Let’s face it: Meat is the biggest expense in most Americans’ grocery budget. Try these simple ways to slash the meat portion of your bill without depriving your family!
16 Ways to Save Money On Meat
- Try using 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 the amount of meat in your dishes. Most of the time it doesn’t change the taste and you save money on meat.
- Cook twice as much meat for dinner. Freeze half and then when you need a quick meal just remove from the freezer and use.
- Stock up on meat when it is on sale. If you don’t have enough money to stock up, try making a double batch (like lasagna) when you cook the next meal, then freeze it for later. Use that frozen meal for a quick dinner instead of eating out when you’re too tired to cook. Take the $30.00 savings and stock up on meat the next time it is on sale.
- Buy Meat on clearance. The clearance stickers on meat in the store don’t mean the meat is bad. It means the meat needs to be SOLD by that date. Then you still have 3-4 days the meat is good after that date to cook it at home. You can just put it straight in the freezer and cook laster.
- Add beans or lentils to meat to help stretch. This works especially well with recipes like tacos.
- Check your prices. A lot of time you will get the tip to buy 1/2 or 1/4 of whole beef and then freeze. In some places this “might” be cheaper but in some places like here in Colorado it’s luxury and it is MUCH more expensive than buying it from the store.
- To store your meat long term in the freezer vacuum seal it.
- Make recipes like chili that have the “feeling” of a lot of meat but don’t use a lot. You can use 1/2 pound of hamburger for chili for 6-8 people and no one will know if you bulk it up with beans, onions and peppers.
- When cutting meat for recipes like stew make the pieces small so they will go further.
- Buy meat after major holidays. I can usually find marked down meat for a great deal like hamburger and ribs after Memorial Day or Labor Day. Turkeys on clearance after Thanksgiving. All meat on sale the day after Christmas.
- Some butchers will cut turkey’s in half. Then just cook like a chicken but for 1/4 of the price!
- Use liquid smoke in place of bacon grease or salt pork in recipes. The liquid smoke saves time and money if you don’t have any bacon grease on hand.
- Save the plastic liner bags from empty cereal boxes. Next time you need to pound steak, chicken breasts, nuts or crackers, pop them inside to eliminate the mess. Also, use plastic liner bags to shake coatings such as flour or bread crumbs on meats. Just throw away after using it. Store in a file folder.
- Use leftover gravy in soups. It adds great flavor!
- When making meatloaf, mix the ingredients and fill a muffin tin with the meat. Each mini loaf is one serving. Also very easy to freeze!
Save Money On Groceries And Make Meals Easier! (Sale Up To 50% Off!)
You can make EASY and delicious meals at home in less time than eating out! You’ll save a ton of money on food and your family will thank you!
Click here to get our Dining On A Dime Cookbooks SALE Up To 50% Off NOW! They’re filled with tasty recipes and tips to make your life easier!
I love the tip about using cereal liners to pound meat out — saves your more expensive gallon-size Ziploc bags. Thanks for the info!
These liners are also great to use for rolling out pie crusts.
Thanks for that suggestion, Patricia!
I also save cereal liners to use in place of wax paper. Just cut them open.
I love the idea of dividing the meat into smaller amounts. For instance we buy ground beef in 5# packages and dividing it into 10 half pound packages before putting it into the freezer. We do other ground meats the same way. Great idea about reusing cereal liners to pound meat in!
Another way to save on meat for soups or stews is cut the meat into bite size pieces. The ones the butcher sells can be cut into 4. It makes the stew look meatier but it also is easier for little ones to eat since they don’t have to cut it up.
Meat balls are also easier to eat when small and look like just as much as a few big ones.
When making mini meat loafs make extra and freeze them raw. Place them on a cookie sheet and less grease is absorbed back into them. They can also be thawed and formed into hamburger patties if everyone wants burgers instead of meatloaf.
I save money on plastic bags by placing my flour and seasonings in a butter tub to use for flouring chicken. Just put the chicken in there and put the lid on and shake it. No mess.
This also works for flouring or mealing squash and green tomatoes for frying.
A question on grinding my own hamburger.
for some reason my husband can’t eat the store bought stuff.
He loves shepherds pie and burgers so he misses them now.
I buy large crypac roasts and I was thinking about grinding my own.
I know the texture will be different and can live with that.
But what type of roast would be best for this?
any help would be appreciated. We will be in the city next week to stock up on groceries.
I have bought different kinds of roasts to grind into hamburger..I use my Kitenaid mixer with the meat grinder attachment. I use the larger holes to grind the meat..it tastes so much better than any ground meat that you can buy at the store! I think Chuck is the best for grinding..remember that you need some fat in there, to make hamburger! It makes me wonder how & what kind of fat that they are putting into ground meat in the stores, because my hamburger is not that pale pink color, at all & I use as much fat as I can get & I don’t have all that fat run-off after cooking. What are they doing with hamburger? :0
I used to work in a meat processing plant, they use beef suet, grind with the lean meat. The amount depends on how much fat you want in it.
Chuck roast and meat from the chuck portion of the cow goes on sale usually at the same time. Please talk to your butcher, they often will grind your meat for you and will also ask how much fat you want to include, 89/20, 90/10, etc.. Usually the butcher will have available the “daily grind” which is trimmings from the steaks that have been cut that day, usually the best cuts are included in this.
Grandma, I sometimes grind my own beef if I can’t get a good deal on lean hamburger and roasts are on sale. Chuck works well for burgers because it has enough fat to keep them from getting hard and dry. Round is good for tacos, sloppy joes and other items cooked in sauce. Trim off fat and grind it while cold. I also cut up roasts for stew and stirfry meat because I can get more even strips/chunks than the meat department has time to bother with. I cut those while still partially frozen.
Thanks lois. I do all my own roasts, and steaks and stewing beef usually sirloin roasts. I buy the huge cryogenic packs and one roast gives me enough meat for a month or more. Just tried hamburger once and it was not a huge success. Lucky my son was home with his family for a visit and they liked chili.
I also buy turkey when it is on sale for .99 cents a lb thaw it out and cut it off the bone for stir fries, soups and stews or pot pies. Then I refreeze it to use when we want a change, from chicken.
Will definetly try the chuck roast for my next attempt.
Like burgers and shepherds pie so it will be nice to have them back in our diet on a more regular basis.
Love the idea of using the cereal bags for pounding meat. I have always used them for Rice Krispie treats because it does not stick and your hands don’t get messy from pressing the mix into the pan.
I really hate tossing these heavy bags because they are so sturdy. Thanks from other commenters for their ideas, too.
your thanksgiving is coming up so that means left over turkey.
here is a quick dish and a change.
Turkey Potato Patties makes 4 servings.
1-1/2cups cups diced cooked turkey
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/4cup dry bread crumbs
1green onion finely chopped
2tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2tsp Dijon mustard
1/4tsp dried thyme
1/4tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
In bowl, beat egg; mix in turkey, potatoes, bread crumbs, green onion, parsley, mustard, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Form into eight 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick patties. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)
In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; fry patties, turning once and reducing temperature if browning too quickly, until crusty and golden, about 6 minutes.
You do know, don’t you, that you can get the butcher to grind the roasts for you? For free. If the meat is really lean – like London Broil is, I’ll have them add a little bit of fat to it, otherwise, I just have them grind the roast. If I notice an especially fatty pad, I’ll have them remove most of it. I also have them run a flank or round steak that is on sale through the cuber for me for cube steaks.
They will also cut a turkey in half (fix half and keep other half frozen until you want it.) I have them cut a whole smoked ham into two pieces, but first I have them cut about 4-6 one inch thick slices from the middle of the ham for fried ham. One of those will make a meal for at least 2 people. I also have them cut off and cut up into large chunks both ends of the ham for soup bones/ham hocks. That way, the two pieces that are left over fit in my crock pot. I’ve also had them thin slice/shave the shank portion (keep the bone and take it home for soup). I can then fry the slices for breakfast or use for ham sandwiches. They will do all of this for free. At least, the only place I’ve EVER had try and charge me was Food Lion. And that was because the meat was “on sale”. I told them no way, so they “let” me have it “this time”. This was about 15 years ago and I haven’t bought meat from them since. YMMV with them. Every place else (4 cities in 2 different states) has always cut the meat for free.
I have noticed a difference in the meats from the local stores in the last couple of years. An off flavor/texture to them. I think it’s all the additives that the beef/pork/chicken are being fed and it’s causing me to not like meat so much anymore.
Every month, I have a friend that goes down to Atlanta (about an hour, 15 mins from here). So I’ve started going with her. We go to Harry’s Market and Whole Foods market. I’ve been getting a little bit of organically grown meat. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I’d rather have a LOT smaller portion of GOOD meat than a larger of the regular meat. The texture and flavor is wonderful on the organic meats. I only buy whatever cuts are on sale and then I just use smaller portions of it. Same thing with the organic veggies and fruits. I really can taste a difference. I notice I don’t eat as much of the organic. I think it’s because it’s so flavorful that I register “full” sooner with it. So even though it costs more to buy it, by eating less of it, it’s costing me less in the long run.
I buy up an extra turkey or two around the holidays. I have gotten it as low as $0.39 a pound. I cook one up for a Sunday dinner and us the leftovers in place of chicken. I divide the meat up and freeze it. I also will skim the broth and freeze it to use for soup or gravy.
I made a big batch of chili a few weeks ago and I bought the ground beef at the last minute. I was able to save almost $2/lb because meat’s “sell-by” date was the next day and the store marked it down for quick sell.
Here is an idea that may sound strange but it works for my family and friends when they come for dinner. Usually a bbq.
Don likes steaks and he doesn’t really care what type as long as it isn’t Tbone.
A few years ago we found steak boards like they use in fancy steak houses.
Any type of steak or meat that has to be cut seems to make the meat taste better. So a cheap steak marinated so it is tender goes over just as well as the expensive ones.
I don’t know if it is the novelty of the boards or the fact that many people have never heard of using the boards for this purpose but conversation is about the great idea I came up with.
It wasn’t my idea but I like them because when you cut meat on a plate you scrape the plate with the knife and it kills my ears.
I have had a few people over who love the idea and have never heard of steak boards.
So I was wondering if anyone else uses them. Even the restaurants open now don’t seem to use them as often they use the cast iron so the food stays hotter.
I also can’t find them in the store anymore and I need a new one since one is cracked.
I also use them for cutting boards when the plastic one I like has raw something on it from another part of the meal.
Yes I have used those steak boards or should say I did when I lived at home. My mom had them and used them all the time. I think a lot of people did in the 50’s and 60’s when bbqing first started being the big rage and then for some reason they died out and I haven’t seen too many of them used over the past few years. I have seen a stray one or two at the thrift store I go to though.
WHAT IS A STEAK BOARD? IT SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING THAT I NEED. WHERE CAN I GET ONE? THANK YOU
My husband loves beef and would eat it five days a week! I have been lucky to get some meats cheaper because of the sell by date but very rarely. I have a small freezer so I can’t pack so much in there. How do you ladies avoid freezer burn? I have taken to wrapping my meats in wax paper, then the Saran Wrap stuff that clings to itself (not regular Saran Wrap) and then putting it in a ziploc. With larger portions I flatten out the meat then wrap it and place it in freezer. Any other ideas ? Tips ? Thanks in advance.
MJ I have tried pretty much all that you have mentioned too plus freezer paper and foil but to be honest I have not found anything that really protects things that well except for a vacuum sealer. I was given one as a gift years ago and it works so well and even though they are expensive I have really saved using it because I have thrown nothing out from freezer burn or tasting bad the way I use to. I know many people love their freezers but until I had my vacuum sealer I just didn’t like freezing things very much. That is part of the reason I never like cooking a whole month’s worth of meals.
One other thing I like with my vacuum sealer too is now I dehydrate so many things and the vacuum sealer works great for vacuum sealing in quart jars so it has more then paid for itself.
Plus no matter how well you wrap it after a point things do get freezer burn and with the vacuum sealer it can stay at least twice as long in the freezer then any other way. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. I know some people say they have no problem with freezer burn but I always have wrapping it with the normal things.
I’m with “Shirley,” what is a STEAK BOARD and how exactly is it used?
You have probably seen one and didn’t realize it and thinking it was a small cutting board. It looks like a small cutting board most often with a groove cut in it about an inch from the side where the juices run into. Some have handles cut into them and others can have a wooden handle jutting out but they don’t always have handles. Each person would get their own steak served on them. When cut, the juices like I said would run into the groove and won’t run into the other things on your plate the way it can when everything is served on the same plate besides keeping the steak a little warmer and you don’t ruin your dinner plate by sawing it with a steak knife on it.
A trick that I learned to save on meat, involves that old humble legume, lentils. Make a regular meat loaf with half the ground meat, and half cooked lentils in the mix. This is especially good if the meatloaf has bread crumbs or grains (like oatmeal) added to it, a binder (like eggs) and is well seasoned. If you are not sure how your family will receive it, try 25% cooked lentils and 75% ground meat. Lentils can be added (dry and hard) to a slow cooking spaghetti sauce, (done in the crockpot) in place of ground meat. You get the protein, and the lentils do resemble the texture of hamburger. Lentils cook very quickly, and do not need to be presoaked before cooking.
This is a good idea! I use cooked lentils with my taco meat to stretch it and I HATE lentils but no one ever knows the difference. I can’t even taste the difference so if it would bother anyone, it would be me. Perfect solution to stretch ground beef. Never thought of it before for spaghetti sauce. I’ll try it. Thanks.
Grizzly Bear Mom
You can ask the butcher to grind what ever you want. If you develop a relationship with him he will take care of you. It’s easy to do so, because its more interesting to make special orders for a customer, than to merely cut up beeves all day. My aunt worked at Shop Right and asked the butcher to grind some hamburger. He ground up meat so learn that he had to add fat to the pan to fry it!
re Steak Boards. It doesn’t seem like the are easily cleaned. Even as a farm girl, I have to ask are they clean enough to eat off?
I agree with Grizzly Mom about the steak boards especially if they are/were used in restaurants. Wood is porous and is very difficult to clean so that no bacteria remains.
The same goes with wooden cutting boards.
[email protected] Simplicity
To save money on meat, I buy in bulk and repackage, serve smaller portions, and shop on markdown days. Feeding a family of (5) with (2) teen boys and a 10-year-old boy can get pricey if I let it. Also, we are a meat & potato family, so I do not have the money saving benefits of casseroles.
After reading about portion control in your post, when I get my meals out of the freezer, I have enough for two meals instead of one like I use to eat. I am still full and so far this week I have lost 1 pound. When I go back to the store next week I will make small portions for next months meals so I can make my food last longer and save money at the same time. Thank you so much.