Meat prices seem to be forever rising so how to save money on meat so you can keep your grocery bill in check?
It was not long ago that meat became one of the most expensive parts of the Western diet and for some people, having fresh meat is now a struggle.
You might even need to choose between paying a bill and buying the fresh meat you want to fill your freezer with.
It can leave a family struggling to find simple ways to save money on meat just so they can eat.
While meat is expensive, there are plenty of ways to make buying meat cheaper, and I don’t just mean buying less of it.
How can i save money on buying meat?
You do not have to resort to only buying the cheapest meat available at your local store. Many of us would actively choose NOT to buy the cheapest meat if we can help it.
Cheap meat is often either extremely fatty e.g. 20% fat ground beef/mince or pork belly slices. Or it’s those meat cuts that we shy away from; liver, kidneys and tripe to name a few of my pet dislikes!
The trick to learning how to save money on meat is to find ways to get the better cuts of meat for cheaper. And to rethink how you use meat in your recipes.
You can save good money if you follow all these tips – I certainly do!
1. Have a Deep Freezer
It may seem counter intuitive to buy a deep freezer so you can save money. But the simple truth is that having a deep freezer will allow you to buy meat at lower prices to store for later use.
It is widely known that having a stockpile can be a huge help in saving money. This is especially true for meat.
The plus side to having a deep freezer is that you’ll also have more room to stock up on snacks and other freezable foods when they are on sale as well.
2. Buy clearance items
Clearance sales, not to be confused with normal stores sale ads (see below) is a tried and true way to save money on meat.
Most stores mark their meat down on a specific day of the week or a specific time of day.
You can usually watch to get a good idea of when this is, however, if you can not figure it out, simply ask one of the staff in your store.
Aldi tend to mark down their clearance items at the beginning of the day so it pays to shop early at Aldi.
For my local Asda Walmart, clearance items are reduced by 10% in the morning and again at around 5pm to 50%. Guess when I shop there?!
When you shop clearance meat, you can easily save as much as 50% over paying regular price.
It’s very rare that stores will reduce prices further, mainly because bargain hunters like you and I have snapped everything up at the 50% rate.
3. Shop Sale Ads
Once a week your stores put out a new weekly sales ad and it should always be your first stop when you are planning your grocery trip.
Make note of what meat products are on sale then plan your menu for the week around those sales.
If you have extra money, try to buy at least one more package than you need for the week. Doing so will help you fill your freezer without paying full price.
4. Use Less
The average sedentary woman only needs 46 grams of protein per day. Where it gets confusing is protein grams are not the same as the weight of a piece of meat. For example an 8 ounce (226 grams) serving of beef contains 61 grams of protein.
The reality is most of us are using far more meat than is really needed for a meal. This can add up to a pretty expensive cost very quickly.
Instead, use less meat and use more frugal options to fill the meal out. Foods such as rice and beans are very, very cheap and will keep you from missing the smaller amount of meat in the meal.
Eating less is one of the quickest and easiest ways when you want to save money on meat.
5. Eat More Meatless Meals
Stretching your meals with fillers does help save money on meat, but so does eating more meatless meals.
Not only does eating a meatless meal once or twice a week help save you more money, but it is also a healthy way to help your family get their vegetables in.
Eating a meatless meal does not need to be complicated. Things such as zucchini lasagna, 5 bean chili or beans and rice make great dinner options for far less than their alternatives with meat.
6. Cook More Casseroles & One Pot Meals
Another cause of a family spending too much money on meat is the way they are cooking. For instance, hamburgers will cost you much more in meat than spaghetti will.
The reason for this is that those hamburgers will likely take two or more pounds of meat whereas spaghetti can be made with as little as a half pound.
When my girls were at home I made a pound of ground beef mince stretch to make at least 2 family meals. Padded out with hidden veggies, oats and lentils.
By making more casseroles, soups and one pot meals, you’ll still keep your family fed yummy dinners while saving money at the same time.
Related post: 15 Cheap Ground Beef Recipes We All Love To Make
7. buy cheaper cuts
Cheaper cuts of meat tend to be out of favor in many grocery stores.
My local Aldi does not stock liver at all. Not that I’m complaining because I dislike it intensely! But my husband likes liver and it is extremely cheap and a good source of protein.
When I buy liver, I buy it from my local butcher. Even then it’s not on display, I have to ask for it.
what can i do with cheap cuts of meat?
Cheap cuts of meat are perfect for slow cooker cooking. They often have bones in e.g. turkey leg and ham bones. Slow cooking allows the meat to become extremely tender and allows the flavor to spread to the rest of the dish.
8. Do a holiday stock up
This is where having a large freezer pays dividends.
In the run up to the main holidays of Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, many meats are on special price. Turkeys are the classic example. In the UK it’s actually hard to buy turkey at any time other than Christmas and Easter.
But during those times it is cheaper than beef, chicken and pork. By far. And why do we need to limit ourselves to only having turkey during the holidays? We don’t!
Stock up on cheap meat, freeze it and eat it over the following weeks and months.
Just don’t lose a turkey at the bottom of your freezer like I did. It took me 6 months and a total defrost to find the turkey I knew I had!
9. use less meat than recipe calls for
Never be a slave to a recipe. To save money on meat you likely will buy less each week. This doesn’t mean you have to have more meatless meals, not unless you want to.
Have your usual recipes but reduce the amount of meat you use in them. I’ve been doing this for so long now that when I look at a new recipe it often shocks me how much meat is required to serve 2 or 4 people.
We know from above that we do not need to be eating 1/2 pound of meat in one meal. We will get our protein from other meals and sources during the day so 1/2 pound is excessive.
Use less meat, you can add more of some of the other ingredients or replace the missing meat with beans or lentils if you prefer.
Another trick I do to make it seem like you are having the same amount of meat is to cut up the chunks of meat much smaller. You get more mouthfuls of meat that way!
10. buy meat in bulk
Buying meat in bulk is a great way to get better quality of meat at a cheaper price. But you definitely need a large freezer if you do so.
So how to buy meat in bulk? There are a number of ways you can buy meat in bulk:
- Buy large meat bundles from your local store
- Ordering meat online
- Buy from a wholesaler like Costco
- Buying direct from a farmer for true bulk buying
Meat bundles from your store can often be worth snapping up because they will be the same quality and cut of meat as the smaller packs. For a cheaper price.
The best way to use them is to repackage into smaller sizes and freeze these so you only pull out what you need for the meal you are preparing.
There are various meat wholesalers who sell direct to the public via online. Ideally aim for one not too far from you so your meat doesn’t have to travel too far.
If you have a Costco or other wholesalers near you, then their bulk meat packs can be very cost effective.
You can often buy a half a cow, a hog or a lamb direct from a local farmer. And for far less money than at the store since you’re cutting out the middleman.
If the size or cost is too much for you to manage on your own, ask around to see if any friends or family members would be interested in going in on a group order with you.
Buying this way can often make it a much more reasonable cost for individual families since it can be a rather large expense up front.
is buying meat in bulk cheaper?
Buying meat in bulk can definitely be cheaper when you are comparing like with like. Meat direct from a farmer will likely be matured for longer and you’ll get all the cuts of meat, including the expensive ones you wouldn’t usually buy.
Saving money on meat every week
If you follow all these tips you are going to find yourself saving a serious amount of money each week.
You don’t have to give up meat to cut your grocery bill down, just get smart with what you buy, how you buy it and how you use it.
For more help with cutting your grocery bill down why not join the grocery budget challenge?
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Last Updated on 27th March 2021 by Emma