These days it seems like the price of meat is going up with each new trip to the grocery store and finding a good deal on meat is getting harder to come by.
So I decided to write down a few ideas on how we’ve been trying to save with our meat purchases over the past year, which types of meat we typically look for, and a few tips on buying them.
Beef/Hamburger – We’ve don’t nearly eat as much beef as we used to purely because of the cost. Stick with cuts like London broil, chuck roast, sirloin tip steak, or even just stew meat to keep costs down.
If you cook most of the cheaper cuts “low and slow” with the temperature and time, these less expensive cuts can be wonderful. Ground beef has really gone up in price lately and I still love Hamburger Helper to this day.
Buy ground beef on sale and buy in bulk if possible. We usually buy 85/15 on the fat content, but 90/10 is even cheaper. An extra small box freezer can pay for itself in a short amount of time if it’s an option for you.
Chicken – It used to be buying a whole chicken was your best bet, but I’ve seen whole chickens cost $7.00 plus in my area, free range chickens are even more. I usually stick to buying breasts and sometimes thighs.
Chicken wings that used to be one of the HH’s favorites, used to be cheap, but recently the prices have gotten ridiculous. Some “Wing Style” restaurants actually list them at “market price”!
Watch for a sale and buy chicken in bulk if you can. We recently purchased bone-in chicken breasts for $.89 cents a pound and bought several packages. If you can find whole chickens on sale, go for it. A whole chicken can last days and there is always chicken soup at the end if you make chicken broth with it.
Turkey – For some reason many of us will only cook a turkey once a year. Turkey is so synonymous with the holidays we just forget about it. Turkey frequently goes on sale and can be stretched out over several meals.
When you see a good deal, buy a couple and put them in the freezer. Get creative with your recipes rather than just roast turkey every time.
Pork Shoulder/Butt – Pork Shoulder is probably king of cheap eats. It’s so versatile and is awesome in so many dishes. We just purchased two for $.99 cents a pound.
Pulled pork, BBQ pork, Carnitas, or stick it in a big pot of beans with the leftovers are just a few ideas. Pork Shoulder is a great low and slow cook, inexpensive cut of meat that tastes awesome whatever your meat budget is.
Here again, that chest freezer comes in handy to take advantage of deals when they come up.
Fish/Seafood – Seafood can be pretty expensive and to many families is completely looked over when even thinking about a meat option. It’s typically better for you than pork and beef choices and usually isn’t eaten as such a large portion compared to the two, so it may be cheaper in the long run.
Stick to haddock, cod, catfish, flounder or you can even use mackerel as a tuna substitute. Shrimp is also great and super versatile in many dishes and not a luxury item or expensive as many people think. Don’t be afraid to buy frozen fish or shrimp. Frozen can be considerably cheaper than their fresh version.
Another way to save on your meat bill is to just eat less of it if you can. Many people have replaced the main dish as being meat to it now being a side dish.
Also, seriously considering cleaning out your existing fridge/freezer to make space for sales and great deals, and/or buying a spare freezer will save you big bucks in the long run on your family meat budget.
How is your family saving on the high price of meat these days?
Are there any other cuts of meat you would recommend?
Cindy Miller says
All great ideas! Whole chicken prices are insane now.
When turkeys were on sale around Thanksgiving I would ask the butcher in the meat department if they would cut the bird in half for me. Most often they would with no extra charge. Didn’t matter if it was frozen or fresh. Since it was just two of us we ate half for Thanksgiving and freeze the other for another time. For long as I remember I have always bought meat on sale, divided into smaller portions.
I agree with buying on sale and dividing it for the freezer. We often see big pork loins go on sale. I’ll buy tgise and cut pork chops out of them and a few bigger cuts for carnitas. The ones I bought from Costco a while ago even had directions on the paclage about how to cut them and which parts to use for chops amd which to keep whole. I am keeping my eye out right now for a vacuum sealer.
I also keep an eye on the ‘clearance’ meat that has been marked down. Often times it looks sketchy and you definitely have to be picky, but I do occasionally get to suprise my husband with nicer cuts of steak. After the holidays they always mark down the frozen turkeys/hams and we always stock up then.
Mavis you didnt mention lunch meat. That has gone way up as well. We dont eat a ton of it, but we do live a good sandwich on our fresh sourdough. I have been working on buying hams and trying to thinly alice our own. You can buy spiral cut hams at Costco for $1.99/lb (that’s not even on sale) and a quality lunch meat is well over $8/lb.
I’ve been buying the the Costco pork loins and cutting them myself for a few years now. They are so reasonably priced and yield enough for quite a few meals. I buy their sirloin steaks too and cut them in half because they are so darn thick!
I think it also helps to choose recipes that really stretch the servings of a package of meat. One pound of hamburger probably only yields 4 burgers, but I can make a whole pot of soup or a whole tamale pie with the same amount of meat. You do then have to factor in the cost of other ingredients, but they tend to be cheaper ones like beans or veggies.
What kind of pressure canner do you use for canning your green beans ect…? Also, what kind of vegetable garden fertilizer do you use?
Mavis Butterfield says
We don’t use fertilizer and I use the All American Pressure Canner. This is the one I have : https://amzn.to/3oFJWpa And how to use it: https://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/tutorial-how-to-use-a-pressure-canner/
On the menu this week, venison barley soup and smelts It cost $28 for the fishing license but we got 3 meals Hunting on our own land Free!
Rebecca in MD says
I purchase my meats through Butcher Box. All the meats are organic and from farms that use humane practices. Beef is grass fed and grass finished, and animals are pastured. If you’d like to try Butcher Box, here is a link that will give you $30 off your first order: http://rwrd.io/4qhwqm6?c
We don’t eat meat so that saves a lot of money! We do eat some wild caught fish, but concentrate mostly on home grown and locally grown seasonal food. I love to cook so we are always trying new recipes. I like to pick a country then find a new recipe from that area. Then we play music from that country while we eat the meal. It feels like we are going to a restaurant and trying something new off the menu.
Lisa C says
That is so awesome that you play music from whatever country you are cooking. I love that!
Rosemary Calhoun says
Fajitas are a great way to stretch meat – you can use less meat without affecting the overall taste. You can also use leftover steak, chicken, pork chop, etc. I buy the tortillas on sale (they can be frozen) and you can use peppers and onions from the garden. I found a good recipe for making the fajita spice using the spices I have on hand. We usually have some leftovers, and they taste just as good the next day!
Stephanie Z says
We buy whole pork legs or butts around $1.19 lb and make our own sausages. The quality of homemade plus the huge savings is amazing. And we give them to friends and family, so a food vacuum sealer is a must.
We also buy beef brisket for $2.99 lb (vs pricier blade or chuck roasts) and grind that up for incredible burgers that we freeze as well.
When whole beef tenderloins go on sale (like yesterday), we will buy several, cut them into 1.5 inch steaks and vacuum pack and freeze (I got 74 steaks from 3 tenderloins).
At times we will do a mega food prep. Pierogies for example, we will make a huge batch and freeze. We did over 300 before Christmas (a 2 day event) gave tonnes away and have lots for the rest of the season. My freezer is stuffed at the moment so its time to visit people and share to make a bit of room. May defeat the purpose of saving $ though?
Stephanie, well, if your circle of family and friends “pay back,” it might just equal out. We had a friend who would take us out to eat every so often, because he didn’t cook. He said he loved my home cooked meals, it was a bargain to take us out every so many meals!
Could you share your recipe for pierogies? That would make a lovely addition to many menus!
Linda Practical Parsimony says
Since I am allergic to mammal products, I tend to stick to chicken and only like the breast. I have found that Publix has better trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I hate having to remove bones I paid for where the chicken wing has not been cut close enough. AND, I never buy meat unless it is only sale.
I use canned, pink salmon to make salmon croquettes. I use oatmeal and eggs in the croquettes, so the protein and other nutrition is pretty high. Using saltines in them is another option, but I prefer oats. There are leftovers for lunch or another dinner. I have even used a small can of tuna for croquettes.
For a quick and easy meal a 12 oz. can of Hormel Roast Beef and Gravy is cheap and tasty. I recently bought a 12 pack from Amazon at about half the price of the identical item in the store. It makes a hearty and quick meal with fresh, canned, or leftover vegetables of your choice. Found the price–$4.59 in store or $2.48 from Amazon.
One large pork chop sliced thin was enough for a stir fry for the 3 of us. I also buy meat in bulk. I freeze chops, chicken breasts etc, on sheet pans then wrap and pop into freezer bags. This lets me only thaw what I need. Country ribs are another good deal. Marinade, then into the slow cooker. When they are almost fall apart done, I glaze them with barbecue sauce and roast them until nice and brown. If I do a big batch, I freeze them for quick meals later.
We purchase 1/4 or 1/2 a cow from a local rancher. With processing, it works out to about $6 a pound for grass-fed beef.
This is getting to be a better deal and good for the rancher and the consumer.
We get crazy deals at a grocery outlet type store. Rolls of Jimmy Dean sausage are $1-1.49, ground pork 2#/2.50, pork tenderloins are 2.99-3.99. Aldi still has whole chickens for .95 a pound. Fish is very reasonable at Aldi but stock has been hot or miss lately. We have always been small portion meat eaters so now it is paying off. We also eat eggs most mornings so that counts into our protein intake for the day and is is still a cheap option.
I’ll just drop this here: “Tyson reported fiscal 2021 income of $3 billion, a 48% gain from the previous year.” (Tyson is the largest of the big four meat companies in the US.)
And they’re planning to increase prices and their profits further, which is… really something.
There are many reasons for inflation of meat prices, but “because they can get away with it” is definitely one of them.
We eat a lot of chicken since it goes on sale for $1.99/lb often. Hamburger on sale for $3.99/lb can be stretched with half a pound each in spaghetti sauce and chili. I used to buy chuck roast when it went on sale for $2-3/lb but now I’m lucky to find it on sale under $5/lb. Most grocery stores will slice up larger cuts of meat for no charge. I have roast cut up for stew or stroganoff.
Heidi P says
I miss buying our bulk meat from Zaycon Foods before the operation closed! Meat is so expensive now, I suddenly feel old. I remember my grandparents saying similar things.
I just made pork carnitas (a new recipe for my family) and everyone loved it. Inexpensive meal with lots of leftovers. Perfect for the three males in our home.
This week I bought two rotisserie chickens from costco for several days of meals. Creamy pesto chicken ravioli tonight, soup and sandwiches tomorrow and buffalo chicken dip for the big game on Sunday. I’ll have leftovers to freeze for chicken nachos next week and if I’m lucky maybe taco’s too. Pretty good for $10.00
When it comes to meat I’m more concerned with quality than cost. There is a store about 20 minutes from me that often has a “Pick 5” sale: 5 packages of highest quality chicken, beef or fish, generally 1 pound per package, for a total of $25.00. I load up and we make it last by replacing half the meat in recipes with beans, mushrooms, etc.
I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade and I’m super picky now.
I live in a rural area and just down the road is a farm that sells their own grass-fed beef (super healthy animals in the pasture!) that I hope to take advantage of next fall.
Cheap meat has a cost.
Mimi, agree on quality being a big factor. If you don’t mind my asking, what made you decide to start eating meat again? A friend and I were just talking about this very thing today (in fact the topic of conversation was about vege burgers with beets or beet juice which visually is kind of nasty to most vegetarians, so clearly some of these companies are targeting carnivores, not vegetarians). I have been vegetarian for several decades though it was a gradual process (which probably sounds weird), but I do cook meat for my family. Anyway, just super curious…
I started eating meat again because my energy level was sinking – I also got tired of making separate meals for myself and the carnivores in the household…so much work!
I still prefer a mostly vegetarian diet but my body sends out strong signals for fish and animal protein once in awhile. That’s just me though. 🙂
We just bought a half a beef that was grass fed on a friends land for $4.50/lb cut and wrapped. I even got to choose how I wanted it cut and what pieces to grind for hamburger.
Also, if you like ground turkey, I take those extra free or cheap turkeys during the holidays and cut and grind the meat. Much better than the $4+ per pound to buy it already ground!
I buy pork butt on sale for 88 cents per pound and grind it myself with the Kitchen Aid. I then mix it half and half with ground beef. It makes wonderful meatloaf, meatballs, and burgers. I also use half of the amount of ground beef in almost every recipe. No one ever notices the difference. I usually put in extra vegetables which is always a good thing.
Linda Sand says
My aunt roasted a turkey every Sunday to feed her family of six plus guests. She put it in the oven before going to church. Turkey is a high protein food and leftovers are very versatile.
After Christmas last year, I found whole fresh turkeys on sale for .39 cents a lb. I bought 10 of them. If I had had more freezer space I would have bought more. As I had time, I put one or two of them, frozen, in my counter top roaster oven, spiced them up very well, added a quart of water, cooked on low over night, and they were falling apart done the next day. Stripped off the meat, and froze for turkey soup, turkey salad sandwiches, turkey tetraziny, turkey pot pies, etc. Boiled the bones and other leftover pieces, and made gallons of broth to freeze. I’m always on the look out for out of season and close to use by date specials.
Lindi Turnipseed says
on a different note I made Mrs. C’s roast in the slow cooker! Man was it good. Even my picky granddaughter ate it and there were NO leftovers! A must do again!!!!!
Well, for once the food prices aren’t bothering me much. I have been on a plant-based diet since last summer for health reasons, and it turns out I like it! Beans are so much cheaper than meat, and I can do so many different things with them. Cooking without meat and oil feels a lot cleaner, too, because I don’t have grease to clean up.
Plant-based, it’s the wave of the future!
Costco had spiral cut hams for $8.00 off so got a large ham for $12.00. I used my vacuum sealer and packaged up 15 packages of ham as well as a ham bone. I think the vacuum sealer will keep the meat free of any freezer burn.
Lisa Millar says
We are fairly rural and have been able to buy a side of beef from a cousins farm… it lasts so long… and you get all the good cuts, as well as everything else and a heap of mince.
It works out insanely cheaper than supermarket meat – and tastes a lot better as the animals haven’t been stressed by transport.
(I try to hide some of the best cuts down the bottom of the freezer as a nice surprise for later on after we think we’ve scoffed down all the good stuff)
PS… Mavis, I get ads attached to your email notifications now. I don’t much worry about it,… just scroll on – but lately its a gross add for ‘getting rid of earwax’ WITH A PHOTO OF A LUMP OF IT!! (Shudder lol) Not a great match with the food posts haha
Wendy Steele says
I switched from ground beef to ground turkey years ago-I find that in tacos or meat sauce or chili it tastes great!! Turkey burgers are good enough for me at home-and I splurge and order real beef hamburgers when I eat at a restaurant!!!
Denise Pattterson says
I’m swimming upstream I think sometimes. We seem to be doing the opposite, deliberately paying more for meat .
But the idea behind is animal welfare, organic and no added chemicals to the meat.
We don’t have meat often , but when we do it’s organic and local to us.
I’ve changed our diets massively over the last decade or so, we eat more grains, beans, legumes, nuts seeds, spices, herbs, strange vegetables that’s I’d never heard of.
We seek out organic farmers , old fruit varieties full of exquisite flavour and accept that good food sometimes means paying more.
As things like beans etc are cheaper, it all evens out .
I pay much more for a milk man ho delivers glass recycled reusable bottles to my door , but I think it’s more than just a quaint thing .
It’s no plastic bottles and local service as old as anything in England worthy of preserving , so we use less milk but it’s organic local and as green as possible .
We have been doing the same at our house. Between Butcherbox, our CSA, our organic square foot garden and our Rancho Gordo Bean Club shipments we eat well and healthfully. I mill our own flour and buy my grains in bulk. We eat less and less meat over the years so a standard custom Butcherbox order lasts us months. We avoid packaged, processed food and this helps our health and also overall costs.
Our meat prices in Switzerland have always been crazy, we pay around $35.00 per lb of nice beef cuts and a whole chicken costs around $25.00. So we just try to eat less and get our hands on the cheaper cuts. Another thing we want to try is to get meat from a local farmer for the freezer, which would be a mix of cuts and comes out to about $15 per lb for free-range, grass fed beef from the neighbourhood.
We bought half of a grass fed beef from neighbors down the road last fall. It comes from the butcher vacuum packed and frozen and I get to tell them how I want it cut. We have two freezers and one is just for meat.
Mavis, I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying your blog so much! You have become an inspiration!