It may be what’s for dinner, but meat is also the most expensive part of the meal. Fruits, Veggies and Grains are relatively inexpensive and Dairy, though more expensive, is generally used sparingly. So, here are my favorite tips on how to get the most bang for your buck at the meat counter.
- Go Vegetarian – Even just meatless spaghetti with veggies and bread. You don’t have to go totally Vegen every night. Try a couple nights a week. Plus, there are a ton of super good for you, great tasting, Vegetarian dishes out there.
- Purchase 1/2 a Beef – Or a 1/4. We do this with my mother-in-law. She figures we spend about $1.60 per pound of meat (not a fabulous price for hamburger, but super great for all the steaks and roasts we get). Plus, you are supporting your local economy. In the past my in-laws have actually purchased a calf from auction, raised it all year in the back field, then sent it to the butcher, who sends it back in pieces (minus his cut … no pun intended!). But, last year we were able to find a butcher with his own supply who was willing to sell. Call around and see what you can find. Hint: You must have access to a freezer, because this is a LOT of meat!
- Use Less – Just because a recipe calls for 1 pound of hamburger does not mean you have to put the whole pound in. I regularly half the amount of ground or cut up meat in casserole dishes and most times we like it better then the full meat versions. If you feel like it takes too much from the dish, add some extra veggies (more healthy that way).
- Reduced for Quick Sale – My local Smith’s (Kroger) has a section where they put all the cuts of meat that are getting close to expiration dates. Most stores do this, just ask around. We have found great deals on roasts, steaks and chicken this way. I almost always freeze my meat immediately after purchase so the quick expiration date doesn’t really matter to me. You’ll learn to quickly scan this section every time you are in the store because you never know what you’ll find.
- Have I mentioned “Freezer”! – If you find a great deal on meat, Get IT! Even if you have no immediate plans to use it. Most, if not every cut of meat freezes great and lasts months if not years when wrapped properly for freezing. The best way I’ve found to wrap for freezing is to remove the meat from the store packaging, separate into serving/meal sizes, wrap in stretch-wrap, then wrap in foil. The biggest destroyer in the freezer is air so remove as much as you can. Remember to write the cut and the date on the foil with a sharpie, then throw it in the freezer till you need it.
- Extend it – This is something I’ve just begun to experiment with, so I don’t know a lot about it yet. I’ve read that you can combine Bulgur Wheat with ground beef to make great hamburgers. You can’t taste the wheat and they are very filling. (Think teenage boys eating one burger instead of four.) I’ve also read about adding certain seasoning to the wheat and discarding the meat all together. So many things to try, so little time!