Meat expenses can really kill a grocery budget. When we first started analyzing our grocery expenses, meat was our number one expense. I would be okay living off of salads and fresh fruits and vegetables, but my husband won’t have it. Instead, we found some ways to still enjoy our meat, without breaking our grocery budget.
- Eat a meatless meal once a month (or even weekly).
This wasn’t as hard of a transition as I thought it would be. My husband really enjoys Lentil Brown Rice Casserole, as well as Lentil Tacos.
- Have a salad as the main coursewith a little meat included.
Our favorites are Taco Salad and a Grilled Chicken Salad. You can up the protein in your salad by adding in hard boiled eggs, or even nuts. This way you can cut down on the meat used even more.
- Use less meat than what your recipe calls for.
For instance, I used to always use a minimum of 1 pound of hamburger to make tacos for my family. I’ve been able to successfully cut that amount back to 3/4 of a pound without noticing any difference. While that may not seem like a big difference, it really does add up. Think of it this way–If you serve ground beef 3 times a week, you will save yourself 3 pounds of meat a month. Or enough to serve your family just over another week’s worth of ground beef meals.
- Take advantage of meat sales.
When you see a good price on meat (either from a weekly sale, or a manager’s markdown), Stock up until you can come across that price again. I’ve been able to find ground beef for around a dollar a pound and boneless skinless chicken breasts for as low as $1.33/pound.
- Pay attention to actual portion size.
As a general rule, a meat portion is about the size of a deck of cards–or 3 ounces.
- Buy a cheaper cut of meat.
Sirloin is going to be more expensive than cubed steak. Some cheaper cuts will indeed be a bit tough or chewy, but if cooked slowly–you’ll end up with a great piece of meat. I’d rather spend time, than money.
- Make your own cuts.
Obviously, the more work they grocery store does for you, the more you will pay. You are paying them for convenience. Make your own Boneless, Skinless Chicken breasts by buying a regular chicken breast and removing the bones/skin.
Dice up your own stew meat.
How do you manage your meat expenses? Have any meatless recipes to share?
Be sure to check out even more frugal tips over at Frugal Friday.