Tips for saving money on meat from the ThriftyFun community. Post your own ideas below.
To stretch my mealtime budget, I buy ground chuck on sale and combine it with twice as much ground turkey that I get for 69 cents at my local Save a Lot. I add in two packets of onion soup mix, which costs 50 cents at the same store. This makes it taste more like all beef. If I combine 2 lbs. of chuck with 4 lbs. of turkey, I get 6 lbs. of meat for spaghetti sauce, tacos, chili, etc. for less than $6.00.
If you have a local Aldi's, turkey burger is 69 cents for a pound and is healthier for you.
Eat less meat, eat more beans. I always bought canned beans because I thought dried beans took too long to cook. Now, I buy a bag of dried beans, any kind, and soak them in clear water overnight. Drain and refill with water (do NOT add salt, it will toughen the beans). Bring to a boil and boil for 20 minutes or so. Drain. Cool slightly and divide up into portion sizes in baggies, freeze flat.
To use these, thaw quickly under running warm water or on counter, cook to taste. The freezing changes the cell structure and the beans cook up really fast after being par-cooked and frozen.
Also, when I make tacos, enchiladas, or other Mexican food, I always add beans to the filling, using less meat.
Some stores here have "red sales", they sell hamburger meat and bacon at 79 cents/pound, but you have to get 10 or more pounds. Buy some of the bacon (it's thick country style slices, not paper thin) and section it into pound or so packs in plastic. Then you can use what you need at a time! If it isn't salty enough, salt it.
Don't forget eggs as a protein source! Try this when they are on sale next time: In greased muffin tins, break one whole egg into each hole. Add 1/2 slice of day old bread, broken into small pieces, to the top of each egg and cover the bread with milk as full as you can. Salt/pepper/butter and bake for about 35 mins at 325 degrees F. Test doneness with fork. Serve with salmon patties, green beans and maybe a salad! But, by themselves, these sometimes are plenty!
When I buy a beef or pork roast, I buy on sale and get one of the largest they have. We are a family of 4 and the roast will last us for 3 of 4 meals that way. Usually this is even more economical than buying the cheapest hamburger.
I like to stock up on different varieties of fresh meat but hate paying the sometime expensive prices of fresh meat. While shopping at Safeway once, I noticed red manager price off stickers on various packaged meat. The reason for this is that the meat is getting close to the expiration date (but not past yet) and the store wishes to get rid of the meat, if possible.
I find that these packages are great bargains for me. Once I even managed to get over $15 worth of meat for about $5.50. As I have a freezer, I freeze all my meat for future use and thus extend the expiration date of the meat. By watching for these manager specials, I not only save money, but am also able to get a variety of fresh meat.
I've noticed that Mondays are a great day to find reduced meat at Wal-Mart. I asked the butcher about it and he agreed, that's when they do their markdowns. At least thats how it is where I live.
I work in the deli of a local market on weekends. At 7:00 p.m, our hot side sells meals at half price. At 7:30, everything in the hot case is half price. On the cold side (deli meats), we close at 9:00 p.m, so at 8:30 anything that is already sliced and in the case is half price. Ask at your local store and see what they do. I know that at a rival store, they just wrap their meat and sell it the next day.
By Ms April
I always find if I get to the store before 9 AM. There is always something discounted because it is the sell by date. I then buy it even if I don't need right away. I'll just freeze it for another day.
Our grocery budget is frequently tight, and I have found that we tend to run low on meat sometimes. The solution we found was that if we get all of our meats first at the store and then figure what we had left to spend, we could usually get enough meat to last a week and still be able to get all the other things we need.
The way I spend money on meat is to cut back on the portions that I add to the different dishes I make. Meat is expensive, even hamburger! When I buy hamburger, I have the men at the meat counter package it all in one package. Then I bring it home and sort it into my own small storage bags in the amounts that I want to use and I put it into the freezer. I can get 7 or 8 meals out of a 5 lb. package of hamburger!
Add fillers like oatmeal, wheat/taboli mix, ground soy, rice, stale bread crumbs, to hamburger to stretch the amount. Healthier and thrifty.
In the area I live, they have what is called "Heartland Share". You can get several meats, vegetables and fruit, plus sometimes dessert. It costs $17 plus 2 for transportation. You have to do 2 hours of volunteer work for 1 share. They also have meat specials. Those prices vary. See if they have it in your area.
Try having a meat-free night at least once a week. It'll save a lot in the long run.
I buy a meat order, from my butcher. It costs us $129 (Canadian) and we get our chicken, steak, pork chops, ground beef and many roasts. It lasts us, a family of 4, 6 weeks. When I was buying from the store, I could easily spend $40 a week on meat. Usually your butcher has way better deals and you don't pay shipping costs.
Since we have only one store in our town (Copps), I shop only from their sale flyer. When they have a great deal, I buy enough to stock up. Meat or anything else. I liken us to treasure hunters. We really have to search to find the gems!
Time is precious for working woman, so to save time when I buy ground beef. I buy extra and cook it right away then I freeze it in one pound containers. When you need a fast meal like sloppy joes all you need to do it take the meat out of the freezer and add you other ingredients. It's a time saver for me
By Darijavan from Grant, MI
We wait until Ground Beef (called Mince Meat in Australia) is on sale then freeze in meal size lots. Another way is to make a Mince meat stew to which we add lots of different veggies and usually cook two meals worth of potatoes. We then have the vegetables in the stew and make a shepherds pie with the remainder, putting in and oven dish and covering with the remaining half of the potatoes. Run a fork over the top of the casserole and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake in medium oven until cheese is browned and melted.
I like to buy the big family packs of chicken parts, legs, thighs, drumsticks, etc, when they go on sale. I par-boil them when I get home and freeze in amounts good for dinners. It saves me a lot of time and money. I do the same for sales and markdowns on other meats. Anything that is marked down to sell, I cook up immediately to be safe and freeze or use in a meal for the next couple of nights.
I save so much money this way. We also have incorporated many vegetarian meals which we think is healthier. We don't need meat every night. Our grandson so far, at one year old, won't touch meat so there is some savings there!
Be sure you, and anyone else who might go shopping, know what price you want to pay. One time, I sent my husband to the store to buy some things in order to stock up. One of the things on the list was boneless chicken breasts. He brought home a largish package at $6.99 a pound!!! Unless it is a very special occasion, we only buy meat at $3.00 or less a pound. When I send him to the store, I'll mark the top price or say "chicken or whatever is on sale" because I can usually substitute meat in almost any recipe.
I highly recommend buying large cuts of meat and processing it at home. If I want, say, ground chuck, I look for a chuck roast on special and grind it myself. Not only is this much less expensive than buying pre-ground, you can determine how much (and what kind of) fat you grind with it.
On stew beef: I'd rather buy a chuck roast and cut it up myself, removing any gristles and such. It's cheaper, and I get it the way I want it. Also, I haven't seen this in a while but I used to buy boxes of bacon ends and pieces really cheaply. Seems like the supermarket had 4-lb boxes for three bucks or so. Some of the pieces were too thick to fry for breakfast but they worked great to season beans, soups, stews and such. The thinner pieces were fine to fry, and the fat could be ground up with beef chuck or deer meat. No waste!
When I find round steaks on sale, I will purchase a full one and divide it into cubes for vegetable beef soup as well as cubes for beef stew. I cut the cubes for soup uniformly into small pieces but cut the meat for beef stew into larger pieces. If the round steak is large enough, I also slice the meat for beef stroganoff. Generally, I can get at least three meals from one full round steak by utilizing smaller pieces of meat instead of using the more traditional larger cubes.
By Ronsan from Southern Missouri
We have 3 grocery stores in our area that offer 5 family packages of meat for $20. I pick out the 5 biggest packages, take home and divide them up and freeze. This usually feeds my family (of 3) for almost 2 weeks. I get creative with different ways to prepare the meats so we don't get burned out on them. And for the veggies, and sides I shop at Aldi discount grocery, or the dollar store. This helps out greatly on our grocery budget.
By jmz2005 from illinois
One other thought: beef is actually often better after it has been marked down. There is a brief period of time, as beef begins to decompose, at which it is at its peak of flavor and tenderness. One of my passions is ribeye steak, and if I buy it fresh, I usually let it age in my fridge for a few days before grilling it. Obviously there are advantages to letting the market age the steak and then discount it! The only disadvantage is (assuming your fellow shoppers are beef-savvy) the well-marbled cuts have been taken and what's left is not very good. Shop wisely, but bargains can be found.
Stir-fry is great. You use a little meat and a lot of vegetables and rice. We are not vegetarians by any stretch, but I don't get enough food stamps to last all month so we do spaghetti with sauce right out of the can without adding meat (but sometimes adding chunky vegetables). Pancakes, toward the end of the month. And hot dogs as a treat.
Coupons, coupons and more coupons. Buy the reduced meats and then take off a coupon as well. I can feed the two of us steak, chicken, pork and shrimp for less than $30.00 a week and the meat is good quality. There is always enough left for the two of us to have a nice lunch as well and we save lunch out cost.
Chicken: Cut up your own, it's easy, and you can use every part, including the neck, giblets and fat for soup stock.
Pork: Use less expensive cuts; sirloin chops are a good value and tender, pork steak has a trillion uses, you can even learn how to roll your own pork roast.
Beef: Use the tube hamburger vs. store ground. It is produced in ultra sanitary conditions, has better flavor, and it's cheaper. I've seen it produced in packing plants, it is excellent!
Don't buy 'thin cut' , 'tenderized', 'butterfly' or other such refined cutting methods, they charge 30 cents or more to process what you can do yourself.
Want a great steak cheap? Find 'Chuck Eye Steak' at your grocer, or at many WalMarts. This is a cut next to the ribeye. Less attractive but equally as good, very tender, great on the grill!
I was a meat cutter for 30 years, glad to answer any questions - just email me!
My daughter loves steak but the price makes it impossible to afford. But for a special occasion, I buy beef chuck eye steaks. They taste exactly like rib-eyes. I buy them on sale for $3.98 a lb. Compared to $10.98 for rib-eyes, what a deal. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and grill. Delicious!
The Dollar Tree stores in our area (western NY) have started carrying frozen foods. I have purchased meatballs, polish sausage, turkey bacon, brown-n serve breakfast sausage, chicken legs, crab cakes, fried clam strips, and sarimi. The packages are enough for the two of us, and everything so far has been satisfactory. Dinner meat for $1.00. Not bad.
To save money, I take leftover meatballs and chop the meat to use for sloppy joes. That way you don't have to buy or use more hamburger.
By Pam from OH
I buy boneless/skinless breasts of chicken when on sale. Freeze each breast separately for a recipe for 2, or 2 breasts for 4 people.
Take the out chicken to thaw and when partially thawed I filet those thick breasts straight across, creating large plentiful servings sometimes they are so large you can cut them horizontally. WOW!
Great savings, Great food. Enjoy!
By Patricia Vrooman from Peoria, AZ
To save money on red meat, we use venison exclusively. With lots of hunters in the family, they kill the deer and we pay for the processing. We buy 5-7 deer a year and it feeds 7 of us for a whole year for about $400. Try doing that with red meat of any kind. I only buy fish and chicken once in a while and the venison is 3% fat so it is just as lean as can be.
By Kay Mathias from South Fulton, TN
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I find the better tasty meat is at Sam's Club and is always cheaper than the major chains. You can get 90/10 fat for less than 2.50 a pound.
I buy it in big packages and freeze it right away in aluminum foil .75 to 1llb packets.
I was reading thru the posts and thought about some who shop weekly. While you can get good deals by doing that, for meat I would rather do it for a month. Because if you are only doing for a week you might not want chicken twice so would buy a small package, when the family size is cheaper. Or the big things of hamburger meat. I always spend more when I shop more than once a month. When i shop for a month, I make out a menu and then on my shopping list I can put ok, I am going to need enough hamburger for 7 meals and can get that in one or two packages. Instead of several smaller packages that will run up your bill.
We buy Pork Pieces,sometimes called Pork Stew .
Some of these pieces are big enough to roll into rolled roasts with Stuffing mix rolled in .Yummy!
Others are just the right size to bread in stuffing mix crumbs ,season & put on our microwave bacon tray with some potatos ,sweet & white . Yummy . Judge times by power of your own oven . I call this Pork Nuggets & just dip them in ketchup .
While serving the pork & potatos we microwave some veggies in a big Coffee Mug . Or we serve out some coleslaw we've already made .
Sometimes we make enough for several days of the pork & potatos ,refrigerate & just zap them for a minute or 2 the next time we want them . Or we cut the potatos & fry them with something else .
Sometimes we put the whole mess [minus dressing on coleslaw of course] into a Big Skillet with some Onions & Garlic,fry it up til Browned with a bit of Bacon grease & call it Bubble & Squeak . Squirt on some catsup ,yummy One dish meal .
Pets get the scraps & don't hesitate to let us know they had Better Get Them ! Hah, Hah!
ALL excellent ideas Thanks Eloise
One thing that I love doing is taking the local grocery ads and using them at Wal-mart Supercenter. This way, we don't go driving from store to store, saving time and gas this way. It is also perfect for use with the family packs.
I buy a half of cow in the spring and then in the fall, this saves a lot of money .the spring one i just bought was 2.19 a lb. PAM from OHIO
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