If you look at your grocery expenditures over the course of a month or two, you’ll likely find that you spend a significant portion of your grocery budget on meat. I often hear from people who say, “We want to cut our grocery bill, but we like and eat a lot of meat!”
Here are some suggestions and ideas on ways you can still enjoy meat — without breaking your budget! Some of these ideas were ones submitted on my Facebook Page.
1. Buy in Bulk
If you have the freezer space, buying meat in bulk will usually significantly reduce the cost. Search for local farms nearby that sell in bulk to the public (you can often find great connections at your local farmer’s market). You can also call nearby butcher shops to ask if they sell in bulk.
Not only will the meat be less expensive, but it will likely be higher quality and you’ll be supporting local farms!
Tip: Don’t have the freezer space to buy a big bulk order? Ask your friends if anyone would be willing to go in with you and split the costs to save money.
2. Shop the Markdowns
If you follow my grocery shopping trips here, you know that shopping the markdowns is my favorite way to save money on meat. Many stores — like Kroger, Kroger affiliates, Target, Aldi, and more — will discount meat that has a sell by date in the next few days. It’s often 50% off the regular price!
I buy what we will use and can afford in our budget, and then I freeze it as soon as get home. By shopping the meat markdowns and buying a few pounds or more each week, we usually have 20-30 pounds of different types of meat in our freezer to work with to make our menu plan from each week!
Leah says: “My local Aldi and Kroger tend to put fresh meats out on Mondays or Wednesdays. I can usually find markdowns on the day before or day of the meat going out of date. I can usually find all varieties of fresh meat for $2 off or 50% off. Then I cook it up and freeze it in meal portions. We usually have 5 pounds of cooked ground turkey and 2-3 pounds of shredded chicken in the freezer at any given time.”
3. Pay Attention to Weekly Sales
This is also another tip I employ to save money on meat. I watch the weekly sales and weekly digital coupon deals at Kroger and stock up anytime there is a great deal on meat we use often.
4. Serve Meat as a Condiment
I wrote about this strategy in a post back in 2020:
When Jesse and I were first married, we committed to stay out of debt while he went through law school. We knew this was going to require a number of sacrifices on our part and we decided staying out of debt and starting our marriage with a strong financial foundation was worth the sacrifices.
One area I knew we could save a lot of money on was our grocery budget. I started looking for all the creative ways I could come up with to maximize the mileage of our money when it came to buying food.
Not only did I shop the sales, use coupons, and plan a menu, but we also decided to serve meat more a condiment. We had it sprinkled on pizza, sprinkled in casseroles, and sprinkled in soups. We usually only bought one bag of chicken to last two weeks and then we supplemented this with the occasional really good markdown/coupon special on pepperoni or ham. We rarely ever had beef because it just wasn’t in the budget.
In addition to serving meat as a condiment, we often had meatless meals. We made lasagna casserole and I just left out the meat. We had corn chowder without meat. We’d have pancakes and eggs or cheese pizza or bean soup or even rice and beans.
I loved getting creative and using what we had on hand, what was on sale, and what I found marked down to put together filling and yummy meals. Sure, we didn’t eat anything remotely gourmet, but we always had plenty to eat and the sales and markdowns quite a bit of variety.
Plus, being very intentional and strategic in how I shopped and cooked ended up saving us thousands of dollars in our first few years of marriage alone — and was one way we were able to stay out of debt.
5. Add Beans to Your Meat
Stretching your meat with legumes is a great way to save money on meat. Mexican dishes, bean soups, and chili are recipes that you can pretty easily add in extra beans to replace some of the meat without most people realizing it.
Lentils hide especially well in taco meat, too. Just add in cooked lentils to your ground beef along with your usual seasonings and there’s a good chance your family won’t even notice!
6. Use Less
I often use less meat than a recipe calls for — especially in things like soups and casseroles. Karen shared this tip on Facebook: “When I package hamburger for the freezer, I pack approximately 3/4 pound rather than a full pound. That means if you buy 3 pounds, you get four meals instead of three.”
7. Mix Meats Together
I often find great deals on ground turkey. Our family isn’t a huge fan of ground turkey in most things, but if I mix a pound of ground turkey with a pound of ground beef, it tastes better and my family doesn’t even notice! You can do this in recipes that call for browned ground beef or it works really well for making dishes like meatballs and meatloaf a lot less expensive.
Nicole says: “We hunt deer, ducks, geese, turkeys. We process our own harvest. Not only does this help to stock our freezers, but we get quality family time out of it as well. You can eat quite well if you’re willing to put the work in.”
9. Stretch a Rotisserie Chicken
I often find great deals on rotisserie chickens or whole chickens. You can get creative and stretch these for quite a long ways!
Ruth Ann: “I was determined to see how many meals I could make from one rotisserie chicken. Here’s what I made: sliced breast with veggies and potatoes for a meal, sliced thighs for three great sandwiches, cooked the carcass and made huge pot of chicken broth, made two soups from the broth plus my dog got a supreme meal of cartilage and skin mixed with dry food. Was a pretty good $5 spent!”
Deonna: “I was once going through a bad spot with hardly any money and a new baby. I had a whole chicken and a few extras at home. I made that chicken stretch until my husband got paid. I boiled it down to a broth. I had some bullion cubes, green onions, 4 eggs, a packet of egg drop soup mix and crunchy Chinese noodles. I made egg drop soup. The next night I made chicken salad with half the chicken. The third night I still had the bones and the chicken. Made chicken soup with two carrots a stalk of celery and half and onion and a bunch of mixed noodles. On the fourth night I had made pancakes no syrup. Just jelly. I couldn’t believe we made it!”
10. Go Meatless Once a Week
Consider being intentional about skipping meat one night per week. While it can be a bit of a sacrifice, if you decide as a family to go meatless for a cause, it becomes much easier to do.
Maybe you go meatless in order to save money toward a family vacation. Or you go meatless to help pay down debt. Even if you don’t really need the extra savings for paying down debt or another savings goal, I’d still encourage you to consider going meatless in order to give the money saved to someone in need.
Making this sacrifice as a family can provide a great springboard for conversations on how richly blessed we are with abundance. It can be eye-opening and life-impacting for your whole family.
Plus, meatless doesn’t have to mean tasteless. Try making Bean & Cheese Burritos, breakfast for dinner, or even meatless lasagna. Need more ideas? Check out this list of 52 Meatless Meals that I posted earlier today. You can also read my post on How to Live on Beans & Rice for a Week.