This mom NEVER pays full price for meat (and she’s sharing her secrets!)

My husband, Aaron, and I are the typical young family.

I overhauled my grocery shopping strategy and now I NEVER pay full price for meat.

I overhauled my grocery shopping strategy and now I NEVER pay full price for meat.

We got married right out of college, both started chasing our dream jobs from the bottom (I established Celeste Communications and he went back to the family restaurant), had a baby and live in a little rental house.

We’re working hard and saving as much as we can to buy a house/farm, upgrade from the vehicles that got us through college and someday put another kid through diapers (not anytime soon though!)

When I was pregnant with Lorelei, I was completely terrified of all the added expenses of a baby. While covering two different events for two different clients, I found myself sitting in on sessions about couponing.

One of those was given by a farm wife much like me. Couponing was not a necessity for her family, however, the more she could save the more they could put towards their future goals.

When she mentioned that her sister-in-law never paid for baby wipes I was sold.

The next weekend, Aaron and I started implementing a drastic overhaul of our grocery shopping strategy.

The more I learned about couponing, the more I realized that it was not the only change we needed to make. There were seldom coupons for meat, which was a significant portion of our grocery expenses.

So Aaron and I fell back on what we had learned in our college meat science class and made some major changes in our meat buying. Its been almost two years since I’ve paid full price for any meat and I don’t see that changing any time soon!

1. Stock up and freeze

I can’t emphasize this one enough. Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to shopping meat sales.

When I find a fantastic price on a meat cut we eat, I often buy as many as they have and put them all in the freezer.

This also makes it easy for us to add variety to our menu. Otherwise, we’d be eating nothing but ground beef dishes for a week just because it was on sale.

We have a 5 cubic foot chest freezer and the freezer in our side-by-side refrigerator and both stay full at all times! (We got our chest freezer from Sam’s Club for about $175 and it paid for itself in meat savings in just a few months!)

Now we have a rule in our house that whenever you go to the grocery you check the reduced section (see tip #2). Which means that when my husband makes a quick trip for rice or powdered sugar or some other ingredient that I am notorious for running out of, I often get a phone call that goes something like “I just bought 15 lbs of ground beef, can you make room in the freezer?”

2. Shop the “Reduced for Quick Sale” section.

reduced sectionIf there’s meat in my shopping cart, there’s a 95% chance that it came from the “Reduced for Quick Sale” section of the meat counter. (Some stores call it the “Manager’s Special” section).

This is a section where the meat department discounts a package of meat because it is nearing the “sell by” date or because it has started to discolor.

I wrote an entire post about shopping in this section here. Generally, the reduced price is the lowest price you’ll ever see. As long as you freeze or cook the meat before the expiration date on the package, its perfectly safe!

3. Track price per lb of your favorite cuts until you learn the lowest sale price.

At our particular grocery, there are some meats that seldom end up in the reduced section. Chicken breasts are one of them.

In order to save on chicken, we started tracking the sale prices. After about three months, we learned that at our grocery $1.99/lb is as cheap as chicken breasts ever get.

The next time that $1.99/lb sale came around, we stocked up on chicken breasts.

This also helps us when we go to Sam’s Club. We used to assume that just because its the Sam’s price it must be the cheapest around but we’ve learned that with meat that’s not always the case.

(Note: We recently discovered that our Sam’s Club is now selling chicken breasts at $1.99/lb all the time! So now, if our Kroger sells it for cheaper we’ll stock up but otherwise we’ll head to Sams. Always keep an eye out for a better “lowest” price).

4. Don’t buy Angus or organic or specialty labelled meat.

Beef is beef. Pork is pork. Chicken is chicken.

Specialty labelled meat products often come with a higher price per pound.

Specialty labelled meat products often come with a higher price per pound.

People can argue until they’re blue in the face that they prefer Angus, organic, grassfed, etc… but at the end of the day, every package of meat sold in grocery stores was USDA inspected and safe!

Personally, I don’t want to pay any extra for my meat just because the label says something special. If you do, that’s completely fine. In America, we are blessed to have many options to chose from at the meat counter.

If your top priority is saving money, however, specialty labelled meats are probably not for you!

Do I ever buy organic, Angus, etc? Sometimes.

When I find it in the reduced for quick sale section for cheaper than its non-organic or Angus counterpart. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I don’t discriminate. Cheap meat is cheap meat!

5. Try new cuts in old recipes.

When we started tracking sales, we realized that one of our local grocery stores ran pork sirloin chops for 99 cents/lb fairly regularly.

This seemed like a great deal… except for the fact that we had no idea what to do with pork sirloin chops.

While browsing Pinterest, I came across a crock pot chicken taco recipe where you add fajita seasoning, a jar of salsa and chicken breast to the crockpot and let it all cook down low and slow for 6-8 hours. I realized if I cut the bones out of the pork sirloin chops, I could use the same recipe to cook and tenderize the chops, shred them and make pork tacos.

Now crockpot pork tacos are one of our favorite (and easiest) recipes!

The same trick works for lots of different cuts. I often substitute chicken breast for boneless pork chops and vice versa.

By changing our shopping strategies and couponing, my husband and I have cut our monthly grocery expenses by an average of 30%.meat counter pic

Plus, by having a freezer stash of meat I can now “shop” in my freezer.

When I get swamped at CelesteComm or Lorelei decides to boycott naps for a day, I don’t have to worry about trying to fit in a trip to the grocery before I start working on supper, I just pull some meat out of the freezer!

So now I’m saving money and eliminating stress. For this mom, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Do you have meat shopping, money saving tips? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to save even more!


Comments

This mom NEVER pays full price for meat (and she’s sharing her secrets!) — 21 Comments

  1. I have found that thighs and legs are always cheaper when it comes to chicken. We don’t do this all the time, but baked bar-b-que chicken is so easy and a family favorite. I also found that whole pork loins are often on sale and much cheaper than the chops. I just cut it myself and freeze. Great tips!

  2. Some stores, like walmart I’ve noticed will have reduced for quick sale meats most common in the morning on certain days. Our store, Monday mornings are prime time for reduced meats. Of course they do it through the week but you can hit the jackpot if you can time it right.

  3. Candace – I’ve noticed that too and completely forgot to include it in my list. Thank you for mentioning it!

  4. I also rarely pay full price for meat. It helps I have a Safeway store a mile down the road that I drive by every night on my way home. Between safeways great bogo free sales & the reduced counter (hello 90% lean ground beef for $2.50/lb & 4 lbs of ground bison 75% off), I can keep my just past teen bro in protein. Another thing I HIGHLY recommend is a food saver vacuum sealer to extender your freezer time. I got mine on sale at Costco & a huge case of the plastic too. That makes me think of another thing…if you have restaurant supply places in your area, Consider going in with family or friends on a case of meat & split it up. Here in Seattle costco’s case meats are cheaper per pound than the grocery store…but 40-50 lb cases are a lot depending on your family size.

  5. These are some great tips. I liked how you brought up the fact that some people focus on the label versus what it really is. Thanks for the post.

  6. RCWant2Be – We don’t have a Safeway but the more I hear about them the more I wish we did! Great tip on the case of meat and splitting it with friends. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Here another good tip here in Chicago we have store called Peoria meat market,they sell to distributors and meat stores and its open to the public too. You literlly pick your own meat but,for santiary reasons you must use the gloves they provide.Also sell seasonings in another dept. And other veggies and juice, milk way expensive though!!They sell all types meat not sure lbs price but what,I do remember I bought 6 leg pieces for $3.40 with tax.Thought throw idea out too ,since most places open to the public is Costco and Sam’s club. If only Restaurant depot open to the public but,its not sigh :(

  8. Obviously this is a couple years old, so your prices may be different now, but I love this post! I do the same. I’ve kept track of prices of meat (and all food) and won’t buy anything if it’s over a certain price. I even have a page on my blog dedicated to my grocery budget price list! http://craftycoin.com/budget-grocery-price-list/ Love finding blog with similar ideas! :)

  9. Before you dismiss organic meat so easily, please consider that American beef is banned in the EU because. Because conventionally raised cows are fed dead cow remains and chicken shit. Because they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to make them grow at an unnatural rate. And chickens are no better, there genetically engineered and fed antibiotics to make them grow so fat they can’t even stand up. Don’t believe me? Google everything I told you. Conventional factory farmed meat may seem cheap compared to organic, but the real price of it is your health. I trust that no one here finds chicken shit appetizing.

  10. Just googled, “best price on meat” and your article entitled, “This MOM never pays full price for Meat” was the first article to pop up. This is a very article for all consumers to read. Keep up the good work, look forward to reading more of your post.

  11. I would also like to add if you purchase your chicken breast at sams by the case, you get them significantly cheaper…..last time I bought a case I got it for $1.62 a pound.

  12. yeah this is pretty much the most ignorant thing I’ve seen in a while. If chicken is chicken and beef is beef, you know where else you can find cheap food? Just go to your local butcher and get all the junk that they cut off and throw away because its unusable and then throw it in a washing machine with some ammonia and after you’ve separated all the last pieces of the meat off the bones, just give it a quick rinse with water, because ammonia isn’t really harmful. Then go ahead and add in all the unusable parts of fat that you collected, throw it all together and put it in a meat grinder and boom, ground beef patties that you can serve right to your growing kids. That’s what you get when you buy that disgusting ground beef in a tube. Go ahead and keep buying that for yourself but don’t try and convince other stupid people that its safe because the USDA has inspected it. Get real.. we live in a country that profits heavily from people not knowing what they’re eating and then getting sick later on and then selling them chemicals to help them get better when its really chemicals in general that we shouldn’t be eating in the first place.

  13. The next time you go to Walmart,and buy chicken at a dollar 99 a pound look at it real close ,and you will notice that it has a lot of little holes in it where they add salt, and water back to it for flavor they say. You mean to add weight to it so that cost more money. And after all when you’re done frying it or baking it the water comes out leaving the salt and whatever chemicals that they use in it for you to eat. When you pay a dollar 99 at Kroger you just get fresh chicken breast no holes no extra salt no added water. All chicken is not just chicken. I’m not bashing the writer of this article some of the things she says are good advice but do your own homework

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  15. We are about to move into a new house and I would like this to be one of our new food strategies along with bulk cooking. Thanks for the tips.

  16. Great job Celeste. Yeah, unfortunately there’s a huge difference in quality, and your health when it comes to grass fed vs. grain fed. Factory farmed meat vs free range. An animal who has no room to breathe, surrounded by feces, urine, and filth is sick, stressed, and full of antibiotics is inhumane. Our family chooses not to support that. Local farmers, small, sustainable, and responsible raising of animals. I know you don’t care as long as you get your deals, and that’s fine. We all have choices.

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  18. Meat is meat? Chicken is chicken? You’re so very wrong! Please educate yourself before making that claim. Obviously you have no idea the amount of garbage that is put into conventional meats/foods. I have a large family and I do my absolute best to feed them healthy, organic food. All homemade. there’s a big difference between buying organic or hormone & antibiotic free, humanely raised/minimally processed foods at a cheap price and just feeding your family cheap foods. We are by no means rich and it does take effort on our parts, but you can shop wisely without feeding your family unhealthy meats/foods. It’s not ALL the same!

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