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Proteins, Meat, Seafood

Save Money on Groceries: Protein Foods, Meat, Seafood
by Michelle Jones,

Tip # 1 - Eat Less

One of the best ways to save money on a high priced protein (such as steaks and seafood) is to not eat a lot of it.  Remember, smaller portions are also healthier anyways!

Tip # 2 - Chicken

Of course most of us need (and enjoy) protein in our daily diets, so when you do purchase them be sure to buy only what's on sale each week!  If you only like one or two certain items, like chicken breasts or butterfly pork chops, then stock up when they go on sale.

Tip # 3 - Fish

Here's a good example... Orange Roughy is our favorite fish (a mild flavored white fish), and unfortunately it's also one of the most expensive.  So instead of buying it weekly (even monthly), we opt to only purchase it when on sale.  Another option is to select other fish varieties you might not normally eat, such as catfish and salmon.  Both are often on sale and are also very tasty.

Tip # 4 - Ground Beef

Even when it's not on sale, you can usually purchase the larger packages of ground beef, chuck or round, and save money. Avoid purchasing the pre-made hamburger patties unless they are on a really good sale (also available in the frozen food section).  And don't waste your money on ground beef that has a fat content of 30% or more... yuck!  (Ground chuck, or ground round is usually the best buy.  When ground turkey goes on sale it may be even better, though it's often priced higher at most stores.)

Tip # 5 - Ham

The very best time to buy ham is before or after the holidays, they are always on sale! After preparing a large ham for one meal, simply divide the leftovers into family size portions and freeze.

Tip # 6 - Pork

One of the most economical ways to buy pork is to buy the quarter, half or whole pork loins when they go on sale.  Have the butcher cut them into chops at the store or do it at home later that day.  We like to cut half of the loin into chops and save the other half, or just a third of the loin, for a Sunday pork roast.  (They're terrific glazed with Teriyaki sauce!)

Tip # 7 - Poultry

Can I just say again, SALE - SALE - SALE!  Chicken breasts alone can cost DOUBLE when not on sale, who's paying these ridiculous prices anyways?  Not us!  Whole cut-up chickens are another good buy, as well as whole chickens and turkeys around the holidays--they always over-stock and will need to sell off the extra.

Tip # 8 - Seafood

Buy only when on sale!! (I regularly plan our weekly menus around the best sales and save a fortune this way!)

Tip # 9 - Steaks

Same as above, if it's not on sale it doesn't go in my cart.

Tip # 10 - Ask the Butcher

As with pork loins, sometimes you can find a good sale on whole sirloins (uncut steaks) and ask the butcher to trim and cut them for you at the store.  This is a free service and if you like to have steak often this will certainly be worth the effort, you'll just need to make a little room in your freezer for the extra steaks.  Meat will generally keep well in the freezer for 6 months or more but I prefer to serve them much sooner than that, they just taste so much better when they're fresh!

Tip # 11 - Stir Fry

And likewise, cut your own beef strips out of steaks that are on sale for stir fry, or bite sized chunks for beef stew, this is usually much cheaper than buying the packages of precut beef strips or sirloin tips.

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Readers' Tips...

"When roasting meat, as long as you don't plan on making gravy, your can save the drippings. I add about 1/2 to 1 cup of water to the bottom of my pan, and heat it up on the stove top while scraping up the bits on the bottom with a spoon. Once all of the tasty bits are taken up into the liquid, I let the liquid cool a bit and then strain the drippings into containers (about 1/2 cup per container) and chill in order to remove excess fat before freezing. These drippings can be used in place of soup base cubes or in recipes like risotto." - Tanya L.

"Has anyone ever considered buying meat from a meat locker/slaughter house?  (I like "meat locker" better.)  Living in the Midwest, we have quite few around here.  I did not even know about these until we were put in the financial position to search out other options to cut our food bill down.  Well, I found one that sells meat that they buy from the local  meat raisers.  One meat locker offers a pork package that consists of 75  pounds of pork (chops, ribs, hams, roasts, hocks) for about $149.00.  So that comes to about 2 dollars a pound!  We ordered a half of beef from a different  meat locker not far from us, and received quite a bit of meat.  When my husband and I figured it up (pound per dollar) it came to $1.47 a pound, that was including ground chuck, steaks, roasts, short ribs, soup bones.  These meat lockers are all FDA approved as are the meat  raisers.  I'm glad I checked into this.  It has helped us a great deal in our financial struggles this year." - Jacquelin in Indiana

Whenever the grocery store over here has great BOGO sales on their meats and produce I always buy a roast (two actually since its BOGO) but since the roasts are always around 15-20 dollars, I cut them in half before I freeze them.  Since we are a small family with just two adults and two small children, half a roast is always enough.  Then I still have some left over for roast beef sandwiches or mini pot pies for lunch the next day (this way we are not eating roast for 3 days since we don't like wasting, and also since my husband doesn't like eating the same thing in a row.  It helps since he doesn't have to eat the roast, I just make him a small lunch sandwich or soup to take to work. this way we can have a nice roast about every two weeks for about 2 months and I only spend 15 dollars on the meat instead of spending 60 for two months worth of meat.  I also do the same thing with ground beef and chicken and pork chops.  I only use half a pound when it calls for a whole pound (like in soups and boxed dinners) they all go on sale buy one get one free so I stock up and cut everything in half.  We keep a small deep freezer for our stock and I vacuum seal everything to minimize freezer burn. (I'll also cut up and prepare "mixed veggie bags" for our meals that I freeze.)  Also, I wanted to say that I love your site and I can gladly say my house looks better and we save tons of money with your tips! Thanks! - Ashley

"The best way to get quality hamburger is to find a cheaper cut of beef roast on sale (brisket or chuck) and get the butcher to grind them. (more flavor-less fat)  The secret to great steak is to start the cooking process slow and even the cheaper ones become tender.  From; a thrifty female butcher." - V.

"I go to the grocery store like everyone else and I see the prices of meat skyrocket to the point where I can’t afford to buy meat and we are meat eaters. I have found that your local butcher has much better prices than that of you local grocery store and the quality is much better. They offer meat packs at great prices. So ditch the grocery store and shop your local meat market. Another tip is to limit your trips to the grocery store. Every time you go you end up buying things that you don’t need. I shop once every six months and I only buy produce and dairy as I need it. When I do go to buy dairy or produce I will have already scanned the store ads for any buy one get one frees and grab those if I am running low. Happy shopping." - Stacy

"I have purchased lots of pasta and then stored it in my freezer. It works great, just remember if you are taking it directly out of the freezer to use immediately your boiling water will cool off fast. I found out you can freeze your pasta after renting a home and having to deal with mice. Mice can't get in the freezer."  - Rachel

"Occasionally, Kroger supermarket sells whole boneless tip roasts for $1.99 per pound.  They will cut the meat according to your specifications.  Since we need to watch our cholesterol, I usually purchase two or three, have all of the fat removed, and grind them into burger.  (Where can you purchase ground sirloin for $1.99 per pound?)  Sometimes I have them cut into steaks, some to grill and others cubed, and have some cut into roasts.  My husband and I are retired and take advantage of the additional 5% discount for senior citizens on Tuesdays, making our meat purchase even less than $1.99 a pound.  I then divide the packages according to our particular needs and freeze them.  Meat trays and freezer paper can be purchased at Walmart at a reasonable cost." - Charlotte J.

"Aldi's has one pound "chubs" (tubes) of ground turkey meat for less than a dollar. It is slightly higher in fat than the ground turkey you get in the regular grocery store (it's 80/20) but it's the same fat content as the ground chuck and turkey is better for you than beef anyway. Plus in most dishes you can't tell the difference. If you have someone in your family who swears they can tell, do half and half with turkey and beef. You will still save a lot of money and I promise you they won't notice that half the meat isn't beef." - Melissa Smith (Note: Price may be different from the time of this submission.)

"Our local grocery sells bulk packages (4-5 lbs) of ham odds & ends, perfectly good meat, always less than half the price of deli sliced meats, and often on sale. I have an inexpensive meat slicer at home, and slice up the ham for sandwiches, or dice it up for omelets, pizza topping, salads, or whatever. I don't buy it too often or the kids would get tired of it and some ham would probably get wasted, but it's great when on sale." - Stu of CA

"We always buy ground beef or chuck when it's on sale, but it used to sit in the freezer because it's so hard to deal with it once it's frozen. So I started cooking it as soon as I buy it. I buy several pounds at a time, cook it all up in a large pot, drain the fat, and put it in individual containers about 1-1.5 pounds each. Then when I want to make sloppy joes, spaghetti, hamburger helper, chili, etc, I just reach in the freezer and grab a container of pre-cooked ground beef. It thaws in no time at all!" - Jill D.

"I have found convenience and saving in purchasing hamburger in bulk when on sale. In my largest pot, I break up the meat, add water to cover, then boil, breaking the meat some more until all is no longer pink and any fat raises to the top. I then pour through a colander and rinse with hot water. Spoon into recipe sized quart freezer bags, date and freeze. Lean, cooked ground beef is now ready for any recipe, with no time consuming pre-browning!" - Cindy Liskov

"Many folks in our area (NW North Carolina), grow a garden and hunt. So, it's very frugal for us to do that and can the veggies, as well as some of the meat that is hunted. What meat we don't can, we freeze. That saves a load of money too. And I know folks that raise beef cattle & pigs to sell the meat. So, if you can find one that's willing to work with you on the cost of the meat, that saves a lot too." - Leanne Evans

"I would like to add to the previous tip on purchasing hamburger meat in bulk when on sale... To make it even more frugal, save the water you drain off and use it as stock. You can use it in place of water when making mashed potatoes, as a beef (or turkey, you can do this with ground turkey as well) soup base, as the water to boil your pasta in, or anywhere you might want a little extra flavor. If you don't want the fat, let the water sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning you can scrap the fat off the top and dispose, or use in place of other fats for frying." - Kymberlee

"Instead of using hamburger in your hamburger helper, use sausage. It's cheaper and adds a lot more flavor." - Dolores Bryant

"Hello! I recently came across your website and I love it!! I'm a 'pre-college' student and I know that my money will be pretty tight soon, especially with this economy! So I'm learning to be frugal ahead of time. I do have a tip about meat. We usually go to Sam's Club early in the morning (preferably before it opens, which you can do with a membership at our store) and they have LOTS of marked down meat put out then. The earlier the better, you want to beat the next guy! Whether this is done at other stores early in the morning I'm not sure, but Sam's Club definitely does. Hope this helps someone! - Nicole Jenanian

"Did you know that Walmart will even price match steaks? I paid $4.99 lb (Kroger ad) for a rib eye steak that Walmart had for $8.99 lb. Take your local ads with you." - Melinda L.

"One of the unusual things that I have done recently to save money has to do with a method of making turkey stock. I cut the wings off my turkey before placing it in the oven to roast. I then take the wings and the neck and cover it with water and cook these on the stovetop while the turkey is roasting. This permits me to make a delicious turkey stock which I can use for either gravy or soup." - Delta Jackson

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