We ate twice as much meat as our families did in the 1950’s. Meat prices have quadrupled since then if not more. Livestock raising has become less about quality and more about quantity. We are becoming more and more obese every day.
All those factors have led to our household eating less meat. The only way I buy meat (except chicken) anymore is straight from the farmer who delivers it to the butcher that I choose. I can get the cuts I want, soup bones for broth, and fat to make tallow or lard. I pay a bit less than buying at the grocery store. Even though I pay less, I treasure that meat more. Even though I have meat in my freezer, I do not serve meat every meal or night.
Although we buy meat like that, meat is still the most expensive item(s) on everyone’s grocery list. A three pound roast easily costs $8-10 if not more. 85% ground beef is over $3 a pound and rarely on sale for less than $2.79 a pound. For a week’s worth of groceries, one could easily spend $30-40 on meat. Yikes!
Even with a freezer full of meat, we eat 2-3 meals a week without meat. How?
We eat other sources of protein rich foods. We eat a lot of eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, yogurt, cheese, and drink a fair amount of milk. We eat spaghetti without meat, soup without meat, macaroni and cheese, a variety of pasta dishes, egg dishes, etc.
I know the kids still need a lot of protein for their ever-changing and growing bodies so I offer a lot of these options. While adults need a fair amount of protein, we also need to eat more fruits and vegetables than meat. If you burn a lot of calories in a day, you need a lot of protein. I look to other sources that are cheaper than meat while still serving meat a few times a week.
While trying to save money, I do not recommend giving up meat altogether. I consider it very important to our bodies and believe it necessary for good nutrition.
If you do not think you can give up serving meat each night for supper, try to cut back how much you serve at a meal. If you are accustomed to serving a five pound roast, try serving a 3-4 pound roast and serving more vegetables and potatoes. If you are making tacos, limit the amount of meat in the taco. Use more vegetables in your tacos or stretch the meat with lentils or beans. You can roast a 5-6 pound whole chicken and stretch that over 2-4 meals. If the recipe calls for two pounds ground beef, try 1-1/2 pounds or add oatmeal to stretch the meat more. Many things can be done to stretch the meat further while promoting healthy eating.
You should also shop the loss leaders and sales for meat. Stock up when the price is good and freeze in portions that are right you and your family. A food saver or freezer bags would be a good investment to help get that meat in portions you can use. Before I bought meat from the farmer, I would buy ten pound tubes of ground beef and divide them into portions that made sense for us. I would do one pound and one and one-half pound packages. I still buy 10-20 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and divide them into packages of 2-3 halves.
If you have the opportunity to raise your meat or hunt your own meat, even better! I do not know much about raising or hunting your own meat, but I hope to learn more soon!
With a little creativity, you can do a lot to cut your meat costs and eat less meat. How do you cut your meat costs?
Thanks for reading!