We all want to keep a little more of our hard-earned money in our pockets, right? Whether you’re looking to save money due to current economic conditions or just wish to get a handle on your finances, saving money on food is always a good thing. And many of us who enjoy having high-quality meat in our family’s diet want to find the best deals.
For example, in my household, we buy roasts and briskets when they’re on sale. We usually end up cooking one and putting the other in the freezer. In this guide, we’ll show how to find the cheapest way to buy meat, including a few pro tips from professional butchers.
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1. Invest in a Freezer
Freezing meat is a great way to ensure you have meat for months to come. However, you should be careful that you’re actually using your frozen meat. One mistake many of us make is buying too much meat and freezing it, only to end up throwing it away years later.
When it comes to how long meat can keep in a freezer, it depends on the type of meat and the cut. For example, roasts can keep from four to 12 months, while stakes usually keep well for six to 12 months. However, ground beef should not be frozen any more than three to four months.
And cooked meat lasts less in a freezer, often for only two or three months. If you have a small chest freezer, it will easily pay for itself within months because of the money you’ll save buying meat and other frozen goods on salt.
If you want to keep meat much longer, you can use a vacuum sealer to package your meat and extend its frozen shelf life by up to two years.
Before freezing, make sure you have a plan for when you’re going to cook your meat and try to stick to it. That way, you have an economical rotation of fresh meat in and frozen meat out.
2. Stock up on Loss Leader Meats
Often times you’ll catch sales at grocery stores featuring a type of meat sold at an unbelievably low price. These are called “loss leader meats” because the company is willing to take a financial loss on the advertised meat to attract more business.
And it often works out because people tend to buy other products driving revenue that more than makes up for their losses.
Save money by letting other people pay for the premium cuts. If you can learn to take a tough cut like Top Round and cook with it instead of being set on a specific meal, you’ll be able to save a lot of money.
3. Buy Frozen Meat If It’s Cheaper
Purchasing frozen meat can save you up to 21% on your grocery bill. Buying fresh meat is almost always going to be more expensive than buying frozen, with rare exceptions such as chicken wings. You can buy premade frozen burger patties that cook up hot and juicy on the grill.
If you’ve got an air fryer, you can cook things like frozen hot dogs and wings in next to no time. There are tons of amazing recipes you can create using frozen meat, especially slow cooker or Instant Pot recipes. You can not only save money but create the delicious meals you enjoy without breaking the bank.
4. Grind Your Own Chuck (and make your own steaks)
Another great way to save money is grinding your own chuck roast meat. Not only does it save you cash, but you can ensure you’re getting the best quality meat or at least the perfect blend that suits your tastes. The process is pretty simple, and all you need is a few ingredients, a quality meat grinder, and a bit of patience.
First, pick up your chuck roast. We recommend a good high-quality roast, but if your mix in other meats like pork, organ meats, etc, then grade might not be that important. You also want to have your roast trimmed to take off excess sinew and fat.
Cut your roast into small chunks that can fit in the grinder. Place your chunks in the grinder and turn the handle to grind your homemade ground beef. After your meat’s been ground, you can use it in any of your recipes or freeze it for later use.
Grinding your own chuck roast can also have certain health benefits. For example, you have better control over how much fat is included in your mix. So if you want a leaner blend, you don’t have to pay extra for it.
Plus, grinding allows you to create your own blend of flavor profiles, such as adding other meats like deer or pork. You can even add organ meats like liver to derive some health benefits while enjoying the same flavor as regular ground beef.
And this goes for steaks too! If you can do the processing at home, you can save a lot of money.
5. Buy Meat in Bulk
Additionally, you may be able to find discounts on bulk orders of meat at warehouse stores and other stores that specialize in bulk shopping, such as Costco and Sam’s Club.
Also, many restaurants, catering companies, and other food service establishments offer discounts on bulk orders of meat.
Finally, you may be able to find deals on bulk orders of meat from online sources, such as food delivery services, online marketplaces, and even online grocery stores like FarmFoods, Crowd Cow, Agridime, or Porter Road.
6. Stock Up During BOGO Meat Sales
Whenever you see BOGO (buy one get one free), it’s a great opportunity to stock up on some of your favorite meats. Often, these deals are run in a store’s paper or online flyer. However, once you learn of the sale, it’s important to be quick, as many others are likely to flock to the same store for the same sale.
Additionally, you can keep an eye on the store’s website or social media accounts. Often, grocery stores will post any upcoming promotions or discounts, so this can be a great way to stay informed.
Also, you can sign up for the store’s email newsletter, which often contains information about upcoming sales and discounts.
Finally, you can check the store’s flyer for any upcoming promotions. By following these steps, you can stay informed and make sure you get the best deals possible on your meat purchases.
7. Take Advantage of Holidays
During the fall holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, you’ll find some crazy sales on meats like roasts, hams, whole chickens, and turkeys. Buy a few turkeys around Thanksgiving if you have room in your freezer. Then you’ve got a delicious and healthy meal you can count on during the fall.
And during summer holidays like the 4th of July and Memorial Day, stores often have sales on grilling meats such as ground beef and hot dogs. Do you love smoking or oven-baking a brisket? Buy a few around Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, and you’ll get them for about half the price you pay for these gorgeous hunks of meat the rest of the year.
8. Research Farms and Ranches in Your Area
Finally, purchasing meat from ranches and farms is a great way to ensure that you are getting the freshest and most ethically-sourced meat available. You can often get the meat at a lower cost than what you would pay in the store, and you can also inquire about the feed and care the animals receive.
Plus, you have the opportunity to support local farmers and help to reduce your environmental footprint by opting for locally-sourced meat. With all of these benefits, buying meat from ranches and farms is a great way to get high-quality, healthy meat that you can feel good about consuming.
9. Ask When Your Grocery Store Puts Out Marked-Down Meat
The best way to find out when a grocery store marks down meat is to ask the staff at the store. They will be able to tell you when they typically mark down meat and if they have any upcoming sales.
Below, we answer the most frequently asked questions about how to buy meat cheaply.
What’s the cheapest meat you can buy?
Here is a list of some of the cheapest types of meat you’ll find in grocery stores.
- Whole chicken
- Chicken thighs
- Chicken leg quarters
- Chicken drumsticks
- Pork butt and pork shoulder
- Ground beef
- Beef chuck roast
- London Broil
Is buying bulk meat cheaper?
You can often save lots of money when you buy meat by the pound. That’s because many butchers and farmers sell their meat at a lower price than you would find at the grocery store.
And, of course, you’ll save way more money buying and cooking cuts like chuck, ribeye, or shoulder steaks as opposed to going to a restaurant.
How can I get cheap red meat?
There are several ways you can buy cheap red meat, including:
- Purchasing cheaper cuts
- Purchasing lower grades of beef
- Buying more ground beef
- Buy grain-fed over grass-fed
- Hunt for meat sales
- Buy directly from farmers and ranchers
- Buy meat in bulk at warehouses
- Freeze beef for later use
Is it better to buy meat from a farm?
If you live close to a rancher or a farmer who will sell meat directly, then it’s always better and overall cheaper to buy meat directly from the source. You can save money compared to retail, especially if you know how to butcher your own meat or even if you find a butcher to do it for you.
However, this is mainly if you want to buy in bulk. You may not find many farmers who sell meat in pre-packaged small quantities as you would find at a grocery store.
What is the most affordable way to buy meat?
The most affordable way to buy meat is to purchase wholesale meat, shop at local farms, look for coupons and sales, change your shopping patterns, plan ahead, shop at ethnic grocery stores, compare average grocery store prices, and learn to cook cheaper cuts.
Is butcher cheaper than supermarket?
Butcher can be just as affordable as the supermarket, depending on the cuts, while offering higher quality meat.
What meat is the best for the money?
The best meat for the money is ribs (pork or beef), flat steak (flank, hanger or skirt), ground beef or ground turkey, beef brisket, pork shoulder, chuck eye steak, whole chicken, and chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on) or drumsticks.
Why is meat becoming so expensive?
Meat is becoming expensive due to a combination of factors, primarily the dwindling supply of cattle. The ongoing drought conditions, which increase the cost of raising cattle, along with disruptions caused by the pandemic and widespread cost hikes, have led ranchers to sell off their livestock. Consequently, the current number of cattle in the U.S. is at its lowest point in almost ten years.
Does it matter where you buy your meat from?
It matters where you buy your meat from as shopping for meat at a local butcher provides you with greater control over quality and a more comprehensive understanding of the animal’s upbringing, the butchering process, and other relevant factors. Although shopping locally may be slightly more expensive, the advantages outweigh the costs if you have the financial means to do so.
How much is half a cow?
The cost of half a cow can vary depending on the farmer and your location. On average, the price ranges from $1700 to $2400, which includes shipping, as of December 2022. It amounts to approximately $10 per pound.
Why is the cost of meat so cheap in the US?
The cost of meat in the US is relatively low compared to other countries due to the significant consolidation of meatpackers, enabling them to benefit from economies of scale and operate production lines at increasingly faster speeds.
What is the least expensive cut of beef?
The least expensive cut of beef is the top round steak, also known as London broil. Other affordable cuts include top round roast, sirloin tip steak, eye of round steak, bottom round steak, bottom round roast, arm chuck roast, and top blade steak.
What is cheaper than ground beef?
Ground turkey is a cheaper alternative to ground beef, priced at approximately $5.50 per pound. It is a suitable substitute for those who prefer not to consume red meat or desire a change in their diet.
Is it cheaper to butcher your own meat?
It is more cost-effective to butcher your own meat. Once you have made the initial investment in tools, choosing to butcher your own meat at home will result in significant savings. Time is valuable, and if you have the time to butcher, you will definitely save money.
How can a cook save money when shopping for meat?
A cook can save money when shopping for meat by cutting the pieces smaller than usual, using less meat in recipes, opting for cheaper cuts and slow cooking or marinating them, and purchasing whole chickens to be cut at home instead of using pre-cut chicken breasts.
Which cut of meat is more expensive?
The tenderloin, also known as a filet, is the most expensive cut of meat due to its exceptional tenderness. However, unlike other high-end cuts, it lacks marbling and the robust beefy flavor.
Is it better to buy meat from local farmers?
It is preferable to purchase meat from local farmers as they tend to provide the best quality. Unlike supermarkets that source their meat from industrial farms, the finest meat markets typically opt for local suppliers. The local farmers invest additional time and effort into raising their herds, resulting in juicier and more flavorful meat. As a result, customers are the ones who benefit from being able to taste the noticeable difference in quality.
Why is processed meat cheaper?
Processed meat is cheaper because producers can take advantage of the longer shelf life of sausages, which are made from processed meat. This allows them to offer a more affordable product to consumers by capitalizing on the efficiency of processing and reducing the risk of spoilage and waste. In contrast, fresh meat has a shorter shelf life, which increases the potential for losses and requires higher prices to compensate for these risks.
Is Costco meat cheaper?
Costco meat prices are generally higher compared to supermarket specials and coupons, which often offer lower prices than Costco. However, when comparing Costco prices to those of local butcher shops, Costco usually offers more competitive prices.
What does Costco do with unsold beef?
Costco re-uses unsold beef by incorporating it into various dishes such as meatloaf, stuffed peppers, and shepherd’s pie. Additionally, they repurpose rotisserie chickens by transforming them into pies, soup, and wings, as stated on Costco’s website.
Why not buy meat at Costco?
Buying meat at Costco may not be the best option due to the fact that most of their steaks, particularly those sold under the Kirkland Signature label, undergo blade-tenderization. This process, also referred to as needling, involves mechanically puncturing the meats in order to enhance their tenderness.
Is Sam’s meat as good as Costco?
Sam’s meat is not as good as Costco’s because Costco meat is considered high quality and better than many grocery chains. While both chains offer similar offerings, Costco meat is generally regarded as fresher.
Is Costco cheaper than Sam’s Club?
Costco generally offers lower prices compared to Sam’s Club, although Sam’s Club provides a wider range of name-brand products and has a more affordable membership fee.
What is a Costco chub?
A Costco chub is a 10-pound tube of ground beef that is sold at a generally cheaper price per pound compared to smaller pre-packaged portions. By opting for a chub, you can save money instead of buying individual packages of ground beef, which are typically one-pound portions.
Why is Costco’s food so cheap?
Costco’s food is cheap because they purchase items in bulk at a lower price and then sell them to customers at a higher price, which benefits both the company and consumers.
Is food actually cheaper at Costco?
Food is indeed cheaper at Costco, as buying in bulk can save you over $1,000 in a year, which represents a 33% overall savings compared to conventional groceries. It is worth noting that in today’s economy, you also save on gas money by making fewer trips to the store.
What is a meat alternative to save money?
A meat alternative to save money is to use cooked legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils as substitutes in various ground beef recipes. By opting for canned or dried beans instead of meat, you can also cut down on costs. Moreover, beans and legumes are not only a good source of protein but also contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for your health.
Can you save money not eating meat?
Incorporating a few vegetarian meals into your weekly menu, even once or twice, can be a cost-effective choice. Meat is often the priciest component of a meal, so skipping it can help you save money. Additionally, apart from being a healthier option for your heart, reducing meat consumption also has a positive impact on the environment.
What are 3 good meat alternatives?
Three good meat alternatives include tofu, tempeh, and seitan. Tofu is a plant-based option that provides a protein punch with over 11 grams in just half a cup. Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, offers even more protein than tofu. Lastly, seitan is another great alternative that can be used in various dishes. Other options to consider are jackfruit, mushrooms, beans, textured vegetable protein, and chickpeas.
How can you save money when buying chicken or beef?
To save money when purchasing chicken or beef, one can adopt several strategies. First, it is advisable to purchase only the necessary amount of meat. Additionally, incorporating non-meat protein sources into meals can help stretch the meat further. It is also important to be mindful of the amount of fat and bones in the meat, as these can add unnecessary cost. Making homemade ground beef can be a cost-effective alternative to buying pre-packaged options. Opting for cheaper cuts of meat and cooking them slowly at a low temperature can result in tender and flavorful dishes. Moreover, reserving meat for meals only and reducing overall meat consumption can contribute to saving money. Lastly, planning meals in advance allows for efficient use of meat and prevents unnecessary waste.
What is the most common meat substitute?
The most common meat substitute is tofu, which has been a staple source of nutrition in Asia for centuries.
How to save money on grass fed meat?
To save money on grass-fed meat, one can consider the following strategies: consuming less meat, being open to trying different flavors, embracing the concept of eating all parts of the animal, grinding or cutting your own pastured or grass-fed meat, purchasing a whole animal directly from the farmer, and sharing bulk purchases with friends.