Feeding the Family: Saving on Meat
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When you’re trying to save money, the first place in the budget that most people attack is food. That’s because you have more control over that area, and you can see immediate results.
There are so many different ways to save money at the grocery store.
But have you ever considered feeding your family without doing traditional grocery shopping?
Let’s talk about some creative ways to save on meat.
At the Grocery Store
Go meatless (or less meat)
One great way to save money is to have meatless meals. No, this idea isn’t going to work for everyone. You might have picky eaters, football players who need to bulk up, or spouses that aren’t interested in the idea.
It took a while to convince my own family to go meatless just once per week. But once they realized that you can have some great tasting meals even without it, they were in.
If you need some ideas to help you get your family on board with the idea of having meatless (or less meat) meals every once in a while, check out this post for tips.
Saving on meat
I prefer to stock up on all of my food when it hits its best price. If I had an empty freezer, I would only buy the cheapest cuts of meat for a month and try to round out my meals with beans as much as possible.
Instead of boneless skinless chicken breasts, buy whole chickens. Rather than the best burger, get something with a higher fat content and rinse the fat from it after cooking. (You can return it to the heat after rinsing to keep it tasting great.) Or buy a cheaper cut of beef and grind your own burger at home.
You can make those cheaper cuts of meat more edible by marinating them over night before grilling or cooking them. A crock pot will often make even tougher cuts fall apart.
Then begin to stock up on better cuts of meat as they hit their best sale prices. I don’t like to pay more than $2 per pound for meat. That’s tough to find in my area, but it’s doable if you shop carefully.
You might find that your best price is double or triple my cost. Once you learn what your best price point will be, you can become a better shopper.
Are you willing to be a little more adventurous? Try thinking outside the box (store) and consider these alternatives.
If you’d like to buy in bulk but don’t have the money to buy from a packing plant, a happy medium might be Zaycon Fresh. With this company, you purchase bulk meats at a price that nearly always beats your grocery store. Check their website to see what packages they are offering in your area now.
With Zaycon, you can get boneless skinless chicken breast for just $1.89! That beats my $2 per pound requirement.
Meat Packing Plants
If you want the deliciousness of a farm raised animal but don’t want to actually do the raising part, you can try a meat packing plant. Do a search to find one in your area.
You may find that it’s a drive of an hour or more to get to the plant, but the savings on buying your meat in bulk will make the trip worthwhile. And when you purchase in bulk, it’s not a trip you’ll have to make often.
The trouble with buying this way is that there is a large up front cost. If you can find the initial money for half a hog, steer, lamb, goat, or other animal, then you can start saving up the monthly grocery money you would have spent on that meat for the next large purchase.
If you can’t swing the price on your own, ask around to see if a friend or family member is interested in sharing the cost with you to make it more affordable.
Some meat packers sell in smaller portions. It’s worth a call to get information, even if you aren’t ready to order yet.
Similar to calling a meat packing plant, you can also call a farmer directly and order meat from them. Not all farmers are online since they are busy in the fields rather than at a desk all day. So be sure to look them up via white or yellow pages if Google doesn’t help.
Do It Yourself Types
Are you the type who doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty? These tips might be for you!
Raise Your Own
If the thought of raising your own meat makes you upset, you may want to skip this section.
Many people have enough space to raise their own backyard chickens or rabbits. Both are an excellent source of homegrown meat that can feed your family for an affordable price.
You can call your county extension office for information on how to get started, or look for 4-H kids selling animals. Kids in 4-H are not only a great source for getting animals, but also a wealth of information for beginners. Most 4-H kids have worked very hard with their animals and are proud to tell you all about how to care for them.
Rabbits would be simpler and less noisy than chickens to care for. It’s cliché, but rabbit meat really does taste like white chicken meat. You can get a male and female for a very reasonable price and raise litters a few times per year.
Knowing where your food is coming from gives a great feeling of accomplishment. Plus you’ll have peace of mind when there are so many recalls from the grocery stores these days.
Also not for the faint of heart, hunting can be a great source of food. You will want to learn the laws in your state and local area.
Sometimes the tag price for hunting an animal makes it uneconomical. But often you can hunt for deer (for instance) at an affordable price and fill your freezer.
For even more savings, learn how to butcher your own animal.
Choose the method that works best for you, and you’ll find that saving on meat becomes easier the more you do it.
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What’s your favorite way to purchase meat?