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Money Saving Grocery Tips For Carnivores
Where's The Beef
Lately I have been reading about saving money on groceries and it seems like everyone wants to cut out the meat from their meals. This is seen on vegetarian Mondays and tofu recipes that are supposed to satisfy the carnivores in our families. Vegetarian living is not for all of us and even if they were, our families would never go for it. Husbands would swear they were being punished, my kids would break out into anarchy. So if your family is like mine, here are a few ideas to keep the meat on your plate and the budget intact.
Cuts of Meat-Chicken
Alot of money can be saved, just by doing a little work. Especially when it comes to chicken. Chicken breast remains the most used type of meat beyond hamburger, yet it amazes me the grocery stores expect 3-5 dollars a pound for it. Split cut chicken breast is an alternative that is on sale all the time for 1-2 dollars a pound and the only difference is a little cutting and prep work. It also leaves bones that can be used for broth or soup bases.
Another cheap cut is the thigh, which contains the most meat for size. It runs under two dollars a pound and can be substituted for breast in many dishes, without the tendency to dry out.
Whole chicken can be a way to go, although more work is required. The bone to meat ratio lovers when you grab the whole bird, but will still be remarkably less than tenders or boneless/skinless breast cuts.
Cuts of Meat-Beef
Steak-Great cuts do not have to cost alot, there are several cuts that are tender and lean, while still contained in your budget. Flat-iron and sirloin are both under 3 dollars a pound and cook up better than a New York strip. The right seasonings and you have steak house quality for a whole lot less. If you want the melt in your mouth tenderness from these cuts, sprinkle liberally with salt ( helps break down the protein) about 5-10 minutes before they hit the pan. There are also seasoned meat tenderizers and the old mallet to do the trick as well. Keep in mind though, the less it is cook, the tenderer it is.
Roast-Sirloin roast are usually cheaper than the pre cut variety and you can save another dollar a pound just by cutting your own. Takes about 10 minutes to cut then wrap it up in meal size portions and you are good to go.
Roast-Chuck or bottom roast are an even cheaper variety. The outcome of this meat greatly depends on cooking, but I have found with a good sear and a thinner cut, it can make a very tasty steak. It is also good for soups and stews, roasting or any other type of slow cooking over a long period of time.
Hamburger is very versatile, but can be filled with grease. A good way to use it and save a little grease is to cook on an angled surface (George Foreman style) or dabbing like bacon with paper towel. If used in casseroles, a quick rinse in a strainer can reduce much of what cooked out of it.
Coming from Louisiana, moving to West Virginia was the biggest price shock of them all. Prices have went up and quality went down. With no fresh grain-fed catfish in sight, I had to find alternatives to satisfy my seafood need.
First order of business is "fresh seafood." If you can drive 20-30 miles to a shore, I seriously doubt it is fresh. Most companies like to call it "fresh-frozen" however it is not fresh. Do not pay 2-4 dollars more a pound for someone to thaw out your meat, it's a bit crazy. Buy frozen and run the fillets under some cold water for a few minutes.
Shrimp runs a dollar less a pound raw and you can even usually save some money if you de-shell your own, which is real easy.
Canned and pouched fish can be a good alternative to add meat to casseroles or salads. Adding a little bread, milk eggs and seasoning, you can make a great tuna cake that is filling as well as good. Can of tuna is 60 cents a can, compared to 6-8 dollars a pound fresh frozen, or about 5 dollars a pound frozen.
A good way to save on meat is taking advantage of Manager's Specials. These are basically meat that is close to the sell-by date and they are usually marked down 30-40 percent. The key here is timing first, they have to be there when you get there. The early bird gets the worm on this one. Going about an hour after they open ( got to give them time to mark them down) and you have the best chance and selections. Another thing to remember is use it or freeze within a day or two. Use by dates are early compared to actual spoil dates, but for safety use quickly or freeze it to stop any bacteria. The meat will stay viable for at least a month in a freezer bag.
The concept, buy more and save applies to meat as well. Even if you are a smaller family, or even a single, seperate the meat into meal size portions and freeze. Buying 4-5 lbs at a time of any cut can save you 20-30 percent off the per pound price.