7 Easy Ways to Save Money on Meat

7 Ways to Save on Meat

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend and amazing assistant, Kalyn Brooke!  When she is not helping me maintain my sanity by keeping track of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that happens here at LWSL, she is busy running her own fantastic frugal blog, Creative Savings.  Over the years I have had lots of readers ask for ideas on how to save on meat, but honestly, as a longtime vegetarian, saving on meat is just not my area of expertise!  Luckily for me and for you, Kalyn knows a whole lot about this subject, and today she is going to fill you all in!   Be sure to check out her blog for more great money-saving tips!

This is a guest post from Kalyn Brooke of Creative Savings

 One of the major culprits of out-of-control grocery budgets is meat. It’s downright expensive, often overpriced, and yet we still continue to buy large quantities of it. Probably because men like my husband would throw an absolute fit if we didn’t!

The solution isn’t to get rid of meat all-together, but there are a few easy ways to help reduce the economic impact of this fridge and freezer staple. Practice all of these tips, and I guarantee you will see results within just a few weeks!

1. Eat Less Meat

It might seem a little obvious, but it’s true. Eating less meat will boost the bottom line, and give you an excuse to try new recipes outside chicken casseroles and sloppy-joes. Just implementing 2-3 meatless meals a week will reduce your need to buy it all the time, which will leave a little more wiggle room in your grocery budget.  For fresh meal ideas, check out Ruth’s vegetarian recipe section!

 Save on Meat 3

2. Know Your Price Per Pound

You can save a huge chunk of money just by knowing how much meat typically costs. Keep a grocery price book and write down the price per pound after every purchase. Pretty soon, you will start seeing a trend, and won’t need to reference your price book as often.

Bulk packages often have a lower price per pound, but are not always found in regular grocery stores. It might be worth it to consider paying for a membership at bulk food store, and see what they can offer. Don’t forget to record those prices in your price book too!

3. Freeze As Much As Possible

After each grocery store run, make it a habit to repackage all meat into smaller, plastic freezer bags as soon as possible. Then label, stack, and store in the freezer until it’s time to pull out for a lunch or dinner recipe.

Leaving meat in the fridge for more than a few days can cause it to spoil fast, and I would hate for you to waste all that money! Establish a rule that unless you will be using the meat that day, it goes straight into the freezer.

Save on Meat 1

4. Don’t Buy Specialty Meat

It seems obvious that to save money on meat, you wouldn’t go out and buy a New York Strip Steak. Instead it’s more reasonable to stick to basic chicken breasts and ground beef.

However, you still have to watch what you’re buying. Boneless or thinly sliced chicken breasts cost much more than drumsticks or whole chickens, because you’re letting the butcher do all the work for you. I don’t know about you, but even though I hate touching raw meat, I’d much rather pay less and cut up the chicken myself!

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5. Stretch the Life of Meat

I never pay much attention to meat portions in recipes, and if you’re trying to save money, you probably shouldn’t either. When the ingredients call for 4 chicken breasts, I use only two and cut them in half. I do the same with ground beef. A recipe might tell me to use whole pound, but I’ll use only half and just make the casserole less meaty. No one has ever noticed!

With a whole chicken, there is always a ton of meat left over. Freeze the extras for use in casseroles, and boil the bones for broth. I used to be so intimidated by this, but it is really easy! I still have jars of chicken broth in the freezer from months ago, and they are absolutely perfect for soups, stews, and to use with pasta dishes.

6. Buy a Portion of a Cow….or Pig

If you live in a farming area, definitely look into buying a whole animal or even half. This is best if you have a deep freezer to store it in, since I’m pretty sure they would never fit in my little kitchen one!

It might seem like a huge cost up front, but if you know your price per pound {point #2}, then it could potentially be a cheaper option in the long run.

7. Shop Unconventional Grocery Stores

Don’t be afraid to visit smaller international stores to see what their prices are on meat. We have found a gem of a store here in Southwest Florida that is mostly Hispanic, but has the best prices we’ve found on meat and produce.

Stores like Aldi or Save-A-Lot also have excellent prices on meat, not to mention a lower grocery bill all around for additional items. Shop around, compare prices, and plan your trips accordingly!

At first, it can seem impossible to lower your grocery budget any more than it already is, but once you start thinking of ways to scrimp and save, it becomes a little bit easier each time.

Avoid trying to save on everything all at once, and instead, focus on one portion of the grocery bill at a time. Take one month to focus on meat, one on produce, one on pantry items, and so on. By the time the year is over, you’ll be a pro at saving on everything!

 7 Easy Ways to Save on Meat

 

Kalyn Brooke is a full-time writer and blogger at CreativeSavingsBlog.comHeadshot2014  where she gives a fresh perspective on frugal living, and the kick-in-the-pants you need to create a budget from scratch. She lives in beautiful Southwest Florida with her news-photographer husband and the most adorable bunny you’ve ever seen. She loves making to-do lists, reading good books, eating chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and pursuing big dreams….all carefully planned out, of course.

 

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How do you save money on meat?

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{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Kellye A January 17,

    About once a year, I buy a full pork loin at Sam’s club, take it home, and spend about an hour cutting it down into smaller loin portions and chops. It’s a little more effort on my part, but I have a year’s worth of pork (family of 2) for about a year. I do the same with pork butt if I find it on clearance…cut into 4 roasts & freeze individually.

    Reply
    • Heather February 12,

      I do this too! Except I go to my regular grocery store and have the butcher cut it for me. I’ve noticed you get a lot more meat for your money by having the butcher cut up big pieces for you.

      Reply
  • Noelle January 17,

    We do buy a lot of meat because we like to eat a high protein diet without eating tons of carbs (beans). I will definitely look into buying meat at Sam’s and such, which I never have in the past. Grocery shopping is rough. Couponing is out of the question for us as I rarely see coupons on the foods I eat, and I will not sacrifice heathly eating to eat what the coupons offer. Why is heathly eating so expensive?

    Reply
  • Charessa January 17,

    We do a lot of SAMs meat. Finding it on sale special. Like chicken. Also if you buy it by the case you can save! We buy by the case once a year there. We have 6 in the house and mostly boys. So meat goes fast. The meat doesn’t last a year but when we do it again I will package smaller portions so it’ll stretch better. We like chicken gizzards and livers and they are cheap to make. I buy from another grocery chain too. Finding reduced meat.

    Reply
  • Alecia January 17,

    I buy all my meat at Costco and have found it to be cheaper. I buy my ground beef in bulk and break it down in to smaller packages and freeze. The price per pound is less than the grocery store chains. I do the same with ground turkey, pork tenderloins (we get 4 out of one of the costco packs), stew meat, and even roast. I also will bulk up taco meat by adding rice in to it so you don’t miss the meat. Also, I made my own shredded chicken with bags of chicken breast to use in casseroles and such. Much cheaper than buying say a Rotisserie chicken and using the meat from that. I have to eat a high protein diet so it can be costly but buying at Costco helps. If you have a choice between Costco and Sams, the meat quality is often better at Costco I’ve found.

    Reply
    • Anonymous January 17,

      I agree with you – I do the same. Also, I have compared the meat at Costco and BJ’s and Costco is much better

      Reply
  • Maureen January 17,

    We add things to our meat to make it stretch farther. For instance, you can add lentils, black beans or rice to ground beef to make hamburgers. Same with meatloaf and spaghetti. For chicken, we do casseroles and add lots of veggies.

    Reply
  • Samantha January 17,

    I absolutely LOVE Walmart’s price match guarantee! I have saved some much money on meat this way!!! I have also saved money at Target in their meat dept…on multiple occassions I have scored pacakges of beef or chicken with store coupons on them…I check every time I go!!! Everything goes in the freezer!!!

    Reply
  • Gina January 17,

    I know the lowest-price for the meat I buy, and only buy it then, getting enough to last until the sales cycle. I cook and freeze meat so it’s ready for busy weeknights, and stretch it out with vegetables (healthier, too). We also eat vegetarian twice a week, and I get my kids involved in trying new recipes so they are part of my meal plan.

    Reply
  • Danielle January 17,

    Love these tips. Whenever I’m buying meat that is priced per pound, I buy the smallest package. When I’m eating a pork chop I’m not going to notice that I have a few ounces less than another chop. There’s no reason to buy the heaviest package. I save so much with this method, as sometimes the difference in weight can be a few dollars worth.

    Reply
    • Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings January 17,

      I just realized I tend to do that too! I also try to make sure the weight is close enough to a whole pound {or two}, so I can divide the meat more evenly when I go to freeze it.

      Reply
      • Anonymous January 19,

        I do the same as you and Danielle. Nobody ever seems to notice that the meal has been ‘beefed up’ (forgive the pun!) with lots of vegetables, and only has a small portion of meat!

        Reply
  • Shannon January 17,

    I’m a beef rancher and wrote a post for my sister’s blog about how to purchase a half a cow on her blog – http://houseagbuilt.blogspot.com/2012/03/so-you-want-to-buy-half-cow.html
    It isn’t too hard and can be a huge savings, plus you get to meet nice farmers like us. :)

    Reply
  • Alicia January 17,

    I just found out about this company: https://zayconfoods.com/ . I haven’t used it yet, but it looks like a good deal! I think the basic idea is you get a bulk order of meat (can split it with a friend or friends if 40 lbs of chicken breast is too much for you!) and it is delivered every so often. I haven’t looked to see how many times a year they deliver, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

    Reply
    • Anonymous January 18,

      I recently got hamburger from Zaycon and loved it! Made up 5lbs of taco meat right away and froze individually per lb., made up 5lbs of meatballs, split and froze. Than packaged up the rest. It is very lean, great taste and cooks up fast which I love also being a busy mom of 6. Ill be ordering the chicken next; good price and heard its good in taste also.

      Reply
    • Brenda January 18,

      Yes! I’ve been ordering meat from Zaycon for the last couple of years and love it!
      It does require a bit of work prepping it for the freezer but once that’s done it’s so nice to have a freezer full of meat and not have to worry about it for another 6 months or so. I like to cook about 10 lbs. of the chicken right away and then shred and freeze it to use for quick meals and package the rest in ziploc bags.

      Reply
    • Anonymous February 12,

      I also purchase our meat at Zaycon, we love it!

      Reply
  • sylvia kinsey January 17,

    Nice additional info about buying & saving on meat. I LOVE your website and the extra goodies you add. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Stephanie Kay January 17,

    I’ve been reducing the amount of meat in recipes for awhile. It really does help and isn’t noticeable in casseroles, or dishes mixed with pasta/rice. One thing that helps me is to shop loss leaders. I noticed years ago that my local grocery stores usually have chicken, ground beef, and cheaper roast/steak on sale the 2nd or 3rd week of each month. I try to stock up for the entire next month when I see the sales. Also, knowing seasons/holidays helps. For example, around Easter ham will go on sale. So buy several, cut them up in meal-sized portions and freeze them for coming months. Thanks for reminding me of these great tips!

    Reply
  • Dream Mom January 18,

    Those are good tips. I keep a price book too. What I do, is to have a different protein source every day so our week looks like this: beef, chicken, albacore tuna, black beans, eggs and then two days a week I repeat one of those. More often than not, I only purchase one item of beef per week and one item of skinless boneless chicken breasts per week. I only purchase organic protein sources so it is more expensive but since toxins are stored in fat, if you are going to go organic on anything, make it your protein sources. I realize it’s a bit more expensive to purchase organic beef or organic chicken but I only buy one of them per week. One pound of organic chopped sirloin runs $7.50/pound and a pound of organic chicken runs the same. By using them only once a week, I save money and we get some variety. If I am making something like spaghetti and meatballs, I’ll use a slice of homemade bread to make breadcrumbs to stretch it a bit. I spend around $100 a week for two people but my son is disabled so I buy a lot of fruits and vegetables since I make everything from scratch and he eats a blenderized diet of real food (lots of organic) via a feeding tube to keep him healthy.

    Reply
  • Steph January 20,

    Another point for your readers is that as you get older (as in over 60 maybe?), you don’t eat as much. There are just 2 of us and we were throwing tons of food away every month simply because we fill up on much less. Well, maybe not tons but a lot. :) Here is an example: one of our favorite recipes (h/t to my daughter-in-law) is Cheesy Chicken. When I originally started making it for us, I would use 2 boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts. One night after we finished, we looked at our plates and both of us had only eaten half of the half breast. We were throwing at least an entire one away. So, believe it or not, I bake one half-breast (boneless, skinless), use half of the soup called for and much less butter and cheese. Still our favorite! We are satisfied – not trying to diet on this one. :) It is not low-cal, low-fat just so you know up front. Neither of us is much on leftovers so we have really started paying attention to how much we eat. For example, we buy a bit over a pound (only because it’s difficult to get “just” a pound) of 90% hamburger (you have to have some fat for flavor IMHO) and I separate into 3 portions, put in sandwich bags and then put the bags in a freezer bag, label. When we want something with hamburger, I just pull out one sandwich bag and on to the recipe. We have saved hundreds of dollars since we started paying attention to what we were eating and what we were throwing away.

    Reply
  • Jenn January 21,

    These are really good tips! We shop at Wegman’s a lot, and they do a “Reduced for Quick Sale” section for meats that are getting close to their “sell by” date. We get a ton of meat from that section — whatever we don’t use that day, we freeze. The prices are MUCH lower! Check to see if your grocery store has a similar section.

    Reply
  • Heather Savage January 21,

    I love this! I feel like we spend a ridiculous amount on our meat, and our grocery bill overall. I think a lot of it has to do with living in Yucaipa and there’s only 3 different grocery stores here: Stater Bros, Fresh and Easy, and Vons. And everything here seem like it’s much more expenive than stores that are in the more urban areas. I don’t even like meat that much and could do with just an occasional meal with just a tiny bit of meat in it, but my husband is very much a steak and potatoes kind of guy. So…we compromise. But lately we’ve needed to start cutting down our grocery bill, so I will be using this article as my guide! Thank you Kalyn! P.S My almost 1 year old daugher’s name is Kaelyn =] Such a pretty name

    Reply
    • Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings January 27,

      You are very welcome! My husband is all about the meat and potatoes too. Your daughter has good name – and I love the spelling! :)

      Reply
  • Tara February 12,

    I pay really close attention to the prices of meat, and when I find something on a good sale, I stock up. For example, there are probably 15lbs of hamburger in my freezer because I bought it for $.99-$1.99/lb (normal rate around here is $3+). Some of our stores discount meat on it’s last day (hence the $.99 hamburger) so I keep an eye out for that, and put it straight in the freezer. A few weeks ago I bought bone in chicken breast for $.79/lb. I’ve found that I can generally find better prices in the grocery store than in places like Sams. My family would freak out of they didnt have meat in every meal, so I have to find ways to make that work while keeping within my budget.

    Reply
  • Erin @ My Mommy World February 12,

    I look for markdowns on meat that is close to its expiration date. I can sometimes get a $20 chuck roast for less than $9 if I can find one that is one or two days away from expiring. I’ve found that Saturdays are not the best time to find these markdowns, because they get snapped up by all the shoppers on this busy shopping day….Wednesdays or Thursdays are the best day to find meat markdowns in my local store.

    Reply
  • Minna February 27,

    Greetings from Northern Europe. An excellent way to cut down your meat bill is to make beef stock from marrow bones, onion, carrots, celery and swedes. Two pounds of bones easily produce at least a gallon of stock. When you use the stock as a base, you can replace the meat with ground roasted soy /other soy products but still have the taste of meat.
    I can get a pound of ground soy for $4 and that lasts for at least 2 weeks in our family.

    Reply
  • Anonymous March 25,

    Spend time learning to cook vegetables so they are not an also ran. if you fill up on then smaller amounts of meat will seem fine.
    When you cook bacon or sausage save the fat in the fridge to give a meatier flavor to things.
    Dont use single portion meat. if you have a 16 oz steak per person most folks will eat it all even if a half lb would do. cook a bigger piece serve in smaller portions and let folks know they can have more if they want.
    Bread crumbs are your friend, meatloaf, meatballs, cutlets, all seem like more when stretched.
    check recipes from the 30s and 40s for tips on stretching meat

    Reply
  • Sara March 25,

    Kalyn, I live in Swfl also.. what hispanic store are you fondong the cheapest prices?

    Sams club and gfs is where I normally buy meat and sams has boneless skinless chicken breast is 1.88/lb everyday right now and 90/10 burger is 3.19/lb.

    Gfs has leg quarters in a 40lb case for 26.49 & pork butt for 1.59lb and deli meats for 1.99-3.79 lb depending on what kind.

    Reply
  • LissaAnn March 25,

    One of my tricks is that I go to the store right before closing. They sell fresh ground beef :) At the end of the night they mark it down because they cant sell it the next day. I try to catch them when they have 20+ lbs and then ask them what they have marked it down to. Then I ask them how much more they would be willing to mark it down if I purchased all of it… I dont have them wrap it up in small pkgs. I go home and do that. The less work for them the lower the price for me :)

    Reply
  • Nina March 26,

    I save on meat in eating less meat. But I buy only farmers qulity and no supermarket meat. Special chicken I could not eat from the supermarket.

    Reply
  • Leslie March 30,

    My husband and I don’t eat much red meat but we do eat chicken a lot. We buy our chicken from zaycon.com and love it. It is bought in 40 pound increments and the quality is great! When it arrives you drive to the pick up location, usually a parking lot, and they put it into your car for you as you drive up. We take it home and butterfly cut the breasts to make it last even longer. This is something we save for each month and isn’t such a blow to our grocery budget each month depending on the grocery store prices.

    Reply

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