Meat costs can really cut into our food budget. But seeing as how we aren’t vegetarians, meat is an integral part of our regular weekly meal menu. With meat prices on the rise though – especially when it comes to things like beef or certain pork products like bacon – we have to find ways to reduce the effects of higher prices.
Therefore, we have taken certain steps that still allow us to incorporate meat into our weekly meal plan but not break our food budget.
Using lower-cost substitutes
We love steaks, fish, crab, and nice cuts of beef, but we don’t like the prices that accompany such treats. Therefore, while these items may still be on the menu occasionally for something special, we often use cheaper substitutes for our meals. While beef and steak can easily run $6 or more per pound, and fish and crab even more, we can often find pork, chicken, shrimp, sausage, and ground beef for between a third and sometimes even half the price.
Utilizing these options in place of pricier meats often allows us to keep meat in our menu but at a fraction of the cost.
Extend where possible
But even larger quantities of lower cost meats can have the costs adding up. In an effort to continue to keep costs low and maybe even cut a little bit more, we’ve gotten better at extending our meals when it comes to how much meat they entail.
For example, rather than just cooking chicken breasts or pork chops with a small side dish, we’ve taken to making certain meals with the meat as a more minor component. We might make a cheap filler food like salad, rice, or pasta the main ingredient in a dish, and then use meat as added substance, often flavoring it with sauces, herbs, or using a more flavorful meat like a spiced sausage or marinated chicken or pork to liven up the flavor of a smaller quantity of meat mixed into the dish. This means that we might be able to get by with only half a pound or even a third of a pound of meat, where we might have used a pound or more in the past.
Reduce portion sizes
Meat often comes in pound or larger packages. This sort of packaging in turn could promote over-consumption. For example, while we might only need a pound or a pound and a half of ground beef to create a particular meal, if the meat we have comes in a two-pound package, we might end up making all of it even if we don’t need it simply because it’s there.
This is why, when we buy pre-packaged meat, we’ll often break it into smaller portion sizes and then freeze what we’re not immediately going to use. By doing this, we avoid cooking extra meat just to keep it from going bad and we set ourselves up for success by creating a situation in which we start out with just the right portions for the meals we want to cook.
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The author is not a licensed financial, culinary or health professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.