Estimate Meat Cost Per Serving
This tool, based on the information provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension (Buying Meat by the Serving), provides valuable insight into your expenses related to the purchase of meat for your household. First enter the number of servings you typically need to provide. From the pull-down menu, choose a meat you typically buy and enter its cost per pound. Click on “Compute CPS & Add to List,” and you’ll see your meat selection’s cost per serving, per pound, per meal, and the amount you should purchase.
If you wish, you can choose other meats, and then add them to the report one by one.
Strategies to Save Money When Shopping for Meat
Grocery shopping continues to become more expensive every year. As the costs rise to stock our stores, the costs rise for the consumers who buy those goods. Although there is no way to avoid these increases, you can look at ways to cut back or more effectively budget your grocery shopping. If you look at your grocery receipts, you can see that the highest priced food items that you buy usually come from the meat department. Assuming your family enjoys eating meat, you most likely won't stop buying meat, but you can use the following suggestions to save some money when shopping for meat.
Buy on Sale
Probably the most obvious way for you to save when you are shopping for meat is to buy only the meat that is on sale. So when you go grocery shopping, you have two choices: Plan your meals around what you find on sale at the store of your choice, or plan your shopping around the stores with the best advertised prices. Either way, sticking to only purchasing meat that is on sale will definitely decrease your grocery bill.
Buy in Bulk and Freeze
As you walk into the meat department, turn your eyes away from the dinner-sized package of meat and toward the bulk area. Although you may look at those oversized packets of meat as a hassle, when you are on a budget, you should view them as money savers. The price per pound on the bulk packages is substantially lower than the same meat packaged in small portions. All you have to do is buy the meat at the bulk price and then take it home, package it yourself in meal-size portions, and freeze what you won't use right away.
Costco, Sam's Club, and other similar club stores are a great place to find a bargain in the meat department. However, you have to know general meat costs because not all the deals on meat in these club stores is a bargain. Additionally, just like a regular grocery store, their prices fluctuate, and while they may have had a great deal on chicken last week, it may have gone up this week. As long as you know your prices and pay attention to changes, you can save money by shopping for meat in club stores.
Use Smaller Portions
When working on cutting your grocery budget, have you ever considered buying your regular amount of meat for one meal but cutting it in half at home and using it for two different meals? For example, you could buy one flank steak, and use half for stir-fry one night and the other half for skewers the next. Yes, it takes getting a little creative with your cooking and adding other items to enhance a meal, but it will significantly cut down on your cost of meat.
Buy When Quantities are High and Demand Is Low
Did you know there are times of the year when the cost of meat rises and times when it lowers? You will find that during the summer months, meat that you would want to throw on the barbecue is higher priced than a roast that you put in the oven. Or every year around New Years, there is a massive quantity of crab distributed to grocery stores; this is a great time to feast on crab at a bargain price.
Cut It Yourself
When shopping specifically for chicken or steak, consider buying a larger whole piece of meat and cutting it up yourself. A lot of the cost of buying nice steak cuts or chicken that has already been skinned and cut into pieces comes from the cost of having a butcher prepare the meat. By purchasing whole pieces of meat, such as a whole chicken, and cutting and preparing it yourself, you can save money.
Use Cheaper Meats
Many people believe that the more expensive cuts of meat have more flavor than cheaper cuts, and this isn't necessarily true. If there is a particular cut of meat in which you are interested because you believe it tastes great, speak to your butcher about alternative cuts that have the same flavor. Also, be ready to ask him if there is an alternate way to prepare the cheaper cut so that you don't end up with a tough piece to chew. Cheaper cuts can be tougher, but you can prepare them in ways that they are equally as good as the more expensive cuts.
These suggestions for ways to save money when shopping for meat are just a few things that you can do. What other ideas do you have?