How do you save money when you buy meat? Here are the top money-saving tips for enjoying meat in the cheapest way!
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Buying meat at the grocery stores is like a ritual. You look for what you need, check the price and expiration date, and decide whether to buy it. But admit it, the bulk of that decision lies on how much meat costs. In many stores, and in most cases, meat is not exactly cheap.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to maximize the availability of meat in the kitchen and save money at grocery stores. Below are ways that help me save money on meats.These money-saving tips and hacks allow you to continue eating meat without guilt!
Table of Contents
- Meal planning
When it comes to saving money on food, I always advocate meal planning. It is about being intentional about the food you serve your family while conserving time and money. With a meal plan, you have a concrete direction of what your weekly menu looks like week-to-week, allowing you to use up your ingredients, pick up only what you need at the grocery stores, and avoid impulse purchases.
For example, there’s so much you can do with ground meat. Ground turkey is fairly inexpensive compared to other types of meat and can be used to make burgers, meatballs, stuffed peppers, and endless other dishes. So if you buy meat in bulk and make a plan for it, you’ll know you’ll use it up in the most cost-effective way! And while you’re at it, always make a plan for the leftovers!
- Grow your own meat
We’ve all heard about growing your own plants, but what about growing your own meat? Well, it follows the same principle! You raise chicken for meat and eggs, pigs for pork chops, sausage, and pork loin. You could even raise cow for milk and beef.If you’ve got the space, resources, and energy, you can grow animals to save money on meat. While this strategy may not appeal to everyone, homesteaders know it is a self-sufficient and practical way to put food on the table. Buy meat from a local farm
One of the simple tips, yet an oh-so brilliant idea to save money on meat is to hit local farms instead of the big box stores. A local farmer may sell you a whole cow (or half or quarter) cheaply compared to store prices. If it is too much for your family, try to divide the meat (and the cost, of course) among family and friends. You can tell the butcher how you want the meat to be portioned or divided.
- Check out meat sales
Big box stores like Aldi, Walmart, and Costco offer meat items on sale regularly. Aldi, for instance, has its weekly mark-down day for meat, which means you can buy meat cheaply! You’ll often spot marked-down meat because the packages have different colored stickers, so make a beeline toward those and check them out. It also never hurts to befriend the people at the meat department and chat them up about the date of the next sale. Those sales are on a first-come, first-served basis, so you want to swing in early and buy the cheapest meat.
- Opt for cheaper cuts
Meat is generally expensive, we know that. But you can buy the cheaper cuts to save money on meat. For example, ground beef is cheaper than other beef cuts and is also very versatile. You can make hamburgers, meatballs, and tacos from ground beef. Also, shank and chuck roast are cheaper than prime rib or T-bone. As for pork, you can opt for pork shoulder instead of pork chops or tenderloin.
Skinless chicken breasts are also quite expensive, so opt for the whole chicken instead if you want to save more money. You can cut a whole chicken into parts and throw the bones into your chicken soup for more flavor. Otherwise, opt for the low-cost chicken parts, like leg quarters and drumsticks.
- Bulk buy meat
If you are going to superstores (instead of local stores) and want to save money on meat, consider buying meat in bulk. You can get the best deals if you buy during sales, use coupons, and carefully compare prices. Having a large supply of meat at home also allows you to cut down on the costs of making multiple trips to the grocery stores, therefore helping you save more money on your grocery budget.
Tips for buying and storing meat in bulk
- Always make a meal plan. Plan ahead what meats you want to buy and for whichmeals you intend to use them. Even if you’re buying meat in bulk, do not overbuy or else the meat could spoil even before you use it.. Whether you want to cook slow cooker beef or chicken breasts with pasta and olive oil, consuming the meat you’ve bought is the best way to get your money’s worth out of your grocery dollars.
- Get a deep freezer. One of the best ways to save money on meat is to store it in a deep freezer properly. Unlike a regular fridge, a deep freezer will keep your meat at a low temperature, extending its life span.
- Divide the meat into smaller portions. It’s also wise to portion the meat based on how many are eating and what you’re cooking. When preparing food, you can take out the appropriate amount of meat for thawing. Also, using a vacuum seal is the best way to store meat in smaller portions and prevent freezer burn.
- Put a label on each package. Labeling each portion of the meat is always a good practice. Indicating its cut and when it was stored. When cooking, always use the oldest meat first.
- Opt for whole meat (instead of pre-cut portions)
Buying whole meat is another excellent way to reduce your grocery bill. Instead of buying pre-cut chicken breasts or wings, buy whole chickens and cut and portion the meat yourself. You can save even more money buying whole beef tenderloin instead of pre-cut steaks. Remember that pre-cut meats go through more processing and handling, adding to their costs. If you wish to buy the cheapest meat, always go for whole ones and butcher them yourself.
- Grind your own meat
Ground meat is already cheap, but you can save further if you grind your own meat. The main benefit is you can pick a cutof meat that has less fat. Grinding your own meat at home is easy, and you’ll have your own supply for meatballs, subs, and pasta sauces.
- Buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco
When it comes to rotisserie chicken, the ones from Costco are the most popular. Did you know that Costco’s rotisserie chicken has always been soldcfor $4.99 since 2009? Despite inflation, Costco refuses to increase the cost of its rotisserie chicken, making it the best deal around. Grab a rotisserie chicken if you want to save time and money for a busy weeknight dinner. There are many ways to repurpose leftover rotisserie chicken, including chicken salad, enchiladas, and buffalo chicken and rice.
- Mix cheap ingredients with meat
One of the most versatile types of meat is ground meat.
With ground beef, ground chicken,or ground turkey, you can make endless tasty recipes for the entire family. You can mix cheap basic pantry staples and make ground meat special. Think about adding eggs and breadcrumbs, common seasonings like salt and pepper, and cheap veggies like carrots and bell peppers. You can enjoy meatballs with a side of gravy, mix them with some pasta sauce, or use them in soups and tacos.
- Do meatless meals
One of the great tips to cut down on the cost of meat is to reduce consumption. Doing Meatless Mondays can be more forgiving to your grocery budget and has health benefits too. You can reduce the risks of chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes by having meatless meals occasionally.
What to eat on Meatless Mondays? There are plenty of vegan and plant-based options! Look into making veggie burgers for kids and vegetarian pasta for adults. A side of fresh green salad is always good to have.
- Buy from ethnic grocery stores
If you have compared different stores and are still unsatisfied with the meat prices, it’s high time to hit ethnic grocery stores. These are specialty stores that cater to specific regions or markets. In most cases, you can buy meat at a better price from these stores because there are fewer logistical costs. That also means you’re likely to get fresher meat from these stores.
- Consider your local butcher
Purchasing meat from your local butcher shop is another fantastic way to save money. Your local butcher is much more knowledgeable about the type of meat you’ll need for specific dishes, and has a direct relationship with farmers. You can usually ask at the meat counter where the steak came from or request specific cuts. Also, meats at the local butcher shops are much fresher than in grocery stores because there are much fewer logistical grounds to cover. So the next time you need ground beef or pork shoulder, consider buying meat from your favorite butcher.
- Buy cheap canned goods
It happens–it’s the middle of the night, and you’re craving some good old pasta with meatballs, but you don’t have anyground meat on hand. During these times, you realize you should have stocked up on cheap canned goods for a quick craving fix. Did you know you can use canned tuna instead of freshly ground meat? Or that you can use canned chicken breasts for almost anything that calls for fresh chicken breasts?
- Buy and stock up after-season
Turkeys are always super expensive before Thanksgiving but always go down right after the occasion. The same goes for ham at Christmas. If you want to score these meats cheaper, wait until the holiday is over. Buy and freeze them for future use.
Go for the most affordable cuts and types of meat, such as ground meat, shanks, and chucks. Chicken leg quarters and drumsticks are also a lot cheaper than chicken breasts.
Yes, buying whole chicken or large cuts of other meat (beef, pork, lamb) proves to be more economical than buying pre-cut meat. Pre-cut meat has used more resources and logistics, adding to their costs.
A meal plan is a great way to save money on meat and avoid food waste. It’s also good to buy meat in bulk when it goes on sale and then divide it into smaller portions when you get home. You can also “extend” your meat recipe by adding cheaper ingredients, such as in-season vegetables and essential pantry items. Finally, do meatless meals a few times weekly to save money on meat.
There’s no denying that meat is one of the most expensive food products. However, your budget does not have to suffer just to satisfy your cravings for delicious barbecue, fried chicken, or steaks. There are plenty of creative ways to save money on meat and reduce your grocery bill. By making these concerted efforts when you shop and prepare food or make specific changes to your diet or lifestyle, you’ll save money and improve your health too!