In our house, the meat is the most expensive ingredient of a meal. With the price of meat going up, we have to be creative to get the most out of our grocery budget. I boost my stir-fry with extra veggies and reduce the protein. I shop with an eye toward price and am willing to adjust my menu based on my deals. Plus, I am blessed to have a kitchen partner that has great knife skills.
Go meatless one day a week
No, really, it is possible. Eat grilled cheese and soup for dinner one night. Try your hand at a quiche or frittata featuring eggs and cheese. Make breakfast burritos with eggs, vegetables and cheese.
Meatless Monday has a wide variety of recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to remove meat from one day a week. Visit their website here.
Look for markdowns
I was already buying markdowns, but my time spent working in a major grocery store made me feel better – and safer – about my discount purchases. Once meat is packaged and put on display, it must be sold within a few days. In order to reduce their losses, grocers will mark down the price of the package to sell it on the day before expiration, often as much as 50 percent off the original price. This doesn’t mean the quality is any worse – how often do you let meat sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days?
I trained my man well. After a couple of trips to the store together, he began regularly stopping into stores along his travels to see if there were any great prices on the meat selection. We’re always careful to freeze the meat as soon as we get it home. Unless the package is well sealed, I’ll wrap it in a zip bag.
Reduce your portions
Do you really need to eat a 16-ounce Porterhouse steak at one meal? The USDA suggests that we should only eat five to seven ounces of protein a day.
In my business traveling days, my son and I found a steak chain that offered a six-ounce sirloin steak with two sides for $7.99. It became our restaurant of choice and I learned that I didn’t need a huge slab of meat when I also had a hearty salad and vegetable kabob to go with it.
Substitute in recipes
Does your chili really need to have two pounds of ground beef? Cut the beef back to one pound and add an extra can of beans.
Even though the suggested portion is three ounces, would your family really notice if you reduced the meat in your stir-fry to 12 ounces and increased the vegetables? This is how I trick my carnivore boyfriend into eating more veggies.
Buy in bulk
Invest in a sharp knife and learn to cut your own roasts, chops and steaks. The price per pound is less and all it takes is a little bit of time. We’ve bought whole pork loin for $1.69 a pound and cut it into portions that normally sell for $2.50 or more per pound.
In addition to saving money per pound, cutting and packaging your own meat makes it easier to reduce portion size and the amount of meat you use in your recipes.