Today’s Daily Dose of Thrifty is going to cover the topic on how we save money buying meat and we hope that the tips we share can help you too!
Learning how to save money on meat is a HUGE part of your overall grocery savings because it is generally the most expensive and largest part of a family’s grocery budget.
We often hear from others any of the following reasons why they think you can’t save money when purchasing meat:
- You can’t save money buying meat because there are no coupons
- You have to be willing to buy and eat any type of meat (no picky meat eaters)
- You have to purchase low quality to save money
Well, we are here to refute those myths. You can save money purchasing meat and you don’t have to buy low quality or something you don’t necessarily like.
First, I want to tell you about our family’s meat challenges… Well really, the only challenge is myself! I am a very picky meat eater. I will only eat certain types, certain brands and certain cuts. I don’t know why I am so picky, but I won’t eat it if it is not my preferred option.
I don’t eat pork…period! I do not like it, I do not like to cook it, see it and I just plum don’t like it! (Thrifty Al laughed when he read this with a sound reminiscent of: “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I Am.”)
I will only eat Gold N’ Plump natural, Harvest Land organic, Bare Naked organic or Tyson natural chicken (if we had more organic options here, I would probably go for them too). I will also eat most cuts of lean beef from a high quality brands; we really like the Sutton and Dodge brand as well as Laura’s organic beef, and grain fed organic beef. I don’t eat hot dogs unless they are Hebrew National and occasionally 100% beef or turkey (but again occasional on those).
AND up until about three months ago, I did not eat a lick of seafood – I couldn’t handle the taste, smell, or sight of it. In the last three months, in an effort to have healthier protein choices (other than chicken and beef) and because Thrifty Al and the kids really do like it, I decided to give it a whirl. Thus far, I can pretty much only handle salmon – I actually like it now (as long as there is no skin or heads attached!). As for other seafoods…well lets just say I’m still working on it. 😉
With that long list of meat pickiness (and that is just my list) how on earth do we manage to get decent deals on meat?? We have had this question asked of us many times and so we decided it was the right time to finally share our tips and tricks.
First Things First: Buy or have enough freezer space to stock upI am stating this first because the real tricks we are going to share for saving money on meat is going to require enough space for a meat freezer. Especially if you are a family of four or more, it will be a difficult task without one. You can buy freezers by checking your local classifieds and buying used (just take into consideration the cost of running an older, possibly less efficient freezer).
If you want a new one, you could check around at local sale prices in your area at the time. We ended up buying two freezers (about 2 years apart, we needed a second one as our family grew) from Sam’s Club the 7.5 cubic size for $158 (our most recent purchase was nearly 2 years ago, so prices may have gone up). This was the best deal for a new freezer in our area at the time.
Tips for Buying Meat Cheap
- Watch for great sales and stock-up – The best meat sales are the “buy one get one FREE sales.” This is the best sale time to stock-up – this is 50% off right off the top. Buy enough during these sales for those particular meats to last for 2-4 months.
- Stock up on the one amazing meat price for the week – grocery stores have meat on sale every week. Well on some of those weeks there will be one specific meat item that will have an amazing price! Stock-up on that particular meat product that week, buy enough to last for at least 2-4 months (of course if it is a meat product you and your family like – don’t stock up or buy anything that they wouldn’t eat).
- Find the mark downs – This is a trick we do often! The meats I like are pricey! So, I watch for the markdowns on those meats and stock-up as best as I can. The ones that I do this with the most often is the Harvest Land chicken. I have only purchased this brand on markdown. If we are eating it immediately or freezing it, then the nearing expiration date is not a bother.
- Buy bulk packages and repack – This is another key and easy way to save. The bulk packs of meat are often sold for less per pound. If you are willing to go home and repack, then you can shell in some easy savings.
- Buy a whole cow, pig or flock of chickens (or split with family and friends) – This is our #1 trick with how we save on our beef. Beef is the only animal we have purchased this way thus far. As a family of 6, we actually split a whole cow with three others for a 1/4 cow each. Check with local farmers or butchers for some referrals for buying meat this way.
- Buy meat from a club or warehouse – Honestly, we don’t do this a lot. We have a Sam’s Club membership and this is the only one that we have been members of – so it is the only club we can vouch for. However, this is generally a last option for when you run out or are initially getting started as the other sources are generally a better deal. However, if and when we are running low on chicken, the frozen Tyson all-natural chicken is a decent price.
- Join in a co-op – We have not tried this yet ourselves but we know many that rave about how wonderful of an option this is for saving money on meat. We do use a co-op to buy our organic produce, so we suggest looking at this option as it could be a great option just as it has been a budget-saver for our produce! Check out the site LocalHarvest.org to help find a local co-op in your area that might also offer meat.
- Make friends with your local butcher or local grocery store butcher – This is a good key tip – they will give you insider secrets on sales, deals, markdowns, the seasonal sale patterns for your area and they may also divide your “bulk packs of meat” for you FREE of charge (get the best of both worlds). Plus many local butchers may have fresher and better prices on meats than your local grocery stores. The local butchers in our area also offer coupons in our local mailers, mostly for buying bulk packs of meat. It is definitely worth pursuing.
- Watch for the occasional coupons – This actually does happen! Especially on the brands we buy. Gold N’ Plum chicken coupons crop up quite often. We combine these with the Gold N Plum sales and get great deals. Also, Laura’s lean beef puts out coupons too. Coupons for all of these will crop up here and there. Keep your eyes peeled and print from online or cut them out of your newspaper and hang on to them for a sale or markdown.
- Also, Target has pretty decent meat selection and quality – Target has their own printable coupons for their own frozen meats. We have used these coupons to buy the bags of all natural Salmon on their sale price and then adding a coupon to it! Also, they will put out coupons for the Sutton and Dodge meat – and this is the primary roasts and beef we buy outside of our big 1/4 cow purchase.
One thing that is important to remember is that we do not buy meat every week! We wait for the special times or when one of the above happens. And it isn’t as often as you think. That is why when we find a great sale, we stock-up to make up for the time before we can stock-up again.
When you first start your meat saving adventure, you will be spending more on meat temporarily. Why? Well, you are going to need to stock-up on the deals when they happen to help your budget in future weeks, but if you do not have a meat stock-pile, you will need to continue to buy your regular everyday meats, until they are in your freezer for you to use when you need them. This is going to take several months. And if you are a picky meat eater like me, it is going to take a little longer as you are not stocking up at the first opportunity.
But remember to stick with it! We have been doing this for many years and we have nearly two full freezers of the meat selections that we prefer and that we eat all within our budget. And it took us time to get to this point. But once you get there, your wallet will be so happy!
Keep watching our shopping trips as we show what deals on meats we were able to snag that week!
*Thanks to Vaqueromeat.com for the picture of the yummy steak dinner!