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31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget Video Series: 3 Tips for Saving Money on Meat

I know it’s rather comical that I’m doing a video on saving money on meat when I just posted about the 20 pounds of grass-fed ground beef we bought last week. However, for years we ate very little meat as a way to save money. It was a sacrifice we both decided was worth it in order to stay out of debt and survive on a very small income.

The ideas I share in this video might not work for your family, but hopefully they’ll give you some inspiration for ways you might be able to spend less on meat. I’d love to hear your additional ideas and suggestions in the comments.

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  • Nicole says:

    Love the breakfast for dinner idea!! 🙂 We may make this a weekly tradition in our house. Thanks for sharing such helpful tips each week, Crystal!

  • I find that when I’m using meat as a garnish, as you said, it’s SO much easier to either leave out 1/4 to 1/2 of it or substitute something else like beans. When I started centering our meals more around the other ingredients, we started saving a ton of money on meat. Our meals are more vegetable and grain centered, with meat being the “condiment”.

    If I am going to make meat the center of the meal, I make sure that it’s using meat I got for a great deal.

    One more thing I’ve learned over the years is to put my meat in the freezer as soon as I come home from the store. I’ve wasted SO much meat over the years because I didn’t use it before it went bad in the fridge. Now, unless I know I will use that meat within the next day or two, I stick it right into the freezer.

    Thanks for another great video!

  • Love the advice but especially love learning how to pronounce “Legumes” correctly. I’ve been saying it wrong! LOL

    Oh and I love veggie lasagna. I make a killer spinach lasagna!

  • Anna says:

    Having meatless meal ideas also helps when there just isn’t any meat on sale and you don’t have anything in the freezer. I check the sales fliers and buy the huge value packs when they are cheap enough (and they have to be really cheap, not just the typical buy 1 get 1 type sales advertized) and just split them into smaller packages for the freezer.

  • Rae says:

    I do that stuff too 🙂 It is one of the many things we do in order to keep our food/household/pet/toiletries budget at $35 per week. And it’s also one of the tips I try to share with my friends that “need to start saving money” that just gets dismissed. I have stopped trying to help them when they clearly aren’t willing to put any work into it (not just because of this tip but other things like not being brand loyal and other tips). So when they make remarks about “I don’t know how you spend that little”, “I wish I could save the kind of money you do”, etc, now I just smile and move onto something else 🙂

    Another thing about the beans tip. If you don’t like the taste or texture of beans, make sure to puree them first before adding them to meatloaf, taco meat, etc. If you have them cooked, then puree, then add them into the food, I promise you will not taste them. I recently even tried black bean brownies. She took a box mix for brownies, added it with almost the full can of black beans (she pureed them first), and baked. You could not taste the beans! I prefer regular brownies but these definitely were not bad at all.

    • Rae says:

      Oh another thing is, I only buy meat when it is on a REALLY good sale (and my prices below don’t come around often and take scouring multiple ads to find). If sales get to my stock up price (it rarely happens but does occasionally), I really stock up. The hispanic groceries usually have at least one or two meat items per week that are super good deals. If meat is not at the price I want to pay, I won’t buy it. We’ll use the stock from the freezer or do without.

      –Beef- will pay up to $1.99/lb depending on the cut but stock up price $1.50 or under
      –ground beef- willing to pay $1.49/lb, stock up $.99/lb
      –Ribs (I only buy country style whether they are pork or beef because they have more meat)- will pay $1.49, stock up $.99 (haven’t seen these prices yet this year so haven’t bought them)
      –B/l s/l chicken (breast or thigh) will pay $1.69, stock up $1.5o or less. At a hispanic store a couple weeks ago I got b/l s/l chicken breast for $.88/lb!! I thought it was a typo in the ad but it wasn’t! I bought almost 20 lbs worth (some for my family, some to give to my parents). At that price I would have bought more but we are moving in a few months and 11 lbs is enough to last us until then.
      –Bone in chicken breast (rarely buy)- $.99/lb, don’t stock up
      –Chicken quarters- $.39/lb, stock up $.19/lb (hasn’t happened lately so haven’t bought lately)
      –Pork (roast, chops, etc)- up to $1.49/lb, stock up $.99/lb

      • Krysten says:

        Wow! The only meats that we ever buy are ground beef and chicken (boneless skinless breasts), and I’ve never seen prices as low as your “stock up” prices. I buy ground beef if it’s under $2/lb, and the chicken breasts are generally $1.69/lb at WalMart, which is the cheapest anywhere around here.
        Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a good ground beef sale in at least 3 or 4 months, so I’ve caved and bought it for over $2/lb a few times since then, just because I get tired of the same chicken meals over and over. Kroger used to put it on sale for between $1.79-$1.99 about once a month, so I would only stock up on 1 month’s worth at a time. You can believe that the next time they put it on sale, I’m clearing the shelf!

        • Rae says:

          We are in the Dallas are so prices are fairly low to begin with but like I said I only buy meat when it is a lossleader item type sale (so I only get these prices 2-3 time per year for most items, some items I haven’t gotten in about a year). And also the ethnic groceries have better sales on meat and produce than the traditional stores (we have hispanic ones here but I saw somebody post about an awesome deal at an Asian one).

      • Julie says:

        wow! I don’t know where you live but your “will pay” price on 99% of that is cheaper than my “stock up” price. The cheapest I can get b/l s/l chicken breasts is $1.99/lb. Ground beef never goes below about $2.30 or so. Once in awhile I will find the 75% for $1.99/lb but rarely. I’m jealous. 🙂

        • Wendy says:

          Same here in NC. Ground beef for $1.99 is an excellent price that doesn’t come around often. Most of the time if I can get it on sale for $2.49 I feel I’m getting a good deal.

        • Andrea Q says:

          Oftentimes, buying meat with less fat works out to be a better deal, even if you pay more per pound. For example, my sister recently purchased 80 percent ground beef. After she cooked it, she drained the grease and weighed it. Nearly 16 ounces of what she bought was pure (not edible) grease, which made the price of the actual “meat” that could be eaten almost $8 per pound.

      • Kristine says:

        Our local grocery store occasionally puts boneless chicken breasts on sale for $.88/lb., and although I don’t often buy meat, I do stock up on it occasionally and put it in the freezer when it’s at that price.

  • Don’t forget to check your grocery stores for meat markdowns when they are trying to get rid of it. As long it’s eaten or frozen right away, it’s fine!

    • J says:

      Definitely! I get manager’s markdowns for cheaper than I ever see meat ads. I put it into a freezer bag when I get home and then cook it when I’m ready.

    • Rae says:

      My stores always charge more for their markdown meat than I can get on regular sales (which is still more than I’m willing to pay most of the time). Luckily it is not a complete loss though because my stores do really good markdowns on dairy (milk and yogurt mostly but my family loves yogurt)

  • Jessica says:

    We make homemade whole wheat/white flour cheese pizza with veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers for our meatless nights. Plenty of protein to satisfy my carnivorous husband from the whole wheat flour and from the mozzarella cheese.

    I make homemade pizza sauce in the crock-pot and freeze it in 2-cup portions. I also mix up large batches of homemade dough and freeze it in 1-pound rounds to help speed up the pizza making process.

  • Kim J. says:

    Great Tips !! Here’s a few of mine:

    1. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Compare the price of ground beef at $2.30/lb. to ground turkey at $1.70/lb. (or even less). One advantage of ground turkey is that there is very little shrinkage due to fat content!! In my opinion, ground turkey doesn’t make very good meatloaf or burgers, but in taco/burrito filling, sloppy joes (renamed sloppy gobblers when they’re made with turkey…lol), spaghetti sauce, “hamburger” gravy, chili and breakfast sausage you really can’t tell much difference.

    2. Use oatmeal to stretch the meat. I put oatmeal in meat (turkey or ground beef) entrees such as taco/burrito meat, sloppy joes, meatloaf, turkey breakfast sausage. If you want to ‘hide’ it, you can do a quick pulverize in your blender or food processor (I usually don’t bother anymore ‘cuz we’re used to it). Adding oatmeal helps also if after you drain your meat it’s still a little bit greasy — the oatmeal absorbs it.

    3. I use ground venison every chance I get !! Soak it in milk before cooking and it will take the ‘wild’ taste out (I’ve even ‘browned’ the meat in milk and drained the milk/wild taste off when it was done). Ground venison is leaner than ground beef!!!

    Love your blog!! Keep up the good work!!

    • Rae says:

      My mom always makes her meatballs and meatloaf (she usually makes them at the same time and eats the meatloaf that night then freezes the meatballs in one meal’s worth portions) using 1/2 beef and then 1/2 pork or turkey. So if you don’t like them with all turkey, maybe you could try a mix 🙂

    • Mary says:

      I also use a lot more ground turkey than beef due to the price! I have tried it almost anything, and it seems to be liked just as well. The only thing my family requires beef for is a hamburger, but we don’t have them too often. I like a steak once in a while as well, but only do it as a treat.

    • Terri says:

      I like to mix a packet of dry ranch with my turkey burgers and then bake them in the oven on a cookie sheet. The dry ranch packets are usually pretty cheap and it adds great flavor to the burgers.

    • Crystal says:

      Love these; thanks for sharing!

    • Anna says:

      that’s strange, I use ground turkey for health reasons, but it’s more expensive at my store 🙁

      • Krysten says:

        Ground turkey is more expensive at my stores, too.

      • Julie says:

        it is more expensive here too. Like, way more expensive. So I can never use this tip. 🙁

        • holi says:

          if there is an aldi’s it may be cheaper…. A friend of mine goes there and it is. I personally can only mix 1/2 and 1/2 turkey & hamburger, which I haven’t done in a long time.

          • Julie says:

            We don’t get anything cool like an aldi. I live in the middle of nowhere Maine. I have Wal-mart and a local grocery store and if I drive the hour into the “big city” I have a Shaw’s.

      • Wendy says:

        The “good, low fat” ground turkey is more expensive here too. I can get what I call the “junky” ground turkey that has more fat than ground beef and it will be much cheaper. But when I compare labels and look at fat content, ground beef usually comes out the winner here.

      • Rae says:

        Do you have Aldis? At mine they have 1 lb chubs (they are frozen though which my mom doesn’t like… me I’ll just defrost 🙂 ) for less than $2

      • Miriam says:

        We have gotten ground chicken at Super Target for $1/1 lb package. I can’t remember what brand, I think Gold N Plump. It was not clearance, just a sale. We bought a case at the time, the meat counter was very nice to bring us one out.

    • Kim J. says:

      I don’t use the name brand ground turkey. Aldi and Save-A-Lot both have it (or used to) for about $1.25/lb. but I haven’t had to get any in a while since I stocked up the last time I was there and my local grocery store has been having deals on ground beef and I’ve stocked up on that. My local Piggly Wiggly Store carries an off brand ground turkey for $1.69/lb. every day.

    • Alexandra says:

      This isn’t really an overly *healthy* tip, but since my husband dislikes ground turkey, I started adding a little bit of beef bouillon to it while I’m browning it. I go easy on the bouillon since it is full of sodium, msg, and probably a few other things I don’t want to know about. BUT, it gives it a nice brown “beefy” color, and flavor. The last few times I did it he never even knew! 🙂 It can be worked in to meatloaf too, but you would probably want to soften the bouillon in some of your wet ingredients first as it won’t mix as well otherwise.

    • Kelli says:

      I am so glad you mentioned ground turkey, because that is what I usually by because it’s not only cheaper but I feel it’s healthier too!! I was afraid maybe we were the only ones really substituting ground turkey with ground burger 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    I like to reuse my meat–leftovers I mean. But I hate leftovers, so I find a different way to cook it. I will make a pork roast for night one, then later it becomes pulled pork or sandwiches, then if there’s any leftovers from that it becomes a pizza topping. You can put about anything on pizza! I’ll roast a whole chicken, then heat up leftovers with some seasonings and mix it with pasta, then put any leftovers from that (minus the pasta!) on a pizza or in a salad.

    We have a family of 6, so I just put part of the meat that I made on the table with plenty of sides so everyone doesn’t just fill up on meat.

  • Steph says:

    I don’t have anything new to share to Crystals ideas but only to add that going meatless a couple times a week is a lot easier than one would think. Having a fried egg sandwich, pancakes or some other breakfast type food with a smoothie or fruit for one meatless night a week, then cut the meats out of your “Italian” dishes (spaghetti, lasagna or even pizzas) can be another meatless night of the week. A big pan of oven baked home made mac and cheese with a salad and a fruit is a great meal as well. Even if all of this is completely appalling to your family and there is no way you could sneak in beans then just try in casseroles to cut the amount of meat down by a 1/4 of a pound or more and I bet no one will notice and the savings will add up! Great video today Crystal!

  • I stock up on clearance meats when they are close to their expiration date and freeze them. My grocery store does this Monday mornings and I have gotten packages of chicken for $1.00, freeze them and they are good for 3 months.

    • Dana says:

      Ditto here- buying meat when it’s close to expiring has been great- we always do that and it’s never harmed us, even when we freeze!

  • Lana says:

    I never buy meat that is not on sale. When there is a great sale I stock up and freeze it. One of my stores will occasionally overbuy for a sale and then sell off the extra the next week at way less then the sale the previous week. Recently I bought (alot of) chicken breasts for 49 cents a pound and put them in the freezer. I wrap chicken breasts individually in plastic wrap and then put them into a ziploc freezer bag so that I can thaw only what I need.

    I have started packaging ground beef in 8 ounce packages. I weigh it out and put each portion in a sandwich bag and those go into a Ziploc freezer bag with the date on the bag. That way I can thaw only what I need and not overdo the meat. It also thaws quickly if you need a quick meal.

    I have put pinto beans in our taco meat for more than 20 years and even though my kids would complain about a beans and rice meal they never complained about the beans in taco meat. 🙂

    I am not a big meat eater myself and really don’t care whether I have meat or not but I recently had some preventitive blood work done at the Dr office and the results showed a very low protein level in my body so be careful that in cutting down on meat you don’t end end up like me. I am trying to eat more meat but have to remind myself to do so.

    • Autumn says:

      Hi Lana. check out the post I left at the bottom in regards to meat, saving money and protein. Have you ever tried green smoothies? I stumbled across Green smoothie girl one day and it has improved my overall health. Long story short I learned that there is more protein and better protein in leafy greens. I also learned how to get way more in my diet and make them taste good and the amazing health benefits in doing so. I hope you will be amazed going to her website like I was.

  • MegganB says:

    Whenever I go grocery shopping I always check for the manager’s specials ie. the meat that only has a day or two left. I will often buy the meat and freeze it or make a quick meal from it. Super cheap and easy way to save. I just bought 8 pre-formed burgers for $2 – regularly $7!

  • Angela Szunyogh says:

    I save money on meat by buying in bulk when meat is one sale. I buy boneless chicken breasts when they are $1.69 a pound or less then freeze it for up to 6 months.

  • Meredith says:

    You guys are SO lucky! My husband is allergic to soy, peanuts, beans and legumes (except for sweet peas). So… unless I have the time to make two different versions of what I make, it is very challenging to sneak beans in (which is hard for this ex-vegetarian!). We do meatless meals here and there, breakfast for supper and soups being the ones we do most often. Because he’s gotten so used to having meat, I’m still trying to get past the balking he does when I say we’re having something that is meatless – but it’s getting less and less, I think because he knows I’m really trying hard to save money where I can.

    • Kathy says:

      Dealt with food allergies with my daughter for several year, first total elimination, then rotation diet. There are some good cooking with allergies cookbooks. Quinoa is very high in protein. Mix it with rice and veggies. Trader Joes has this mix called harvest grains blend that is great. I substitute portabella mushrooms for meat sometimes too. Food allergies are hard, one of my daughters allergies was corn…try eliminating that..its in everything!
      As to my saving on meat..always buy on sale or manager special, buy several and freeze. We also eat lots of pasta cooked many different ways.

  • Autumn says:

    **Also keep in mind not only can you save $$ eating less meat but you will be healthier too. ** Most people do not realize what the normal potion size should be. A deck of card respresents the size of the meat you should aim for “if” you should choose a piece of meat. Crystal’s suggestions are great and having your plate with more of the veggies/salads and only little room for meat which most people consider the main piece will improve your overall health too. You will survive giving up or just cutting back on your meat consumption. You can receive more protein and calcium in leafy greens. I consume green smoothies on a daily basis and at 40 I’ve never been healthier and had more energy. I have not been sick in ages nor do I have all the allergies and sore throats since I switched over to Rice Milk and away from cows milk. Small changes add up. 🙂 So you will also save even more $$ with less trips to the doctor with co pays or out of cost medications. No thanks

    • Jean says:

      Regarding portion size, my sister-in-law was a foreign exchange student in the Philippians. She said meat was always a small side dish, never the main part of the meal! We Americans are spoiled!

  • Michelle H. says:

    My father made a relationship with the butcher at our local grocery store and found out when they mark things down so he now gets first dibs on all of the mark downs and many times we get T-bones for $1/lb and ground beef for nearly nothing. He shares his deals with all of the family and we just freeze everything right away.

  • Meredith says:

    If you want to save the most money on meat, look up and check out some books on the meat industry. Most people say they, don’t want to know what happens to animals in processing. Trust me, you do. You’ll think twice before buying that “sale meat.” You will quickly learn WHY it was on sale. With that being said, I still eat meat but once or twice a week (two meals only, not two days). Once eating out (I will opt vegetarian) and the other we buy local meat that was ethically and nutritionally raised/wild caught and fix it on Saturday. Of course I paid 10 dollars per pound of chicken but I got enough for three ounces each…because thats the serving….and build it around healthier foods. I’d rather have one time a week for organic, ethical, and well prepared meat than a week full of the other.

    • J says:

      Yes, I am done buying pork unless I can find someone who is treating hogs humanely after seeing some videos on an large IA pork producer.

    • Danielle says:

      Beef is one place I actually DO spend money. I buy organic for health and conscience reasons (plus it has the added benefit of not stinking up your house when you brown it for some reason!). BUT, because I feel this is important, we don’t eat a lot of it (once/week). I also only buy ground beef because it’s the cheapest type of organic beef I can get. So no steaks for us, but I enjoy finding new recipes to try using ground. I also use less to stretch it further–1/4-1/2 lb. in spaghetti sauce for instance; it still has a meaty taste while using so much less.

      As for buying organic beef, my mom can get it locally more cheaply than I can, so she buys several pounds before coming for a visit and brings it frozen in a cooler for the 4-hour trip.

    • Jen says:

      I definitely agree that quality (local, grass fed, pastured) meats are best. Better for the animals, and our health! I save on meat by buying in bulk from local farms. We buy 1/4 grass fed cow, 12 pastured, whole chickens, and 1/2 pastured pig every year. Of course you have to have a large freezer, but it is so much cheaper than buying it in small quantities!

  • We use a LOT of venison as my hubby is a hunter. I’m not sure how cheap it comes out with the cost of licensing, etc, but I figure he at least gets food as a result of his hobby! And it is so healthy, too.
    Also, when making meals such as fried “rice” (which is sometimes actual rice and sometimes shredded cauliflower), I use peanuts instead of meat. The whole family LOVES this meal, including my 6 year old son. He always asks for second or third helpings.
    One last thing, I shop at Asian markets for meat. I bought ground pork for $1.38/lb yesterday. (this is their regular price, not sale price) We live in a big a city so I know this is not an option for everyone, but it is worth a try if you do.

    • carrie says:

      My husband is an avid hunter, as well. We usually have enough venison and pheasant to last all year. I buy plenty of chicken, though, as I much prefer the taste.

      I agree with you–not sure how much money we save with hunting costs, but it’s nice to have a stocked freezer!

    • Dreya says:

      My hubby is also a hunter and I would love to have more recipes or info on how to cook venison and pheasant. Most of his deer gets made into jerky, but I would love to be able to use it for meals. Any one know of any resources?

      • Dreya- I use ground venison for just about anything you would use ground beef for. Spaghetti, tacos, hamburgers. The processor will add a little pork fat to it because deer is so lean. I usually add onion or garlic as well to add some taste, without extra fat!
        We also usually get a lot of breakfast sausage made from it. I like pork sausage better, but this is much better for you. 🙂 E-mail me benandkelli01 at aol dot com if you want any other ideas!

      • Annie says:

        I also use ground venison for any recipe that calls for ground beef. The only time I purchase ground beef is when we’re having hamburgers. To grill deer steaks, just marinade as usual and then wrap in bacon before grilling. You can also make deer roast as you would any other roast, in the crock-pot with onions, carrots, and potatoes.
        I give my husband a hard time about how much deer meat *really* costs when you figure in the license and all the gear, but he loves it and is going to go regardless, so at least we get some benefit from it.

      • Andrea Q says:

        Venison tenderloin is amazing when sliced thinly and pan fried with salt and pepper…sliced correctly, it will be fork tender and practically melt in your mouth. Other cuts of steak can be tougher, but you can use a teriyaki on them to help with that. You can also cut up the leg quarters into stew meat. Cook it on low in a crockpot just as you would beef stew.

    • Rebecca says:

      Would you mind sharing your fried rice recipe. I love fried rice and have yet to find a good recipe. Thanks!

  • Becky says:

    I cook with what’s on sale–or learn how to cook with it. This isn’t giving me drastic savings, but it’s helped and been fun. So a while back there were several months that ground beef never went down to 1.99–my target price–but top round did (and lower). Only things was, it was in big packs–four meals’ worth. With google’s help I found some new recipes and cooking methods so we got our “beef fix” and had fun with it. I will say–I missed tacos :).

    Also-budget your meat. Only put on the table the amount you’ve decided is a serving and let the family fill up on other side dishes.

    • Rae says:

      I have heard that almost any store that has a meat department will let you take any cut of meat and they will ground it and re wrap it (still the same price) for free. I have never bothered to do it since I stock up when I see ground beef/turkey super cheap but it might be worth checking out for others 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      I control meat servings by putting a serving on everyone’s plate. My husband is satisfied with what I serve him, but would surely eat more if it were placed before him. And he doesn’t starve, I assure you! By keeping the rest out of sight, it can be saved for lunches the next day (which also saves me time!).

  • Toni says:

    The vast majority of our meals are meatless (we are known as “flexitarians” by hard core vegetarians, though I consider us vegetarian.) Our regular meals include: lentil tacos, grilled tofu “egg” salad sandwiches, black bean burgers, pecan “meat” loaf, sloppy “fauxs”, enchilada casserole (with white beans and smart ground “beef”), bbq bean pizza (YUM! with Bush’s Grillin’ Beans), and more.

  • Anna says:

    I just wanted to add that I buy several turkeys (usually the smallest ones i can find) when they are on sale before and around thanksgiving. I don’t pay more than $0.50 per pound and usually pay less. Then when I make one each month, I don’t have to have any other meat for the week.

  • One of our favorite meals is quiche/fritata. This is so easy to make meatless! We also have egg sandwiches a lot and breakfast for dinner. My family doesn’t care for beans (I might try the suggestion above about grinding them first), but two dishes that they can stand them in are our Chicken Fiesta Burritos and chicken enchiladas! Most of these recipes are on my blog!

    • Crystal says:

      Love quiche and fritatta!

    • Kristine says:

      Quiche is very easy to make meatless. I use asparagus in it when it’s on sale, or sometimes I use broccoli or spinach. And I have a really easy recipe. I don’t make a crust; I just add 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour to the eggs and milk mixture and pour it over some asparagus (cut into bite-sized pieces) and cheese in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Then I bake it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. The flour causes kind of a crust to form at the bottom of the casserole, so it’s called magic quiche.

      • Monica says:

        Kristine~ Thanks for sharing. That is so much easier and cheaper than buying the pie crust. We love quiche….and my kids love magic. 🙂

  • Mable says:

    These tips are great, and I try to use many of them myself. My hubby is a big meat eater though- and I mean several slabs of meat (poultry, pork or beef) every evening. I would estimate at least half a pound of meat daily. I always try to stock up when meat is on sale, but he goes through it so fast it doesn’t last long. If I make something with legumes, such as a hearty lentil soup, he just eats it and then asks for the meat! All the men in my family and in the families of my close friends are the same way. I remember as a kid my brothers would chow down on the meat and just eat a bit of the side dishes. All I can say is be thankful if your menfolk are game for cutting down on meat consumption! I’ve given up trying to get the men in my life to eat less meat.

    • holi says:

      yeah that is the way it is here in michigan. seems like the main part of meal is meat.

    • Rae says:

      Does he not care that that is horrible for his health? I mean I’m not against eating meat at all but 1/2 of meat per day for one person? That’s a lot! My husband was the same way but between the money aspect and my concern for his health, he had agreed to cut back. Whenever we go out to eat though, he always orders the dish with the most meat to other stuff ratio lol

      • Mable says:

        Yes, I actually find the health issue more frustrating than the financial issue. I think he’s going more for the atkins approach; when I serve bread, rice or noodles he often leaves half or more on his plate. With pizza he cuts off the crusts. This makes me crazy, especially because I usually serve the whole grain version, which isn’t super cheap to buy. Now I let him serve himself. When I prepare fish (the kind I buy is frozen in normal-sized preformed portions) he considers picking up fast food with meat on the way home to supplement it because it’s not enough meat! I do not eat all this meat- I often make myself lentils or chickpeas and only eat meat a couple times a week.

        My dad told me he always used to call and ask my mom what was for dinner, and when it was something like pancakes or waffles he would stop and eat several hamburgers on the way home. Maybe I’m just surrounded by extremely stubborn an

        • Mable says:

          stubborn and picky eaters.

        • Rae says:

          aww 🙁 My grandpa was the same way except not about big hunks of meat. Instead with him it was high fat, high sodium weird stuff (cheeses and spreads I’ve never heard of, eating super fatty “specialty” meats, etc). My grandma (who was a nurse for 20+ years) always try to get him to change his diet because it was bad for his health and he was at risk for diabetes and heart problems and he never listened. A few years ago, his doctor finally told him he needed to stop or he was going to have…. diabetes and/or heart problems. He just asked (not just in front of the doctor) like this was all new news and changed his diet immediately. My grandma was like “I’ve been telling you this for years!!” lol

  • Julie says:

    We do breakfast for dinner about once a week. We raise chickens so have plenty of eggs. And we raised a pig so we have plenty of bacon.

    Any beef other than ground beef is only bought when it is a manager special. I try to buy ground this way too but often just have to wait for a sale.

    We did a raise a pig and it wasn’t cheaper than buying pork on sale but I think it tastes better. It will be cheaper this next time around as we know what we are doing this time. lol.

    We don’t do meatless meals or beans. My husband truly hates beans no matter what I do with them (other than in chili) and refuses to go meatless. He works a physical job so I understand. He doesn’t like a lot of the other protein foods. I do make casseroles fairly often as this stretches the meat much farther.

    He also hunts and is not opposed to road kill deer. I know it sounds disgusting but he only asks the cop for it if the accident happened within 2 hours (less if warm weather) and the deer looks okay. You just get rid of anything that isn’t good and salvage the rest. Really is much better than it sounds.

  • This is a great post! I’ve been going meatless for a while now and our family is saving a ton on our grocery bill

  • Stephanie says:

    One of our favorite meatless meals is homemade black bean burgers. I add a good amount grill seasoning and use homemade buns. It is a nice break from a casserole type meal but very frugal, healthy, and filling.

    • Kristine says:

      I make black-bean burgers, too, and homemade buns. My family loves them–even my daughter who isn’t a big fan of beans.

  • Blythe says:

    We are Catholic and practice the traditional days of fast and abstinence. Meaning no meat on fridays. During lent meat only once a day. And there are 12 other days during the year this occurs. We do it for spiritual reasons but it sure helps with the meat bill!

  • erika m says:

    I appreciate these tips especially because 1) Its healthier and 2) Its more eco-friendly. My problem is that I don’t be an organic/health snob, but I can’t stand buying cheap, overprocessed meats. We usually buy 1/4 cow from a local farmer, have it packaged and frozen, we see the cow, know what is being fed to it, and support local! I really want to save money, but I feel here is not where money should be cut. I feel really strongly about what my kids are putting into their bodies, so I try to buy organic, local and fresh as much as possible-you can really save at farmer’s market, and I look for organic items at Big Lots too. Of course, I buy lots of conventional items for which I coupon/shop, but its worth it to me to pay more for quality. BTW we are a family of 6 living off of 30,000 income. Eating healthier-i.e. homemade salad dressings, lots of fresh veggies/fruits etc can be cheaper! Finally, sorry for my long winded comment but we feel that we can cut other items b/c we care about our bodies, we use free local parks, libraries, venues for entertainment, have a bare bones phone pkg/internet, and no TV. We also only have 3-4 pairs of shoes each (church, play, exercise) and trade services w/friends/families. For example, I clean my mom’s house in exchange for free use of her washer/dryer bc our washer broke(until we purchase another one in a month or so), now while my laundry is washing, I’m cleaning…etc. SORRY I just don’t like skimping on things we put into our bodies-but I know you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. Love your site…and your posters….so much useful info!

    • erika m says:

      I meant “I don’t MEAN to be an organic/health snob….”

    • Rae says:

      buying organic doesn’t make you a snob 🙂 I don’t buy exclusively organic (I do get a portion though because they go on markdown at my Kroger often) but understand people that do. And many of the tips above like not making it the center of the meal, adding in beans, meatless nights, etc are good ways to stretch your money (and meat) for whatever kind of meat you *do buy 🙂

    • Kristine says:

      I wish I could afford more organic, non-GMO foods. I do buy some of my produce from a company that delivers organic, locally grown when available, produce, and I don’t buy meat very often. I don’t think it’s snobby to prefer healthier options.

      I like this editorial that I read a few months ago, entitled “Why being a foodie isn’t ‘elitist’”: I think Schlosser makes some very good points in the article, such as this:

      “Calling these efforts elitist renders the word meaningless. The wealthy will always eat well. It is the poor and working people who need a new, sustainable food system more than anyone else. They live in the most polluted neighborhoods. They are exposed to the worst toxic chemicals on the job. They are sold the unhealthiest foods and can least afford the medical problems that result” (p. 3).

    • Elias says:

      I understand making organic a priority. We live in a smaller city so we don’t have access to farms or Whole food type of stores that offer lower priced organic options. So recently, I joined a produce buying club that is organic and priced better than organic but not near as inexpensive as sale priced reg fruits/veggies at the local grocery store. I feel torn on the price difference but I agree we are building their bodies at this point of their lives and hopefully keeping us all healthier.

  • Kristine says:

    We don’t often eat meat–maybe once or twice per week, if even that often. I don’t enjoy cooking and handling meat, and my family is fine with mostly vegetarian meals. I do buy meat occasionally when the local grocery store advertises a really good sale (such as chicken breasts for $.88/lb.) and stick it in the freezer.

  • Miriam says:

    Hi, when we were first married I would used to make meatless pasta sauce using mushrooms and my main ingredient instead of meat. My husband baulked at that the first few times, but then started to enjoy it and would look forward to me making it.

    Also in my household tuna mornay goes a long way over rice. My kids really enjoy it. Tuna is much more affordable.

    Thanks for the tips, I love reading all the wonderful comments after your posts, it really inspires me to do better.

  • Leighann says:

    We use ground turkey instead of ground beef. I can get ground turkey for about $1/lb, vs. about $2/lb for ground beef.

    However, I’ve found that the Flanders Beef Patties that are often on sale in my stores, 5lbs for $6, work as a great substitute for ground beef. They’re a bit salty, though.

    I’m trying to get my family into eating meatless meals, but it’s a slow process. I’m having to get them into eating any veggies at all first. We’re up to meals that are mainly veggies and grains at this point. Breakfast and lunch don’t have to be meals with meat, but my husband grew up with meat for dinner (and so did I, to tell the truth!) so it’s a hard habit to break.

  • Esther a homeschool momma in Mid-Michigan says:

    Another idea for knowing where your meat comes from is going to your local county fair and purchase your beef, pork, etc after the kids are done showing them. They auction them off and you usually get a decent price per pound. Then you could use a local meat packing place to “process” your meat and request that they use “natural” ingredients for the process. If you don’t have enough freezer space to get a whole hog or cow, you could find enough family/friends to split the cost. You would still get the healthy benefits and save some money in the process. Or, you could buy a meat bundle already made up from a meat packaging place to save money also. They usually offer a variety of bundles at different price points depending on your budget. 🙂

    • Rachael says:

      We do a “meatless Monday” which in reality can be any day of the week. At first it was really hard coming up with ideas for meals, but I’ve started to enjoy it and have found it requires me to be creative. Some meals I’ve done are black bean tacos, spinach lasagne, spaghetti and marinara and spinach souffle. For another meal, I try to use an inexpensive meat like hot dogs, bacon, or tuna. We also rarely have just meat as the main course. When we do, it is a definate treat!

  • Jen says:

    I don’t try to save on meat…we buy only organic, no antibiotics, grass fed, etc….beef and chicken. We just don’t eat it for every meal. I encourage everyone to find out where your food is coming from and what is in it–when you’re paying a dollar or two per pound for meat and chicken, there is a reason that it is so cheap, and in many cases (NOT always), you could be compromising your health by eating it (hormones, antibiotics, etc…). Spend more for your meats–just don’t eat it as often–and that’s a way to not only save money but improve your health!

  • Elisha says:

    thank you for your videos! they are all so helpful! our family has saved a lot of money by simply cutting out meat almost completely. i really agree with your advice on beans! our first daughter is not a big fan of meat, so wanting to cook things she would eat, we have found so many delicious recipes using many different types of beans. and since beans are so much cheaper, it has saved us a lot! we now will eat meat about once, maybe twice a week, and because of this are able to buy the healthier, leaner, hormone free brands for the few times we do eat it. we feel great, since beans have much more fiber, and are good on protein.

  • misty gorman says:

    i only shop from the reduced meat section in the grocery and try to center my meals around those items or just to stock up. when you get home, immediately put the meat in the freezer and it will be fine. that says us 50-70% off meat. we also do meatless mondays and use half of the meat recommended for a recipe. eat more veggies adn beans!

  • Debi says:

    One more suggestion that I didn’t see..or maybe missed, is chili…my family loves it and it’s very easy to go meatless or use 1/4lb-1/2lb of meat and it’s amazing how it really doesn’t alter the taste.
    Some other meatless dishes my family enjoys are, quesadillas, tuna burgers, tostadas, and biscuits and gravy. Great video, Crystal!

  • Caitlin says:

    We never buy the “fresh” ground beef, only the ones that come in the pre-wrapped tubes. My husband worked as a butcher’s assistant in a huge grocery chain and they actually use those tubes to ground their beef, so it’s the SAME THING!

  • Shawnie says:

    My family used to own a meat market and we would have ‘regulars’ who came in and just purchased the “out of date” meat. When meat (beef in particular) begins to turn brown (age) it has to be pulled off the shelf. It gets tossed into the freezer and sold at a much cheaper price. All you have to do is ask your local butcher and I’m sure he has a ton for you to choose from. Even a larger chain grocery store. I always find those “browner” selections of beef at my local Walmart and I buy it up!!

  • DeAnna says:

    I usually only buy meat about once every 2-3 months. I go to Food Lion and look for the “red tag” meat. This is meat that is close to it’s “sell by” date. I usually spend about $60 and have enough meat for 2-3 months. I have a food saver, so when I get home, I separate the meat into meals and label it and freeze it. Some people do not like to buy meat after it has been marked down. I have no problem doing this and have done so for several years.

    About 2 weeks ago, I spent around $60 (including two rolls of food saver bags) and got: Italian sausage, ribs, fajitas x3, thin chicken breast, pork roast, beef roast, steak x 5, stew beef x2, pork chops x4, hamburger x2. All of these meals will have left overs. Each of the roasts will be cooked as a roast, left overs will be shredded for bbq which we can eat on for at least 2 meals. So I have about 21 meals plus left overs.

  • Elias says:

    What a great post! I love the black bean burgers idea and I will check out the smoothie site too.

    We make butternut squash mac n cheese. It’s Rachel Ray’s recipe on the the food network site. My meat loving family can’t get enough. A friend made it for me once and told me after the fact that it had the veggie in it and was pleasantly surprised. So for dinner tonight, we had it with brocolli and rainbow carrots. I didn’t use fresh spices though, to cut down cost and I couldn’t tell a difference.

    I also like an occasional summer salad-spinach salad with strawberries, blueberries, candied pecans and raspberry vinegrette. Mmm!

  • These are all great tips! I’m not a big fish eater, but I do like tuna. I can get cans of tuna very cheap at Aldi and when they’re marked down at regular stores like Safeway (usually around 50 cents a can). I make tuna noodle cheese casserole with it for a super cheap meal! It’s really just what’s in the name plus milk and onion for a creamy sauce. My husband and I also eat pizza a lot. The recipe I have makes enough dough for four servings (or two pizzas), so we’ll have one at the beginning of the week and one at the end! I make the sauce homemade, too, which makes it cheaper. We do add pepperoni often, but you could add so many other non-meat toppings (as others have said). Or just plain cheese!

  • Meat is an area where I try to find the best prices, but we typically have meat 6 or 7 nights a week. My husband is very much a meat-eater, and really so am I. I do stretch my meat as far as I can.

    We got a Food Saver machine for Christmas, so I freeze meat in meal-size portions. That really helps!

    Meat prices have skyrocketed here recently. Ground beef is never less than $2.69/lb. (and that’s usually 85/15). Chicken is still a decent price, specifically at Aldi. We don’t get much other variety. I’ve already raised our grocery budget by nearly $75 and that’s not even enough. I just don’t have any other money to work with. But, meat is important in our meals, so we fit it in. Every family is different!

  • adrienne says:

    I save ALOT on meats by shopping EARLY in the morning (not on weekends though). I generally will go on a Tues, Wed or Thurs a.m… our regional grocery store marks meat down SUPER cheap when it’s a couple days out from the “sell by” date. And it’s the early morning butchers that do the marking down… never happens later in the day.
    I will stock up, and stick it in the freezer.
    I may spend $20 on meat, but have enough for a family of 4 for about 10 meals.

  • Holly says:

    Thank you for the excellent ideas!!!!! One of the easiest ways for me to save is to incorporate the meat into the dish instead of having it separate on the plate. I add it to soups, pastas, or rice dishes. It will help your family especially your husband get rid of the idea of having a huge meat serving at dinner. (There’s a great chinese recipe in june’s all you if you want to experiment!) If I use meat and I don’t want to incorporate into something, I try to use a very cheap one! For example I use chicken legs, or drum sticks (always less then $1 pd.) and you can create your own breading or seasoning for an oven “fried” chicken if your craving fast food!

  • Lena C. says:

    The ideas everyone has shared are great! I love having breakfast for dinner, but as soon as I begin cooking the first thing I here from the family is “Where’s the sausage or bacon?”

    My biggest problem is picky eaters in our home. My daughter will try pretty much anything as long as she doesn’t see onions in it, but the hubs has a very limited list of foods he will actually eat (most of which I do not consider very healthy to have all the time). Fried chicken, fried pork chops, spaghetti and meatballs and pinto beans are the only real protein sources he will eat. Fruit: a few bites of a raw apple on occasion…can’t be cooked in any way. Any other fruits are a no go. Veggies: Corn (can’t be on the cob), green beans (he wants to add oil to them all the time though),mustard greens and potatoes as long as it doesn’t involve cheese or a cream sauce. He loves breads of all kinds so I don’t have trouble there luckily. I get so tired of fixing the same things over and over. When I try new things, he just opts for a lunch meat sandwich instead. He refuses to eat rice of any kind, wont even try it and unless its just plain cooked pinto beans he won’t eat beans on there own or mixed with anything either. It’s hard to plan meals around sales and work to save money when you have to buy the same things every week (sale or not) just s someone in the house will actually eat. *sigh*

    • Mable says:

      I totally sympathize with you! Sometimes it’s just frustrating.

    • Jamie says:

      Sorry your hubby is such a picky eater mine used to be as well until we had a discussion about feeding the kids a healthier diet (I made it about the kids rather than him) and by eating healthier foods ourselves it would encourage them to eat them too (ex. if he get’s fried chicken and they get grilled there is going to be some argument going on). Then I stopped making him special meals, sometimes he would eat cereal for dinner but he got very tired of that very quickly. I do make his favorites from time to time as a treat when he’s home on the weekends from work. Now he is a whole new man when it comes to food, there are still things he won’t eat but he is much more willing to try new things (and he’s found he really likes some of them). I like to treat and pamper my hard working hubby but I also want to be able to grow old with him, to be able to have him walk our daughter down the isle one day and hold our grandchildren and a big part of that is him taking care of himself and eating right.

  • Buying in bulk is a great way to stretch the meat dollars. We raise our own lamb and beef now, and that is a huge budget stretcher!!! Plus we know what the animal has been fed and meds given. But you can buy a whole or half beef or lamb too. The per pound price is about the same as the cheapest groud meat, but you get all the cuts! Before we started raising our meat we ate mostly ground turkey and occationally chicken. Now we have lamb chops, leg of lamb, beef tenderloin, T-bone steaks, beef roasts, etc. for the same price. Considering saving your meat money for a few months and stocking up.

  • Beth says:

    Hello Crystal!
    Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet as there are so many great comments listed here, but I typically purchase meat that’s been reduced. This isn’t rotten meat but needs to be moved as it’s nearing its “sell by date” Once home, I freeze
    it so it doesn’t go bad.
    I also wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed this series both for the content you’ve covered and it’s also been really fun watching you grow more comfortable in front of the camera! I’m very impressed.

  • Amanda says:

    Filleting a large cut of meat (i.e. cutting a chicken breast or steak in half depth-wise) can maintain the “feel” of a main-dish meat, while making it go 2x as far. It tricks the eye. Just have lots of salad, bread, rice, pasta, veggies, etc. on hand to trick the stomach, as well! Or, take a hint from the restaurants and set out a filler first (chips, or salad, or bread) so that the family’s stomachs are partially full before the main dish arrives. I read somewhere (Family Feasts for $75 a Week, maybe?) about someone who set out veggies for her kids to snack on while she w as making dinner, because (a) it was a time of day when they would readily eat vegetables as they were hungry, and (b) it would partially fill them up before dinner without ruining their appetites. Or… I read recently on Amy’s blog the “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper” idea ( This could possibly save on meat as well?

  • Theresa says:

    Another venison family here! We get it all made into burger except the loins, which work really great for kabobs on the grill. I use it for cooking in anything that calls for ground beef. I was just figuring and after the license, tag and processing, it still works out to be at least $1 less per lb than good lean burger. Plus my husband and I get the quality time together while hunting, which is priceless!

  • Sandra Lee says:

    I love our Meatless Mondays! I made a peach and cherry frittata yesterday for this week’s meatless meal. So, so many wonderful meatless recipes out there. When I was a young girl, once a month my mom would let us eat nothing but corn-on-the-cob for dinner. Oh my gosh, we loved it! Soups are another great meatless meal, and they easily can introduce all sorts of beans to your family. Navy beans or cannellini beans are good ones to start with.

  • Marlie says:

    This may gross some people out, but my family survives off of venison. I NEVER have to buy beef. We stock our fridge during hunting season, and it will last us throughout the year. It is much cheaper and the meat is actually “organic” if you think about it.

    The meat is so clean and doesn’t have that stinky beef smell when it is cooking. This has really saved my family a lot of money.

  • Jamie says:

    Just to add that if you are looking to feed your family a healthier diet dropping a considerable percentage of meat from your diet is a great way to do it. The US is one of the only countries that makes meat the centers of our meals – and note that we are also one of the most unhealthy. Personally I limit my meat consumption to fish, eggs & the occasional turkey my children eat much the same way with the addition of some chicken and my husband gets some read meat about once a week. I would much rather spend my grocery money on high quality produce than small economy cuts of meat.
    IF you decide to limit your red meat intake be sure to have your iron levels checked (especially women of child bearing age) since the best source of iron for our bodies comes from red meat. I have to supplement my iron with a daily vitamin.

  • Amanda says:

    I can stretch 1# of ground beef/turkey for spaghetti into 3 meals for us. My husband does not eat veggies well, neither my 3 yr old son. I find the spaghetti sauce with chunks of veggies and add more to it. They don’t realize they are eating carrots and zucchini. By doing this, they get some veggies and it makes enough sauce for us for 3 meals.

    I am gonna have to try the pinto beans now! thanks!!!

    • Shannon Johnson says:

      Thanks! My husband eats a few veggies but not enough greens and especially my 13 year old daughter! She’s probably the worst! So doing this will be very helpful! Thanks!

  • Ann says:

    Hi there!

    I find that the morning before the weekly ad goes out, there is (the ‘good’ brand) BS Chicken Breasts at 50% at my Safeway. I usually get enough for the week. Also I have seen the more expensive Lean ground turkey (usually 7.99 pkg) here at 50-70% off. It’s a day or two by the use/ freeze by date- but I usually freeze my meat anyway.
    I absolutely agree that the key is to limit the amount of meat you eat. It is much healthier to cut back. We have at least three meat-free dinners a week. A few, we use very minimal meat: Baked potato (and baked potato soup) with a little crumbled turkey bacon on top, Eggplant parm, Baked Mac and cheese, Quiche. If you put our a salad, garlic bread, a side of veggies or something really satisfying like crunchy swwet potato fries- the meat wont be missed.
    I wouldn’t try to substitute only a tiny salad for a family used to getting a big slab of meat on their plate. 🙂

  • Karen S. says:

    One thing I do when I’m out the store… I’m a tag reader. There was a recent deal at my store where you get $1 off ground beef when you buy 2 Vlassic pickles, any size. I bought the pickles and went and got a $1 package of ground beef. I didn’t really need the beef, but to get it for free… why not? It is a small package, only about 1/3 lb but it was free. I do this for every deal that I have coupons for the products for. I now have 5 $1 packs of meat in the freezer.

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