10 Ways To Save Money On Meat
Meat is one of the most expensive purchases in most household budgets, especially in America where the average person eats 192 pounds of meat a year.
Learn what the cost of meat is. If you just buy meat based on need rather than price then you may not even be paying attention to what the going price of meat is. I used to do this myself before I started couponing. If I needed hamburger I bought hamburger and did not really pay attention to the cost. Prices vary greatly depending on the area you live in, weather conditions also affect the current price of meat. Keep a price book and learn what the prices of meat are in your area. That way you know if you are saving money or not.
Watch the sale prices. Once you get a feel for meat prices in your local area watch for sales and the loss leaders (heavily discounted prices to entice you in the door). When the price is right stock up and freeze meat. For example when hamburger is $1.50 a pound or under I buy 25-50 lbs at a time and freeze it in meal sized portions. The grocery store is not the only place to purchase meat in bulk at a good price either. There are really great bulk buying programs that you can participate in as well.
Eat cheaper cuts of meat. If your budget is tight you may need to forego of the more expensive cuts of meat. Steaks are usually 3 to 4 times the cost of less expensive cuts of meat like ground beef and roasts. Chicken thighs are cheaper than breasts. Roasts are cheaper than steaks.
Grind your own ground meat. Watch for low prices on roasts, London broil and other lean large pieces of meat and either ask your butcher to grind it into hamburger (they will at no extra cost) or invest in a meat grinder or Kitchen-Aid attachment and grind your own. The benefit of grinding your own meat outside of the cost savings is there is less risk of contamination than in mass ground beef and you can control the fat content to your own liking. This also applies to ground pork (add spices to make sausage even) and ground turkey or chicken.
Watch for meat markdowns. Most grocery stores have a small section in the meat department for meat markdowns. This is meat that’s nearing it’s “use by” date but is still perfectly fine and safe to eat. Make sure that the price of this marked down meat is a good price however, as sometimes you can do better with a sale. If you are not going to eat the meat within the next day or two, package it up and put it in the freezer for long term storage.
Get to know your butcher. Making friends with you butcher can really net you some good insider tips and deals on meat. Do not be afraid to ask the butcher what’s a good deal this week. Also in some areas and at some stores the butcher has the option to negotiate prices. In some areas the butcher has to mark down any ground beef at the end of the day and if it is not sold they toss it out. I have had great success in getting a discount on this meat by going in near closing time for the butcher counter and offering to buy whatever is left of the days ground beef if he can give me a good price. This can net me 20-40 pounds of ground beef at $0.99 a lb. sometimes. It’s a win-win situation. I get great deal and the butcher does not have to throw away food.
Buy a whole or half animal. If you live in an agricultural based area or have one nearby look into buying and freezing a whole or half of an animal. Look in your local classifieds, inquire into your local FFA or 4-H clubs or make a post on Craigslist to see who is selling. Last year we purchased a whole lamb for $3 a pound butchered from a local 4-H youth. Lamb at our grocery stores easily runs $5-$6 a pound on sale and we like lamb steaks more than beef steak. Plus we are supporting a local child. A side of beef goes for $4 a pound here and we go in with my in-laws.
Buy in season. While you may know that produce is seasonal so is meat. In the warmer weather look for deals on meats for grilling such as hamburger, ribs, chops and steaks. While in the cooler weather seasons there will be better deals on roasts and larger cuts of meat that are perfect for long cooking time in the oven. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas look for deals on whole turkeys (this is one meat that is cheaper per pound than just about any other meat. At the holidays you can often find turkey for 80¢ a lb. or cheaper which is cheaper than you can find for just about any other meat pound for pound. Also ham is a great price during the winter holidays and again near Easter. Lamb is cheaper in the spring, and beef when bought locally is usually butchered in the late summer or early fall. Chicken prices go up and down throughout the year just keep your eyes open for sales and stock up!
Use coupons and rebates. Many people think that there are not coupons for meat. However that just is not true. While meat coupons are rare they do exist you just need to learn where to look for them. You can search the Coupon Database for the current meat coupons – just type “meat” in the searchbar! Winetags are coupons found usually hanging around the neck of the bottle of wine (although they can also be found as tearpad coupons, peelie coupons or other types of coupons). These coupons, the good ones anyways, can be for $1.00 or $2.00 (or more) off any meat and in some states do not require you to purchase the wine to use the coupon. If you are lucky enough to find the “holy grail” of coupons, meat winetags this can be a great way to save on meat. However, not everyone has these great coupons at their disposal. But, not to worry there are other coupons out there too for meat. Many brands issue coupons for you to save on meat/beef/poultry/seafood when you buy their brand. For example you may find a coupon for “Save $1.00 on meat when you buy Mrs. Dash seasonings”. If you wait until that brand is on sale and use a coupon on the brand name item you can then get some savings on your meat. Many couponers ask the butcher to package up their meat into packages priced at a dollar or slightly above and buy multiple items. Another way to save money on meat with coupons is to use Catalina coupons that are good off your next order. Don’t forget mail in rebates, there are a lot of them offered by the wine and beer companies and like winetags, depending on what state you live in, you do not have to purchase the beer or wine to participate in the rebate.
Hunt or Fish for your own meat. This can be a real viable and money saving option for some people. The cost of a state resident hunting or fishing license varies from state to state but usually is very reasonable. I live in Wyoming where hunting is a big thing (the Antelope outnumber the people in Wyoming) and a hunting license costs around $34 for a resident license. One deer or antelope can fill the freezer and last all year! The principal applies to fishing. While this is not an option for everyone it is something to consider. And even if you are not a hunter you may know someone who is or can find someone local who is selling meat from hunting at a reasonable price.