Are you curious how we have cut back our expenses majorly in the area of the meat part of the grocery budget? Well, we want to share with you how this past year, we spent $360 on meat for the whole year. This breaks down to $30 per month or less than $1 per day for 7 people….in other words…$0.14 per person per day. It’s fun to drill down to those numbers to get different perspectives, but the reality of it is that we are only purchasing meat a few times a year, in bulk, fresh and direct from the farm. But this isn’t the only trick. It’s just one trick, combined with others that make for a super, low-meat budget!
The inspiration for this post started because I have had several friends and family that have noticed that we are very frugal when it comes to meat. They have noticed that many of us eat (7 of us and sometimes them!) on a very little grocery budget, yet eat well and healthily and so they want the secrets.
Along with that frugality comes a desire for high-quality meat. It can be a challenge to stay in budget and consider healthier options when it comes to meat.
After I had been asked a few times, I have realized that although we provided recipes, tips, and meat-savings tricks along the way in various articles or recipes, we haven’t ever just spelled it out!
That is what I am wanting to share with you today! How our family of 7 lives off of $360 worth of meat per year – and if you haven’t already done the math or skipped this section above – this is $30 of meat monthly.
That is not much of a budget for meat, especially considering that much of a family’s grocery budget is allotted to just the meat! We have spent FAR more than this per month in the past, even in our frugal days.
In our quest to find new ways to cut our budget each month and eat healthier, we realized that we could be doing so much better in the area of the meat category of our budget.
When I set out to find ways to help drop the budget even more in this category, I played it from three angles:
- Cutting back on the amount of meat I purchased
- Learning ways to “stretch” the meat to make it further in the meals, making each pound of meat extend to the entire family, no matter the meal.
- We also have a few more meals per week that are meatless. We determined that we don’t need to eat meat at every meal, and perhaps a little healthier if we ate less and got the nutrition we needed in smaller, less frequent portions instead of being overkill on consumption.
We had implemented some new strategies to reduce our grocery budget, especially in the area of meat, last year and followed this plan all of the last year.
I implemented these three strategies, along with getting an amazing price by stocking up and only purchasing meat a couple of times per year, to make for amazing results in the budget!
- I buy 40 lb of ground beef in bulk, fresh from local farmers through ZayconFresh and can get high-quality ground beef for less than $3 per lb. We only have to buy a 40 lb case once a year for around $112 for the entire year! By purchasing it this way, we can receive the higher quality meat for less than the chubs of ground beef at the grocery store and it is because we are buying direct, skipping the middle-man (the grocery store).
- When we have a meal with ground beef, it is generally tacos, enchiladas, chili, hamburger gravy, spaghetti, lasagna and other similar type dishes. In these meals, it is very easy to use only 1 lb of ground beef and stretch the meal by adding rice or beans to the beef and it becomes equivalent to 2-3 lb of beef.
- I have also made meatloaf with 1 lb of beef and then quinoa, rice, barley and other grains or beans as well to fill in the extra amount (as meatloaf usually requires 2 lb, this solves the problem). We do the same thing for hamburgers, making black bean and beef burgers. So good, yet much less fat and cheaper!
- Also, I have made 2-3 meals of chili or other soups with 1 lb of ground beef. When you add in all of the extra beans, corn, tomatoes, and peppers, you can end up with a very large pot of chili that will feed all of us for a few meals.
For the Poultry:
- We buy 10-whole chickens that are hormone free and antibiotic free for $55.65 a case once per year. These 10 whole chickens make for about 50 meals. How? Well, we can make 5 meals from one chicken. In addition, I make bone broth as well for a nice soup/stew too. We make a whole chicken week about every third week, which means 10 whole chickens lasts us the whole year!
- We also buy 80 lb of hormone-free, antibiotic free chicken breast for $136 from ZayconFresh. We now purchase 40 lb twice per year. We use to buy 80 lb twice per year, but since we implemented this strategy last year, we cut our fresh bulk chicken breast purchase in half and made it work all year!
- I also make 1-2 chicken breasts per meal work for our entire family. This is about 1 lb of chicken. I make stir fry (filling in all of the extra space with veggies and rice), soups, chicken chili, casseroles and many other dishes using less chicken than the recipe typically calls for, filling in the extra space with healthier whole grains (brown rice, black rice, quinoa, etc.).
- We also make chicken tacos and other Mexican dishes with chicken, which makes it last much further when combined with beans and rice. We can make some hearty, thick and big burritos for all of us by adding a little bit of taco seasoned chicken and then taco seasoned rice and beans, cheese and veggies.
- I also make a lot of casseroles and I just plan to add extra rice, extra potatoes, extra veggies, extra stuffing, extra pasta, etc. to make up for using about half the chicken the recipe calls for.
As a note, we pretty much just each beef and chicken as our meat staples. We rarely eat pork as not many in our family like pork, but ZayconFresh also has better quality pork options. They also have seafood. We are not a seafood eating family either, but I have purchased their salmon, which is phenomenal and it is the only seafood we have enjoyed in years and it is a nice treat to get it when our budget allows.
Finally, we are not counting other occasional meat purchases from the grocery store as part of this. This would include lunchmeat, hotdogs (we wait for Applegate Farms lunchmeat and hotdogs to go on markdown as this is our favorite brand, but it is VERY expensive), and chicken nuggets. So we can get it for a fraction of the price on markdown). It also doesn’t include the occasional steaks that we get within our allotted grocery budget when they are on sale. It also doesn’t include bacon, which I purchase on occasion as well. But this short list includes the occasional items when they go on sale/markdown in our regular grocery budget. Our general menu just requires whole chicken, chicken breast and ground beef and these are the bulk meat purchases.
Simple solutions and then our budget is even happier than it was before!
UPDATE: Right now, for a limited time, you can use coupon code: BL20 at the Zaycon site HERE to save 20% off your first order of high-quality, direct from the farm, bargain prices! That means the prices I shared above would be another 20% off!!
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Thank you for sharing this. Even though we can’t stretch the meat with beans and rice as its not part of our way of eating. You have given me solid help in regards buying meat cheaper. I hope you will do one on produce. Even though I buy at Aldis produce is also expensive. 😀
I love that you shared this comment! I was going to add a line in the article that I know that we eat very little meat and we are not saying this is the only way to save, but regardless of the diet, there are savings tips for all types of eaters. So I am glad that you pointed this out and I hope it is an inspiration for many as they seek to find savings where ever they can. Even if someone eats twice or three times as much, even spending less than $1k per year is phenomenal compared to the average meat section of a grocery bill!
Produce is one of my favorite categories of grocery savings because we eat a ton of it, so watch for that! Thanks Holly!