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.
Look for local farmers who offer to 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 $5.05-$6.50/lb, but since my friend’s a rancher, I was able to score 1/4 of a grass-fed, grain-finished cow for only $2.37/pound. Bam!
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.).
3. Make your own jerky to save about $25 a pound (and have better jerky!)
To make beef (or whatever) jerky, you need to start with the leanest meat possible — top round, bottom round and sirloin, for example, 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 as little as $24 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 $32 from Walmart and $36 from Amazon. Meanwhile,16 ounces of bottom round might run about $5.99 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%.
You don’t get the variety here (you’re scoring 60 pounds of one kind of meat), so 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 cheap meat by looking for coupons before you shop.
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).
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 $20 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.
12. Or become your own butcher thanks to YouTube.
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 case is subject to oxidation (discoloration) due to greater surface area. 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 meat to be marketed and priced very differently. Here are some examples:
- A boneless beef chuck steak used in place of a top round steak will save you 22% per pound.
- Buy beef chuck roast instead of the beef eye of round boneless, and save $0.50/lb.
- Purchase a pork but/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.
- Buy the flat iron steak instead of flank steak, and save a minimum of $2 on a 10 pound steak.
PRO TIP: Know your meat grades: 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 — versus fresh — 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 $5.34 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, and put those loyalty rewards points to work. Those turkeys’ will keep, too—for up to 2-3 years in the freezer, so long as they’re continuously frozen. Or you can cook them and slice them for lunch meat.
16. Make your own deli quality lunch meat 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 per pound, 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 precooked 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. Buy your meat at a 4-H auction.
When you support your local youth, you’ll end up with 600 pounds of cow meat for about $2 per pound. Pigs end up at around $3.99/lb. You just pay for processing.
A fully-grown, 250-pound pig will yield about 180 pounds of hanging weight.
20. 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.
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