Nine Tips to Save Money on Meat and Poultry
By S. L. Simmons
Nov 1, 2009, 15:31
  According to a 2008 survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average family of four spent $5,478 on groceries, including $1,201 on meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Reducing costs in this area clearly could save hundreds of dollars a year for many families. Listed below are some tips to help keep your grocery budget under control.

1. Eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week. Some vegetarian meals my family enjoys are vegetarian chili with cheese served over fries, baked potatoes with assorted toppings, and hearty bean soups served with French bread and salads.

2. Make sure to use up all of your leftovers. Meat from Sunday's roast can be used in Monday night's soup and Tuesday's meat loaf.

3. Buy less tender cuts of meat, which are often the cheapest, including chuck and round cuts. They can be tenderized easily by using moist heat cooking methods that include braising and crock pot cooking. Beside slow cooking meats, crock pots are great for busy days. You can simply start dishes like stews or roasts in the morning, and let them slow cook all day, even if you are at work or school. When you come home, tired and hungry, a home cooked dinner will be waiting for you.

4. Meat that has been cut up usually costs more because you are paying for the labor time of someone else to cut it up. You can often save money by buying whole chickens and cutting them up yourself or buying complete steaks and cutting them up into strips for stir fries or fajitas.

5. Besides watching for sales in the paper, look for unadvertised mark downs at the store. Many meat departments have specials on meat that is still perfectly good to eat but may be nearing its "sell by date".

6. Remember to look through the expiration dates of the meat at the store and try to buy the freshest meat available. This gives you less of a chance of not using the meat up before the expiration date passes.

7. Buying a stand alone freezer can be a good investment in order to stock up on meat and poultry on sale or bought in bulk from warehouse stores.

8. Plan your meals in advance and don't buy more meat and other groceries than you need. Recent research estimates that the average U.S. family throws out almost $600 dollars worth of uneaten food each year.

9. Keep some easy freezer or canned meals on hand to avoid going out for fast food on nights when you are tired or busy. Precooked, frozen ground beef can be used in many different dishes. For example, precooked and frozen ground beef can be defrosted and heated up easily, mixed with spaghetti sauce and served over pasta for a quick meal. With a little seasoning, that same meat could be used instead for a simple meal of ground beef tacos. Plan ahead with some simple meals for the inevitable nights when you either don't have time or simply don't feel like cooking in order to save money on take out food.

S. L. Simmons is a thrifty mom of two and the editor of Always Frugal, a site with tips on household budget management and thrifty living. Visit her Always Frugal web site for articles on how to live on one income, frugal recipes, and tips for cutting costs on books, dental expenses, food, travel, restaurants and more. This article may be freely reprinted as long as the author's box is included and the links remain active in any online publications.

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