Some of those are cheaper and carry better meats than the big stores.
Buy sides of beef, whole hogs from your locals farmers. It is MUCH cheaper, not to mention local, often organic and/or grass fed. You will have to figure out how to cook all the weird parts :yes: there is more to a side of beef than delmonicos and ground.
Know your shopping list and watch the weekly ad. Buy one get one is your best friend. Clip coupons.
My husband and I have an informal competition going on. His best savings is something like 53%. And I have enough Cheerios to last until 2014 :D
Eating healthy can be cheaper than eating "convenience" foods. And a helluva lot healthier.
Agree that your portions are *way* off if you're both eating 1/2 lb of beef per sitting. :eek:
There are ways to bulk up your meals, also a lot of things you can buy in bulk (having a second freezer is worth it's purchase price many times over) and a crockpot is your best friend. (easy and meal stretching!)
I buy things on special and then get extras and freeze. Like whole chickens. Meat from a local butcher...start checking around. Buying a 1/2 or 1/4 side of beef is cost saving but you need the room to store it. Also when you buy it that way, you can customize your order. How much in ground, how many/size/cut of roasts, steaks, etc.
Buy the ziploc type freezer bags, portion large amounts of meats into single meal sizes and freeze that way.
I have the huge crockpot and every other week I put two whole chickens in there. Stuff cavities with onions and celery and a little poultry seasoning. I cover the bottom of the pot in chunked carrots and assorted veggies, chickens on top, 2 small cans of chicken broth and some salt and pepper. Cooks on low all day. (buy some crockpot liners...they rock)
End of the day the chickens have filled the pot with homemade stock. I lift the chickens out. Shred some back in the stock. You now have enough homemade chicken soup for 2 people for many meals. I usually portion out enough for 2 into freezer bags (yes, bags, easiest to pack freezer with) and freeze for lots of future fast meals. Hot chicken for that night with some of the veggies. Eough leftover chicken for chicken salad, pulled bbq chicken, sliced for sandwiches, cacciatore...anything really. I can get countless different meals simply from crockpotting 2 chickens. Total cost to fill that post runs about $15-$20. I'll get at least 10 meals for 2 out of it. Can't buy McDs for that price! :winkgrin:
Also with a crockpot you can buy cheaper cuts of meat and they come out tender. There are a billion online crockpot recipes, easy as pie to follow. Fill the pot, turn it on and you're done.
Just remember, there is no real savings in buying in bulk so large that you will not use it all up before it spoils.
No sense in buying large amounts for less, when you don't get to use it all anyway.
Some food gets freezer burn, don't expect it to be ok after several months.
Be sensible about what is a real bargain.
Please keep in mind that while buying in bulk can be a cost-saver, it's not if the items you wrap & freeze end up with freezer burn & tossed.
If you want to buy in bulk, you really need a vacuum-sealing device like Reynolds or Food Save. Otherwise you'll just be wasting your money unless you eat up all those bulk-bought items within just a month or so.
I eat only organic, locally grown/raised/slaughtered fresh food. I buy absolutely nothing prepared, processed, or preserved. No chemicals, no dyes, and no refined sugars or bleached/enriched flours. I also cannot reheat any food because all cooked food ferments and produces histamine which I have to restrict at all costs because of something called malignant mastocytosis (a type of blood cancer that involves my mast cells). It costs me about 215-230 every 7-10 days to grocery shop. It sucks, big time. I have to budget the rest of my life so I can eat well. No real advice, but I feel your pain on the cost of eating healthy!!
My very deepest apologies for thread skimming, I was multi-tasking at the time.Quote:
You haven't been following the thread before posting. OP stated/corrected in a previous post that when she said "1 pound" is gone in one meal, she meant in a lasagna or other casserole-type dish.
I was also addressing the OP.
Here are a few tricks I have found, if you find peppers on sale, cut them up and put them on a cookie sheet, freeze overnight and then put in ziplocs, then you can grab a handful for cooking instead of having to buy a $2 pepper when they were on sale a week before... Or if you've grown a lot.... Peppers are super easy to grow along with the other suggestions for container gardens..
Spring onions and chives can also be chopped and frozen, no need I freeze on the pan first just put them in a Baggie and they don't stick together, it's great... The other one is with spring onions if you only need the tops stick the bottom back in a glass of water and within a week you have new tops (the green part) again!!
Don't even get me started on the time the side of beef we bought came to One HUNDRED and twenty NINE pounds of ground.
It's all been eaten up now.
Can we say Chili anyone?
I haven't read all the replies, so forgive me if this is mentioned already, but honestly, look at produce markets. We have a few excellent ones where prices are a lot cheaper than at the all-in-one markets (some examples: kiwis are 8/$1 at the produce market, and something like 6/$2 at the big grocer; avocados are $1 a piece if you're lucky enough to catch them on sale at the big grocer, and 69c each at the produce market). I can walk into the produce market and spend $10 on enough fruits/veggies for the week, whereas the same amount would cost me upwards of $20 at the big grocer.
Buy things in season, like skipping asparagus in summer and fall.
meat is not supposed to be the main part of the dish. A deck of cards worth is supposed to be sufficient
I supstitute deer for beef when I can (read on fall many hunters let you have their kill for the cost of processing: that is around here 75 dollars or so for 40 pounds of the leanest meat you will ever have) You can hardly ever taste the difference in a lasagne or pasta sauce or even tacos. And yes, we have had many people comment how they would never eat deer, after licking the glazing off the pan!
(brown) rice and potatoes are your friend! :cool:
And beans. :lol:
you can grow some herbs in containers, a couple of tomatoes in a pot on the patio,
When I make lasagna, I buy the large tubs of cheese and jars of sauce. It takes the same amount of time to make two pans of lasagna as it does to make one.
I didn't read all the replies so if someone already made these suggestions, excuse me for doing so again.
Buy meat in bulk. Find a local farmer and buy a 1/4 or a larger portion of beef. Buy a freezer if you have to...it will pay for itself. I sold larger portions of beef for about an avg of $5/lb last year..not going to be that inexpensive this year but that included steaks, roasts, burger, etc... Same for pork...you can buy a whole or half hog from a local producer and enjoy delicious farm raised pork which is way better tasting than the grocery store pork and way less worry of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Same for poultry...buy whole roasters (ideally from a local farmer and free range without antibiotics) and you can cut it up how you want it, freeze it in whatever portions you want, etc... I sell about half of what I produce as whole roasters and the other half as cuts. I'm always amazed at what people will pay for convenience but by far the whole roaster is the most economical way to buy chicken or any poultry.
Get a couple of hens if you can. You'll produce your own eggs that taste way better than any from the store again. You can feed them kitchen scraps to keep feed costs down. Ducks are actually better at foraging if they have plenty of room but not quite as good layers generally.
Raise your own chicken for meat. it's not hard and you can raise a few broilers in your back yard in a chicken tractor and no one will ever know. They are typically pretty quiet and you can do the butchering yourself. It's easy to do and again you know where your meat came from and how it lived...and it will save you a ton of money.
I also think having a garden is a great idea. I've bought very few veggies this year and am trying to get my fall garden in now. I only buy a few things from the grocery store these days.
Pork has been my weak link and I had to depend on local producers falling back on the grocery when they were sold out but this year we are going to start raising a heritage breed of pigs, so we'll now have pork for ourselves and some to sell.
Buying from a local butcher is NO guarantee the meat is 'healthy.'
It is most likely still grain fed-and in *my books* that is far from healthy.
Grass feed organic meat or humane poultry is very pricey (as in wild caught fish).
So so sad but true.
The most economical way to improve things is reduce your 'meat' intake and concentrate on healthy fruits and vegetables.
Going for 'healthy' food with faces is a wallet bust...and I am NOT vegetarian so this is not political....just sad facts.
My favorite "trick" is utilizing the Dollar Store. Dollar General is my favorite. I always hit it up before I go to the regular grocery and pick up everything that I can. Everything is loads cheaper. Also, did you know that you can use coupons there?! It seems like cheating! :)
Have only skimmed most of the posts, but great advice here.
Yes, the freezer is your friend. Learn to vacuum pack, but also the ziplock "freezer" gallon bags work quite well too for stuff wrapped from the butcher/meat section.
Look for different places to shop, farm stands, produce centers, off beat groceries. Small groceries in ethnic neighborhoods often have great quality meats. I do 90% of my shopping at a teeny italian market that sells nothing but fresh food at lower prices than anyone else. The meat is really lovely, and they butcher there so there are lots of interesting cuts.
Learn how to prepare "cheap" meat. Ground beef is mucho expensive, I rarely buy it. Learning how to cook cheap cuts of meat will teach you how to be a good cook :lol: and they can be the most flavorful and delightful meals. I rarely use a crockpot, I braise mostly.
When I go shopping, I go to the meat section first and see what looks good and is on sale. I buy the best bang for my buck and then build a meal around that.
Grow your own herbs on your windowsill or round the mailbox or wherever. Its obscene what they charge for fresh rosemary and thyme and basil... herbs so delicious and so flippin easy to grow.
Read sales circulars each week and plan your shopping around what is on sale.
Do make friends w hunters and anglers, they often have tons of game to share. I fish and hunt and put up 2-4 deer per year, plus other game, much more than I can eat, my friends always get the spoils. Vension makes fantastic shepards pie and meatloaf too if done correctly. I never buy fish, I am in the ocean fishing once a week and if I do well we get to eat delicious fish that week. Still working on all of the Striper I caught this spring, had unbelievable fish cakes this week. YUM!
But most of all, as everyone else is saying, learn how to meal plan. If you're going to spend on a big hunk of meat get many uses for it.
For example, last week I bought a large fresh chicken for $6 and a large fresh pork picnic shoulder for $5. Chicken was roasted on Monday and the SO and I had chicken with gravy (made from the pan, not prepared), mashed potatoes ($2 5lb whites, on sale, but I use from my garden right now), and braised green beans ($2 for 2lbs from farmers market) with butter and herbs.
Tuesday I picked the carcass and we had chicken salad (vidalia onion & celery $4) on bakery fresh rolls (2 for $1), with a baby spinach salad ($5 a package that lasts 3 meals) with bacon ($3 on sale shoprite) and hard boiled eggs (farm fresh, I trade venison for :) ). I saved the carcass and any left over chicken that wasn't needed for salad.
Wednesday, I braised my pork picnic shoulder in 2lbs of sauerkraut ($4) with apples ($1), and caramelized carrots ($1 1lb bag on sale). I also baked a loaf of crusty bread. We had friends over that night, and all shared the meal with fresh oven bread with thick slabs of butter ($9 for 4lbs of REALLY good butter at Sams).
Thursday was poor man's Reuben specials with the left over pork and sauerkraut, on left over crusty bread, home made TI dressing, and left over jarslberg cheese from the week before. Pork bone and rind went in freezer for winter soup.
Friday was awesome chicken soup from the carcass and left over meat, and left over nuggets of veggies from use all week (celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, greenbeans) and home made slippery dumplings.
Saturday was a treat of Striper I caught, poached in butter and white wine. Colossal shrimp were on sale for $12lb so treated ourselves there (roasted in butter and cranberry tomatoes and garlic from the garden), and wilted baby spinach salad over a garlic crust from the last bits of my baked loaf of bread.
Sunday was dinner with friends.
Monday was awesome fishcakes (scallions 50¢, lemon 50¢, left over corn flakes, eggs, left over bread ground down for breadcrumbs) and jasmine rice ($8 for 15lbs at asian market).
So, not including the rice or butter, dinner for the week came to around $47, and it was pretty durn good eatin' if I may say so :lol:
Look at how many useages you can get out of a piece of meat and pretty soon you can get away with only 2-3 big pieces per week. Try to make your big pieces of meat cheap pieces of meat, keep them under $10 each if possible. Supporting side dishes never need to be pricey, unless you're doing something with cheeses, etc. One can easily find fresh produce for a meal for $10. 3 pieces of meat at $30 and three sides at $30, you're at $60 for 7 days worth of dinners.
Lasagna is a pricey meal to make. I think it costs me around $30 to make a big pan of lasagna, and I make my own tomato sauce from tomatoes I grow and put up. The cheese and meat (I use sausage) is just absurd. Lasagna is a 'fancy' meal in our home :lol:
But one of my favorites, beef shins and turnips ($6 for beef, $2 for turnips) is a staple and OH SO GOOD.