How do I shop for meat for our big family? The larger our family gets, the more creative I have to be. Here’s what works for me…
So long, free range chicken
If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you’ve watched my evolution from everything free-range, grass-fed, and organically raised to well, surviving. And being at peace over it. As I’ve shared before:
- I used to care deeply about the free-range chicken. (2004)
- I began to question if I should care so much about the free-range chicken. (2010)
- I started to care quite a bit less about the free-range chicken. (2018)
- I couldn’t care less about the free-range chicken. (2021)
- I have completely run out of chicken. (Real-time update)
There are currently 11 of us in our household: 4 adults and 7 kids. We go through a lot of chicken. Also beef. Also everything. We eat a lot of food.
2024 UPDATE: 13 in our household: 6 adults and 7 kids
As our family grows and grocery prices rise, I’ve had to find ways to cut back and save – just like everyone has. I’m determined to keep our budget at $1,200/month as long as I can and I’ve been encouraged to find that it really is possible! What I’ve found that has made the biggest difference?
Take advantage of sales and markdowns on meat.
When I find a good deal, I grab it – whether it’s free-range, grass-fed, or just regular ol’ meat from a regular ol’ store.
Yes, I’ve done the research. Yes, I know that grass-fed and free-range is better. But I also know that God is bigger, and I trust Him to nourish and protect us as we do the best we can with what we have. We also focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, because I love the nourishment we get from a satisfying meal filled with meat, veggie, and fruit! (And no, most of our produce is no longer organic either.)
I’ve settled on a $3.50/pound price point for meat.
After having to re-learn how to shop for meat as I adjust to feeding so many people three meals every day, I’ve discovered that I can fill my freezer when I search for meat that is $3.50/pound or less. I’m amazed at how doable this is!
- I can often find pork loin, pork roast, and pork butt on sale or marked down for around $2.49 or even $1.99/pound. They are usually nearing expiration so I either cook them that night or freeze them for later.
- Costco usually has boneless chicken thighs for $3.49/pound. I love how delicious these are!
- I buy ground sausage and smoked sausage at Aldi, stocking up when I’m there, especially when it is a featured sale item. Their sausage is usually around $1.99/pound and can take the place of ground beef in some recipes like spaghetti, lasagna, or other pasta dishes.
- Sam’s and Costco’s prepared, hot Rotisserie Chicken is hanging in there at $4.98. It’s a great treat to pick one up when I’m grocery shopping and then turn them into an inexpensive and delicious meal in one of these ways.
- Costco and Sam’s currently have chicken legs for $0.98/pound. We can turn these into delicious meals with no effort, either on the grill or in the oven. A big package like this feeds my entire family when I stretch it like this. So all 10 of us (the baby is still only drinking from a bottle) can eat an entire meal for $10.00 total!
My Beef Exception
For several months, I stopped buying grass-fed beef and settled for “regular” ground beef so that I could hit the $3.50 or less price-point. But I just can’t feel good about it. The quality of this meat is just not the same. The taste is different. The texture is different. I just don’t like it.
I can find Grass-Fed Hamburger meat at Sam’s and Aldi for $4.98/pound which is a very good price for high quality beef. Roasts are harder to find, but I look for them at mark-down prices. Overall, we don’t eat as much beef as other meats so that we continue to save money. But grass-fed hamburger meat wins the price-point battle. :)
Ask the meat manager
Once recently at a local grocery store, I ran into the meat manager and asked about an item they had on sale. He did me one better and told me that he had meat in the back that he’d frozen because it was reaching its expiration date. He sold it to me for half price and told me to come back any time and check with him to see what he had in the back! Check with your local meat managers to see what they might offer.
Look at this huge package of chicken breasts that he gave me for just $4.00! There are two packages under that one that marked down to $3.00 each. That divided down to just $1.00/pound for boneless chicken breasts – incredible! And all the ground beef in the box was just $2.49/pound.
What doesn’t work for me as I shop for meat
I attempted to buy and use ground turkey instead of ground beef as a way to save money. Not one of us liked this substitution. So I stopped doing that and went back to looking for great sales on ground beef. When the price is right, ground beef can be less expensive than ground turkey. :)
What’s your price point per pound of meat? What is working for you these days?