Do you have a house full of hearty meat eaters? For some families, only beef will do.
At our house, we’ve been reducing our beef intake recently for health and budget reasons. But when we want to splurge on our diet and our wallet, or are having hardcore carnivores over for dinner, I like to have a multitude of ideas ready so that these situations don’t disrupt our budget too significantly.
Here are several secret weapon strategies to enjoy red meat, while staying within your budget.
4 Ways to Buy & Prepare Beef on the Cheap
1. Buy Cheap Cuts and Cook Slowly
Cheap cuts of beef are typically tougher, but if you toss them in a Crock-Pot slow cooker, they’ll turn out more tender every time. You can also easily break down the beef for leftovers later.
One fun thing you can do is purchase a roast that separates into strands after a few hours in the slow cooker. Then, toss it in with water, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning. By the time dinner rolls around, you have an authentic soft taco filling you can pull apart with a fork. Have a few veggies chopped up for toppings, and you’re good to go.
Crock-Pots are also great for meals like stroganoff, homemade chili, and one-pot meals of roast, potatoes, and carrots.
2. Have an Arsenal of Budget Recipes that Rock
The best way to sell your family on bargain beef is to make sure that what you serve will absolutely knock their socks off. It’s okay to try out cheap meal ideas, but if the dishes aren’t tasty, nobody’s going to eat them. You can pull this off with seasonings, or by pairing up ingredients like raisins with your ground beef and rice casserole.
The fun factor also plays a huge role in selling the bargain beef movement at home. Teens love things like quesadillas, or beef and veggie kabobs - where meat is present, but is not the main focus of the meal. This makes cuts of meat that might be middle-of-the-road in terms of price an affordable alternative, mainly because you’ll be using less of them. Asian stir fry menus are popular with children and adults alike, and are comparable in quality to restaurant meals on the town while significantly cheaper. So mix it up – your wallet will thank you.
3. Look for Seasonal Deals
There are certain times of the year when beef items just get crazy cheap. Summer barbecue season (particularly around July 4th), Super Bowl party time, and holiday weekends such as Labor Day and Memorial Day are great opportunities to stock the freezer with a variety of bargain beef products. Extra lean ground beef, ribs, and steaks galore will magically be in your budget range at these times. So roll with it, and stock up. Cook large amounts of ground beef in advance, and freeze in small containers for things like soup, pizza toppings, and toasted subs.
4. Buy with a Buddy
When those massive sales come along, the prices will typically apply to the larger family packs of beef products. Now, if you’ve got the space and money to stock up, that’s fantastic. But if pennies are a little tighter that week, there might be another friend or neighbor in the same situation that would like to benefit from the price break as well.
So share the cost and break up the pack into two containers. You’ll each be set. Or, if ground beef and round steaks are each on sale, buy one pack each. Then you can still break them down and share, and work out the money splitting between the two of you. It’s a great way to eat affordably and not feel deprived.
Also, many slaughter houses allow you to purchase an entire side of beef at a bargain price and will customize your order any way you want. This works well when buying meat in bulk with a shopping buddy because you can each decide how you want the side cut. Ribs and roasts? No problem. Stew meat and steaks? That’s fine too. It’s whatever you decide you want, as long as it originates from the side of beef that you purchase.
If you’re looking to save even more money on groceries, see this step-by-step guide on extreme couponing 101 – how to extreme coupon.
Enjoying beef at home doesn’t have to cost big bucks. With careful menu planning and a good sales strategy, you can have affordability at your fingertips. So fire up that Crock-Pot or try some stir-fry this week. The carnivores in your family will thank you for it.
Do you have a great strategy for bringing home beef on a budget? Sound off in the comments below.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)