One question we get asked frequently is “How can I save money on meat?”
Meat is one of the most expensive items we buy at the grocery store and coupons for meat are rare. But you can save money on meat and never pay full price for it again.
I think of saving on meat like a treasure hunt. What deal can I find? And what meal can I make out of it?
That’s one way I make grocery shopping fun because we all know it can be a little bit of a chore (and boring) at times. (And if you’re overspending, then it’s stressful too!)
Plus, if I haven’t had enough coffee, my budget better watch out, because I won’t have the brainpower to think through the best deals. So let’s save more money on meat so we ensure we have enough caffeine to think through saving more on meat! It’s just a win-win cycle of caffeinating, thinking, and then saving!
One suggestion I didn’t make here was to eat one VEGETARIAN meal a week. We do that too… but this article is more specifically about how to save money on the MEAT you buy. 😉
Here are some tips to help feed your family meat for less!
1. Ask the Meat Department Manager about Discount Days
Did you know that stores usually discount their in-stock meat the day before they receive a shipment to clear out space for the new stock coming in? Pretty cool, right?!
Obviously, each grocery store varies on the day they receive shipments of meat so you’ll want to ask your store’s meat manager what day they mark down their meat.
One store near me marks down on Tuesdays while another marks down on Wednesdays. That insider knowledge is good to know when you want to save money on meat.
Every time I shop at Target, I look for the big “last chance” coupons stuck on the meat. They discount the one-pound packages $1 and $2 and that makes for a great meat deal.
Along those same lines, sometimes there is only a huge pack left in the case, and you only need a portion of it. The meat department is there to help, simply ask if they can cut up your roast to repackage it in a smaller size package. One of the grocery stores near me is Publix and the Publix meat cutter doesn’t mind splitting a package to help me save my family money on meat. Just ask!
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2. Add Bulk to Recipes
A great way to save money on ground meat is to mix in beans, rice or oatmeal to bulk up your meatloaf or burgers.
When you’re making taco meat, you can add in onions and mushrooms (diced so they are inconspicuous) and that will bulk it up so you’ve got more to eat.
Your family won’t taste the difference, and you’ll be packing in extra nutrients, too.
3. Use Meat as an Accent
Instead of meat being the star of the meal, make a pasta dish or salad and add the meat as an ingredient or topping.
Think spaghetti and meatballs, or make a veggie casserole with a potatoe, then the meat is the “highlight” of the meal sharing the stage (or plate) with the veggie dishes.
This is a huge way to save money on meat because you won’t be using as much of it.
4. Buy Holiday Meats
Throughout the year certain meats go on sale around holidays. You’ll notice Ham is cheaper at Easter, Hot Dogs for the 4th of July, Turkey at Thanksgiving.
At that time, buy extra and take advantage of the low prices to save money on meat. Stick it in the freezer so you have it later.
Who says you can’t bake a turkey in July? Turkey Sandwiches work at any time of the year.
You can also get multiple meals out of large pieces of meat like turkey and ham which is an obvious way to save money on meat.
5. Buy in Bulk
Warehouse clubs such as Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club have cheap meat.
The best way to save money on meat is to watch and track prices on the meat your family buys regularly and then watch for the lowest price per pound and stock up when you see it go to that low price (approximately every 6-8 weeks).
I like to buy grass-fed ground beef, so I compare prices at multiple stores, and then when I see an instant coupon available at Sam’s Club, I stock up and get extra packages to stick in the freezer to have on hand when I need it.
6. Stock Up When Meat Is Simply On Sale
Meat goes on sale all the time so it’s easy to save money on meat. If you pay attention to the sales then you’ll notice the different cuts of meat go on sale each week. And your favorite meat also has a clear “cycle” when it hits the lowest price.
At that time you need to go ahead and stock up! Buy as much as your weekly budget will allow and put it in your freezer.
Most meats will keep in the freezer for 6 months so it’s a great way to save money on meat.
When you start paying attention to the prices of meats (or make a simple Price Book for your family), you’ll notice the best price you should pay and you can stock up when it’s on sale for the lowest price.
7. Slice Thin (Like Super Thin)
A great way to save money on meat is to have the deli shave instead of slice your meats.
When you stack it up (folding it first), it feels and looks like more volume.
Don’t forget to add in as many fresh toppings as possible, like lettuce and tomatoes so that you can offset the meat cost by adding in cheaper (and healthy) things to the meal.
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8. Buy Frozen Meats
Don’t forget the freezer case when shopping for deals on meats.
Did you know that most of the “fresh seafood” in the meat department is the same as in the freezer case? They simply open a bag and thaw it for you.
You can save money on meat by thawing your own seafood. Frozen bagged fish goes on sale almost every week.
You can also get frozen chicken breasts and wings all the time on sale.
Do your own defrosting and save your wallet!
9. Try Canned Meat
You might not like it straight out of the can, but canned meat is great in casseroles and other recipes and is one great way to save money on meat.
You can get chicken, tuna, clams, salmon and more. Plus, having canned meat on hand when you forget to thaw something out for dinner can save you the extra expense of ordering out.
It is also a good product to have in your Emergency Kit in case a hurricane strikes.
Find out the other items to Stockpile for an Emergency.
10. Get Creative with Leftovers
Keep a resealable plastic bag in your freezer for leftover chicken, pork and beef so you can save them up to use later.
If you have a leftover piece of chicken, cut or shred it and add to the “chicken” bag. Do the same with leftover pork chops or steak.
When the bag is full enough for a meal you can make a casserole, top a salad or add a sauce (like adding barbecue sauce to the pork) and have hearty sandwiches for a quick dinner.
One thing I made that the kids LOVED was to take Pillsbury canned rolls, roll them flat, stuff them with cheese and the leftover meat. Then bake according to the roll directions and serve. No one ever knew it was actually a “creative leftover”!
So as you can see there are many ways to save money on meat. I hope I’ve helped open your eyes to the potential budget savings.