Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meat


There is no doubt that meat can be very expensive and it seems that prices rise all the time.  I know I've talked a lot about using less meat in recipes and adding meatless meals to your menu plan in order to save money.  But sometimes you just want to sink your teeth into some flesh.

When it comes to grocery shopping I feel I'm a bit of a "hunter and gatherer".  Now, admittedly, I'm not going to go out and hunt for game.  I sometimes go fishing but that is the extent of my skill set.  I've gone hunting with friends many times, but only as a set of extra hands.  I've never even bought a hunting license.  Personally, I really don't want to shoot anything.  That being said I "hunt" in other ways.  Primarily at the supermarket.
 
The two packages at the bottom had
 $1 OFF reduction coupons attached.
Whenever I go to the grocery store I troll the meat department first for any items that have been marked "Reduced For Quick Sale" or have been re-priced and hit the markdown bin.  If I find some good buys on cuts of meat I want then I get those.  I've never had a problem buying marked down meats.  The stores I shop at always guarantee them for freshness and on the few occasions I've made it home with something past its prime they’ve always given me a refund and profuse apologies.  They don’t want to sell me rotten meat any more than I want to buy it.

Next I check out the items on sale.  I try to purchase packages either small enough for one meal so I don't have to re-package, as long as the price is right, or large enough to be easily divided into multiple meals.  Once home I'll divide and place it into zipper style sandwich bags, then mark it with the type of meat it is and the month and year so I know how old it is.  Then into the freezer it goes.
 
Larger packages are divided and
wrapped in meal size  portions.
 


Often I will cook up a pound of ground meat and "skim", or remove, a small amount to add to another dish I plan to prepare such as pizza or an omelet.  I've done this for years and find it is a wonderful way to stretch our food dollars.

When I make things like spaghetti or chili I only use about 3/4 of a pound of ground meat instead of a full pound.  If I use something more flavorful like chorizo or Italian sausage I can easily get by using only a half pound.

Portion control is key too.  We don't realize how much we overeat until we look at what a true serving size is.  Most chicken breasts are so big they are actually two servings instead of just one.  The same can be said for pork chops and steaks.  Quite often two pork chops is plenty for the three of us while one steak, although I'd like to eat the whole thing, is more than enough for all of us.  The reality is we don't need to eat so much.
 
Thick cut of sirloin steak
Butterfly cut to divide in half.
Two portions perfect for the 3 of us!
Buying from the reduced section allows me to buy leaner, choicer cuts of meat too because it is so much more affordable.  And don't overlook your freezer section for the flash frozen bags of chicken parts, turkeys, and lean ground beef patties.

Many people have suggested I look into purchasing a half a pig or a quarter of a cow, but the reality is I don't have the freezer space and I don't think with my size of a family it is necessary.  Based on the price per pound I can often find meat for less too.

Purchased on sale for less than
the fresh options in the meat department. 

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you. Meat is getting so expensive. I have also cut back on what I use in our meals. I remember the day I realized that I could slice the chicken breasts in half and have double the portions- it was one of those 'Eureka!' moments and ever since I have looked for ways to cut back the amount of meat in our meals. I usually use crushed crackers or bread now to take the place of some of the meat when I make a meatloaf and I find that if I make a side and veggies or bread/biscuits we walk away from the dinner table more than satisfied and there are usually leftovers. Win, Win! I also find that if I only have a little bit of meat (not enough for each person to get a portion) I can make a very adequate meal by using it in a stir-fry or soup/stew or casserole- it goes a much longer way than if I just cooked it up as an entrée. And I also look for deals- when I see meat packages that have orange stickers that say 'Managers Special' on it I mentally do a cartwheel and pump my fist and grab what I can afford- these usually appear the day after a sale ends and a new sale week begins. I have also started asking for deli lunch meat ends instead of what is in the deli case. You wouldn't believe how much deli meat is left when they get to the end of the roll before they start a new roll. And you can usually ask them to slice it up for you- and you end up paying less than half the price for meat that looks and tastes exactly the same as what is being sold in the deli case. (Oh my goodness, I must sound like such a miser to you- haha.)
    http://blessedbeyondmeasurefrugalhappylife.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. You are not a miser at all! Those are great things to do. I do a lot of them myself. I think you and I are kindred spirits. Thanks for the blog address. I will check it out!

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  2. This is a great post. I will be much more aware of how much meat I use in meals. I already look for markdowns but can do better. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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