As you look back on your grocery store receipt you will notice that meat is usually at least 20% of the total bill. There is no way around it, meat is expensive. Here at the Off Brand Guy we found some strategies for saving money on meat, and being most efficient with this portion of your budget.
Buying Discounted Meat Before It Expires
First, understand when your local grocery store marks down meat. Most stores mark down meat on certain days at specific times of the day. This is based on the expiration date that the meat needs to be used or frozen by.
If you do not plan to use the meat until later in the week, pick it up when it is marked down 30% or 50%, and then take it home to store in the freezer.
I do a lot of my weekly meal prep on Sunday nights. So if I am at a grocery shopping on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I will cook it up that very same day.
If you plan to get in the habit of freezing meat regularly you need to have a plan in place. It takes some space and you must have the proper supplies.
One method for freezing meat is to take the meat out of the grocery store packaging and then place it into a plastic freezer bag. This is relatively convenient. The one drawback is that you need to be vigilant in getting all the air out. Air can lead to freezer burn.
Freezer paper is a bit more expensive and there is a learning curve in figuring out how to wrap meat effectively and efficiently. My first few times with this method I had to double or triple wrap the meat because my folds were terrible. But I got the hang of it, especially after watching a few videos on Youtube. This approach also requires purchasing specialty freezer paper tape. As normal tape will peel off in the harsh conditions of the freezer. Note, freezer paper has both a dull and shiny side. Make sure that meat is being placed on the shiny side.
Aluminum Foil Or Saran Wrap
This is more of a last resort or for only temporary freezing. It is less likely to maintain the integrity of the meat, especially over time. You simply take the meat out of the grocery store packaging and wrap it in saran wrap or aluminum foil. Write the date and meat type on it with a sharpie, and you are good to go. There is something to say about simplicity. My grandfather was an avid hunter and swore by this method even for long term freezer storage.
Freezing In the Store Packaging
This will work only if you are freezing for a few days. The material from the store is not as air proof as freezer bags or freezer paper. It is all to easy to puncture the material, increasing the likelihood of freezer burn.
Substituting Ground Turkey For Ground Beef
Last, but not least. Try to use substitutes.
I love Mexican food. And nothing is better than fresh corn tortillas heated up in a pan with olive oil, filled with hot sizzling ground beef, and then topped with sharp cheddar cheese and a dab of sour cream. But red meat should be limited. Also, even the fattiest of the ground beef varieties will increase your grocery bill. To slim both the waistline and grocery bill try to get in the habit of occasionally substituting ground turkey for ground beef. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it is usually only $2.99 per pound. This is another great strategy for saving money on meat purchases.
Hip2Save also explores some creative strategies on this topic.
Please let us know if you have any additional suggestions on how to save money cooking with meat products.