If you look at your grocery shopping over the course of a month or two, you’ll likely find that you spend a significant portion of your grocery budget on meat. I often hear of people saying, “We want to lower our grocery bill, but we love and eat a lot of meat!”
Here are some suggestions and ideas on ways you can still enjoy meat – without breaking your budget! Some of these ideas have been submitted to my Facebook page.
1. Buy in bulk
If you have the freezer space, buying meat in bulk will usually cut costs significantly. Look for local farms nearby that sell to the public in droves (you can often find good connections at the local farmer’s market). You can also call your local butchers to see if they sell in bulk.
Not only will the meat be cheaper, but it will likely be of higher quality and you’ll be supporting local farms!
Tip: Don’t have the freezer space to buy a large bulk order? Ask your friends if anyone is willing to go with you and share the cost to save money.
2. Buy the price cuts
If you follow my shopping here, you know that discount shopping is my favorite way to save money on meat. Many stores — such as Kroger, Kroger branches, Target, Aldi, and more — will be discounting meats with an expiration date in the coming days. Often 50% off the normal price!
I buy what we will use and can afford in our budget, and then I freeze it as soon as I get home. By buying the discounted meats and buying a few pounds or more each week, we usually have 20-30 pounds of different meats in our freezer to work with to make our menu plan for each week!
Leah says, “My local Aldi and Kroger tend to sell fresh meat on Mondays or Wednesdays. I can usually find price reductions the day before or the day the meat is past its expiration date. I can usually find all types of fresh meats. for $2 off or 50% off. Then I cook it and freeze it in batches. We usually have 5 pounds of cooked ground turkey and 2-3 pounds of shredded chicken in the freezer at any given time.”
3. Watch the weekly sales
This is also another tip I use to save money on meat. I check out the weekly sales and weekly digital coupon deals at Kroger and stock up when there’s a lot of meat we use often.
4. Serve meat as a spice
I wrote about this strategy in a post in 2020:
When Jesse and I first got married, we promised to stay out of debt while he studied law. We knew this would take some sacrifices on our part and we decided to stay out of debt and starting our marriage with a strong financial foundation was worth the sacrifices.
One area I knew we could save a lot of money in was our grocery budget. I started looking for all the creative ways I could think of to maximize the mileage of our money when it came to buying food.
Not only did I do the sales, use coupons and put together a menu, but we also decided to serve meat more as a seasoning. We had sprinkled it on pizza, sprinkled it in stews, and sprinkled it in soups. We usually only bought one bag of chicken to last for two weeks and then topped it off with the occasional really good discount/coupon special on pepperoni or ham. We rarely had beef because it just wasn’t in the budget.
In addition to serving meat as a seasoning, we often ate meatless meals. We made a lasagna casserole and I left out the meat. We had corn soup without meat. We would have pancakes and eggs or cheese pizza or bean soup or even rice and beans.
I loved being creative and using what we had on hand, what was on offer and what I found written down to create filling and tasty meals. Of course we didn’t eat anything gourmet, but we always had plenty to eat and the sales and price reductions quite a bit of variety.
Plus, being very intentional and strategic in how I shopped and cooked ended up saving us thousands of dollars in the first few years of our marriage — and it was a way for us to stay out of debt.
5. Add beans to your meat
Stretching your meat with legumes is a great way to save money on meat. Mexican dishes, bean soups, and chili are recipes that you can pretty easily add to extra beans to replace some of the meat without most people realizing it.
Lentils also hide particularly well in taco meat. Just add cooked lentils to your ground beef along with your usual seasonings and chances are your family won’t even notice!
6. Use less
I often use less meat than a recipe calls for — especially in things like soups and stews. Karen shared this tip on Facebook: “When I pack burgers for the freezer, I pack about 3/4 pound instead of a full pound. That means if you buy 3 pounds, you get four meals instead of three.”
7. Mix Meat Together
I often find great deals on ground turkey. Our family isn’t big fans of ground turkey in most things, but if I mix a pound of ground turkey with a pound of ground beef, it tastes better and my family doesn’t even notice! You can do this in recipes that call for browned ground beef or it works great to make dishes like meatballs and meatloaf a lot cheaper.
Nicole says: “We hunt deer, ducks, geese, turkeys. We process our own harvest. Not only does this help keep our freezers in stock, but we also get quality family time out of them. You can eat very well if you are willing to put in the work.”
9. Stretch a rotisserie chicken
I often find great deals on rotisserie chickens or whole chickens. You can get creative and stretch these pretty long!
Ruth Ann: “I was determined to see how many meals I could make from one rotisserie chicken. Here’s what I made: sliced brisket with veggies and potatoes for one meal, sliced thighs for three great sandwiches, boiled the carcass and made a huge pot of chicken stock, made two soups from the stock, and my dog got an exquisite meal of cartilage and skin mixed with dry food. Was a pretty good $5 spent!”
Deonna: “I went through a bad place once with barely any money and a new baby. I had a whole chicken and a few extras in the house. I let that chicken stretch until my husband got paid. I boiled it to a broth. I had some bullion cubes, green onions, 4 eggs, a packet of egg drop soup mix and crispy Chinese noodles. I made egg drop soup. The next night I made chicken salad with half the chicken. The third night I still had the bones and the chicken. Chicken soup made with two carrots a celery stalk and half an onion and a bunch of mixed noodles. On the fourth night I had made pancakes without syrup. Just jelly. I couldn’t believe we made it!”
10. Go without meat once a week
Consider deliberately skipping meat one night a week. While it can be a bit of a sacrifice, it becomes much easier when you, as a family, decide to go meatless for a purpose.
You may be going without meat to save money for a family vacation. Or you go meatless to pay off debt. Even if you don’t really need the extra savings for paying off debt or any other savings goal, I’d still encourage you to consider going meatless to give the saved money to someone in need.
Making this sacrifice as a family can be a wonderful springboard for conversations about how richly blessed we are with abundance. It can be an eye-opener and profound for your whole family.
Plus, meatless doesn’t have to mean tasteless. Try making Bean & Cheese Burritos, breakfast for dinner, or even meatless lasagna. Need more ideas? Check out this list of 52 Meatless Meals I posted earlier today. You can also read my post on How to Live on Beans and Rice for a Week.
What are your best tips for saving money on meat?
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