Food prices seem to keep going up, and many of us find ourselves spending more and more money on our groceries. In these tough economic times, it makes sense to consider ways to help bring our food costs down.
One way to help save money on groceries is to take advantage of sales, seasonal discounts and bulk purchases to help stock your freezer for those times of year when prices are higher.
Since meat accounts for a large percentage of many people’s grocery budgets, reducing your meat expenditures can make a significant difference in your overall grocery bill.
Here are my top tips for saving money on meat every month:
One way to cut your grocery expenses is to eat meatless meals more often, perhaps setting aside a particular day of the week to serve meals without any meat. Websites like Meatless Monday can help you come up with creative and delicious ways to serve meals with no meat.
When you are shopping for meat, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Buy large packages of meat when they are on sale and repackage into appropriate size packages to freeze for future meals. It is important to repackage meat before freezing, as the packages from the grocery store are generally not freezer safe and the food will get freezer burn fairly quickly.
- You can save a lot of money by buying cheaper cuts of meat and chopping them up yourself. For instance, instead of buying packages of stewing beef for stews, buy a round roast and chop it up into stew sized pieces yourself. Similarly, you can cut roasts into steaks or strips for stir fries or salads.
- Large pork loin roasts go on sale at least several times a year. When they do, buy a few of them, and spend some time dividing them up into different cuts for a variety of meals. For example, a pork loin can be sliced into pork chops or strips for a stir fry, diced for a pork stew or cut into sections for pork roasts and pulled pork, and frozen for future meals.
- Whole chickens are much less inexpensive to buy than the individual packages of chicken breasts or thighs, especially when they are on sale. Cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker, or roast it in the oven for dinner. Leftover chicken can be used for sandwiches the next day, or added to stir fries, salads, pasta dishes or casseroles. Use the chicken carcass to make homemade stock for soup and other recipes.
- Rather than buying pre-made burgers and meatballs, purchase a large tray of ground beef, pork, turkey or chicken when it’s on sale and make your own for the freezer. They’ll be healthier and much cheaper than what you can buy in the store.
- Ham and turkey always go on sale before holidays like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, and any unsold ones are often sold at greatly reduced prices after the holidays. Stock up on these when they are on sale and keep them in your freezer for future meals. Ham and turkey leftovers can be used in a variety of meals, including sandwiches, casseroles, soups and pastas.
- Another great way to keep your meat costs down is to marinate cheaper cuts of meat. Flank steak, sirloin tip or round steaks are usually significantly cheaper than other steaks, but can be just as flavourful and tender with some time spent marinating. I like to mix up a big batch of marinade and then add it to a Ziploc bag with steaks or beef strips before freezing. The beef will soak in the marinade when it’s defrosting and end up tender and delicious.
- Slow cookers can help you stretch your food budget. With their long cooking times, they are a perfect way to cook cheaper cuts of meat like pot roasts.
If you find a great deal on meat, take advantage of the sale and prep some freezer meals to use in future weeks when meat isn’t on sale. Once a Month Meals has some awesome tips and recipes to help you plan out your freezer meals and meal prep days.
TIP: Always be sure to label and date any meat or freezer meals that you put in your freezer. It is also a good idea to keep an inventory list of what foods are in your freezer, and the dates they were added, to ensure everything gets eaten in a reasonable amount of time.
Freezing meat is not frugal if you end up throwing out mystery meat because you’re not sure what it is or how long it’s been in your freezer!