What is the most expensive thing in your frig? The meat of course. As it turns out we all likely eat a bit too much of it anyway. They say a serving should be the size of deck of cards. In reality though, we enjoy it very much we don’t need all that much of it which is a good thing because prices on that stuff just keeps rising.
To get the best prices on meats I shop sales only. To start you will need to bite the bullet and stock up or rough it for a few weeks until you get your stores in so that you can purchase meat in this manner. What we do is buy a lot of whatever is on sale and usually little else. So if I have thirty dollars to buy meat with I buy all chicken for instance which happens to be on sale that month for .89 per pound. I trot right up to the meat counter and ask them to cut up the whole chicken that was on sale for me and they do it. Meanwhile back in the case there are packages all pre cut already but they cost 1.19 a pound. If your meat department doesn’t do this for you then you are going to need to learn how to cut up a chicken yourself. It’s not that hard trust me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSvzRyu2h5g
Instead of buying stew beef I usually buy pot roasts that are on sale or shoulder steak or another tough cut of beef and I cut it up myself. You can do the same with a fresh pork shoulder as well and make yourself a nice pork stew with that or any number of things. In general ground pork is actually less expensive than ground beef so I buy both and mix them together for tacos, spaghetti, meatloaf etc. Try to think in terms of what will stretch the meat that you do manage to purchase. So back to that stew beef, of course I make stew out of it and I make it good and hearty too with plenty of potatoes and carrots in it. Fills you up, great to bring for lunch to work the next day (saves money too) and no one feels like they went without. If your pot looks a little skimpy make dumplings on the top of the stew. The bread will fill them up. Doesn’t cost much for some flour and grease. I regularly make some kind of soup or stew to serve for meals or at the very least for my lunches and the variety is endless.
With ground meat like hamburger and the pork I said to add to it you still would like to stretch it further and make it serve more people so you add something to it. When making stuffed peppers it’s rice, meatballs and meatloaf it’s bread crumbs. Just a pound of ground meat in your spaghetti sauce is all you need. Add in onions and peppers to your sauce as well and it’ll be just fine. Pasta is cheap so serve it often. Hamburger stroganoff (simple recipe here:http://allrecipes.com/recipe/23260/simple-hamburger-stroganoff/) is delicious, filling and cheap. And for god’s sake don’t buy hamburger helper, there is nothing but crap in those boxes. Learn to make your own copy cat of those dishes and you’ll save money.
To help yourself on busy days when you feel as though something prepared or fast food would be the ticket, make things ahead. So that pot of spaghetti sauce won’t take anymore time to make if it’s s double batch. Freeze like that or take an extra few minutes to boil up some ziti and freeze it that way. Dinner is make and you didn’t buy a box of prepared anything. Chicken and dumplings, chicken stew, stewed chicken are all ways to make what seems like a small chicken stretch a bit further. I will take some onions celery and a whole carrot and plop that into water that covers our chicken and simmer slightly for about an hour. Take the chicken out and put it in a casserole to cool. Keep simmering the broth. Once cool enough to handle remove the chicken from the bones and put back in the pot. Simmer all of that for about another half hour or so. Thicken with about three tablespoons of flour mixed with water(I do mine in the blender so it doesn’t have lumps). Season your mixture with salt and pepper to your taste and then bring to a boil, slowly mix in your flour and water to thicken and let come to boil and boil one minute, stirring the whole time. Serve that over either rice or mashed potatoes and your family will think you are a genius. You’ll have leftovers likely which can be used for another meal if you feel like freezing it or you can take to work for lunch, your work mates will be jealous, trust me.
Every single time that you are going shopping, every single time you are making a meal if you think about how far you can stretch what you have and how to work to making that meal as cheap as possible you’ll be fine. You have to do things with some thought. I used to just throw whatever together and hope for the best but with just a bit of planning, some work up front when you come home from the grocery store and some meal planning I’ll bet you’ll save money in the first month!