How to save money without coupons: Part One- Meat!

I know, it seems impossible that I  would tell you not to use coupons. But, let’s face it, sometimes you need to buy stuff that there are no coupons for. What’s a shopper to do? You’re not going to stop eating something just because there aren’t any coupons… That’s CRAZY!

dscn10311I’m going to specifically discuss shopping for meat, because there are seldom coupons for fresh meat.

The easiest way to save money on meat is not to buy it. However, most Americans eat meat. So, here are my recommendations for you:

Ask the butcher/meat cutter at your local grocery store when the meat is marked down each day. Some stores do it each morning, so do it at night. The meat that is marked down isn’t going bad that day, it just needs to be pulled and either cooked and eaten within the next few days or frozen. Most meat can be frozen for up to six months.

If you like to buy your meat in bulk or in large super store sized containers, once you get your big hunk o’ meat home, separate it into portions and freeze it. That way when it’s time to cook, you aren’t faced with 4-7 lbs of solid meat.  That can be a little daunting, and leads to waste. When we buy ground beef in large packages, I portion it out into 1/2-3/4lb. packages and freeze it. It’s much easier to handle the smaller portions.

We buy chicken from Zaycon Fresh– You get a 40 lb box. It’s easy to separate 40 lbs of fresh chicken into freezer bags and tuck them into the freezer. I usually do 1-2 lb packages. Sometimes I even get fancy and season the chicken as I prep it in bags! Zaycon Fresh has really great fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts for less than the grocery store prices. And I feel great feeding it to my family because it comes to me fresh, not frozen and plumped up with salt water.

I know that the pre-cooked meat that is already cut up looks so good and you think, “Oh, it’ll save me so much time!!”, but the truth is, it costs about 2-3 times the amount that the exact same weight of uncooked meat costs. Make your own! I make shredded chicken in the crockpot once every two weeks. It’s great for topping salads, making enchiladas, casseroles, soups, or just eating out of the bag (what? Meat is goooooood).

Learn how I make shredded chicken here. I portion it out and use it in recipes. You can do the same with beef or pork. Season and cook in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.

If you want chicken slices, bake your chicken pieces in the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes. Cool, remove the skin and bones and discard them. Slice the chicken into pieces, portion out and freeze.

Buy meat when it is cheapest. What do I mean by that? Think about the seasons/holidays in the year and the meals surrounding each.

  • In the summer, barbecuing is very popular, so meat like ribs, ground beef and boneless, skinless chicken is on sale.
  • In the fall, turkey breasts and whole turkeys are on sale.
  • Near Christmas/New Year’s, Prime Rib is cheap.
  • Mid-March, Corned Beef is on sale (usually 60%+ off the regular price).

Because meat can be frozen for upwards of 6 months, buy meat that you like when it’s cheap and you’ll never be without!

Next up, tomorrow, I’ll be writing about how to save money when buying fruit and vegetables!

How do you save money on meat?