If you want to see your grocery budget go through the roof, take a stroll by the meat counter at your favorite grocery store. It seems over the years that the prices on meat, especially beef, have soared sky high. That’s why I’m sharing with you five ways I save on meat.
Some suggest planning your menus around what’s on sale that week. While this might help some, you might find your menus becoming quite boring.
We often see just one cut of meat on sale per week. For instance, one week chicken breast might be priced at less than $2 per pound. The next week, we’ll see pork sirloin for $1.99 per pound.
If you only shop weekly sales, you’ll find yourself eating the same cuts of meat day in and day out.
Some will also suggest going meatless, but if you have meat and potato eaters in your family like I do, that’s not an option. One time I decided to try a new recipe for Meatless Lasagna Rolls. It contained every ingredient you find in traditional lasagna except meat. Hubs took one bit and immediately asked “is there meat in this?”
So what is the answer? Here are five solutions to save on meat that I think you’ll find simple and effective.
Ways to Save on Meat
Going meatless isn’t an option for some of us, but we can eat less meat. Instead of planning meals with meat entrees and side dishes, try preparing casseroles, stews or one skillet meals. These recipes often utilize lesser portions of meat.
You can also stretch meat by adding fillers. I have found when I add breadcrumbs or oatmeal to ground beef, they often take on the same meat flavor. Your family probably won’t even notice. You can also add beans (black beans or kidney beans are my favorites) to appropriate dishes to make your meat go further.
Try these meat stretching recipes:
- Slow Cooker Ham & Northern Beans
- Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup
- Beef and Black Bean Tortilla Stack
- BBQ Meatballs
- Turkey Taco Penne
One of my favorite ways to save on groceries is to practice the Pantry Principle and you can use it to save on meat as well. The pantry principle, simply defined, is stocking your pantry (or in this case your freezer) with what you need at the lowest price you can find.
So if pork sirloin chops are on sale for $1.99/lb one week, I’ll buy as much as my budget will allow. The next week, chicken breast might be on sale for $1.69/lb and I’ll buy as much as I can. See the pattern?
This way my freezer stays stocked with various cuts of meat, all purchased at rock bottom prices. This makes menu planning much easier as well.
You’ll need to keep up with what is a good price per pound. You can do this by keeping a price book which tracks the prices on specific cuts of meat at various stores over a specific period of time. Or you can use a price comparison app like Favado to keep an eye on weekly sale prices.
You can save a ton of money on meat by watching for price reducing patterns or speaking to the meat cutter at your favorite stores to find out when they mark down the meat.
I’ve found that many stores will reduce prices on meat right after the weekend, so if you shop on Monday morning you can stock your freezer with great deals. Also, after the holidays, many stores will mark down whole turkeys and other “holiday” cuts of meat.
When buying reduced meats, just make sure to repackage and freeze right away so it doesn’t spoil.
Buy Larger Quantities
It can be time consuming to repackage value packs of meat for the freezer, but you can save between $1-$2 per pound by buying larger packages or family packs of meat.
You can also save quite a bit by purchasing cases of meat from direct sales companies like Zaycon Foods. Because direct sales companies cut out the middle man, they can not only offer lower prices, but the meat comes to you fresher. I buy almost all of my ground beef, chicken breast and bacon from Zaycon.
Avoid Convenience Cuts
Grocery stores give a huge markup to what I call “convenience cuts” of meat. These are the meats that are already cut or seasoned for specific dishes like stew, fajitas and stir fry. I’ve found that these specialty cuts are often priced as much as $2/lb more than their whole counterparts.
I suggest buying the whole versions and cutting, slicing or chopping yourself.
I wanted to make carne asada for some tacos one week, but the pre-cut and marinated carne asada in the butcher’s counter was $6.98/lb. I need two pounds for my family of 7 which totals $13.96. Instead, I found a beef roast on sale for $4.58/lb, sliced it thin, seasoned and marinated it myself. My total cost was reduced to just $9.16 which saved me almost $5.
Thick cut New York Chops are regularly priced at over $4 per lb. Sometimes they go on sale for $2.49/lb. However, many times you can buy a whole pork loin for as low as $1.79/lb and then slice it up into thick chops yourself.
Changing the way you shop can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you try to take on too much at once. Consider picking two of the ideas in this article and implementing them into your weekly shopping habits. Over time, you’ll be able to add the other ideas to your routine and I guarantee your grocery budget will decrease. Or worse case scenario, your freezer will be overflowing.