Have you ever picked up your favorite meat and thought you were having a heart attack after seeing the price? Sticker shock is something you should have when you’re buying a BIG item such as a house or car, not when you’re buying meat from your local grocery. My preferred meats are turkey and chicken because they’re healthier—but I won’t lie, a good, juicy, grilled hamburger or steak is at the top of my list. Makes my mouth water just thinking about grilling that steak.
I feel that these days going to the grocery store takes a lot of planning, strategy, and time. You would think I am planning for war and not going grocery shopping. Going to the grocery store these days involves a lot of decisions. Does my budget allow for me to buy that juicy but healthier hamburger meat? Can I afford a pack of chicken breasts or should I just buy a whole chicken? Do I have to wait until the cut of beef I want goes on sale? As I stand in front of the meat section I often find myself asking, can I afford filet mignon, or is there another cut of meat that will satisfy my taste buds and wallet?
One of the best ways to understand meat, how to buy it, and when is to talk to your local butcher. Just talking to mine has helped me save more than double on my meats. He helps me understand what to look for on my meat and what to avoid. Also, butchers always have a good idea when the meat will be on sale.
1. Purchase at discounted price
Pay attention to the color of the meat before you buy, no matter what the expiration date indicates. I love walking into the meat section and seeing that yellow tag calling my name. That means that meat is on sale and all mine. Even though it is on sale I still look to make sure that the color of the meat is pink or red.
Stay away from pale or gray meat – no matter what the expiration date says. Buy meat discounted prior to the expiration date. Either freeze the meat or cook it immediately. I usually will do both save some to cook right away and store the rest in the freezer. You can put them in smaller Ziploc bags so it is perfect for one-time use. Do not freeze, unfreeze, and re-freeze your meat again. That is a big no-no.
2. Buy a whole chicken
Buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself. You will save money but also have all your favorite meat cuts available for everyone in the family. You can even cook the chicken in the crockpot and then debone it. Sure, I like to pick up a pack of chicken with only the pieces my family likes, but for the same price, I can get the whole chicken and prepare several meals.
I also love to get whole chickens, stuff them, and make a meal for when the family comes over. It is delicious, fast, and easy. Plus I save so much money when we have family get together’s by just getting a whole chicken. For those who have never cut up a whole chicken, or just do not know where to start – check out this guide:
3. Try alternative cut
Consider an alternative cut of meat that will give you the same flavor and texture as its expensive version. When a more expensive steak that I want is out of the question, I get a chuck eye steak. It won’t be as tender as the more expensive cut, but honestly, when I marinade it is beyond delicious. For those that enjoy pork chops try to get a pork shoulder then have the butcher cut it into pork chops instead. This way you are not spending so much money on pork chops.
4. Buy bigger size and quantity
Honestly, sometimes it does pay off to buy things in bulk or just a bigger size. If you look at the price per pound on ground beef as the per pound is like $3.99 for a small pack. Consider buying the bigger quantity because the 5-pound pack comes at $2.75 per pound. This is a big saving at most places you will be saving from 30-35% on meat by buying more.
It is ok to buy in bigger quantities because you can always repackage them at home in smaller freezer bags. I usually make mine all-around 1 pound bags. This makes it perfect for a one-time use per bag.
5. Talk to your local butcher
When it comes to meat, the butcher is my best friend. I love to talk to him and ask questions I know I will get the best quality and price on my meat. Ask the butcher to recommend less expensive cuts of meat that you may not be familiar with. Some of my favorites he recommended to me were brisket or flat-iron steak.
These two have great taste and are of good quality. However, these cuts may need a longer cook time. When speaking with your butcher, ask him how to prepare the cut of meat you’re purchasing, because you want to make sure you are cooking it properly for health reasons, also taste.
6. How much do you actually consume?
Have you ever had an occasion where you cooked more than enough and it seems that no one hardly touched their food? I had it happen to me a few times. You leave the leftovers thinking it will get eaten but only gets shoved in the back of the fridge. All that food and money wasted. Consider how much of the meat you’re purchasing will actually be consumed. If you buy steak with the bone in, you’re paying the same price per pound for a bone that you will not eat.
Did you know that fat costs the same per pound as meat? Save the bones and fat and use them to make soup stock, or buy meat without bones. Your price per pound should include cost per serving size minus the bones and fat.
7. Add Fillers
Buy a smaller amount of meat and add fillers to stretch the servings. You can use things like beans, rice, and bread crumbs are a few suggestions that will add volume to your meat. The great thing about these fillers is that they take on the flavor of the meat it is added to. One thing I have noticed a friend do is add ground turkey to ground beef in her hamburgers, and no one noticed anything different.
- USE COUPONS WHEN POSSIBLE
- PLAN MEALS AHEAD FOR MEATS ON SALE
- SHOP ALDI
- BUY A WHOLE COW (MY DAD BUYS A WHOLE COW FROM AMISH IT’S LIKE $1 PER POUND OF BEEF)
- USE APPS THAT WILL SAVE YOU MONEY SUCH AS SWAGBUCKS AND IBOTTA