How to Save Money on Meat
A common question I get all the time is, “How do I save on meat?” Meat can be expensive and take a huge portion of your grocery budget week to week if you’re not careful.
One of the best ways to help you save money at the grocery store is by focusing on one of your grocery budget’s most significant parts, the meat!
Here are 24 ways to keep meat from butchering your grocery budget.
1. Plan your meals around the meat that is on sale
Look through your weekly ad for what meat is on sale at the stores you shop at. For example, your store might have chicken on sale this week, and next week it might be pork, and beef the week after that. Use these sales to plan your meals instead of letting your recipes determine what you buy!
Planning your meals around what’s on sale will help you save more in the long run, and you’ll be able to get the lower meat prices each week.
2. Stock up on meat when it’s on sale
When meat does go on sale, don’t just buy enough for this week, buy enough to last you until the next sale’s cycle (if you have the room). Stocking up during a good sale allows you to break down that packaging into smaller bags to freeze for later. This allows you to enjoy more expensive meats until they can go on sale again, without buying high prices.
3. Eat less meat
Meatless Mondays and overall eating less meat is a way to save money on your meat! Instead of just trying to stretch your meat, consider going at least one day a week without any meat. You can experiment with vegetarian dishes to help stretch your meat and meal budget further. Check out these 15 plant-based recipes for inspiration to help get you started!
4. Know and understand your price per pound
Price per pound is a concept that is more than just the sticker on the package. Understanding your price per pound will allow you to know which meat package is a better price and help you get the most meat for your dollar.
5. Buy lean cuts of meat
When you’re looking for meats, look for the leaner cuts instead. Meats with more fat on them tend to be more expensive. However, lean meats can still be made into delicious dishes like pulled pork and other slow cooker meals!
Leaner meats might not always have the lowest sticker price, but they tend to be a better value. Since fattier cuts of meat cook down more, you get more meat for your dollar with leaner cuts.
6. Purchase the whole animal
If you have the storage space for it, buying a whole cow or pig and having it cut into smaller portions to freeze can save you a lot of money! The price for purchasing the entire animal tends to be less expensive than what you’ll find in the store by a long shot!
7. Get more out of a single meal
Don’t let any of your meat go to waste! One of the most challenging parts of purchasing meat is finding a way to ensure you will eat all of it! If you are making a pot roast for dinner one night, repurpose those leftovers to make more meals! This will not only help stretch your budget further but ensure that nothing goes to waste!
8. Grind your own meat
Instead of buying pre-packaged ground meat, look for whole cuts of meat instead. Typically, you can have the person behind the meat counter grind the meat for you, or grind it yourself for less than the cost of buying it prepackaged! Warehouse stores are also a great place to go for meat in bulk that you can grind yourself.
9. Stretch your meat further
Don’t make meat the main course of a meal. Instead, work it in like you would a side dish. You can stretch your meat a lot further by using it in recipes such as casseroles, soups, and stews. These recipes tend to rely on other ingredients to fill the dish rather than meat.
10. Go to your local butcher for deals on meat
If you’re looking to find a good deal on meat, you may want to check with your local butcher first! Butchers can help you find the best value of the meat, and even give you deals and specials on meat that your regular store can’t give you! Whenever you visit, ask them about what they have on special or deals because these could change day to day.
11. Buy your meat wholesale
Buying your meat wholesale is a great way to stock up on a budget! Their price per pound tends to be less than your grocery store, but likely will require you to do some butchering yourself. This might include things like removing the bones or other tasks like this. However, not all of the meat is this way!
12. Do the butchering part yourself
If you want to save the most money on your meat that you can, then do the butchering yourself! Cutting up chicken into smaller portions or even just removing the bones and skin from your meat will end up saving you a lot of money on the total cost.
If you’ve never done it yourself before, ask the person who is behind the meat counter. They can give you some pointers to help you get started!
13. Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Expensive cuts of meat are usually the ones that are more tender and cook quickly. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find meat that is just as tasty for less! Slow cooking meats, barbecue, and grilling meats tend to be the ones that are less expensive because the meat will tenderize over time.
Here are some examples of cheaper cuts of meat:
- Chuck Steak
- Flat Steaks
- Pork Shoulder
- Whole chickens
14. Watch out for added liquid
When you’re looking at packages of meat, look for words such as enhanced with, flavored with, or flavor solution of. While these might sound like fancier meat packages, this usually means that there has been liquid added to your meat. This means that you will end up paying more money, and the weight of your meat will be higher because of the liquid.
15. Look for markdowns on meat
Markdowns are always a great way to save money on meat! Every store will have some markdown on meat; you have to know where to look! There are many different types of markdowns, so know what to look out for!
The first is meat that is close to it’s best buy date. This meat will go bad in a few days, but if you plan to eat it before that date or freeze it, then you can save big on meat!
The second products that are nearing the end of a sales cycle. Shop early in the morning or the day before your current store’s sale cycle ends. This is a great way to score last-minute deals as grocery stores are desperate to get rid of them so they can change out stock.
16. Buy in bulk
When purchasing meat, you can get the best bang for your buck by buying your meat in bulk! We already talked about buying the whole animal, but you can still save by buying in bulk without purchasing a whole cow or pig! Buying in bulk could mean buying more meat in a package or buying the larger containers at wholesale stores. Make sure you compare the price per pound to ensure you are getting the best possible deal!
A great place to find quality meat you can purchase in bulk is by looking for a meat co-op. Zaycon Fresh used to be my go-to until they shut down, but now I use The Savory Butcher to save money on fresh meat. They always have great deals on meat, and even coupons you can use towards your purchase.
17. Use coupons and rebates to help you save on your purchases
There are rarely coupons for fresh meat purchases; however, you will often find coupons and rebates available for frozen and prepackaged brands such as Perdue, Oscar Mayer, and more! Grocery rebates are a great way to save on meat purchases because these usually apply to your entire purchase rather than a single item.
18. Avoid the deli counter
This will vary a bit depending on what you are looking for, but more often than not, the deli counter will be more expensive than the lunch meat and seafood you find in the other parts of the store. Look at your price per pound before you pick up the already packaged meats, but you will usually end up saving a few dollars only by making this simple switch.
19. Shop at the right place
Not every store has great deals on meat! For example, if you shop at Target for your groceries, you will likely find less meat and deli meat deals because their selection is limited. In a pinch, these stores can get the job done, but it’s best to find a store that has the BEST deals on meat even if it means going to multiple stores.
20. Skip specialty meat
Specialty meats can include meat that has already been seasoned, is made in a special way (such as crab-stuffed salmons, or bacon-wrapped chicken), or is just a special cut of meat. While these look fun and exciting, you can usually make your own for a fraction of the price!
21. Make your portions smaller
Making portion sizes too big will end up costing you! You don’t need as much meat on your plate, as you think! You don’t even need as much meat in your dishes as you think! We tend to eat what is in front of us without a second thought about what the serving size should be! Be more conscious about this and only serve what the recommended portion size for each person should be. If your kids are still hungry, let them enjoy some of the sides as seconds instead!
22. Consider plant-based alternatives
Plant-based alternatives won’t always be cheaper. Meat substitutes are rarely going to be less expensive than just buying the meat. However, you can typically make cauliflower wings for a fraction of chicken wings and many other vegetarian substitutes. This is also a great way to get your family to eat more vegetables!
23. Use less meat than the recipe calls for
More often than not, you could get away with using less meat than what the recipe calls for! This is especially true in pasta or casserole dishes where there will be other filling ingredients present! Don’t be afraid to use a little less and stretch your meat even further!
24. Don’t discount canned meats
Canned meats have their time and place! For example, canned chicken is excellent for salads or even as chicken salad! Canned tuna can be used for tuna salad or to make tuna cakes. Canned meats will be less expensive than fresh meat, and when appropriately used, taste just as good as the fresh stuff!
There are so many different ways you can help reduce your grocery budget, but these tips will make the most difference! Meat is costly, so anything you can do to shave even a few dollars off your meat purchases will help!
To store some of the fantastic recipes above and your own creations, try my favorite meal planning app: Prepear! I use it to plan my weekly meals, create my grocery list, discover and store recipes, and even while I cook. Read my full Prepear review to learn more.
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