American’s are meat lovers but the price of the country’s favorite – steak! – has skyrocketed lately. In fact, all meat prices are on the rise.
Okay…I know we should all eat less meat but carb heavy meals every night aren’t that healthy either. I’ve always suspected that part of the problem was my typical portion size. A little time with my kitchen scale revealed that what I thought was a typical serving was more like 2…or 3…
The remedy? Cut everything into “recommended” portion sizes of 4-6 oz. I not only eat save on calories but save on groceries. And, I’ve discovered a few more things I can do to get my meat fix without breaking the bank:
Manager’s Specials/Quick Sales – These are meat items that are at or near their “sell by” date and I buy these all the time. They’re often up to HALF the original price! They go straight to the freezer – you don’t want these sitting in the fridge at all. Defrost them the day you’re going to use them. Just avoid any “specials” where the meat or poultry has a grey cast or where they’re swimming in juices – both a sign that they’re way past their prime.
Beef Chuck is Your Friend – This is the cheapest beef cut you can find. It’s great for stews, chili, pot roasts or anything made in a slow cooker. If you’ve got a grinder, grind it yourself for hamburger. And…with some marinating, it’s pretty decent as a steak on the grill. Trim some of the fat off whatever you do with it to make it a little leaner as it’s a fatty cut.
Pork – Now almost always cheaper than beef, pork has been taking up a lot more space in grocery store meat displays. Boneless chops and tenderloins are easy to find and easy on the pocketbook. Pork can be substituted for most beef and chicken recipes, too.
Small Stores/Butchers – Believe it or not, meat prices at some smaller stores and butchers can be cheaper than at the larger grocery stores. Even gas station convenience stores have some good deals on frozen meats. Take another look at these places for basics like beef, chicken and pork.
Cold Cuts – Okay, I love deli ham, turkey and roast beef, but I’ve been thinly slicing leftovers of these meats instead of buying these types of cold cuts. Plus, because I’m saving on these, I can still buy bologna – for which there is no substitute. Freeze separate portions of your home-made (or purchased) cold cuts in waxed paper or put a serving in a lunch size bag. That way, you can grab and defrost what you need.
Meat Fillers/Stretchers – Stews, chili and soups are good ways to stretch out meat portions since they’re paired with vegetables, beans and starches like rice, potatoes or pasta. A couple of other things that have a meaty like taste are mushrooms, nuts and tofu. Mix some of those into your recipes or make sauces for meats – a peanut sauce for chicken or mushroom sauce for beef or pork – to give more “substance” to the dish. Tofu picks up the taste of whatever it’s cooked with and if you cut into small chunks or slices, no one will have any idea what it is!
Photo by Divine Harvester