How To Save Money On Meat

how to save money on meat

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WANT TO LEARN HOW TO CONSISTENTLY SAVE MONEY ON MEAT WEEK AFTER WEEK?

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When I sat down to write this post, I started thinking about my childhood and how our family ate back in the ’70s and ’80s compared to the way my family eats today.

My parents, brother, and I ate with my grandmother ALL.THE.TIME. It was what we did as a family. She lived next door and was an amazing cook!

Now that I am in my 50s, I realize my grandmother made running a cost-effective kitchen seem effortless!

I grew up on a lake in South Carolina where my whole family enjoyed year-round fishing. In addition to being an avid fisherman, my father loved to hunt deer and quail.

When I started thinking about what kind and how much meat we consumed growing up, I quickly realized that the only meat-heavy dinners we ate consisted of the fish we caught or the quail and deer my father hunted.

When we ate store-bought meat like chicken, beef, or pork, dinner consisted of a small amount of meat for everyone with a minimum of three to four side dishes.

The main ingredients of the side dishes were vegetables from my grandmother’s garden or inexpensive grains like rice or pasta.

To round out the meal, there was always bread, sweet tea, and some kind of dessert on hand.

The meat was never the star of the meal!

Unfortunately, my father passed away in 2014, we don’t live on the lake, and my husband doesn’t hunt or fish.

So, like many families, we must buy all of our own meat.

Here are 7 ways our family consistently saves money on meat!

ONLY BUY MEAT WHEN IT IS ON SALE

Meat goes on sale ALL.THE.TIME. so do your best to only purchase meat when it is on sale.

You will always be able to purchase some kind of meat on sale each week.

It may not what your family is craving or it may be a cut of meat your family doesn’t eat but a week won’t go buy, you don’t find some kind of meat on sale.

To compensate for those times when the meat you need isn’t on sale, you should stock up on meat your family loves when it is on sale and freeze it.

Then eat from your freezer each week until your favorite cuts go on sale again and restock your freezer.

Make it a habit of only purchasing meat when it is on sale and you’ll save bundles over the course of the year.

USE MEAT AS A SIDE DISH

Meat heavy meals can significantly increase your grocery budget if you’re not careful!

Instead, as a way to balance your family’s love of meat and your wallet, use meat as a side dish.

Cook less meat, add more veggies, and grains. Then add some bread.

Your family might complain about less meat but they will leave the table with full bellies!

Another way to cut back on meat is to cook more meat and veggie one-dish meals like spaghetti with meat sauce, soups, and casseroles.

For example, forego spaghetti and meatballs for spaghetti with meat sauce.

Here’s how you do this:

Cut the meat in half and substitute equal or greater amounts of less-expensive ingredients.

For example, instead of buying 2 pounds of the more expensive ground beef, buy only one pound of beef.

Then, buy a pound of less expensive ingredients like mushrooms and onions.

BUY MEAT IN BULK

A few years ago, my husband and I made the decision to begin buying grass-fed beef and pastured pork.

Because grass-fed and pastured meat are more expensive, the only way we could afford it was to buy directly from the farm and in bulk.

For a little over a year, we scrimped and saved.

Eventually, we were able to purchase a whole hog and a half of a cow from a small family-owned farm about 100 miles up the road.

Buying meat this way saves us a bundle and I always have the cuts of meat our family loves on hand.

And I don’t have to worry about all the recalls. I know not only where my meat comes from but that it comes from ONE ANIMAL only.

The most economical way to purchase pastured chicken is to purchase whole chickens in bulk.

But, we don’t buy pastured chicken at all.

Why? It’ is simple!

My husband “hates” meat on the bone.

And I have joint issues in my hands, making it painful to pick the bones and cut up a whole chicken.

So, when boneless chicken goes on sale, we stock up. We buy organic when our budget allows, and when we can’t, we don’t stress over it!

But, if you aren’t in the position to purchase directly from farms, don’t despair.

You can do like I did for years…buy meat in bulk from your grocery store.

When buying meat in bulk from the grocery store, always stock up on your favorite cuts when they are on sale.

But, don’t make the mistake I did early on. Don’t buy meat just because it is on sale or marked down.

Only buy in bulk the cuts of meat your family eats month after month!

Also, when your store is having a sale, pay a visit to the butcher!

Ask the store’s butcher if you could get an additional discount if you purchase in bulk.

I did this and while I didn’t always get a positive response, there were times when the butcher was able to give me an additional 10% discount.

It never hurts to ask!

KNOW WHEN THE MEAT DEPARTMENT DOES ITS MARKDOWNS

A grocery store’s meat department will routinely markdown meat.

This is a great way to snag some unadvertised deals if you’re in the right place at the right time.

In order to be successful with this, the store must have meat to markdown and your timing must be impeccable.

Ask your store’s butchers when they generally markdown items and then try to shop around that time.

When you arrive at the store, head straight to the meat department to snag some markdown deals.

While this is a great way to supplement your savings on meat, it should not be your go-to method due to the uncertainty of availability.

One way our family consistently saves money on meat is to have meatless meals every week!

HAVE MEATLESS MEALS WEEKLY

Everyone has heard of Meatless Mondays, right? I love Meatless Mondays.

Planning a meatless meal each week is a sure-fire way to save money on meat consistently.

Wanna save even more? Try having multiple meatless meals each week!

Here are a few of our family’s favorite meatless meals:

  • Cheese Quesadillas
  • Vegetarian Nachos
  • Meatless Taco Soup with tortilla chips
  • Bean Burrito/Taco Night
  • Vegetarian Taco Bowls
  • Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Alfredo Pasta with salad and bread
  • Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with chips
  • Homemade Margherita pizzas on flour tortillas
  • Pasta with a garlic cream sauce served with salad and bread
  • Vegetable Soup and Grilled Cheese
  • Main Dish Salad and Baked Potato

Make meatless meals a part of your weekly meal plan and save bundles over the course of the year!

TIP: If you have a houseful of carnivores that must have meat at dinner, then plan some meatless breakfast and lunch options each week to free up room in your budget so you can have meat with every dinner.

BUY LESS EXPENSIVE CUTS OF MEAT

Routinely buying less expensive cuts of meat is a great way to save money on meat week after week.

Let’s talk chicken!

A whole chicken is cheaper than boneless breasts or thighs.

And bone-in legs, thighs, or breasts are always cheaper than the boneless ones.

With chicken, you can stretch your grocery dollar even farther by picking the bones of every last morsel of meat to use in a soup or casserole.

And after you’ve picked the bones, use the carcass and make delicious homemade chicken stock.

TIP: A whole chicken isn’t going to save you a significant amount of money if you aren’t willing to pick the bones and use them for stock.

Some less expensive but tougher cuts of beef are london broil, eye of the round, bottom round, and stew beef.

Tip: When a cut is tough the key is to look it low and slow. Think slow cooker meals here!

So, if you or your family hate dealing with bones, opt for the boneless variety of meats when on sale and cut back somewhere else.

DON’T BUY MEAT YOU DON’T USE JUST BECAUSE IT IS A GOOD DEAL!

Another way I save money on meat is to substitute when I find unadvertised deals!

BE PREPARED TO SUBSTITUTE

Let’s say you are planning on buying 2 pounds of ground beef for taco night.

When you get to the store you find ground beef is $4.39 a pound but see the store has an unadvertised sale on ground turkey for $2.79 a pound.

So, you substitute ground turkey for the ground beef saving you $1.60 per pound or $3.20 from your bill.

While $3.20 may not seem like a lot to many, it can really add up if you are strategic with the savings. Here’s what you can do:

To further maximize your savings, use that $3.20 savings to purchase other items when on sale.

Back when we had all five kids at home, I had a strict grocery budget.

Whenever I came in under budget, I held onto the savings and used it to stock up when items I used were on sale.

For example, if you stock up on items when they are on sale BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free), you could purchase $6.40 worth of groceries with that $3.20 savings.

Imagine the savings over the course of the year if you made one meat substitute like this per week and then used the savings to purchase meat and other items when on sale for 50% off.

In this example, if you saved $3.20 a week and used it specifically to buy other meat items when they are on sale for BOGO, you would have purchased $332.80 worth of meat for $166.40.

Pretty good savings, right?

KEY POINTS:

When buying meat in bulk, stick to the cuts your family eats month after month.

Don’t buy a cut of meat “just because it is on sale” unless it is a cut you have been wanting to try.

Then, buy enough for one meal and see how that goes before purchasing it in bulk.

Plan to have a few, meat substitution friendly meals each week to save money on meat.

Think casseroles, soups, pasta meat sauces like spaghetti, burritos, etc.

Don’t, I repeat, don’t try to do everything at once and refer back to this post often, as you are planning your shopping trips.

Eventually, saving money on meat will be second-nature to you and you won’t need to reread this post. 🙁

But until then, I’ve made it super easy for you!

You can bookmark this post, pin it to your favorite Pinterest board, or sign-up for my periodic newsletters and have access to my private resource library full of free printable resources to help you run a cost-effective kitchen!

And if you have a minute, I’d love for you to let me know how you save money on meat!

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest so you can see my latest pins in your feed!

Kim

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