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Saving Money on Meat

July 13, 2012

There is so many ways to save money on meat.  It all comes down to what are you willing to do.  No I am not going to tell you to eat bad meat or anything crazy like this.  Yet you still need to be semi-open minded.

First I will start with simple ways to save money on meat through purchasing.

Purchase a quarter steer:
Contact local farmers or your local butcher shop and find out if they sell steer quarters.  When Mike and I had done this in the past we have paid about $3.00 per pound for everything from ground beef to roast to steaks to cubes.  It is a pretty good deal for our area over all.  You can request the meat to be lean or semi lean etc… when talking to the butcher. You can also request more ground beef than steaks and roast or more steaks than ground beef.  You are the owner of this meat, you should be able to have it cut how you want it.  I do recommend that you get references or try meat that butcher shop has processed already.  Some butcher shops are better than others. What is the negative of purchasing a quarter steer?  It takes up a decent amount of space in a freezer and it is a large amount of money upfront.  The positive is the fact you will have it on hand when you need it and that you are paying a low price per pound.

Purchase when grocery store mark down their meets:
Call your local grocery and find out what time of day they mark down their meats and if there is a schedule of when they mark down beef, chicken, turkey or pork.  There is nothing wrong with the meat, but the store has to sell it prior to a certain date (which is marked on the packaging).  I find that our Giant marks down meat on Friday and Wednesdays in the morning around 8 am.  What they usually have special tags on it, given the meat a new UPC code.  Review the meats condition to make sure it is still fresh and review the sell by date to make sure it is still good. Remember it is humans working in the meat department and sometimes they miss read the dates. Take it home and use it or freeze it right away.

Purchase in bulk:
Buy the bigger bulk packages you see. It is sort of like when you buy a quarter steer, you will pay more up front but if the price per pound is cheaper and you have freezer space it is totally worth it.  I found that chicken breast are usually a minimum of $0.50/pound cheaper, if I buy it this way.  Most people do not need all that meat for one recipe, so while you purchase the bulk packs, make sure you have freezer bags on hand. Once you get home separate the bulk packages into smaller groupings on how you believe you will use it, then freeze the meat.  You will also find stores have sales on the bulk meat more often.

Next, I will tell you some tricks my family uses to save money on meat after purchasing them meats.

Grind up your own red meat:
I know it sounds crazy to take the time to do it, but it is worth it.  We have a Kitchen Aid Pro mixer and purchased the food grinder attachment a while back and love it.  We have found that we prefer our ground beef lean and without a ton of filler.  The best way to control this is by grinding out own meat up.  We also found that our local grocery stores charge $3.99/pound (at minimum) for the 10% fat and about $3.50/pound for the 30% fat.   Yet they will put sirloin steaks and london broil on sale for $2.97/pound often. After trying both as ground beef we are very happy with them both with a preference of the london broil.  All the stores run their sales in cycles, so once you decide which cut you prefer then figure out their sale cycle and buy the meat then. We grind it up that at that time and freeze.

Grind your own chicken up:
Ground chicken here is typically $2.98/pound and boneless chicken breast will go on sale for $1.99/pound.  Sounds silly to not buy the whole chicken boneless chicken breast and grind it up yourself.  I am sure you can do the same for turkey as well.  Our family doesn’t use ground turkey very much, so I honestly just buy the pre-ground turkey.

Change how you bag your bulk ground beef:
Okay, now that you are buying it in bulk pre-grounded up or grind it up yourself. Not it is time for mind tricks. This is where I am talking you need to be semi-open minded. As I mentioned we grind out own ground beef, when we bag out ground beef we do not bag it in one pound increments. Typical we bag it in bags of three-quarter pound packs. I am sure you are wondering how do you save money this way. Well unless you are making something like meatloaf or hamburgers you can use three-quarter pounds of ground beef in a recipe that calls for one pound. This was actually Mike’s idea a while back and I honestly was skeptical about it. I thought I would notice and well the result was… NO we never noticed. We even made Hamburger Helper one night and my family ate the exact same amount as when I make it with one pound of ground beef. Think about it, you now can make 4 recipes that call for one pound of ground beef with only three pounds. For us that is a savings of $3.00 and if you buy pre-ground it will be more than that.

Cut your boneless chicken breast in half:
I mean seriously you can play the biggest mind trick on your family with boneless chicken breast. Most of the ones I get to purchase are really fat height wise.  So I filet them in half.  I found the best way to do this is when they breast are frozen.  If I do it while they are fresh, I will bag them in packs of three halves.  Put them in a recipe, grill/fry them up etc… Skeptical?  Start by making a recipe with whole boneless chicken breast, watch how many your family eats.  Then give it some time and without your husband or the rest of your family knowing, make the same recipe.  This time cut them in half.  Do not put all the pieces in the recipe. if the recipe calls for three boneless chicken breast then put 4 in. (this gives you one extra to be safe).  Sometimes, I will add a little more vegetable to the recipe to help fill it in, but most of the I do nothing. This time watch and see how your family eats.  Most families will never notice.  I personally found that I can cut my chicken consumption in half with this method.  Remember the trick is to not tell the family you are doing this.

Bake and debone a whole chicken:
If you make recipes that call for cut up chicken often or often enough, purchase whole chickens while on sale and bake it.  Once cool debone and bag it out in ways you will need it for recipes, then freeze.  Even if a recipe calls for cut up boneless skinless chicken breast you can supplement with white and dark meat from the whole chicken. It works out great.

These are ways my family saves money on meat.  How do you save money on meat at your house?

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