· Food For Thought
Saving Money at the Butcher
One of the most expensive line items on your grocery bill is likely meat (unless you're vegetarian).
Don't get us wrong, there are a ton of tasty vegetarian barbecue dishes, but for meatlovers, this stuff is important.
The cost of meat seems to be rising year over year and it's getting kind of pricey to be a meatatarian. We've done a bit of research and consulted with our favourite butchers, Greg & Damian, to put together some helpful tips on how to save money on meat.
Greg - Bon Ton Meat Market, Calgary AB
In business since 1921, Bon Ton Meat Market are a bunch of all top quality guys offering top quality cuts of meat and top quality service - every day. There's more than 'meats' the eye at Bon Ton. They also have some ready-made meals, delicious pies and a full service deli.
Damian - Florence Meats, Oakville, ON
Damian, and his wife Carol, run a top notch establishment just down the road from our Oakville store. They get all of their meat from local Ontario farmers. Looking for your favourite South African delicacies? From biltong and boerwors to other grocery items, they've got it.
How to Save Money on Meat
There are a few ways you can save money on meat. Some of these include eating less meat (boooo!) but also ways to make your meat go a bit further.
Stretch your meat.
Choose meals that make your meat go a little further, like adding it to a stir fry or pasta dish.
Make fajitas, tacos or quesadillas. All of these options involve cutting your meat into smaller pieces.
No one will know that they didn't get a whole steak's worth of beef in their fajitas. They will just be thinking about how tasty and tender you made it.
Purchase less expensive cuts of meat.
Some less expensive cuts of meat may need a little more attention than just throwing a steak on the grill with a little salt and pepper. It comes down to 'education'.
Not the classroom type, but learning how to cook tougher cuts of meat to turn you into a backyard hero. By cooking meat low and slow, you can most often guarantee a tasty tender treat.
Less expensive cuts of meat include:
- Pork butt - as a roast or pulled pork, either way, this roast goes a long way and is a very economical way to feed a crowd
- Pork rib roast
- Bone in, skin on, chicken thighs
- Beef cheeks - These tender, flavourful cheeks (from the cow's face) are absolutely delicious
- Pork shoulder
- Flank steak
- Brisket - get your butcher to grind up a brisket for you instead of buying that pack of extra lean ground sirloin
- Choose side ribs instead of back ribs
Meat is a commodity, and like any commodity it is subject to supply and demand. (You do remember first year economics, right, or did too many frat parties erase that from your memory?).
Steak - In the summer, everybody - and we mean everybody - wants to grill steak. As a result, the price shoots up. A workaround - buy your steaks a few months in advance.
Lamb - lamb is less expensive pretty much anytime that isn't leading up to Easter.
Buy in bulk, cut it down and freeze it.
Sure, frozen meat doesn't taste quite as good as the fresh stuff brought home that day, but if you package it up properly it's pretty darn close. Our butcher friends recommend either freezer wrap paper or vacuum sealed packages.
When you find your favourite meats on sale, snatch up a few packages. Sure, it means that week's grocery bill may be a bit higher but you'll net out spending less on meat over the course of a few months.
You can also save by purchasing a roast and slicing it down into chops or steaks. The less work your butcher has to do the less you'll have to pay. The same goes for buying pre-marinated or pre-skewered meats. In the DIY ages, everyone knows it's cheaper to do some things yourself.
How long can you freeze meat for?
Use these guidelines to determine how long you can safely store meat in a freezer:
Ground Meat - 3 to 4 months
Fresh beef, lamb, veal or pork
- Steaks - 6 to 12 months
- Chops - 4 to 6 months
- Roasts - 4 to 12 months
- Whole turkey or chicken - up to 1 year
- Pieces - up to 9 months