Is meat usually the most expensive item on your grocery bill? If so, you’re certainly not alone. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can avoid overspending and actually save money while still enjoying your favorite meat-based meals. Here are a few pointers to get you started!
1. Channel Your Inner Butcher
One reason meat is so expensive is that you are paying for the labor to cut it up. Therefore, you can save money on meat by purchasing larger pieces and cutting them yourself. Purchasing and cutting up a whole chicken, for example, is significantly less expensive than buying individual pieces that have been pre-cut by a butcher. Just make sure you have the proper tools (sharp knife, plastic cutting board and zip-top freezer bags for storage) and get slicing!
Try it tonight: 10 Fantastic Ways to Cook a Whole Chicken
Meat doesn’t have to be the focal point of every meal. Balance meat with other ingredients like pasta, beans, grains and vegetables. Try seeking out recipes like Classic Beef Stroganoff, Slow-Cooker Mexican Beef Stew (pictured above) or Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry, where meat is just one of several main ingredients. Of course, you can also save money by going meatless every once in a while, even just once a week can save you money in the long-haul. Check out this collection of Money-Saving Meatless Meals for ideas!
3. Shop Sales and Specials
Grocers often slash prices when meat is about to expire. This is a great time to stock up on different cuts and freeze for future use. Also, be sure to check the grocery store weekly ad to find out what meats are on special.
4. Familiarize Yourself with Cheap Cuts of Meat
Although meat prices fluctuate, there are a few cuts that are usually a better deal than others. (A good rule of thumb is to look for meat that costs around $1 or less per serving.) Here are a few of our favorites!
Chicken thighs are often overlooked in comparison to chicken breasts, but they shouldn’t be. They’re naturally more flavorful and moist, and cost about half as much as boneless, skinless chicken breasts, making them a no-brainer protein when it comes to money-saving meals.
Try it tonight: 10 Ways with Chicken Thighs
Ground beef with a higher fat content (80/20, for example) is generally lower cost than a leaner blend (like 90/10). To cut back on fat and calories, drain the fat after you’re done cooking the meat.
Try it tonight: 30-Minute Meals Made with Ground Beef
Center-Cut Pork chops
Pork chops have a reputation of being dry and flavorless, but trust me, it only takes one good pork chop recipe to make you a true believer!
Try it tonight: Skillet Pork Chops 7 Ways
Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite budget-friendly cuts of meat? How do you enjoy meat without breaking the bank? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!