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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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How to save money on meat by understanding simple butcher techniques.    Frugal Living and Couponing!

Last month as part of the organic journey series, we looked at the option of purchasing a whole cow to save money and get a high quality product. I realize that some folks aren’t quite ready for that challenge, so what are some smaller steps we can implement to save on meat?

Meat and poultry can be the single largest expense in the food budget for many of us.  Reducing meat consumption is one way to save; not because we are vegetarian, but because it can be expensive! Here are some tips you can use to help your budget in the meat department:

1. Learn Basic Cuts of Meat

One of the most straightforward ways to save is to take larger cuts of meat and cut them down yourself. Many stores even offer to do this for free at the butcher counter if you ask. For a few minutes of time, you can literally shave off a few dollars a pound for the same thing!

Think about the cut you are wanting – a steak, a pork chop or a chicken breast and consider the larger piece of meat it came from. Grocery stores, local butcher shops and even warehouse stores often have nice deals on larger cuts of meat. You might not need all the meat at once, but by cutting it down into different sections of meat and freezing them, you can save significantly (50%) off the per pound price!

A few examples:

Larger Cut Sale Price  Smaller Cut Sale Price
NY Strip Roast $5.99 NY Strip Steak $7.99
Split Chicken Breast $0.99 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.99
Whole Pork Loin $1.99 Boneless Pork Loin Chops $3.99

For amazing steaks, look for a roast with the same name and cut it down into the thickness of steaks you want. The New York Strip Roast above is a good example. You can save over $3 per pound just for making 6 simple slices!

Pork can also be cut down. One easy technique is to take a whole pork loin and butcher your own thick cut chops that would normally costs twice as much even on sale. You can also use the loin for roasts, cubed pork meat or butterflied chops.

For poultry, if you are advanced, grab whole chickens and cut them down yourself. If you are just learning, try getting split chicken breast and de-boning them yourself. You really can’t mess it up and they cost half as much. The best part is you can use the bits you cut off to make a great chicken stock so nothing goes to waste!

2. Avoid Fancy Cuts That Cost More

There is really no need to buy meat that is labeled tenderized, butterfly cut or thin cut. Stores tend to markup prices for meat labeled in this way, but in just a few minutes, you can do this yourself, and save 30¢ per pound or more.

3. Use Cooking Techniques to Transform Lower Quality Cuts

For slow-cooking or marinating, you can usually buy less expensive cuts of meat as the meat will become tender and take on the flavors of your marinade. For dishes like meatloaf, burgers or sloppy joes, stretch your beef with breadcrumbs or oatmeal to make them healthier and less expensive. you can add healthy, yet inexpensive fillers like oatmeal or bread crumbs to make you meat go further. One of my all time favorite tips is to use a Jaccard to tenderize inexpensive and sometimes tough cuts of meat.

4. Grind Your Own

Another small time investment with a big payoff is to grind your own meat or have a butcher grind it for you. You can buy a chuck roast, instead of ground chuck meat. Most people are not too familiar with grinding their own meat, but a stand mixer with a food grinder, a manual hand-crank, or even a food processor is all you need to grind meat in minutes. If you prefer not to do it on your own, the butcher or meat person in the grocery store will usually do it for you gladly if you just ask.

5. Look for Marked-Down & Family Packages

At the meat counter, check for items that have been marked down for quick sale.  If it is nearing the sell by date, you can buy it to use right away or freeze it to use later. Family-size packages of meat usually cost less per pound so again just divide it up and freeze for use later.

6. Shop In-Season

Meat prices do fluctuate with the season. During grilling season and warmer weather, ground beef and steak prices are higher, while winter favorites like roast cuts will go down in price. Meat also goes on sale at least every other month, so stocking up with a 6-8 week supply will help you save.

Do you use any of these tips to stretch your budget when it comes to meat?  Have any other creative ways to save that we should all know about?

    • Janice

      You commented about making the chicken stock, and I did it that way for years. I discovered, however, that for all my cooked chicken needs, it was worth the little bit more I pay to get Costco Rotissore chickens, pull off and freeze the meat, and make broth from the bones.I can get teh whole project done in only a few minutes (not cooking boiling time, and the flavor is really good.

      • Janice

        Sorry about the typos :-(

    • Susie E.

      The nice butchers at Kroger and Publix will cut my pork loins into chops for me for free. The Publix butcher recommends leaving the scrappy end of the loin as a roast, while the Kroger butcher only does chops. I ask them to slice the chops 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Either way, it works great!
      I’ve gotten gigantic frozen turkeys on sale, and had the butcher saw them in half. That way I can cook a more appropriate size for the family.
      A few of the Kroger stores will sharpen your knives free for you, too. Not all of the Kroger stores offer this service so check before you take in your knives.
      Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, those guys may play with sharp weapons, but they are really nice!

    • Amanda Stanford

      My husband goes deer-hunting in the fall months. We use every part of the deer, using it to make our own ground meat and sausage. It’s a little bit of work during the busy butchering/grinding times, but we have a freezer full of ground meat, sausage, roasts, and tenderloins to last all year. Our only cost is the seasonings and the pork fat we use to grind the burgers, which is optional.

    • Niddi

      I follow some ot the suggestions already made to keep the cost of meat down. I also use ready made meatballs for spagetti sauce and taco fillings. I just boil them for 2 minutes, drain and mash up.. Still have about 10 packs left to use and they were only about $1 a pack (bobo sale and coupons). Much cheaper than I can buy hamburger meat right now .

    • Your tip about stock is so true! I’ve been educating myself about free glutamates (MSG gives me migraines) and I’ve found even my favorite “better than bullion” chix/beef base contains MSG in cognito. As you can imagine, it’s feeling pretty bland in my house these days. I just cooked off an 8 lb. pork butt ($1/lb) in my crock pot and scraped up and froze (in an ice cube tray) all if the pork “jelly” from cooking it, so I can add big meat flavor without the “modified…” I also love using b/s chix. thighs b/c I can get the humane kind for ~$2/lb. at Food Lion, which makes me feel really good. As a bonus, the dark meat holds up really well to freezing after it’s been cooked (which makes it really easy for me to throw a dinner together on a weeknight).
      We also use a lot of ground venison and cut it with the high fat tube ground beef from walmart (reg. $10, but got it on sale for $5 for 5#), so we save a lot on that (plus half of it is “free range”–small steps :P).
      One more thing! Don’t pay deli prices for meat! Get whole boneless hams and turkey breasts in the meat section (fully cooked) and bring it to the deli counter to have them slice it! The price per lb. is even better than we normally pay for the tubs (I know sometimes you can get the tubs for less than $0.50 for 8 oz., in which case, that would be a better deal, but those deals come around once in a blue moon–not every 6 weeks). Plus, Hubby and I prefer the texture anyway (you know how sometimes lunchmeant can get “slimy”?–not a prob with the whole stuff).

    • Jill

      I buy several whole chickens when they are on sale. Then cut wings, legs, thighs, de-bone and skin the breast. Seperate each like peices place in my food saver and store in my deep freazer. great way to save.

    • Sarah Parris

      Just an FYI about getting your butcher to grind your roasts up for you. I know in the store I work in (and most others in the company) we will gladly grind up a roast for you, but we will charge you the price of the roast itself and go by that weight, not the weight you actually receive and since often times some of the meat will in fact be left in the auger portion of the grinder you may actually be getting less than the weight of the roast. That in short is why I grind my own meat at home. :)