A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about How to Shop for Heart Healthy Meat and Nuts. So, now, I’m going to show you how to save money buying that heart healthy meat.
When to Buy Meat
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the sales cycles for meat, for the grocery stores in your area. In my post, How To Compare Grocery Store Prices, I show you how to do that. Once you know what kind of meat goes on sale when, and how often, you can buy enough to last you until the next sale. Also, just like the days after holidays are a great time to shop for sales on holiday decor and candy (yes we do buy a little bit of candy now and then), it’s also a great time to shop for sales on meat. On the day after Thanksgiving, you can find great sales on turkey; and after Easter, you’ll find great sales on ham. You can use your freezer to store the extra meat you purchase.
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Stretch the Meat
Today, we’ve become accustomed to “super size” everything, so we don’t always know what proper portion sizes are. The USDA guidelines say a proper portion of lean meat, poultry or fish is 2-3 ounces, cooked. That is a size of a deck of cards for lean meat or poultry, and the size of a checkbook for fish. You can also use a kitchen scale to help you measure out the portions. Cutting back on your portion size (or actually eating the proper portion size), will help improve your health and will help you save money.
Eating leftovers or using the meat for making more than one dinner/lunch is another way to help stretch the meat and your money. I usually cook enough for 2 nights and then there’s usually still enough left for my husband to take for lunch the next day or two.
Finding Deals on Meat
Many stores will mark down meat that will expire soon. In fact last Saturday, I just bought some round steak that was marked down. It had a yellow sticker on it and was marked down from $12.80 to $8.95. You can also look through the meat and if you see a package that will expire soon, you can ask the meat manager to give you a discount. They would rather do that, than having to throw it away instead.
It’s also better to buy meat in bulk because you pay less per pound. Last Saturday, I also bought pork chops. I bought the package of 10 pork chops, instead of 4 pork chops, because it’s cheaper per pound. We only need 7 for 2 nights and a lunch, so I put 7 in one freezer bag and 3 in the other. I wrote down the 3 pork chops on my magnetic white board freezer list. So, next time I need pork chops and I purchase another 10, I’ll also freeze the extra 3; and then the next time we’re having pork chops, I won’t have to buy any because I’ll already have enough (3+3=6,my husband just won’t have one for lunch).
Sometimes buying meat from the freezer section is cheaper than buying it fresh, especially if you need the meat when it’s not on sale. Make sure you’ve kept track of the sales price and regular price, so you can check and see if the frozen version is cheaper or not.
Save Money by How You Prepare Meat
Boneless, skinless chicken often sells for a lot more per pound than chicken with the skin still on it. It doesn’t take much of an effort to cut off the skin and fat yourself.
Inexpensive cuts of meat, especially beef, aren’t as tender as the more expensive cuts, but you can change that by how you prepare it. The marked down round steak that I bought Saturday, was what I used for dinner last night and will have again tonight. I browned it in a skillet on the stove and then cooked it in the slow cooker with soup, mushrooms, seasonings, and fat free cream cheese added at the end. This made the meat very tender and was delicious over noodles. I didn’t even have to use a knife to cut it, just a fork was good enough. You can also do the same with pork loin roasts – cook them in the slow cooker or oven. I cook mine in the slow cooker with a homemade sauce. I make this sometimes when my parents come over for dinner and it makes enough for all 7 of us for one night, my parents to have another night, and my kids and I to have for sandwiches for our lunch. The meat is so tender that my parents can easily chew it, even though their teeth aren’t as great as they used to be, and tender enough for our sandwiches. You can also marinate the meat for several hours before cooking, which helps make it tender.
When we first started our heart healthy diet, I didn’t know what to do about lunchmeat. One day, my dad showed up with a whole bunch of lunchmeat for us. He had cooked several chicken breasts and turkey breasts and cut it up into thin slices. He packaged them in freezer bags for us, so we could just pull them out when we needed them. This is a healthy alternative and often cheaper than buying lunchmeat. It also tastes much better! You can also make cheaper sandwiches using chicken salad, tuna salad, or leftover meatloaf.
When a recipe calls for cooked diced chicken, instead of buying pre-cut, pre-cooked chicken, just cook a couple of chicken breasts, and cut them up yourself to use in your recipe. You can also do the same thing for shredded bbq pork or chicken. Just cook it yourself in the slow cooker with whatever sauce you prefer, shred it with a fork, and use in your recipes. You can even freeze the extras for another time.
Buy Meat at a Wholesale Club
I talked about this in my Is Shopping at a Wholesale Club Right for You? post. Fresh and frozen meat is cheaper and higher grade at a wholesale club. I’m able to find lower % fat ground beef there, than I can find in the store. They come in five, individually frozen, packages within a big bag, so I don’t have to divide up the meat myself. I also buy my chicken breasts there, frozen individually – which I really like. Fish is a great price there too; I buy salmon and tilapia fillets also frozen individually.
I learned a lot about how to save money buying meat, from The Coupon Mom.
So, there are many different ways you can save money on meat while still eating healthy. It just takes a little time and effort on your part, but the savings are definitely worth it. Since meat is usually the main part of a meal, saving money on it, will definitely help your budget. If you found this helpful, please feel free to share it. I’d love to help as many people as I can save money and stay healthy.
What ways do you save money on meat?