Meat is super expensive right now in the midst of inflation. On average, meat prices rose 15% in the U.S. between 2021 and 2022 — and the end might not be in sight.
Sure, maybe you can do Meatless Mondays, but unless you’re planning to do Meatless EVERYDAYs, you’re going to want these tips for how to save on meat.
When it comes to saving on meat, we’ve got your back (or shank, whatever). And what the universe lacks in straight-up coupons, it makes up for in the most deliciously wacky ways to save on meat. From seeking out meat sales near you to buying in bulk, here are our favorite bizarre and extreme ways to get meat for cheap.
And don’t forget to download the Krazy Coupon Lady app for deal alerts and more coupons!
1. Consider buying meat in bulk via a cow share.
If you don’t have a local hookup with a cattle farmer, you can find cow shares via AmericanGrassFed.org.
The local farmers listed will butcher and kill the cow for free (or for a small fee). You only need to pick it up and buy a (bigger) freezer. The best rates we’re finding right now range from $4.25 – $7.91/lb — which is all below the average price of around $8/lb in stores.
PRO TIP: A quarter cow typically weighs 115 pounds, a half cow = 230 pounds, and a full cow = 460 pounds.
2. Head to the grocery store early to find the best discounts in the meat department.
Most supermarkets mark down their past-prime meat in the morning. Call your store’s meat department and ask what time they mark their meats down (hint: my local Albertsons is at 7 a.m. while Fred Meyer is at 9 a.m.).
It’s pretty easy to find cuts of beef for 40% off their regular price.
3. Make your own jerky to save about $13 a pound (and have better jerky!)
Jerky ain’t cheap, so why not make your own?
To make beef (or whatever) jerky, you need to start with the leanest meat possible. For example, top round, bottom round, and sirloin, are great for jerky making. The less fat the better, because fat doesn’t dehydrate and you’ll need a smoker or dehydrator to dry up your meats. You can buy a dehydrator for $50 from Kohl’s — make sure to check our website for the latest Kohl’s deals and coupons.
One pound of prepackaged, store-bought beef jerky is about $21 at Walmart and Amazon. Meanwhile, 16 oz of bottom round might run about $7.99 per pound at Albertsons, and a top sirloin is about $6.94 per pound from Walmart. Not bad savings, especially if you plan to use the dehydrator regularly.
Bonus: You can season it how you like!
4. Buy meat by the case at Costco to save 20%.
If you know exactly what you want and you’re willing to eat a lot of it — you’re getting 60 pounds of one kind of meat — buying meat by the case at Costco will make your meat purchases cheaper by the pound.
How much cheaper depends on the type of meat you buy. The meat department rep at my Costco said the only downside is that you have to do all the trimming and cutting when you buy by the case, but said it’ll be worth your time.
For best results, call ahead to see if your local Costco has the specific type of meat you want by the case. And then, if you don’t have room in your freezer for all the meat, split the bounty with your friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Just double bag your meat with those freezer bags you bought with coupons, and store it in the freezer.
5. Print coupons before you shop to get cheap meat at the store.
If you’re looking for cheap meat, it’s a good idea to check meat manufacturers’ websites for coupons. Laura’s Lean Ground Beef, for example, sends you a coupon when you sign up for their emails, while other big vendors like Perdue and Applegate have promotion pages you can check regularly for updates.
6. Look for BOGO meat sales at grocery stores.
Four times a year, Kroger has a BOGO sale on grass-fed meat. Whenever Kroger has their quarterly Laura’s Lean Ground Beef sales as a BOGO, I not only buy out the store, I have them order more (or get rain checks).
7. Get an extra discount when you haggle with the meat department on sell-by dates.
First of all, please don’t eat spoiled meat. But sometimes meat has a sell-by date that is, well, questionable.
If you have an inkling that the meat department will be discounting a package soon, go ahead and haggle, girl! This is especially true if there is a surplus of a particular kind of meat and several packages that will go bad before they can actually sell. The meat department would rather sell it to you for cheap than throw it in the trash.
8. Use EatWild to buy from local farmers in your state.
Eatwild.com is a comprehensive list of more than 1,400 pasture-based farms in the U.S.
You can find just about every kind of meat you’d want: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, and even wild-caught Salmon.
Not only is ordering bulk meat from a ranch in your area supporting locals, it’s also a great way to save money on cuts you can freeze and eat for months to come.
9. Have your butcher remove the fat and bone from a roast so you’re paying only for the meat.
Not all stores will do this (my local Whole Foods, Albertsons and Fred Meyer will — my Costco won’t). But if they do, it’ll impact your total number of pounds purchased, and thus, how much you pay.
10. Buy fresh, sashimi-grade fish, and slice it yourself to save a ton on sushi.
Not all salmon is labeled sashimi grade, so ask. Gently slice across the grain of the fish with a sharp knife and serve with wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce. Yum! Saved you a $25 meal at your local sushi bar, too.
11. Use Catalina coupons for meat.
It can be hard to come across good coupons for cheap meat.
But Catalinas — long, receipt-like coupons which often exclude prescriptions, alcohol, and lotto tickets — are fair game to redeem on any fresh meat from the case, the butcher, or the deli.
Keep an eye out for the Catalinas that allow you to take a dollar amount off your next shopping order, and then put that toward your meat purchases. We’ve got lots more to say about shopping with Catalina coupons.
12. Buy roasts on sale, and have the meat department grind it into fresh, ground hamburger.
Why buy a roast for hamburger meat? Pre-ground hamburger in the refrigerated case is subject to oxidation (discoloration) due to greater surface area.
The average price for ground beef is between $5 and $7.50 per pound, depending on how lean it is. You can save money (I’ve seen as low as $2.99/lb) by finding a roast on sale and having the meat department grind it into hamburger for you.
Grind your roast fresh, adding bacon, chorizo, or pork, and you score colorful, tasty hamburger superiority and juiciness. Look for roasts in the $1.99 – $2.99 range for the best deals.
13. Swap less expensive cuts of meat, and save up to 50%.
It’s not uncommon for the same exact meat to be marketed and priced very differently. Here are some examples:
- Replace a top round steak with a boneless beef chuck steak to save 22% per pound.
- Replace beef eye of round boneless with beef chuck roast to save $0.50/lb.
- Purchase a pork butt/shoulder for $3.96/lb instead of pork chops for $4.49/lb, and have the butcher cut it into pork chops for you.
- Create your own country-style from blade-end pork chops, and bank 30% savings per pound.
- Swap a flank steak for a flat iron steak, and save a minimum of $2 on a 10-pound steak.
Know your meat grades
The meat grades are Standard, Choice, Select, & Prime. According to Texas A&M University, quality grade is based on factors like tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. Bargain supermarkets (WinCo/Walmart) carry Standard and Choice grades.
Mid-level supermarkets (Kroger/Safeway) carry more Choice and Select grades. Costco and Whole Foods markets carry more Select and Prime cuts of meat. This info can help you spot a good deal when you’re shopping for meat.
14. Buy frozen meat and fish to save as much as 50%.
Fresh meats are definitely more expensive.
I can find meat and fish — even organic! — at better prices when I buy frozen instead of heading straight to the meat department. If you’re not picky, check canned and smoked meats in grocery aisles for deals, too.
For example, fresh boneless chicken breast tenderloins from Walmart are $3.29 a pound, while frozen boneless chicken breast tenderloins are $3.31 a pound. That’s about 40% savings, and that’s not including any coupons or sales.
15. Buy cheap turkeys around Thanksgiving, and freeze them for later, or cook and slice into lunch meat.
In November, take advantage of supermarket promotions — like free Thanksgiving turkeys — and put those loyalty rewards points to work. Those turkeys will keep, too — for up to 2 – 3 years in the freezer — as long as they’re continuously frozen. Or you can cook them and slice them for lunch meat.
16. Make your own deli-quality lunchmeat at home.
You don’t need a meat slicer to cut your own deli-quality meat at home (a meat slicer costs about $150).
A frozen Butterball turkey from Walmart is about $3/lb, while 16 oz of sliced turkey is usually $5 or more. Plus, when you slice your own meat, you’ll skip the high content of salt, sulfites, and nitrates.
You could also buy a pre-cooked turkey breast or ham and ask the deli to slice it for you.
PRO TIP: Uncooked meat slices better after it’s been in the freezer for about an hour
17. Debone an entire chicken by slow cooking until the meat falls off of the bone.
Hey, getting all the meat you can from something you purchased is smart-shopping 101. I like to slow cook some of my meats to make sure I am getting the biggest bang for my buck — and filling my family’s plates.
Once you remove the meat from the bones, fill the crockpot with water and a tablespoon of vinegar and simmer the bones on low for another 24 hours. Strain out the solids for broth that keeps in the freezer for months.
18. Try slightly tougher, cheaper cuts of meat, and use a crockpot or marinade.
Tougher cuts still have a great taste and a good quality; they just take longer to prepare. Trust us, it’s worth it.
19. Roast crickets like almonds.
Feeling a little buggy? Just buy feeder crickets, give them a cleanse by feeding them oats for a week, freeze the pre-wing adults, pull off their legs, and roast them for a quick, cheap snack (we found 1,000 live feeder crickets for only $15.99 online).
PRO TIP: Pregnant crickets taste bitter, so to be safe, only roast the crickets that don’t yet have wings.