This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and brought to you by The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
If you’re planning to serve beef this holiday season, you’re in luck: beef prices are down almost 10% from their peak prices in late 2014. That means you can expect to see lower prices in the grocery store, as you shop for steaks, roasts and ground beef for your holiday meals. But 10% is just a starting point. Let’s go over some more ways to save money on beef, so you come home from the grocery store with a deal.
Take on a Little DIY
The more time your beef has spent in the hands of a butcher, the more expensive it’s likely to be. So skip those packages of pre-formed hamburger patties and already-cut-up stew meat. It only takes a couple minutes to do your own prep work, and the added pay off is that things will be done the way you like them.
If you’re willing to take on a bit more DIY, you can really save big. Instead of buying packages of steak and ground beef, buy roasts on sale and grind or cut them yourself. Chuck roast and round roast are commonly used to make ground beef. When these cuts go on sale for less than the per-pound price for ground beef, buy them and grind them yourself. It couldn’t be easier. Just feed the meat into a grinder, and it’ll come out the other side as ground beef.
Meat grinders aren’t terribly expensive, and you may even be able to find one used. Choose from a model that clamps onto your kitchen counter, or one that fits on an electric mixer. I found one for my KitchenAid mixer at a yard sale.
Cutting your own steaks is just as easy. Just buy a roast on sale (a tenderloin, strip loin or boneless ribeye is a good choice), and slice it into steaks with a sharp knife. Enjoy your steaks right away, or package them for the freezer.
Want the savings from doing these things, without actually doing them?
Then, ask your butcher to do them for you. I know I said more time in the hands of the butcher means more cost to you, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re buying a large roast, the butcher is usually more than happy to prepare it for you at no additional cost, whether that means grinding it or slicing it into steaks.
Befriend Your Butcher
He’s an all-round great resource. If you have a question about how to prepare something, just ask. If you’re looking for ways to save, without sacrificing quality, he can help with that, too. Tell him what you’re making, and ask him to recommend cuts that would work well. It’s okay to admit that cost is a factor, and it’s okay to admit that you don’t have a clue what all those cuts are for. I sure don’t.
Not comfortable with asking the butcher for help? Beefitswhatsfordinner.com has an Interactive Butcher Counter tool, where you can learn about all the different cuts and their uses. It even suggests recipes to try.
Tip: When you click on one of the cuts, be sure to click on the “More Info and Recipes” link. It’ll take you to a more detailed description, and a bunch of recipes.
Stock Up When Beef Goes on Sale
Instead of buying your beef a week at a time, stock up when it goes on sale. I have a grocery store near me (Fresh Market) that sells ground beef for $2.99/lb on Tuesdays, and the quality can’t be beat. I go a couple times a year to stock up. They wrap their beef in freezer paper, so I can stick it right in the freezer when I get home.
The Beef Checkoff recommends freezing ground beef for 3-4 months to maintain the best quality. You can safely store it for longer than that, but eventually freezer burn becomes an issue. To head freezer burn off, I store my meat in a chest freezer. Since it doesn’t have auto-defrost, the foods inside aren’t constantly thawing and refreezing.
Watch for Coupons
You probably won’t find beef coupons in the Sunday paper, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. Scan your store loyalty card at the register each time you shop, and the store is likely to send you coupons tailored to the items that you buy. If you regularly spend money in the meat department, meat coupons are likely to be included in the coupons that you’re sent.
But you may not have to wait to get coupons you can use. Check the wine section to see if any of the bottles have a coupon for meat attached. Since the two are often consumed together, this is a common spot for manufacturers to place meat coupons.
And don’t overlook the meat department for coupons. Stores often tuck peelie coupons for a couple dollars off on packages of meat that need to be sold soon. Snatch up those marked down steaks and roasts, and freeze them, if you aren’t able to use them right away.
Want to Save Even More?
Check out these six tips from The Beef CheckOff. They’re the folks behind beefitswhatsfordinner.com, so they really know their stuff.
Have you found other ways to save on beef? I’d love to hear about it.
Photos Courtesy of The Beef CheckOff, except where noted.