If you look back over your grocery receipts you’ll likely find that the bulk of the money you’re spending at the grocery store is on meat. It is expensive! Our vegetarian friends are probably saving so much money on groceries. But for those of us that don’t want to cut it out altogether, let’s focus on ways to cut down on the cost. In this post I’m going to share with you 10 simple ways to save money on meat.
10 SIMPLE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON MEAT
Are you spending all of your grocery money on meat? How much could you save on groceries if you cut the cost of meat in half? Saving money on meat isn’t as hard as you might think. You don’t need to cut it out of your meal plan. Instead, you just need to be smart about where, when, and how you buy it.
GRAB THE SPECIALS
Most big name grocery stores will have meat marked down as a manager’s special.
The butcher in the store selects meat that is nearing its use by date, and lowers the price.
You’ll likely find these packages of meat with bright yellow or red stickers on them and they’ll probably be in a small section together in the meat department.
If you cannot find this is your local grocery store, ask someone in the meat department if they can help you find it.
Here’s the thing about this marked down meat – It’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. They wouldn’t be able to sell it at all if there were.
And you shouldn’t let the fact that it’s nearing it’s expiration date stop you from buying it.
If you’re not going to use it by it’s date, just throw it right in the freezer. It’ll be there waiting for you when you do want to use it.
Note: Obviously, If the meat is actually past it’s expiration date, you don’t want to buy that. Just point it out to someone in the meat department and they will take it away. I saw this happen one time. They just hadn’t removed it yet.
Generally, the manager’s specials get marked down first thing in the morning.
Imagine it as part of the butcher’s daily routine after he arrives at the store and settles in.
So you want to get to the store early in the morning to be able to have first pick at the deals.
If you shop in the evening there may not be any deals left for you.
To be sure you are shopping at the very best time for deals, ask someone in the meat department about what time the meat deals are marked down.
Chances are, they’ll be thrilled to tell you about it.
The best way to know if you’re getting a good deal is to know how much each type of meat that you buy typically costs.
That doesn’t mean you have to memorize the prices. Tracking prices is actually a pretty easy thing to do.
I walk you through the simple process of exactly how to track prices here.
I even have a free printable to help you with this. Grab your price tracker printable here.
Meat is almost always sold by the pound. This means that you have to know the price per pound.
I wish I could tell you what a good price per pound is for each type of meat, but the truth is that it varies wildly from one location to the next. You need to learn the prices in your specific city or town.
But, for example, I know that where I live boneless chicken breast generally costs $2.69 per pound. So when I see it on sale for $1.99 per pound, I know that is a good deal.
STOCK UP ON SALES
When you find a great deal, it’s time to stock up.
Buy several packages and freeze whatever you will not be using soon.
It’s best to put the extras in the freezer right away because if you don’t you may forget and that would be a lot of wasted money.
Here is a common misconception I hear: I can’t freeze much because I don’t have a chest freezer.
Friends, I have such a tiny freezer! I pack that thing to the brim and I fit so much in there!
It actually makes your freezer work better for it to be fully packed.
I do totally daydream about having a chest freezer too some day. I’ll be able to freeze even more then! But in the meantime, I’m not letting my little freezer hold me back. You shouldn’t either.
BUY IN BULK
Warehouse stores are a great place to get a good price on meat.
My favorite warehouse store is Costco. That’s where I shop, so that’s what I’ll tell you about. If you use a different warehouse store, they probably have some great deals to so check them out.
The only downside to buying meat in bulk is that you usually have to buy a huge package of the meat.
Sometimes the package will be proportioned for you. For example, at Costco, the chicken breasts are sold in the 3 perforated pouches with 2-3 chicken breasts in each pouch. The ground turkey is the same way. It’s 3 perforated pouches with about one pound of ground turkey in each pouch.
Most of the meat however is sold in a giant package.
Don’t let this stop you.
Here’s what I do:
I’ll buy a giant package of something like stew beef. Then when I come home I’ll divide that up into 3 separate portions using these freezer bags.
I’ll put 2 of those portions into the freezer and one in fridge to use that week (freezer bags totally work in the fridge too).
Over the next 2 or 3 weeks, I’ll use the other 2 portions from the freezer.
The correct way to freeze meat for longer periods of time is to get one of these gadgets and remove all the air from the package.
I don’t have one of those. It’s on my someday list too. So, I just use the meat I freeze within a few weeks and I’ve never had a problem.
Tip: I do my best to remove all the air I can from the freezer bag just by pressing down on it while I’m sealing.
BUY CHEAPER CUTS AND DRESS IT UP
Save the special cuts of meat for special occasions.
We like beef, but steak is expensive. So I’ll skip the steak and instead buy something like ground beef or the stew beef I mentioned above.
Then I’ll cook it in a way that makes it really yummy.
Stew beef does not have to be just for stew!
I’ve used it for beef and broccoli in the crockpot, stuffed baked potatoes, nachos… There are so many options.
Likewise, chicken is less expensive when you buy it with the bone-in. Chicken thighs are much less than chicken breasts.
A whole chicken is generally the cheapest way to buy as long as you’re going to use the whole chicken.
My favorite way to cook a whole chicken is right in the crockpot. It comes out delicious and the meat is falling off the bones so it’s not a pain to cut.
Bonus: You can put the bones back into the crockpot and let it simmer overnight to make your own bone broth.
And don’t forget about pork! Pork chops are usually pretty cheap (with or without the bone) and a pork roast is less than a pot roast.
Pork tenderloin is also an affordable option for a fancier dinner.
RETHINK PORTION SIZE
You may have an image in your head (as I used to) of everyone’s plate with a whole piece of meat on it. A whole chicken breast or a whole steak.
In truth, everyone does not need their own piece. But if you serve it to them (or if you make that the serving size) they will probably eat it all anyway.
Here’s how to subtly trick your family into eating less:
Serve chicken slices or shredded chicken instead of full chicken breasts.
Do something like sliced London Broil instead of full pieces of beef.
You could serve shredded beef too.
This also works with sliced pork roast or sliced pork tenderloin.
If you have large pork chops, you can cut them in half.
This method will yield more leftovers which means less cooking and less food to buy. Hooray!
CUT A FEW COUPONS
I am not by any means an extreme couponer. I don’t spend a whole lot of time or energy on it.
But I do use a few strategic coupons here and there. You can read all the details of my super simple strategy here.
When it comes to meat, you can sometimes find specific coupons promoted by the store either in print form (like the ones that you would cut out of their weekly sales flyer) or in digital form on your store’s website or app.
You can also use manufacturer’s coupons for brand name mean (like Jennie-O or Oscar Meyer). Just go to the manufacturer’s website and head to the coupon section.
BUY A COW
Okay, not a whole cow.
I actually have dreams of owning a milk cow someday. Completely unrealistic dreams because I live in a city and I would need someone else to take care of the cow, but dreams not the less.
Anyway, did you could actually buy a potion of a cow from a local farm? Several families go in on it and the meat gets divided up.
In all honestly, you would probably need a chest freezer to store that much meat. This is probably why I haven’t done it yet. But maybe someday when I get that chest freezer!
This is a big up front investment. It’s something you’d want to save up for and plan ahead for. But overall it could save you a ton.
THINK INSIDE THE BOX
Theses days, we have so many options for buying meat beyond the grocery store.
One awesome alternative is Butcher Box.
Butcher Box delivers frozen grass-fed and/or organic high-quality meat right to your door. They partner with small farms to keep their costs down and they offer free shipping.
If your family eats a lot of meat, and you have the freezer space to store it, you should really check them out.
Plus, for a limited time, if you sign up here you’ll get baby back ribs, 2 lbs of ground beef, and 2 NY strips free in your first box!
WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON MEAT
You’ll save some serious money on meat even if you just try out a few of these tips. So, take advantage of sales, shop early, and compare prices. Then, take it up a notch by stocking up on sales and buying in bulk.
Try to buy cheaper cuts of meat, consider smaller portions, and use some coupons. If you want to amplify your savings you could even buy a cow or try a mail order service like Butcher Box.
And if you want to cut your grocery costs even more, sign up for the Grocery Budget Challenge and learn a step-by-step system for saving money on groceries.