This “Save Money on Meat” Page contains a growing list of frugal ideas for grinding beef, slicing ham, lunch meat ends from the deli, meat bought in bulk and so much more! Plus there are more resources listed at the bottom of this page.
1. How to Grind Beef at Home
If you want to save money on meat, grinding beef at home is safer and healthier than buying ground beef in the store. It also allows you to save money and be healthier.
We read in Consumer Reports magazine, several years ago, about the great potential for contamination/bacteria in bulk ground beef at the store.
Commercial grinding equipment is used every day and has lots of nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned and sanitized. Because of this, it is possible for a small bit of meat to be left inside, which can cause contamination.
This contamination can be overcome by cooking store-bought meat thoroughly. It can also be minimized or eliminated by grinding your meat at home.
Grinding Beef at Home is Healthier
So one thing we’ve done for many years is to in fact grind our own beef at home. We’ve had friends who were butchers suggest that we rinse all store bought ground beef. These same butchers have also recommended that we thoroughly cook the store bought ground beef (150-degree internal temperature) to minimize exposure to, or kill any bacteria.
And they further suggested reducing the purchase of ground beef products. We have stopped buying the cheapest ground beef ( 75/25 or 73/27) in five-pound chubs. As a result, we started looking for inexpensive cuts of beef that we could grind at home.
Buying a Meat Grinder
We purchased a meat grinding attachment that was designed to fit on our heavy-duty KitchenAid mixer.
Trimming the Meat
Then we set out to learn the finer points of making ground beef. Initially, we trimmed all the fat off the meat from the beef. Over time, we found that 99 percent fat-free meat was so lean that it burned easier, had a different taste (more “gamey”), and didn’t stick together well for meatballs and meatloaf. Now we intentionally leave some fat on. But our finished product looks similar to the super-lean ground beef that sells for $5 to $6 per pound in the grocery store.
In order to minimize the possibility that we could spread bacteria when we’re handling our meat, we rinse the uncut meat under running water. Then we slice it on a plastic cutting mat. When we’re done grinding the meat, we disassemble the grinder attachment and wash it along with the knife and cutting mat in hot soapy water with bleach added to it. Being safe takes a little extra effort, but the peace of mind is worth it. Steve – Scottsdale, AZ
2. Shank Ham for Lunchmeat?
Pork prices have been pretty low lately. We’ve found pork chops for 99 cents a pound and shank hams as low as 78 cents a pound. Watch this video where we slice our own lunch meat from a shank ham and let us know if you think it’s worth the effort. If you’re interested in finding an inexpensive meat slicer, check out Amazon, eBay , and Craigslist.
Steve and Annette – Scottsdale, AZ
This was one of the first videos we shot ourselves. Please don’t laugh (too hard) at our video skills – we’re still learning . . . and Steve being headless is actually a blessing . . . right?
Visit this page to see more ways to save with a meat slicer
3. Broiled Bulk Beef is Better
Here’s how I save on lean ground beef. I watch for bulk lean or extra lean ground beef at a good price and buy a lot of it. Then I break it up and bake all of it on a broiler pan in the oven so that the fat drips below. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour. After cooling a bit, I separate it into quart sized freezer bags – approximating one bag for each pound of pre-cooked meat.
Then I freeze them and when I need a pound of ground beef for a recipe I just defrost a bag in the microwave or submerge it in water to defrost. This saves a great deal of time and mess when I am in a hurry to put a meal on the table. And I have lean ground beef for the price of regular ground because I bought it in bulk! Linda Holland – Bothell, WA
Save Money on Meat Tip #4 – Discount Meat at Closing Time
If you shop in smaller shops or butcher stores you can be lucky and get extreme discounts shortly before closing time for the end-pieces of sausage or cheese.
Christina – Cologne, Germany
Why don’t deli’s save the Ends? We were recently visiting Steve’s Dad in Chicago and shopped at a really cool store called Caputo’s Market. Their prices were very competitive and the produce was terrific, but the thing that caught Steve’s eye was in the deli section. The deli had packaged up the heels and ends of various cuts of lunch meat or cheese.
They sold it at a huge discount—$1.29 per pound for Black Forest Ham and Prosciutto—it was the deal of the century and is a regular practice at this store. We’re wondering why more stores don’t have the same policy?
5. Turkey Left-Overs, More Than Sandwiches
Four Easy Post-Thanksgiving turkey ideas— supplement with side dishes for a complete meal.
Mix sliced, diced or shredded cooked turkey with your favorite bar-b-que sauce.
Mix diced turkey with sour cream (or plain yogurt), cheese and salsa. Roll mixture into flour tortillas, set in a baking dish that has had salsa spread thinly across the bottom. Once the filled tortillas are in the 9X13 baking pan/dish, cover with more salsa or enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese on top is melted and ingredients are hot — about 45 minutes. This is a family favorite.
Take diced or sliced cooked turkey and generously stir in spaghetti sauce. Spread evenly in a baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Once the turkey is carved and most of the meat removed from the carcass — don’t toss it out. We take all the bones, wrap them up in the tenting foil and save them in the freezer for later use. When ready, fill a large pot with eight quarts of water, add the turkey bones along with onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper. Boil on high for at least one hour. With a slotted spoon remove the bones and dispose of them. Add ingredients such as celery, carrot, mixed veggies and small pasta for a delicious soup. If you want to learn a quick method for cooking a turkey read this article.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day. That’s over 525 million pounds of turkey meat being consumed. This means 1.8 pounds of turkey for every — man, woman, and child (there are no figures available for how much is consumed by begging pets. Ninety percent of American homes serve turkey on Thanksgiving and fifty percent serve it again on Christmas. Steve and Annette – Scottsdale, AZ
6. Limits for Freezing Turkeys?
Question: I took your advice and bought a couple of sale turkeys before Thanksgiving. How long can a frozen turkey be stored without going bad?
Answer: We stock up on a large number of turkeys at Thanksgiving, too. It provides us with the least expensive poultry price of the year. About once each month (except during the hotter summer months), we cook a turkey. We eat some of the meat that night and save the rest to be used in recipes made on our once-a-month cooking day.
Frozen turkeys can be stored for up to one year and notice no difference in taste or quality from the birds that are eaten right away. We talked to a former Navy chef, now working as a butcher, who said that while in the military, they would routinely ship out for 18 months. Sometimes they stowed two years’ worth of Thanksgiving turkeys on board in deep freezers.
Turkey that is vacuum-sealed in heavy plastic and then frozen can be stored indefinitely. This same rule applies to other vacuum-sealed meats. Meat frozen in Styrofoam trays with thin plastic wrap should either be repackaged or eaten much sooner.
How to Freeze Cooked Turkey Meat
I just read that cooked meat dries out when frozen — do you freeze cooked turkey meat? And will this same method work for other types of cooked meat?
Here’s how we freeze turkey meat without drying it out
We do freeze cooked turkey meat and store it in freezer zippered bags. When we seal the plastic bag, we squeeze it to get as much air out as possible. Getting the air out keeps it from getting dried out and from getting freezer burned.
An alternate method would be to use a vacuum sealer.
The key is getting the air out AND not storing it for more than 6 months to 1 year.
7. Meat Bought for the Month
During the last few months, I’ve been trying to get a hold of our expenses and came across a really cool tip – buying meat on a monthly basis. I’ve found a butcher near our home who sells a month’s worth of meat for $80.
You can mix up the type and amount of meat. This has been wonderful because I feel “well-stocked” and can plan or make a meal without running out for main ingredients. The money I save goes to stock up on dry goods and frozen veggies. Liz W – Portland, ME
I love that I’m not the only one who does this and it works! There is a meat market here in town and they have a few great packages. One is for $50.00 and the other is $100.00. The meat market has a great variety in each package. I buy meat once a month for now and then when I can get ahead, every other month I buy $200.00 worth of meat.
I buy the ‘sides’ at a Grocery Outlet or WinCo and it’s for all the main dishes my family loves. Our freezer investment pays off and we never run out of meat! It’s awesome! The only time I buy meat in bulk at Costco is if they have a $4.00 off coupon for pork chops or for lenguisa (a Portuguese must! lol!)
8. Ground Beef Bought in Bulk
Early in our marriage, we had six children, and I worked outside of our home. To feed our large family, and save money on meat, we would buy a load of meat (usually a side of beef) from the butcher. Of course, we received some less than desirable cuts of meat, so we’d get creative. For example, we’d take several pounds of ground beef and make two or three large meatloaves to freeze raw.
We’d also make large batches of meatballs (about 80 at one time) and freeze those too. Then we mounted a hamburger press on a board and let the kids take the rest of the ground beef to make loads of hamburgers. We separated the burgers with waxed paper to keep them from sticking together. Buying in bulk and working together fed us well and saved us lots of money.
Marci S. – Phoenix, AZ
There is a company that sells large quantities of ground beef, ground turkey, chicken and pork at regular prices that rival grocery store prices. But if you sign up through their website, you’ll be notified of their awesome sales – we picked up 40 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 99 cents per pound. You have to order a 40-pound case, but if you store it right or split it with a friend or two, it will last a long time. If you’re interested in buying meat in bulk, read this blog.
9. Meat for Lunches
Lunchmeat is a tough one to save on for me. Because lunchmeat is so expensive where I live, I choose another option. I’ll cook chicken breasts in my crockpot and then shred them to use in wraps and sandwiches. Kristy Hunt – Plainfield, IL
10. Three Ways to Buy Lunchmeat and Save Money
Some people call it luncheon meat, cold cuts, deli meat, lunch meat, No matter what you call it, if you’re not careful, it can be really expensive. If you’re looking for Cheap Cold Cuts, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll review 3 different ways to purchase lunch meat – from most expensive to cheapest. If you take our advice you could save 75 percent on your next shopping trip for deli meat.
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11. Buying Meat Fresh from the Farm!
I haven’t purchased store-bought meat in over 1 1/2 years. What I don’t raise myself, I buy fresh from the farm. I can get the cuts I want and at live weights of 50 to 98 cents a pound plus processing—which is usually under 30 cents a pound.
For those who aren’t in the rural areas and can grow their own foods, check your local papers for farmers who are selling beef, pork or poultry and look for a processing plant near you. You’ll get great cuts of your choice, without all the additives found in meats in the supermarkets today. I raise poultry, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea hens for meat & eggs. I barter whole fresh cow’s milk and make cheese, butter and have fresh milk too without any the additives. Mona – Viola, AR
Buying & Splitting a Whole Cow For Beef
One of the best things we’ve done to save money and time and still eat well was to buy a cow! Actually, we split a cow with another family. It is cheaper for the butcher to not have to weigh each package and maintain inventory. It’s also a better deal for the rancher to sell just one cow instead of deal dollars away for a herd. Of course, to do this properly you must have adequate storage space. So we have a large upright freezer.
We found an independent butcher (not a chain or grocery store). The place we used was Double K Meat Market in Cologne, MN. My friend lives in Cologne and discovered this butcher. He had a rancher that he worked with and gave us his contact information.
He said that he could deal with the rancher directly, but it would be cheaper for us if we contacted the rancher directly. I don’t know if he’s the kind of butcher who does game meat or if he just deals in domesticated animals.
The cow we purchased was about 850 pounds (gross weight after hide, hooves, and head are removed). This is basically the slab of meat after it is drained, gutted and cleaned (all waste is removed). We split the beef with our friends and ended up with about 425 pounds of meat.
The butcher cuts it into small, easily defrost-able, wrapped packages. We got T-Bones, Ribeyes, roasts, stew meat and about 130 pounds of high-quality ground beef as they don’t add fat to make it cheaper. All told, our final cost including the cow from the rancher and the fees to the butcher was about $1600 or $800 per family.
Price Per Pound
This came out to $1.88 per pound for every cut of meat imaginable. We saved a huge amount of money and haven’t had to buy beef for a year!
It goes to prove that you don’t need to live in a rural area to find great savings. We live in Minneapolis and my friend lives 40 miles away in a more rural area. We use the big beef drop as an excuse to get together.
Now we’re looking into buying a pig as “our cow” has left some spare room in the freezer. Wendy Hathaway – Minneapolis, MN
For more great tips on buying meat and other grocery savings, consider purchasing our second book, Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.
More article resources for meat savings
For more great grocery tips, visit our cooking page.
Also, For our blog on the in’s and out’s of freezing meat, click here.
For a crazy idea to save on meat, check out this blog.
Additionally, for learning how to buy fresh meat in bulk, click here.
Or visit our blog about ways to find cheap meat near you.
If you have a tip to save money on Meat, please to share it in the comments section below.