Meat is a staple in many households, but its cost can often put a strain on your budget. But, with some smart strategies and a little creativity, you can enjoy high-quality meat while still saving money.
In this blog post, we’ll explore practical and budget-friendly tips to help you save on meat purchases without compromising flavor or nutrition. From shopping tactics to cooking techniques, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in!
Buy in Bulk
One of the best ways to save money on meat is bulk purchases. This option may be difficult for some families depending on your available freezer space.
If buying and freezing meat in bulk is something that makes sense for your family an investment in a chest freezer may be a good option.
Look for deals on meat on larger quantities of meat and stock up. Typically, some of the cheapest meat you can purchase would be whole chicken, chicken thighs or legs, ground beef, ground turkey, and pork.
Once you’ve got your favorite meat products, you can divide up and freeze everything into individual portions allowing you to thaw only what you need, preventing waste and ensuring you always have meat on hand at a lower cost.
When it comes to saving money on groceries, don’t settle for the first meat prices you come across. Take the time to compare prices at different grocery stores or butcher shops.
You might be surprised at the price variations.
Also, be sure you are checking the price per pound versus just checking the price per package of meat to make sure you really are getting the best deal.
Consider talking with the meat department at your local grocery store as well, they’ll have great insight into what they get in stock regularly, the different cuts of beef, and what will typically net you a cheaper price.
Buy from a farmer.
If you’re looking to save money on meat, one option to consider is buying from a local farmer. This can be a cost-effective way to purchase meat while also supporting local agriculture.
When you buy directly from a farmer, you may be able to get lower prices than what you would find at a grocery store or butcher shop. This is because you are cutting out the middleman and buying directly from the source.
Buying directly from a farmer may also require buying in bulk. This may seem like a daunting task, but it can actually be a great way to save money in the long run.
By purchasing larger quantities of meat, you can often get lower prices per pound. Plus, if you split the cost and meat among family or friends, you can further lower your own costs.
Use Money Saving Apps and Coupons
Dosh is a free cash-back app that rewards you for purchases you make, either in-store or online.
Ibotta is another free cash-back app that rewards you for making purchases on pre-selected offers upon uploading receipts.
Rakuten gives you cash back for shopping at over 3,500 stores. Once you join you simply use their browser extension or shop through their site to collect your cash-back offers.
Some local grocery stores will have printable coupons you can use to stock up on
Stocking Up When Prices Are Lowest
Keep an eye on weekly sales flyers, online deals, or keep a look out for discount stickers to set up your meal planning around meat sales. Pay particular attention to cuts of meat you may use for many of your favorite meals– like ground beef or chicken breasts for example.
Another way to save money is to purchase meat during seasonal sales. During the summer months, for example, many stores run promotions on burgers, hot dogs, and other barbecue favorites.
If you enjoy grilling, you can take advantage of these seasonal sales and stock up on meat that can be frozen and used throughout the year. You can also save money by stocking up on meat when it is in season or when stores need to make room for new shipments.
Don’t overlook the clearance section of your grocery store. Items nearing their sell-by-date date are often marked down for quick sale, including meat. These deals are often dirt cheap and you can save a bunch of money by looking for these deals.
If you plan to use or freeze the meat immediately, clearance purchases can be a fantastic way to score great deals without compromising safety or quality.
Exploring Alternatives to Traditional Cuts of Meat
If you’re looking to save money on your grocery budget, exploring alternative cuts of meat is a great budget-friendly option. Traditional cuts like chicken breasts, pork chops, and beef brisket can add up, but there are cheap meat alternatives that don’t compromise on taste and quality.
One example is the chuck eye. Chuck eye is sometimes called “the poor man’s ribeye”. The chuck eye has a similar flavor and texture to the ribeye but at a fraction of the price. It’s a versatile cut that can be grilled, broiled, or roasted and pairs well with bold marinades or seasonings.
Make Your Own Lunch Meat
Making your own deli meat , while not a quick process, isn’t super complicated!
Once you’ve chosen your cut of meat, you cook it up, then chill it. Once chilled you can slice thin and store it in an air-tight container or throw it in the freezer.
Deli meat can get expensive especially if you are making tons of sandwiches at home– this is just another simple way you can beat grocery prices.
Grind Your Own Meat
A one-time investment in a meat grinder attachment can save you money. Purchasing pre-packaged ground meat is generally more expensive than buying whole cuts of meat.
When you grind your own meat, you have the flexibility to choose more affordable cuts, such as chuck or round, and grind them yourself.
Plus you get the bonus of being able to utilize meat trimmings or less desirable cuts that might otherwise go to waste.
Instead of discarding these parts, you can grind them to make ground meat. This reduces food waste and maximizes the value of the meat you purchase.
Include a Meatless Meal or Two Each Week
Ever heard of Meatless Monday?
Since meat tends to be the most expensive item in each meal. You can save so much money by throwing a few meatless dishes into the meal rotation.
Stretch Meat with Beans
Incorporating beans is an easy way to make your meals more economical and nutritious.
Using cooked beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas, into dishes like meatloaf, meatballs, or burgers– is a great way to stretch your meat.
You just mix the beans with the ground meat to increase the volume while using less meat for the overall dish
Use Cheaper Cuts
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy flavorful meat. Cheaper cuts, such as a chuck roast or shoulder roasts, can be just as delicious when cooked properly.
These cuts often benefit from slower cooking methods like braising or stewing or throwing them in the slow cooker, which tenderizes them and brings out their rich flavors.
Buy Whole Chickens
Whole chickens are usually more affordable per pound than individual cuts.
Buying whole chickens not only saves you money but also offers versatility.
You can roast the chicken for a delightful meal, use the leftovers for sandwiches or salads, and utilize the bones to make homemade chicken stock.
Transforming leftovers into new dishes is a fantastic way to stretch your meat budget.
Use leftover meat as a base for flavorful soups, stews, or casseroles. Pulled chicken or beef can be repurposed into tacos or wraps, adding variety to your meals without additional expenses.
Incorporate Meat as a Flavoring
You don’t always need a large quantity of meat to enjoy its savory taste.
Use smaller amounts of meat as a flavor enhancer in dishes primarily featuring other ingredients.
For example, stir-fries, pasta dishes, or casseroles can benefit from a small amount of diced bacon, ham, or sausage, amplifying their flavors without breaking the bank.
Substitute with Plant-Based Proteins
To reduce meat consumption and save money, incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet.
Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and other legumes are excellent alternatives that offer nutritional value and cost significantly less than meat. Explore delicious vegetarian recipes to diversify your meals and stretch your budget.
Planning your meals in advance can help you avoid unnecessary meat purchases and reduce waste.
Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals and create a shopping list accordingly. By knowing exactly what you need, you can resist impulse purchases and stay within your budget.
Use Meat as a Garnish
Instead of making meat the star of your meal, consider using it as a garnish or topping.
By utilizing smaller portions to add flavor and texture, you can stretch your meat budget.
For example, sprinkle bacon bits on a salad or add sliced grilled chicken to a vegetable stir-fry.
Check Out Ethnic Grocery Stores
Ethnic grocery stores often offer competitive prices on meat, especially for specialty cuts.
Explore local Asian, Latin, or Middle Eastern markets for affordable options. These markets are also great places to find unique cuts of meat and expand your culinary horizons.
Buy Whole Animals
If you have the storage space and means, consider purchasing a whole animal directly from a farmer or butcher.
While the upfront cost may be higher, buying a whole animal can save you money in the long run. You can portion the meat to your liking, ensuring you get the most value out of your purchase.
DIY Meat Processing
By learning basic butchering skills, you can buy larger cuts of meat and portion them yourself. While it may seem intimidating at first, there are plenty of online tutorials and resources available to guide you.
This DIY approach can result in significant savings and greater control over the cuts you prefer.
Another option is to talk to the meat cutter at your local grocery store about splitting up or creating your own cuts of meat.
Consider Frozen Options
While fresh meat is wonderful, frozen meats are often more budget-friendly and can be just as good in many recipes.
Frozen meat maintains its quality and flavor while providing convenience and flexibility. Stock up on frozen cuts when they’re on sale to maximize your savings.
Use Up Everything You Can
Don’t discard bones, trimmings, or scraps from meat. Instead, utilize them to make flavorful stocks and broths.
Homemade stock adds depth to soups, stews, and sauces, eliminating the need for store-bought options. By making your own stock, you’ll save money and reduce food waste.
Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs
Sign up for loyalty programs at grocery stores that offer discounts or rewards on meat purchases.
These programs often provide exclusive deals, personalized offers, or points that can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases. Over time, these savings can add up significantly.
Check Out Discount Clubs
Warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club often offer meat in bulk at lower prices.
While you may need to buy larger quantities, you can portion and freeze them for later use.
Make Your Own Sausages
If you enjoy sausages, consider making your own using ground meat and spices.
Pre-packaged sausages tend to be more expensive due to packaging and processing costs.
With a simple sausage stuffer and a bit of practice, you can create delicious homemade sausages that save you money and allow for creative flavor combinations.
Buy Family Packs
Larger packs of meat are usually cheaper per pound than smaller packages.
Look for family-sized packs or bulk meat options when available. You can portion the meat into smaller servings and freeze them for future meals.
Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Local farmer’s markets can be excellent places to find affordable, high-quality meat.
Farmers often sell their products directly, eliminating extra costs associated with distribution.
To maximize your meat budget, ensure you store meat properly to prevent spoilage and waste.
Follow recommended storage guidelines, use airtight containers or freezer bags, and label items with dates to keep track of freshness.
Proper storage not only saves money but also maintains meat quality and flavor.
Make Stock from Bones
After cooking meat with bones, such as roasted chicken or beef, don’t discard the bones just yet.
Instead, use them to make homemade stock. Simmering the bones with aromatic vegetables and herbs creates a flavorful base for soups, sauces, and risottos. Homemade stock is cost-effective, delicious, and adds depth to your dishes.
Try Cheaper Seafood Options
If you’re open to seafood, consider exploring more affordable options.
Canned tuna, mackerel, or frozen fish fillets can be nutritious and budget-friendly choices.
Incorporate them into your meal rotation to diversify your protein sources and save money on meat.
Utilize Marinades and Tenderizers
Tougher cuts of meat can be made tender and flavorful with the help of marinades or natural tenderizers.
Acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt can break down proteins and tenderize the meat.
Experiment with different marinades and tenderizing techniques to make the most of affordable cuts.
Cook in Batches
Cooking large portions of meat at once allows you to use the leftovers for subsequent meals.
Roast a whole chicken and repurpose the leftover meat in salads, sandwiches, or casseroles throughout the week.
Alternatively, cook a big batch of chili or stew and freeze individual portions for quick and convenient meals later on.
Shop at Discount Grocers
Discount grocery stores can be treasure troves for affordable meat options.
These stores offer competitive prices on various products, including meat. While the selection might be limited, you can still find excellent deals without compromising quality.
Reduce Portion Sizes
Serving smaller portions of meat and balancing them with larger servings of vegetables, grains, or legumes not only saves money but also promotes a healthier diet.
So don’t skimp on the fruits and veggies!
Eating well on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or nutrition.
By implementing these practical tips, you can save money on meat without compromising the quality of your meals.
From buying in bulk and exploring alternative protein sources to utilizing leftovers and mastering cooking techniques, there are numerous strategies at your disposal.
So, get creative in the kitchen, be mindful of your purchases, and enjoy delicious, budget-friendly meat dishes that satisfy your taste buds and your wallet.