Sticker shock is something you should encounter when you’re buying a car, not when you’re buying meat for your family. Turkey and chicken are my preferred meats because they’re healthier—but I have to say, a good, juicy, grilled hamburger or steak are also at the top of my list. Going to the grocery store these days involves a lot of decisions. Does my budget allow me to buy the leaner hamburger meat? Can I afford a pack of chicken breasts or should I just buy a whole chicken? Do I have to wait until the cut of beef I want goes on sale? Can I afford filet mignon, or is there another cut of meat that will satisfy my taste buds?

My butcher has become the best resource for meat wisdom at my local grocery store. There’s so much I’ve learned just by talking to him—I suggest you do the same with your local butcher. With all the tips I’ve received, I decided to put a list of alternative cuts that have helped me afford the type of meats that my family loves! Here are a few suggestions to stretch your dollar and afford the cut of meat that fits your family’s budget best.

1. Transform a less expensive cut of meat

Consider an alternative cut of meat that will give you the same flavor and texture as its expensive version. For example, if a more expensive steak is out of the question, consider a chuck eye steak. It won’t be as tender as the more expensive cut, but use a marinade and enjoy your savings. Purchase a pork shoulder and have the butcher cut it into pork chops instead of buying boneless chops at a higher price!

2. Buy a whole chicken

Buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself. I like to buy whole hens when they’re on sale and freeze them. You can even cook the whole chicken in the crockpot and then debone it. Sure, I like to pick up a pack of chicken with only the pieces my family likes, but for the same price I can get the whole chicken and prepare several meals. If you’ve never cut up a whole chicken, click here to see how:

3. Ask your butcher specific questions

Ask the butcher to recommend less expensive cuts of meat that you may not be familiar with. For example, brisket or flat iron steak has a great taste and is good quality. However, these cuts may require a longer cook time. When speaking with your butcher, ask him how to prepare the cut of meat you’re purchasing.

4. Purchase discounted meat

Buy meat discounted prior to the expiration date. Either freeze the meat or cook it immediately. I purchase a lot of my meat on clearance and love the yellow tag that beckons me to buy it. Always observe the color of the meat when it’s close to the expiration date, though. I still like my ground beef to be pink or red. I refuse to buy pale or gray beef—no matter what the date indicates.

5. Add fillers

Buy a smaller amount of meat and add fillers to stretch the servings. Beans, rice, oatmeal and bread crumbs are a few suggestions that will add volume to your meat. I’ve noticed that most of the “fillers” that I’ve used take on the flavor of the meat it is added to! Consider mixing ground turkey in with your hamburger meat—no one will taste the difference. I always add bread to my meatloaf because Mama taught me to, but in actuality, she was stretching the meal for our family!

6. Buy family size

Compare price per pound when purchasing a larger quantity at a cheaper price. For instance, you may see a pound of ground beef for $3.99. Instead of purchasing it, buy the 5-pound pack for $2.79/lb. It’s a 30% savings! Re-package your family sized purchases of meat into smaller portions within 24 hours then freeze using the Ziploc and Hefty freezer bags you bought with coupons!

7. Consider how much you can actually consume

Consider how much of the meat you’re purchasing will actually be consumed. If you buy a steak with the bone in, you’re paying the same price per pound for a bone that you will not eat. Also, fat costs the same per pound as meat. Save the bones and fat and use them to make soup stock, or purchase meat without bones. Your price per pound should include cost per serving size minus the bones and fat.