can be a budget-breaker, can’t it? Because we’ve only budgeted $40/week
for groceries, I’ve learned to get really creative when it comes to
meat. There are many things we do to help stretch this, here are a few of my favorites:
1) Don’t serve meat as the main thing at a meal.
When we serve meat for dinner, unless I got some incredible sale on it,
it is not a stand-alone thing. I have come up with lots of recipes
which are hearty and delicious, but that don’t require using $8-$15
worth of meat to pull off for our little family. We do eat soup and we
do eat casserole, but I try to be creative and use lots of variety.
also try to make sure that dinners are a hearty affair around here. My
husband might be thin, but he can eat like you wouldn’t believe (As an
aside, how come guys can eat so much and never gain a pound?!)! If we
have chili or a similar bean type of soup, we’ll serve it over steamed
brown rice and sprinkle cheese on top. If we have chicken noodle soup,
we often serve it over mashed potatoes (I know, talk about a carb-rich
meal! But it’s delicious!).
Start thinking outside the box when it comes to the dinners you serve and have fun being creative. If it flops and doesn’t go over well, you don’t have to make it again.
2) Have at least 1-2 meatless meals per week.
Yes, I know, a lot of people turn up their noses at the thought of
going vegetarian a few times a week but if you get creative, you can
come up with quite a few hearty meatless meals. Try making spaghetti
casserole or lasagna without meat in it (I put extra chunky sauce with
lots of onions and diced tomatoes in it and double the cheese and we never
even miss the meat). Or try serving breakfast for dinner sometime.
3) Never buy meat unless it is marked-down or on sale.
I usually always get meat on sale or marked down and will not pay
anymore than $2/meal for meat. Watch for the sales and mark downs and
stock up! Ask your grocery stores when they mark meat down and make
sure you shop at those times.
4) Make the main dish go further by starting out dinner with soup and bread or salad and bread.
If you’re already somewhat filled up before the main course hits, you
are bound to eat less! Plus, starting out with a nice big salad and
fresh bread will add so much to the meal!
5) When you buy meat, cook it up ahead of time and freeze it in meal-size portions.
I’ve found when I divvy the meat up ahead of time, it somehow stretches a lot father. If the thought of going meatless is too much for you
right now, consider cutting back on some of the meat in some
of your meals. You might be surprised at how little you miss it.
6) Get creative with leftovers.
My goal is to never throw food out. Every once in a while it
does happen, but it is a rare occurrence. Constantly be looking for
ways to remake meals to stretch them farther and eliminate waste.
How do you keep meat from breaking your budget? What are some of your favorite meatless meals?
We also just started using Angel Food Ministries, August will be our 2nd. month!
We use ground turkey for everything! It is healthier and cheaper. I was buying the frozen tubes for about $1.10 per roll, from Aldi and Walmart, but started getting lots of little bones. So i started buying fresh Honey Sickle White ground turkey rolls at Walmart. $1.97 per roll of 93/7 lean. No bones and I buy 5 rolls a week. Anything that calls for ground beef gets ground turkey, and no one ever knows the difference!
I spend $9.85 a week on meat. I also buy frozen boneless skinless chix breasts at Sam’s Club. The Members Mark brand is $12.99 for a 20 lb. bag of 6-7 oz. breasts. That lasts me a month or more, I make lots of casseroles with chicken.
I am really surprised that more large families aren’t looking into Angel Food Network for their meat. It is a network of churches throughout the US who come together and buy in bulk to get deep discounts on groceries. They then pass those discounts to the community and we get our meat for less than 1/2 the retail price along with other good foods. Our family of 8 has gone from a $600 a month grocery budget to under $300.
We also try to plan our meals out ahead – cooking or preparing everything in one day after a grocery trip and putting each meal in a ziploc bag to be ready for meal day. This really helps stretch our meat.
I also like fillers such as pasta, rice or beans. This allows me to always use meat but not so much that it breaks our budget.
Joan J says
Large cuts of meats – whole chicken, boneless pork loin, beef roasts – are often on sale more often and far less expensive than smaller cuts of meat (chicken breasts, pork chops, stew beef). I buy the larger cut, bring it home and cut it myself, and package it for the freezer. I wrote on my blog about my recent pork loin purchase which will give me 15+ meals for under $1 each: http://joanoh2.blogspot.com/2008/07/quality-meat-for-frugal-price.html
Just last week I made a list of dishes to make on Meatless Monday. Beans are at the top. I am after all Cuban and we do love our white rice and beans. BTW I always make 2 lb and serve the leftovers for lunch or save them for Sunday lunch.
Pasta with a homemade sauce is always welcomed by my five boys(husband included). In the sauce, I use what I have at the moment including garlic, onions, bell peppers, olives, and mushrooms and make it chunky.
Another idea is tortillas filled with leftovers of any kind. For example, leftover rice and beans lettuce, tomatoes ,and cheese.
The possibilities are endless 🙂
Cole & Lia's mom says
One of my favorite meatless meals is a crustless vegetable quiche. Cube zucchini, summer squash, eggplant. Cut up tomatoes and onions. Saute until tender. Cool, and toss with 6 – 8 oz. shredded cheese, add 1 Tbsp flour. Beat 4 eggs and 1 c. milk with spices of your choice — parsley, thyme, garlic salt, onion powder. Spray pie plate with non-stick spray, pour in vegetable/cheese mix, and pour milk/egg mix over. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes then 350 for another 30 or until done. Serve with fresh fruit salad for a filling, nutritious meal!
Another favorite is pasta with vegetables. Saute veggies — broccoli, asparagus, olives/fresh tomatoes*/mushrooms* (* saute these for less time than the others) with garlic (be sure not to overcook the garlic) and add a little salt. Toss with fresh linguini and top with grated cheese. Serve with fresh salad.
Ah — I’m hungry!
Clean Simple says
I buy all our meat at Costco, where I can get high quality steak/ground beef/pork for super prices. Today, I picked up packs of steak for $2.99/lb and mild Italian sausage for $1.99/lb. Enough meat for
Since we’re a small family, I immediately re-pack it into meal-size portions in Ziploc freezer bags. Easy peasy. I have enough for 14 meals for only $42.50.
We go in with a neighbor and buy 1/2 a cow, so I guess we actually buy 1/4 a cow. This should last our family of four about a year assuming we eat beef twice a week. This worked out to about $6 a week for beef. The cow cost us $2 per pound no matter the cut so we got T-bones, rib-eyes, roasts and ground beef for $2 per pound. And the best thing is that is is hormone free beef and better tasting than store bought beef (in my opinion). I would recommend putting money aside for this each year.
The rest of the week we fill in with chicken, fish or meatless soup and sandwiches.
As others have mentioned, cheese is a bigger problem than meat right now! We just love cheese, but it’s becoming too expensive. That puts a damper on our meal planning – so many of our favorite dishes have cheese.
One of our favorite meatless meals is potato soup. If you have meat leftovers (especially ham), you can also mix them in.
We like to substitute ground turkey for ground chuck in most recipes. It is only 79-99 cents for a pound at most stores around here!
We also do breakfast for dinner at least once a week (which is enjoyed since we never eat such involved meals for breakfast around here…its usually cheerios or oatmeal in the am). Pancakes, waffles, or eggs with bacon, sausage, or pork roll make for a filling dinnertime treat.
We bought half a cow as well. Since we only eat hormone free/naturally raised meat, this really saved us a ton and we get nicer cuts of meat than I would normally buy.
I also buy fish, like Salmon, when it’s on sale in the Summer and freeze it in marinade. Then all I do is pull it out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge in th morning and I have it ready to pop in the oven by dinner time.
Tupperware Lady says
We love rice pancakes for dinner some nights. It is a great way to use up leftover rice. Just add a few eggs to the rice. Stir it all together. Scoop it onto a hot griddle and smoosh it down like a pancake. Cook through, flip, and cook. Then we put butter, cinnamon and sugar, and use milk as if it were the syrup. They are yummo!
I just thought of one other thing. If my husband is ever out of town, we will have baked potato bar. (And I figured out that I can cook them in the crockpot). Once last year we did this and my now-7-year-old son said to my husband (as soon as he walked in the door), “Last night we had potatoes for dinner and nothing else!!!!”
We like to add corn, sauteed celery, onion and peppers to our chili in place of some of the meat. And we’ve just been using less meat in our recipes across the board. I agree with breakfast for dinner,anything Mexican, and a big pot of pinto beans with cornbread. One of our favorite meals is black beans and yellow rice. Use the mahatma saffron rice (its in a yellow foil pouch). Cook according to pkg instructions. Top with drained,heated black beans, fresh diced tomato and sour cream if you like. This is a cheap, delicious, colorful meal!
I can’t believe no one has mentioned this, but one of our favorite meat subs. is eggplant. Good for you, tasty, and satisfying as a substitute for meat. It also has the supposed ability to help those suffering from high blood pressure.
Anyway, my husband and two sons LOVE meat and I use this regularly as a “fix” when I don’t have meat. Also, for those of us who can’t eat beans all the time because they tear up our stomachs, eggplant is a great way to get nutrition and take it easy on our budget!
Ways I’ve used it:
Cut up in casseroles
Sauteed in stir fry
Sliced and fried for Eggplant Parmesan (YUM!)
I’ve even used it as a meat substitute in enchiladas! (Add a little extra Cumin or your favorite herb and it won’t taste “Italian” in the enchilada)
Use your imagination….
I LOVE having meatless dinners in the summer! Straight from the Garden. We will pick corn, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans. I will fix a big pan of corn bread. I love the summer dinners. If you do not have a garden, visit your local farmers market.
Love the blog, by the way! I have to also limit carbs, so meat is a must, although I like to have bean-based meals from time to time. I’ve found that chicken is always pretty cheap on sale in our area, and tuna also goes on sale a lot. I watch for sales on whole turkey breast – we can get LOTS of meals out of that. I also like to find top round roast on sale for 1.99 lb., and slice it into steaks to grill – I like them better than porterhouse! And usually, a nice pork roast on sale is way cheaper than pork chops, and all you have to do is slice it up. Basically, the smaller and more processed, the more you pay – buying large cuts to divide up has saved us a lot, and is usually healthier, too.
Learn where and how to fish. My grandparents lived on a lake in Minnesota for many years. We had fresh fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner and many fish stories to tell.
Wow, great ideas to get me thinking, so thanks Crystal and everyone else.
We once never worried about a food budget – AACK. Now I see the money I could have saved. I have been couponing and stockpiling (& CVSing!) for one year now and have saved a ton of money. I just cannot get a handle on the meat thing. I can never seem to find cheap meat.
My husband has to have meat on his plate nightly. We grill a lot. We order meat in bulk and do get a better price per pound than at the grocery store but it still is a huge chunk of our budget. All of your tips help. I am going to try harder in the meat department!!
I am a vegetarian, but my husband is not. I buy meat from Aldi a lot because they are the best prices that I have found. I like to use Morningstar Meat Crumbles to substitute ground meat, I sneak it into my husbands food sometimes too. I love to make homemade vegetable chili, I use beans and vegetables and freeze the extra because it makes so much. My favorite meal is Easy Enchildas. You take your favorite chili (homemade or canned) and pour over top of corn tortillas rolled up with cheese. Top with more cheese and bake. It is easy and good.
We buy a whole red deer a little more then once a year. (every 10 months or so). it comes out to like under $4 a lb the hanging weight on the last one was 165lbs we ened up with probably 120lbs or so of meat but its very lean meat and all organic grass fed etc… We’d spend more if we got beef or got it cut by cut. We buy chicken boneless skinless 40lbs at a time for 1.29 a lb. its about 50 for a box of 40lbs. its a 1 hour dirty job sealing it all up for the freezer. But worth it for that kind of a savings. And since hte price is always the same basicly we dont have to “shop it out” we just go get it when we need it and are ready.
Haven’t crunched the numbers on this yet (but probably should)… I stock up on meat once every few months at Sam’s. Usually buy a pack of chicken breasts, a pack of some sort of beef/steak and a pack of pork chops. The first thing we do when we get home is individually bag the meat (made a one time purchase of quart-size zip locks at Sam’s a year ago, and still going through it).
It’s just my husband and I, so when we go to make dinner, we’ll split just one chicken breast or one pork chop as a part of our meal. My husband is Chinese and he can cook some excellent stir-fry, so the meat also ends up being just one aspect of the meal.
I’m quite sure it ends up being cheaper than buying meat in the supermarket. It works for us, but I’m sure these costs would add up if we had kids.
I cook a large skillet of “Mexican beef” with onions and mexican spices and break it into one pound packages in the freezer. Then we can use it in tacos or add beans and corn to it and use it in enchiladas, burritos or taco soup. The extra veggies definitely stretch it out!
We have just started making brinner (dinner for breakfast…a SCRUBS term) a regular at our house! Cheap! We also make blender wheat pancakes which are SUPER healthy and yummy too! Hooray for brinner!
We eat a lot of beans. We love mexican food! I make a big pot of pinto beans each week (In the past I have thrown a cup of red beans or white beans in when we were given a bunch and wouldn’t have used them otherwise.) Tostadas, nachos, and taco salad are all meals easily made without meat, and they are hearty, and delicious. For these meals we usually use beans cheese, lettuce, sometimes tomato, sour cream, salsa, avocado if I get these for the right price. My husband prefers shreded chicken on tostadas and I’ve found it takes just a little tiny bit to make the meal fancier for him. It’s a great way to make a teeny bit of any kind of leftover chicken really count.
Another thing I thought about while reading the comments, is that if you live in the Georgia area, there is a Tyson Chicken Processing plant near Cumming, GA. They have chicken there that is VERY cheap. They are closed on Mondays and you need cash only. Their times of being open are limited, so call first.
Wow- I asked a question about freezer beef earlier, and it was answered before it was asked! Thanks- I’m glad to know other frugal-minded people choose to buy meat in bulk! Though it looks like many of you found a better deal on it than I have- I’ll keep looking.
A couple of my favorite meatless meals are potato soup topped with cheddar cheese and green onions. It’s great topped with bacon, but of course then it’s not meatless:)
I also like many of the “chicken and…” casseroles made without the chicken. One in particular would be rice, cheese and broccoli.
Here is a link to all of the recipes on my blog in case you are interested.
Quesadilas are a favorite. I just make them with cheese and set out tomatoes, rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, etc and let everyone load it up how they like it!
hi, it always makes me laugh when i see you cut the meat and augment cheese…cheese here is expensive….i can get sale meat cheaper…”per portion” but i digress
i think we search the web for solutions for our family and forget , nothing works for everybody and not everything works in every season…
the big meat eaters in our family are me and my daughter…so we cut back the portions for us, to what the guys were eating…
i am cutting back to meats for dinner, since everyone is home and i do meatless for my lunches…no one else is a fan of beans…well neither am i but they are healthy and they are growing on me..
my mom was the queen of frugality and of no waste….i miss her…
she said soup is always a great stretcher…as is homemade rolls or bread sticks…pasta salads are another way….
but i do believe the secret to all this..is good planning so there is no waste…unless planned extras for lunches, proper portions, and hey if still hungry that is what deserts are for, inexpensive to make (if you do it right) and a nice way to not feel deprived …you have a little indulgence…
i also find we rush through meals now…no enjoyement…we used to sit at the farm and gather in the kitchen, start on the bread, then the soup or salad from the garden , then the meal, then tea or coffee and clearing the table and chatting and laughing then the desserts, i miss those slower days…
mom always said moderation in all things is key…and i agree with her…
wow sorry for all this crystal…one week from today marks one year since i lost mom unexpectedly and i guess all things frugal and homemaking remind me of her…
you don’t even have to post this , felt great to just write it…i generaly do not like the way society ended up with all the tech…but i find the internet would have been one tool my mom would have loved and benefited from on the farm, the wealth of info and the commaraderie of homemakers and homesteaders …amazes and impresses even this jaded girl….
thanks for your ministry to us all…such a young girl who seems to have been given the hat of a titus 2 woman….i know many of us feel blessed to be able to be motivated and supported by you…thanks to your husband for encouraging you as well
Celina in canada, with way too much to say apparently..
Emily @ Little Home says
My easiest and favorite meatless meal is frozen cheese ravioli (from Aldi) w/ tomato sauce! Or homemade mac and cheese, too.
Lisa Merriman says
Thanks for the tips! I started blogging today, and mentioned you as one of the inspirations for doing so! Thanks for keeping me inspired with great tips, tricks, money saving ideas, and thoughtful posts!
Sunday nights are “grilled cheese and popcorn nights” for us! This is an inexpensive way to make a fun family tradition! We make it fun by renting a family movie at the library or borrowing one from a friend!
We don’t go meatless- my husband can’t have so many carbs- but I never buy meat unless it is on sale. We have a lot of chicken thighs! 99 cent a pound
Eating “starters” or side dishes along with a meal is a great suggestion! DH and I haven’t really been actively trying to reduce the meat in our meals, but it just naturally happened when we started getting our farmshare boxes of veggies this summer. In our efforts to not waste the fresh farm food, we eat more salads and vegetable side dishes. That does two things: it fills us up so we eat less of the meat when we do have it, and trying to use up all the veggies has driven us to more recipes that don’t use meat at all.
oooh! I love the idea of chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. I’m trying that this week. Thank you!
Hi! I love your blog. Long time viewer, first time commenter!
Anyways, last year, we bought half a cow from a local rancher here in Texas. We got enough meat to last us a year. We are a family of three (but love to entertain). We love the taste, that it is eco friendly (pasture fed and no hormone), and very competitive price (overall less than $3 per lbs). We got about 200 lbs of various cuts. Only 50 lbs of ground beef. My husband doesn’t like roast. I cook the roast in the crock pot, shredd and use for BBQ sandwiches, echiladas, tacos, etc. We use it all. I like that I haven’t bought meat since Oct 2007. 🙂
Holy Cannoli — am I first? The chances of being first to comment here are slimmer than winning a bloggy giveaway!
One of our fave meatless dinners is Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas with rice and all the veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, onions) on the side. Very easy to make and delish! My kids like it, too.
Have a safe and fun vacation!
We found a fabulous recipe for Lentil Chili that we love far more than chili with meat. You can find it here on recipezaar: http://www.recipezaar.com/66064
We don’t do too many meatless meals because hubby just doesn’t care much for them, but
one thing we do to stretch our meat $$$ is use ground turkey in place of ground beef in many recipes.
Once upon a time, in a land far away… okay, about 8 years ago, before we expanded our family to 7 kids, I regularly did our grocery shopping for our family of four on $30 a week. One of my favorite menus revolved around a big 10lb bag of chicken leg quarters (they’d often go on sale at hispanic markets for 19-29c per lb… I dodn’t usually see them for less than 49c a lb these days). I would boil the chicken with onion, bulk carrots, and celery, and whatever spices I had on hand. I would save the stock and shred up all of the chicken and place it into baggies. That first night, we’d have chicken soup by adding in some noodles and some of the chicken, and maybe some store-brand saltines. One bag of chicken I would add a cheap bottle of BBQ sauce to, and with some day-old buns from the bakery discount place, we’d have BBQ chicken sandwiches, with maybe a can of corn. Another night would be a chicken biscuit bake – chicken, cream of something soup, whatever kind of veggies you like – diced potatoes, peas, carrots, broccoli, whatever, top it off with the cheapest store brand biscuits (the super cheap 3 for $1 kind) and bake. Chicken casserole for another night – egg noodles, cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, and chicken… with a side of peas or your choice of veggies. Chicken spaghetti was another night, with a pound of spaghetti and a cheap bottle of sauce. Chicken burritos was another option, with tortillas, refried beans, and rice.
We love grilling in the summer so going meatless is difficult. We have 7 children and my mom lives with us so it’s a must to stretch it out! One thing we like to do is marinate and then grill chicken breast and then slice it up and eat it on tortillas with lettuce, tomato, shredded carrots, shredded cheese and ranch dressing. Yummy! In the fall and winter it’s easier. We love corn chowder (if I have extra bacon I’ll crumble some of that up in it). One of our low meat meals is chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes and also we love chili (sprinkled with cheddar cheese and some sour cream, too!).
Love your blog! I give anyone who will listen your web address. (Usually ladies at the bent and dent bin at Meijer– they love the advice!)
thank you for the great tips!! i copied them to my little notebook.
I buy my meat at a local meat market. It is much cheaper than at the regular grocery stores. I spend around $30 a month to feed me and DH and that is lunch and dinner. Like you, I almost never serve meat separate. I make a lot of stir-fry dishes and if I cut the meat up into really small pieces, it looks like you are getting a lot. I also use ground turkey that you can buy frozen in the pound roll. I can usually get that for $1. Our favorite meatless meal is baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese poured over it. I just buy the little frozen boxes by Green Giant. Cheap, yummy, and very filling eaten with a salad.
Also one thing that has really helped us stretch things has been to subsitute ground turkey for ground beef. I buy it by the 1 lb sleeve at Aldi’s for .99. (it used to be .79 grr!). We buy about 15-20 at a time and that will last almost a month.
Try shepherds pie. It does not take much ground meat and there are tons of vegis in the recipie that I use. My kids took one look at it the first time I made it and said “I don’t care for that mom” … there were NO leftovers from that meal (sure a little ketchup helps) it does require baking but it warms the tummy on a cold day. Another is Chipped beef (aka s*** on a shingle) before you say “oh gross” try it my way. I would love to share my recipies with you just find me and ask.
lentils and rice always are enough without added meat…cooked indian style, its an even tastier treat. I can send u a recipe if you’d like to try it out.
also, i always like homemade pizza topped with all sorts of veggies..aside from being tasty, its also nutritious!
meat dishes can go further if you cut up steak pieces and use it in a stew with tons of veggies and spices as opposed to just steak and potatoes..a slow cooker helps with this as well…
same with chicken breast, there is no need to use a whole breat per person, if you make even 3 cutlets out of one breast, you’d be suprised at how little you need to feel full…mind over matter i guess.
I did have one concern though…what about fish? how do you incorporate fish dishes? aside from canned tuna…it can be a budget breaker.
I use texturized vegetable protein, or TVP, for means that might call for ground beef–burritos , sloppy joes, chili, spaghetti sauce. You can find it in the health food section of grocery stores, like Smiths and places like Whole Foods. A package is under $5 and it can be used to stretch several meals. A cup of it doesn’t look like much, but when it expands it’s like a pound of meat. It needs to be seasoned, as it’s basically flavorless. Plain it tastes like cardboard. It’s a little mushier than ground beef–not all the grisly stuff. My family doesn’t have a prob with it, but the focus is on the flavor not texture. My absolute favorite way to use it is as a burrito filling. It can be as simple as TVP mixed with burrito or taco seasoning and a can of pinto beans.
I’ve never heard of eating chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. It sounds like a real kid pleaser and I am planning to try it.
You can easily make dried beans by putting 6 cups of beans and 14 cups of water in your crockpot on Monday morning. Cook on high all day. By evening they will be soft and have a rich yummy broth. Use all week for your meatless bean meals. Great for refried beans, too.
We also use meat as an ingredient and not as an entree. Fried rice can stretch a little bit of meat to feed my entire family!
We also do a lot of vegetarian meals. Spanish Tortilla (potatoes, onions and egg fritatta kind of thing), toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, lentil-rice casserole, Mexican things (quesadillas, bean burritos), are some of our favorites. Breakfast meals are also a real hit here. We pick and freeze tons of berries every summer and we eat crepes with berries for dinner often. Blueberry pancakes are also cheap if you picked the blueberries for a dollar a pound in the summer and froze them! And oh man! Blueberry pancakes taste so good on a wintery snowy night!
Here’s a question for you/the readers: We just bought a used chest freezer for $50 to help us stock up on refrigerated/frozen deals, meat and otherwise. Many of our friends have opted to buy a “freezer pack” of beef (for a family of our size, 1/4 of a cow, or about 100 lbs) from a local farmer. This guarantees getting local, organic, grass-fed beef, and a variety of cuts that will last us a year or more.
The catch: this 100 lbs of beef works out to about $4/lb- which is very expensive for the (albeit high-quality) ground beef in the pack, but a great deal on the steaks and other cuts. Under normal circumstances, we’d only buy ground beef, and, as you said in this post, limit our meat consumption, and stretch what we do buy.
So, is it worth the price for high-quality, low-carbon-footprint meat? Or should we stick to filling the chest freezer with only meat on sale, regardless of the origin? Obviously we’d save up for the freezer pack purchase, and it would theoretically lower our grocery bills the rest of the year.
We try to buy meat when on sale. I also will cook a large roast (pork or beef) or whole chicken and then freeze the leftovers into 1-2 cup portions. I then will use the leftovers in meals like enchiladas, beef au jus, orange beef, beef stroganoff, etc. etc. We have 2 meatless meals a week – Meatless Mondays and Wacky Wednesday – breakfast. We have cheese quesadillas, tomato soup w/grilled cheese, spaghetti w/o meat, pancakes, muffins, omelettes, etc. I thought dh wouldn’t like it but he has went along with it. 😀
We buy our beef from a local farmer. It is not treated with antibiotics and other chemicals and it costs us just $2 a pound for ground beef, soup bones, rump roasts, chuck roasts, cube steaks, sirloin steaks, t-bone steaks, beef tenderloin and porterhouse steaks. Awesome!
We recently started buying meat in bulk. Yes, it’s a large amount of money to spend up front but it will last us, at the very least, a year. Probably longer since we’re not huge meat eaters.
We purchased 1/2 cow and 1/2 pig. The only meat I have to buy is chicken and I only buy that when it goes on sale.
We do a lot of stews and meals that freeze well in single servings so we also get lunches out of them.
We purchase 1/4 of a beef at a time from my father who raises beef just for our family and friends. It comes out to about $.88 lb. We can do this because we have the freezer space and it works well into our budget because it is a 1 time purchase that we plan ahead for. We supplement this with chicken and pork when that goes on sale for really cheap or free with coupons. It is so much healthier than meat from the store. It is completely hormone free and we know exactly what it (the cow)is being fed. It is always very lean. I know this option is available in a lot of areas of the country from local farmers and ranchers. Summer is also the perfect time to serve lots of fresh vegetables out of the garden. We generally cut down on our meat and eat lots more veggies at this time of the year. Free and healthy- what can beat that!
It is hard to stick to the budget when you have to feed a giant and two baby carnivores. I’ve turned them into omnivores of late though, not much choice- they can’t cook! My husband’s favorite meal is actually vegetarian, and it is healthy (and cheap) enough to serve at least weekly.
Another way we cut back, is to go vegetarian for lunches, and then do a sandwich night one night a week. Lunch meat is expensive per pound, but you use so much less if you’re eating in big sandwiches filled with lots of vegetables
GARLIC MACARONI WITH BROCCOLI
1 lb fresh broccoli ( or frozen)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
a few pinches crushed red pepper (about 1/4 tbsp)
1 box rigatoni or similar macaroni
1/2 cup romano or parmesan cheese (preferably fresh)
Cut broccoli into bite sized pieces
Boil a large pot of water and add broccoli and salt
Cook for 5 minutes, scoop out broccoli.
Add the macaroni to the boiling water
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat
Heat the oil and add the pepper and garlic
cook the garlic for about 2 minutes until light gold in color
Add the cooked broccoli and more salt
Cook for around 10 minutes, until the macaroni is al dente
Add the rigatoni to the broccoli mixture and 1 cup of the broccoli/pasta cooking water
Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes
Sprinkle with cheese and eat.
This spring, we bought half of a cow from a friend who raises them. I think our cost per pound ended up being around $3.00 after processing and packaging. It is the best meat we have ever eaten.
Hi!! I’m Tanya, I am a 32 (33 this week!) mom of 4 girls and wife of a definite carnivore. My husband likes to see meat on his plate and would rather that I not hide it in a casserole, but he also loves staying within our grocery budget! With a family of 6 I find keeping the grocery cost down to be a challenge each time I plan our meals. One way I save on meat is too make it stretch by preparing and freezing meals. I will buy a bag of boneless skinless chicken and cook it all at one time. Then dividing it up, using only 2 large breasts per meal. For example, from one bag of chicken (about 5-6 pieces)I make a ziplock bag of prepared meat for fajitas(adding the peppers and onion chopped for a easy make ahead meal.) I also make from the same bag a chicken noodle casserole and a pot of chicken noodle soup. That’s 3 meals (pre-made) for around $2 a piece for meat cost.
Hope this helps someone in bloggland who is a fellow penny cruncher!!
Since I try to by organic/hormone free meat, our meat expenses reached a high. We cut down on our meat expenses by going in with 3 other families and purchasing a half a cow from a strictly organic farm in a nearby town. We each got about 90 lbs of red meat, precut into a variety of ways, ie. steaks, ground beef, roasts etc. Each family paid about $150. This will of course last us one year. We are currently trying to find a location where we can buy our organic chickens whole and cut and package them ourselves.
This is something I’ve been working on too. Substituting cheese for meat hs been a problem for us though — I easily get conventional meat for under $2 a pound, but the best I can do for cheese is usually about $3.60 a pound, on sale.
Great tips! The meat seems to take the biggest part of the budget. For chicken, I buy the big bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast–this is much cheaper than fresh. In fact at Kroger, it is on sale for $5 this week! (at my store in North Texas, anyway!) We don’t do a whole lot of red meat but when ground beef is on sale in those big rolls (like 4 lbs), I will get that and split it up by the pound and put each pound in a freezer bag. This way I can just stick one pound in the fridge to thaw for that night’s dinner. We love fish but can’t find it on sale very often. I usually opt for the frozen b/c it is cheaper than fresh (Walmart’s prices are the best that I know of for frozen fish fillets).
We do meatless meals a lot. One of our favorites is black-eyed peas(I use canned and heat with sauteed onion and garlic in a skillet), grits (I add cheese right at the end), cooked greens(throw in with peas at the end to wilt) and roasted beets. I didn’t grow up in the south, but that sure is a great meal.
Another one of our favorites is a pinto bean “falafel” recipe from Cooking Light. My husband would probably say that’s his favorite meal and he loves meat and potatoes.
I write my favorite meat companies and they always mail me coupons! This is great on our budget because my husband is convinced he needs meat every night! We really only eat chicken and white meat turkey (ground or in cutlets) and that can get a bit pricey.
We buy 1/2 a cow and that lasts us about 9 months for a family of 6. We have our ground beef packed in 1 lb packages. There is much less fat in our meat and we get so much more out of a 1 lb pack. Unless we are cooking something like meatloaf (which I usually blend with ground turkey which is cheaper) or hamburgers, 1lb is always enough. Even for tacos (we add potatos or beans!)