefully I guess. I thought I finally found someone just as crazy as myself. LOL. We will most likely be switching to just raw food diet in a future. Glad to hear keto is working for Nora

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