For anyone who likes having a little red meat or poultry in their diet, the question of how to save money on those purchases can be complicated. After all, buying meat is not always cheap.
But there are a few things you can do. Here are five tips to help you have your meat and save money, too.
1. Watch the cut
To start, not all cuts are created equal. In the United States, you’ll pay more for the tenderest cuts of meat, typically from younger animals. While tender, these cuts also tend to have less flavor. But if you know your way around the kitchen, you can buy less expensive cuts and still have tender meats that satisfy you and your family. Which leads us to our next point ...
2. Learn new preparations
You may be a grill master, turning out wonderful steaks, burgers, chicken breasts and the like, but do you know how to properly braise or roast the cheaper cuts of meat we mentioned so they come out delicious every time? If you’re serious about saving money on the meat you eat, this is the secret that can help you do it. Watch some YouTube videos, read some cookbooks or even take an inexpensive class that helps you understand the finer points of these cooking methods.
3. Cut your portions
There’s no better way to save money on something than to simply buy less of it. If you eat meat regularly, it’s possible you’re eating too much of it. When considering portion sizes, four to six ounces is usually an adequate portion, even for grown men. This doesn’t mean you can’t still buy chops and steaks, you can simply share them. Fill the rest of your plate with plenty of flavorful vegetables with high-quality fats and you may not even miss the larger meat portion you’re accustomed to.
4. Add meat-free days
Not only can you get by on eating less meat in one sitting, you can also skip eating meat throughout the week. No, that doesn’t mean we are suggesting you eat a bland plate of steamed vegetables. There are plenty of non-meat options. Think loaded baked potato (without bacon), mushroom and spinach quesadillas, pasta ... There are literally millions of options.
5. Buy whole animals or in bulk
The processing of meat you buy in the store always adds to the cost, so buying a whole animal is almost always less expensive. Think buying a whole chicken at the market versus one that has already been cut up. If you have the storage space, buying a whole side of beef can be a big cost savings, especially if you have a large family. Your local butcher can help you figure out some of the most cost-effective purchases you can make.
An added bonus of buying whole animals is the additional components you don’t always get when you buy single cuts. Using bones for stock, for example, is easy to do, simple to store and creates the foundation for a whole host of dishes. Likewise, rendering the fat you trim from a whole animal can be used to add flavor and nutrition to vegetable and other dishes.
If you’re serious about saving money on your monthly food costs, reducing your spending on meat can be a fast fix. Using the methods described above, it is possible to reduce your weekly spend on meat by more than half. That can add up to some serious savings over the course of a year, which can allow you to pay down bills and reach your financial goals. And possibly even your health goals at the same time.
Want more ways to save at the store? Check out these 12 simple things you should do before grocery shopping.