I’ve been meaning to write a really long, good article on saving strategies for buying meat.
Yes, of course cutting down on meat is a wonderful strategy. Of course, all of us are not vegetarians and don’t want to be. I actually was for a couple of years. It was great for my weight, but the lifestyle really was not for me. Some of our favorite meatless meal standbys call for eggs, eggplant, pasta, mushroom, and cheese dishes.
I just want to offer a few random tips for saving that I use. I continue to research and explore this subject. Here are a few very basic sort of things though that I’ve learned:
Never throw meat away. For me, it just seems very disrespectful to the sacrifice of the animal, but also, it’s just wasting money. Small amounts of cooked meat can be frozen for soups, fried rice, pot pies – a number of things.
Boy is bacon getting expensive! Sometimes I get great coupons on turkey bacon, but I don’t really really think it tastes like bacon. However, I discovered if I cook a pack of REAL pork bacon first, then fry the turkey bacon in the same oil, problem solved. It’s good that way. So if I need 2 packs, I save a bit by making one of them a pack of turkey bacon.
Often I buy the ends and peices. It’s a lot less expensive and sometimes there are some really nice peices in there. In general I’ve moved to using more bacon bits, so these packs work fine for me. The random pieces are great for baked beans, making bacon bits, and seasoning green beans. I sort the pack, then fry the good pieces for a breakfast. The rest I save for other recipes. We stretch bacon a lot by making bacon, egg, and cheese quiches, and also bacon, egg, and potato skillet meals.
When buying whole turkeys and chicken, I buy the biggest I can. Why? Because if you buy the smaller ones, you are paying more for bones. At Thanksgiving, I got a HUGE generic turkey for $8. I roasted it slow and moist, so the turkey came out great. Besides Thanksgiving with company, it’s provided 3 other meals this week, and there’s enough for 2 more meals in the fridge. Besides regular plain turkey, we enjoy turkey fajitas and turkey pot pies a lot. Chicken is even more versatile.
I see pork neck bones very cheap in the stores, and I’ve tried them, and they are just not for us! It makes a good enough soup, but I just prefer other cuts so it wasn’t a winner for us. I’ll continue to experiement with cuts like that, and if I find a winner, I’ll post it.
I’ve discovered it is even less expensive, pound for pound, to just buy a huge Boston Butt on sale. Again, I look for the largest, meatest cut I can find. A basic slow roast with basic spices like salt and pepper and you have one very versatile cut. We like barbecue sandwiches, Cubans, and pork fried rice. Sometimes I might cut off an end before cooking and make souvlaki. It’s extremely versatile.
We’re lucky to have a friend that hunts, but he won’t eat deer meat. It’s pretty good if you have a good hunter – and ours is. I’d had deer in the past that was not that good, but my hunter friend told me that was caused by the animal running a long time wounded. The trick to good deer meat is a fast, humane kill, with a quick field dress. When done right – it is awesome. The other thing, I think, is that some people expect it to taste just like beef, and since it doesn’t, it seems a bit funny to them. It’s not beef – it’s deer! To me it is a bit like a cross between beef and lamb.
It’s a very lean, healthy meat. Recently I was anemic. Vitamins and iron supplements didn’t seem to be helping. We ate deer for 3 days straight – and I started feeling better right away. It is very high in iron.
If you can hunt, or know someone that likes to, this can be a very inexpensive option. I hope to learn to process our own soon, but right now we pay to have it done, and it still turns out less than $2.00 a pound. We get an assortment of roasts, steaks from the loins, and ground meat. Venison availability can vary by area. In Georgia where we are the deer is considered safe to eat. There are some areas in distant states where wasting disease has been discovered in the populations. (Cows and deer both can get it.) Our deer is hunted from large wild preserve, so we don’t worry much about pesticides.
In closing, I think the real trick to saving money on meat is to expand your palate a bit. It’s ok to be a bit adventurous with food. If you watch the ‘high dollar’ chefs on tv- half the time they are cooking and eating perfectly good, tasty cuts a lot of ‘everyday normal’ people would turn their noses up at. Learn to cook, buy what’s on sale, have fun, store leftovers, and save money. How much more win-win could it be?