Friday, April 8, 2011

5 Ways to Save Money on Meat

Protein takes up a big portion of my budget these days.  Since I follow a high-fat / low-carb Paleo Diet, it's not like I can go Vegetarian once a week to alleviate the burden on my poor budget.

Instead, I've come up with other ways to save money on my protein bill:

1) Watch the grocery fliers and stock up when there's a good sale - 

I review the grocery store fliers every week to see what's on sale.  Usually, the best sales (their "loss leaders") are posted on the front page to entice busy families to do all of their weekly shopping at their store.

When a cut of meat I like goes below a certain price (usually $1.99 / lb for most meats), I buy enough to stuff my freezer full.  This "stocking up" usually carries us through to the next big meat sale.

2) Check out the warehouse stores -

I haven't had much luck with this method.  Our local Costco used to have good meat and chicken prices but nowadays, they're outrageous.  But don't give up!  I've heard from other frugal shoppers in other parts of the country that their Costco and Sam's Club have the best prices in town.  So go might be in luck!

3) Buy tougher cuts and offal - 

The tougher cuts of meat require the "low and slow" cooking method - something most busy people don't want to deal with.  As a result, these cuts are usually cheaper. I buy then and either cook ahead of time or plan to cook them on the weekend and eat the leftovers during the week.

The same goes for "offal" - the heart, liver, tongue, and other interesting parts of the animal.  I was introduced to the yumminess that is "Peruvian Style Grilled Cow's Heart" at a Peruvian restaurant in So Cal and haven't looked back since.  My local Asian store carries chicken hearts, which are good grilled to a nice medium well.  I also like liver, which I can find at the same store for a serious discount from the regular stores.

4) Buy large portions and butcher it down yourself - 

Our local Smart & Final carries large cuts of beef vacuumed-packed in plastic.  I'll usually buy these when they go on sale, bring it home and have a field day cutting steaks, roasts, and stewing beef off of the larger chunk of cow.  Leftovers or the more "interesting" bits are ground up using the grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer.

5) Don't let anything go to waste -

Don't let last night's roast fester in your fridge - reuse it in inventive ways.  Shred and place over tomorrow's lunch salad.  Toss the cooking juices and beef into a pot and make stew.  Slice thin, slather on your favorite condiment, and roll for a quick lunch.  There's a million options out there!

Do you have any tips to add?  Please comment below!


  1. I'm planning a trip to Amish country where I'm told I can find $1.99/lb meat raised by small local farmers.

    Costco sometimes has sales. They had Ribeye for $6.99/lb this week, which was good for steak, I thought. Not cheap enough to stock up but a good price for a splurge.

    Their meat is pretty much as expensive as the store, but the quality is tons better.

    The whole chickens are a good deal. 2 for like $9 which is a great price.


  2. Go to an Asian food market!!!! They have some VERY inexpensive meats!

  3. Great ideas & suggestions!

    Save for a freezer and buy direct from a farmer. We buy a half a cow (lasts a family of four for 9 months), whole pigs (they last about 4-5 months, and whole chickens - all from local farmers. In our case, they are all pastured so we get great quality meats very at an affordable price. Of course you can safe a lot and still get better than grocery store meat for a lot less in the long run. We too love the offal - but I would be hesitant about eating it from commercial sources.


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