Chances are if you’ve look at your spending habits recently, you’ve noticed that food eats up (pun intended!) a sizable chunk of your budget.
One way to slash your spending at the grocery store is to spend less on meat. It’s often the priciest item in your cart and can add up fast if you’re not paying attention. Many of us plan our meals with meat as the centerpiece, which means it’s top of mind when we’re writing shopping lists and scrolling through Pinterest recipes.
You don’t have to cut meat from your diet entirely to save money. Following a few tricks for spending less on this fridge staple could help you rein in your food spending without giving it up entirely.
1. Visit Wholesale Meat Suppliers
Though they typically sell to grocery stores, wholesale meat suppliers will also sell directly to consumers like you and they typically offer lower prices.
“By shopping at our local wholesaler, we get three months’ worth of beef, pork, chicken and fish for only $50, and it all fits in our standard-sized freezer,” Shannon Quinn writes on The Penny Hoarder. “This covers most meals each week, and dramatically cuts down our grocery-store meat purchases.”
Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, North Carolina, for example, invites members of the public to buy their wholesale meat. They suggest buying only what your family can eat within three to six months.
“It can be easy to get carried away when you are purchasing wholesale meat,” the owners write in a blog post. “However, try to avoid buying more meat than you and your family can eat.”
2. Plan Your Meals Around Sales
When you write your meal plan for the week, keep your grocery store’s most recent ad nearby. Build your meals around the types of meat that are on sale that week.
You’ll save a good amount over time and learn to appreciate a variety of foods, according to Jacob and Vanessa Lumby, who run the blog Cash Cow Couple. You may even buy a cut of meat you’ve never made before, which could help spice up your recipe collection.
Chicken thighs and drumsticks tend to be less expensive than chicken breasts, for example. If you have been a white meat devotee your whole life, look up some recipes that call for dark meat. The bonus? Dark meat tends to be more flavorful.
3. Eat Less Meat
It seems obvious enough, but by replacing meat with beans, mushrooms, lentils and other items, you’re going to save money.
You can still make your favorite dishes that include meat. But consider going off-script and using half or a third as much meat as the recipe requires.
“When considering a portion size, choose 4 to 6 ounces. Move away from the large format single-portion cuts, like thick-cut chops and steaks. Instead, share them among multiple people, or purchase cuts that allow for smaller individual portions,” suggests Adam Danforth, an Oregon-based butcher.
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Lentils, sweet potato, spinach, rocket, almonds, a little leftover raspberry vinaigrette on the leave and then a dollop of tahini with cumin and pink salt. . . I’m loading up on a vegan protein bowl, because it’s dark and wet outside and all I feel like is sugar, and caffeine, and laziness… but we have things to do and I know that’s not reeeally what my body wants! As soon as I tuck into a bowl like this it tastes so good and it’s what I want – sometimes I just have to make it out of principle before my body says yes ha! #powerbowl #healthychoices