I don’t know about you guys, but if I let it? Meat can become a HUGE part of my grocery budget. So much so that I can blow the entire thing on meat and not have much left for other necessities. If I’m careful though, I can buy meat that will feed us for months for pennies on the dollar and not have to worry. How much does your family spend each month on meat? $100? $200? What if I told you that 4 months ago, I spend $122.00 on meat and we are STILL eating on it? Saving big on meat like that isn’t easy but it can totally be done if you pay attention.
Before we get started? I do want to mention one thing. If you’re looking to stock up on meat or other items that have to stay frozen, you’re going to want to invest in a chest freezer if you don’t have one. It doesn’t have to be a huge one, just something larger than the freezer above the fridge. When we bought ours, we were in a small apartment so we went with a nice sized 5 cubit feet one like THIS. For a family of 3 like us, it provides more than enough room for me to stock up. Of course, if you have a larger family, you’re going to want a larger freezer. It is also a good idea to have a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer. Regular freezer baggies can rip and cause freezer burn, but a FoodSaver will seal all of the air out of the package, meaning that your frozen items will stay fresher longer.
Buy in Bulk – One of my favorite places to get meat is Zaycon Foods. If you’re not familiar, you can purchase awesome tasting, all natural meats in bulk. I love to grab their chicken, generally priced between $1.69 and $1.89 per pound for 40lb packages. Once I’ve got it, I split it up between freezing it, preparing it then freezing and canning it. It lasts us forever and it’s cheaper than what I can usually find here in town.
Clearance, Clearance, Clearance – Meat markdowns work a bit like this: The store has a date they HAVE to have that meat off of the shelf by or they can’t sell it. When meat gets within 2-3 days of that date, they mark it down in order to get it to move. This is where you come in. Meat markdowns are your biggest way to save on meat. Each store will have a different time of day that they mark it down and each store will use a different colored sticker for markdowns. Learn them both. Plan your grocery trips around those times and you’ll be able to pick up those clearance deals to slash that meat budget in half or more. Some of my recent purchases? Whole chickens for $2.00 each (reg. $6.xx), ground beef for $1.48/lb (reg. $3.28/lb), whole hams for around $5.00 each (Reg. $10-$12.00 ea.) and more.
Combo Deals – Some stores regularly (or occasionally even) offer combo deals that can be a GREAT way to save. Recently our Brookshires had these meat packages to offer. Priced at $19.95 each you were able to pick up about 3lbs of ground beef, 2-3 very large round steaks, 5-6 pork ribeye chops and chicken breast fingers. For some this wouldn’t have been a good deal, BUT for my family? We will be able to get 6-7 meals from this package. At $19.95 for it all, that breaks down to as little as $2.85 per meal!! Had I not taken the time to really check the packages and to really count it up? I could have paid triple for the same meats!! Needless to say? I bought 2 of these combo flats and stored them in the freezer.
Another popular form of combo to keep an eye out for are deals where you buy X item and get items a,b,c, and z free. These can save money too but be mindful as to what you’re actually buying (will your family actually eat it?) and what the regular vs sale price is to be sure you’re getting a good deal.
Here’s the catch with these combo deals though…if you have a larger family, be SURE that you take the time to really think about whether you’re getting a good deal for your family or not. My good friend over at The Frugal Navy Wife? She has 6 in her family and this deal? While great for the House of AIC? Would only give her family 3-4 meals. In her case, it wouldn’t be a great deal to pick up and she would save more in the long run by skipping the combo and continuing her search.
Finally, one of the biggest things that I can tell you to help you save on meats is this…Never Stop Buying.
Let’s say you’re walking through Kroger next week for a few items and you see chicken marked down to $1.50 per whole chicken. Meat is one of those things that most households eat everyday, but you know your family doesn’t necessarily need a whole chicken for the menu this week or even for the rest of the month. What about next month? Will you need it then? Probably. How much sense does it make to skip buying that chicken on sale now only to pay full price for it in just 2-3 weeks?
It makes absolutely no sense. Pick those bad boys up, take them home, slap them in a freezer and pull them out in a couple of weeks when they’re on the menu. Meat, when stored right, will last at least 3-4 months in most cases. If you skip the deals when you see them, they may not be there when you need them. That is what you bought the freezer for. Grab those deals when you find them and stock that freezer. By keeping it stocked and rotating out the old and new correctly, your family will have a steady food source and you won’t be blowing your budget.
Do you do any of these things to save on meat? What do you do that I didn’t touch on? I’d love to hear your tips too!
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