Mmmm, beef! Meat – in all forms and varieties – is a budget killer. The #1 budget killer in our house, in fact! I’ve compiled a list of ways that we save on our meat, and ways that we get more meals from the meat that we do buy.
While I can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll save, I do know that I no longer worry about the cost of meat in my budget. #Winning 😀
Get More Meals from Your Meat: The #1 Budget Killer
This first isn’t so much a MONEY saving tip as it is a TIME saving tip. Paul and I always, always, always brown multiple pounds of ground beef at once. We do this for several reasons:
Browning ground beef can be time consuming when you’ve got soccer practice, acting classes, after school tutoring, music programs and baseball games to attend. Instead, we brown multiple pounds at once – up to TWENTY pounds at a time!
You don’t have to brown ONLY ground beef all by itself, try throwing in some manager’s special ground turkey, ground pork or ground venison. We have found that by using at least 50% ground beef, the flavor of the fat is absorbed into the final product and it ALL tastes like beef. Watch for closeouts on ANY kind of ground meat and freeze it until you’re ready to have a mass-browning-party. 😛
Take half of it and add in taco seasoning for super speedy taco night! Use our Homemade Taco Seasoning!
After browning, draining, rinsing (helps with the flavor after re-heating!) and cooling your ground meat, portion it into 1-lb portions – here’s a nice deal on a kitchen scale! – and fill food storage bags and lay flat to freeze, making sure label the bag with the date and what kind of meat you included – and if you added any taco seasoning etc.
Try portioning just under 1-lb into each bag. We have found that we can easily skimp down to approximately 12 oz per bag where recipes call a full pound (16 oz) without anyone noticing at dinner time. When we used to brown our ground beef one pound at a time for dinner that same evening, we would use the entire pound for dinner in one night.
This trick alone will give you 25% more meals from the same amount of meat!
Not sure you can get away with 3/4 of a pound instead of a full pound? The #1 way to stretch ground beef is to add fillers to your meat. We’re talking rice, beans, lentils, breadcrumbs, anything that will add some substance without significantly changing the flavor of a dish.
When making tacos (using our pre-made taco meat!) we always add kidney beans. We have found that we use about 1/2 of the meat this way. Anything tex-mex instantly gets corn & black beans tossed in. It’s a great way to fill up my family with lower fat choices and it makes many dishes more colorful too!
If I’m making Hamburger Helper or a pasta type dish, I always toss in a canned or frozen vegetable like peas, tomatoes, olives, or corn. I add rice & bread crumbs to my meatloaf, which easily takes about HALF as much meat and my family loves the texture.
Tip: When re-heating your ground beef after freezing, add a small bit of beef bouillon or Better Than Bouillon to the pan. This will help bring back that full beef flavor.
Tip #2: Not sure you can commit to browning TEN POUNDS at all once? Next time you brown some ground beef, do double the amount. Freeze half and use it next week and see what you think! 😉
Have you tried Zaycon? We love, love, love our Zaycon chicken and ground beef. We’ve tried their ribs too! And, they just started carrying shrimp and other fish. Yummy!
Zaycon travels all across the country, just enter your zip code and they will let you know when and where the nearest pickup will be. If you are around the Wichita area, you can choose to pick up your meat on the east side or on the west side or on the South Side.
- Delivered fresh (never frozen!) by the 40 lb. case. Cases contain four 10 lb. chubs.
- Sourced from 100% American cattle raised on an all-grass grass diet up to 700 lb.
- 80/20 Ground Beef is exclusively sourced from chuck
- Processed at USDA-inspected plant employing strict, HACCP-compliant protocol and random testing by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service professionals
- LFTB Free!
Buy on sale. This seems like a no-brainer, but coupons for fresh meat are rare, whether for fresh chicken, fresh pork or beef, even bacon and sausage deals can be few and far between. Making the meat that we do get inexpensively last as long as possible is imperative as meat can be such a budget killer!
Use Coupons When You Can
While coupons for fresh meat are rare, we do occasionally see coupons for breakfast sausage or kielbasa or other packaged meats. We like to have kielbasa with mustard, sauerkraut and fried potatoes. If you find an awesome deal on pork sausage links you could even remove the meat from the casings to brown and add to another dish.
Roasts and Steaks
Buy roasts and steaks during a Buy One Get One Free sale. Some stores do not require you to buy two packages, one package will ring up 1/2 price. Ask your meat counter if you are unsure. Also, just because a package of meat is marked down that does not mean it has gone bad yet, or that I can’t take it home and cook it tonight or throw it in my freezer immediately for later use.
I am always on the hunt for discounts on fresh meat. We buy a full loin when on sale and cut our own pork chops. This is such an easy way to save! The pre-cut pork chops are so much more expensive. Portion them and freeze individually or by the amount used for an entire meal for your family.
Did you know that the meat counter will cut your meat for you? As thick or as thinly sliced as you like, and at no cost!
Use and Reuse
Uses leftover meat from pot roasts or other meals to make BBQ sandwiches for a future meal. Have your pot roast with vegetables and potatoes one night, then take the meat that is leftover and shred it, toss in some BBQ sauce and call it a sandwich!
There’s a reason you can put just about anything in a casserole. Casseroles use less meat and are just as filling as other meals, if not more so! Casseroles are a great way to use up leftovers or other items that you wouldn’t normally use by themselves. Have some FREE funky pasta? Throw it in a casserole! No one will ever know. 😉
You do not have to include meat in every meal, this alone can save considerably. Try starting with Meatless Mondays perhaps, and make a point to make some dinners without meat at all. Salads are a great and nutritious dinner, especially on hot Summer nights.
What are some ways that your family saves on meat? I am all for new suggestions!
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