Meat is probably one of the most expensive items on your grocery bill and its far and in between that coupons for meat can be found. So when it comes to meal planning how can you save more money on your meat?
Here are ten simple ways to save a few extra dollars on that grocery bill each month.
#1 Hunting and Fishing
The number one way that I am able to save my family money when it comes to meat is that we are a hunting and fishing family. While I know that this is not feasable for everyone, this is how we do it. Where we live we have the ability to hunt and fish pretty much year round. In the first of the year it is duck and goose season, then we follow that up in the spring and summer with the salmon run and lastly deer and elk are in the fall. This also makes my husband VERY happy so its a win win. He gets to do something that he loves to do and feed the family. I enjoy it too and so do the kids. Its nice to be able to get the kids out of the house and away from the electronics and have some quality family time once in awhile.
We also butcher our own meat. Whatever we have gotten we process ourselves which also saves our family a huge chunck of change. When you take your deer or elk to a butcher to be processed after your hunt it can still cost you hundreds of dollars. Yes it is much easier to just drop it off and pick it up later, I am to cheap for that haha. It really doesn’t take us to much time and the little bit of work is well worth the money we save.
On top of butchering our own meat we freeze and can it to last us all year. The canning process is a lot more time consuming but my husband likes his canned smoked salmon. When canning meat you really have to know what you are doing and follow the guidelines to avoid diseases and all that kind of stuff so be sure to check out the guide lines from a reputable source.
#2 Meatless meals
When doing your meal planning for the month try to throw in some meatless meals. Some meals that I have used in the past are baked potato bar, black bean quesadillas and cheesy tortellini soup. You can replace your source of protein by using beans so that you get the same healthy balance without the price. If you have to have meat try using something cheaper like eggs or tuna.
#3 Stretch your meat
One of the easiest ways to stretch your meat for multiple meals and multiple people is by making casseroles or some other type of dish that has “fillers”. Fillers are things like noodles or potatoes or vegetables that bulk up your meal, feed your family, and leave you feeling full. Some of my favorites to make is chilli, chicken pot pie and cheesy chicken and broccoli casserole.
The latest thing that I have started doing to stretch out meat to last longer is by cutting it into toddler size bites. If I am making a chicken pot pie or chicken casserole I will cut them small enough for my three year old. This saves me from having to do it when I make his plate and it cooks faster so I win in all aspects here. This way I only have to use one chicken breast even if the recipe calls for two. Shredding meat is another fantastic way to make your meat feed more people and last longer. Think shredded bbq pulled pork or beef sandwiches or shredding your soup and casserole meats.
#4 Buy your meat in bulk
When you are at the store be sure to do some price comparisons on the meat you are buying. Is it cheaper to purchase the one pound of hamburger or the five or ten pound packages? Yes the price for the one pound might be cheaper at first glance but check out the price per pound before you put in the cart. Sometimes the store might be running a sale on the one pound packages so it might be a better option but usually the ten pound will always save me money in the long run. By planning my meals for the month I know ahead of time that we will need ten pounds of ground hamburger for the month. When I get home I will separate my ten pound packages into single pounds or double according to my meals and recipes and throw it in the freezer. I pay more now but spend less overall.
#5 Case lot sales
I LOVE case lot sales! A case lot sale is where the store puts almost dirt cheap prices on whole cases of food. The number one thing that I get at our local store during their case lot sale is chicken. While I have a freezer stalked with deer, elk and salmon I love my chicken meals so to get the best deal for my money I purchase huge amounts of chicken at these case lot sales. I can get 40 pounds of chicken for around $60 and that will last us about six months. This store typically runs a case lot sale every six months so it works well for us. I will end up spending a good chunck of money at one time and belive me (it hurts me at the time) but in the long run it saves us TONS of money on our monthly grocery bill.
Total spent $58.75\40 pounds=$1.47 a pound
After I trimmed and packaged the chicken I ended up with 28 meals=2.09 a meal\5 people=.42 cents per person per meal. Not to bad!
#6 Buy an animal
If you have the space and abilities buying a whole pig or cow is a fantastic idea. Again this is another huge investment at the begining but in the long run will save money. Besides the money you save you also know where your food came from and what that animal ate and how it was cared for. Knowin these things are very important to many people. While we don’t raise our own beef (because we hunt and my husband would NEVER give that up) my dad and step mom do raise their own cow and they figured their total costs per pound after buying the cow, feeding, and butchering expenses was around $2.23 per pound.
#7 Butcher shops
Going to the butcher may be another big initiall investment meat purchase but it will save you tons down the road. I know at our butcher shop we could buy a whole animal or half but I am not sure about what the options are in one near you, but it wouldn’t hurt to call them up and just ask.
Before we started processing our own meat we used to take our deer and elk to the butchers. The one we used charged us anywhere from $175-$250 to butcher and package our animals. That’s not a bad price and it saves you from having to hang and process it on your own but this is one expence that we cut from our budget and just do our own now.
#8 Meat swaps
We will sometimes recruit someone to help us cut and process our animals depending on how many we have at the time and when we do we will usually pay them for their time with meat. This is one of the ways that we swap meat.
Another way that we just started doing is trading elk, deer, or salmon for pig or chicken. We swap with one of our friends that buys a whole pig so it is a win win for both families. To add some spice and variety to our meals without having to go to the store and buy it we just trade with others. Maybe you know someone that raises their own animal or gets one from the butchers that you could swap with too.
#9 Be aware of price per pound all year round
The number one thing that is goin to save you the most money (not only on meat but also on all of your groceries) is to pay attention to prices and sales all year. Keep an eye on your grocery store ads. Just like with the case lot sales all stores circulate their sales. There are times of the month and year that they run the same sales and prices or promotions. By knowing the “normal” price it will better help you gauge what is a good price or not.
Make sure to price compare, price compare, price compare! Not only at the store that you are currently shopping in but other stores around your area. For more on this check out the meal planning section of my blog where I will be sharing easy and time saving tips for price comparison and saving.
#10 Free Meat
Last but not least is one of my favorites and well heck, who doesn’t like FREE. Did you know you can get free meat? YES, i said it. FREE MEAT! I am not even joking. I curently have a 30 pound turkey in my freezer that I got for free. One of my local stores gives you a free turkey when you spend $100 or more in their store and it is usually around Thanksgiving or Christmas. By knowing this (because I pay attention to the year round ads) I know that I need to do my month grocery shopping at the time they are running this promotion. I am going to be spending at least $100 anyways (I am shopping for a month’s worth of food) so why NOT take advantage of this deal?
I hope that these 10 tips have helped you and given you some ideas of ways that you can save money on your next grocery trip.
Keep your eyes peeled! You never know what you are going to find. Do you have any other awesome meat savings tips and tricks? I would love to hear how you save. Please leave a comment and share with us how you and your family saves on meat.