Bulk up the dinner plate with cheap green vegetables. You don't have to buy expensive low carb tortillas for every Mexican meal. Last night we had fajita salad over a bed of shredded romaine. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and green beans are staples of my daily cooking. Find a grocer with reliable cheap produce--it might be an Asian market.
Instead of coating entrees in pricey melted cheese, use sauces and salad dressings to get quick, low carb flavor. I like Southwestern-style ranch for 2 g carbs. It gives you the smoky taste of chiles and the tang of sour cream, but in a tiny amount of a $1.50 bottle. We like Ken's blue cheese dressing over steak salad (Black and Bleu) and as a side dip for hot wings and celery sticks. With coupons, you can get as many free bottles of Frank's Hot Sauce as your pantry can hold. Just read the labels carefully and avoid low-fat dressings doctored with sugar.
On the sweet side, make your own. The South Beach treats are tempting, but they will kill your budget. Stock up when Philly cream cheese hits 99 cents a bar, or do like Tammy's cheesecake expert and use the Aldi brand for only 69 cents. Find the low carb puddings and pie recipes that use silken tofu (ultra cheap) as an alternative to heavy cream or whey protein powders. Eliminate the expense of low carb crusts--I've learned to sprinkle the tops of desserts with chopped nuts for a cheaper "crunch."
Any cheap tips from my low-carb readers?