Save Money at the Grocery Store: Stretch Your Meat Dollar

Saving money at the grocery store is becoming more and more difficult these days.

This is especially true if you are feeding a family or even just one teenage boy. I want to share some methods I use to stretch my food budget while still feeding my family of nine healthy meals. Since meat is easily one of the highest priced items at the store, here are 4 ways to stretch your meat budget.

1. Consider investing in a quarter or a side of beef. A large family such as mine can work through a side of beef in about a year. For a smaller family, a quarter would be sufficient. The benefits of doing this include:

  • Getting quality (organic, pasture raised if you like) beef for less than in a store
  • Customizing the beef—you tell the butcher how you would like it cut
  • Having a large supply of beef in your freezer

Not everyone can go this route as it means having enough freezer space, requires a large sum of money upfront to pay the farmer and the meat locker, and being in the Chicago area, it is not always easy to find a source. (Start with the butchers on our Better List.)

2. Use less expensive cuts of meat. Some cuts are less expensive than others, often because they need longer cooking times to make the best use of them. An example would be to buy an inexpensive roast and use your slow-cooker to make carnitas. Not only does it save you money, but you come home to a wonderfully smelling dinner that is all ready for you.

3. Use TVP to stretch ground beef.
TVP stands for ‘textured vegetable protein’ and is often sold with the flour and other grains in the grocery store. Add a 1/2 cup of TVP and ½ cup of water (or a liquid from your recipe) to ½ lb of ground beef and you’ve got the equivalent of 1 pound of ground beef. This works best if it’s a dish like meatloaf, meatballs or tacos. My children have never complained (really!) and I get the savings.

4. Use meat as a condiment. A little bit of meat with a lot of something else is not only a cost saving way of thinking, but a healthy one as well. Soups, pastas, salads, and stir-fry are great examples of this idea.

Check out one of my family’s favorite meals: Beef with Asian Greens Stir-Fry

Related articles:

Save Money On Your Groceries by Shopping Locally—Really!

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

Kids Can Eat for Free Around the North Shore

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