We all know that meat is one the most expensive food items you can purchase. However, it is a staple in many families’ meal plans, and unless your a vegetarian, it is an important part of your diet. But what can you do about the rising cost of meat at the store? Is there any way to avoid paying such high prices? Here are some tips to slash meat prices and ease the burden on your grocery budget.
Take Advantage of Store Sales
This is probably the first place to start when trying to save money on meat. By taking advantage of in store specials, you can stock up on meat to put in your freezer. If you buy large quantities, you can take it home and separate it into smaller meal sized portions. For example, if you get a great deal on a 5 pound package of ground beef, you can break it up into 1 pound portions and freeze them. That way, so you can just thaw out the amount you need rather than the larger package. One of my friends will actually make beef patties and freeze them that way, so when they want to grill burgers, the bulk of the work is done, they can just season and toss on the grill. Some stores will price match other grocer’s advertised specials, which can allow you to have a better selection at another store’s price.
Find the Markdown Section
Several of the stores I shop in will have a “reduced price” section in the meat area – these are cuts of meat that are close to the sell by date. This is a great place to shop to stock your freezer. You can bring these meats home and freeze them and then pull them out as needed. I have gotten whole chickens, and large packages of ground beef this way, and it’s been fine if frozen right away. Another idea is to buy cheaper types of meat – for example, ground turkey is cheaper typically than ground beef.
Incorporate Meatless Meals
While this isn’t really slashing the prices on meat, it does put a little less strain on the food budget, as you can have “Meatless Monday” a few times a month. Meals without meat can be just as filling, but cost less. If you have not tried that, maybe put it into your meal plan over the next few months. Or you can bulk up a meal with veggies to help fill it out if you use less meat – like adding more veggies to spaghetti sauce, or to a vegetable stew. You won’t even be able to tell that they have less meat. A simple Pinterest search will yield hundreds of meatless meal ideas!
Make Meat Stretch Farther
Getting several meals out of a cut of meat is another way to slash the prices, as you are essentially getting 2-3 meals out of one meat portion. Take for example, the Thanksgiving turkey – you have it on Thanksgiving Day, but you have lots of leftover meat. What do you do? Well, you can have turkey sandwiches for a couple of meals, dice some up and use it for a turkey pot pie or to top salads, or shred some and make turkey noodle soup. I even froze some last year to pull out at a later date. You could also use the bones and make your own broth, which gives you the base for another soup later on. Doing this will give you many meals and options!
Buy a Cow
Yes, you can literally buy a cow for the meat! Or half a cow, or a quarter. This is a great way to support a local farmer, and get a large amount of meat. While it would be an initial expense up front, you would have several different cuts of meat, ranging from ground beef to roast to steaks, which would provide you with a lot of meat to last several months. You could even go in with another family or two to split the meat if you didn’t have the money or the freezer space for a large amount.
Hunt for Your Own
Obviously, this option isn’t for everyone, but many families slash meat costs by filling their freezers with meat they hunt and kill themselves. This could be deer, bison, rabbit, turkey, or even backyard chickens. Some do the processing on their own, others pay for that service and then pick up their processed meat. If hunting is not your thing, you can often buy meat from the processor.
As you can see, there are many ways you can cut meat costs. If you shop smart and plan ahead, you can have a well stocked freezer full of meat!