Meat and Cheese on a Budget | Giftie Etcetera: Meat and Cheese on a Budget

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Meat and Cheese on a Budget

I really love food.  (I've researched marrying food, but it is not allowed in any of the 50 states.  Can you believe that?  I'm an attorney and searched for loopholes, but nothing!)

I rarely eat fast food and try not to bring too much junk into the house, though my son's recent slumber party has cookies calling my name.  But I try not to skimp on food.  Even if I make full, yummy meals, they are cheaper than eating out, so it's worth it to bring actual food into the house. Rice, pasta, beans, bread - they are all cheap.

But I don't want to save money by being hungry all the time, so we do serve meat or cheese at most meals.  Meat and cheese can get very expensive, though, so I've had to find some solutions if I want to keep meals yummy on a budget.

I've discovered that I can buy things like chicken breasts and thighs (we don't do bones, which aggravate my OCD) and ground beef in bulk, make a big chicken or meat dish that week, and freeze the rest of the meat for later.  Those also tend to be the cheapest meat, so they fit our budget.

But there are things we love - fajitas, stews, shrimp (me), and ham (my non-seafood liking weirdo husband) - that rarely go on sale at the Target where I shop.  Going to other stores in the area has burned me many times.  I've bought bad meat, arrived to see that sale meat was sold out, and wasted half a day chasing down deals.  It is not worth it.  I had to find a way to get cheaper meats at MY store.

A day or so before the "sell by" date, Target puts these cool $3 off stickers on the still good, quality-guaranteed (so if it's gross when I get home, they will take it back - but I haven't had a problem yet) meat:

I was having trouble scoring this discounted meat, though.  I shop on a specific day of the week, almost every week, at 8 a.m. when the store opens.  I shop meat and vegetables last, so that they stay cool in my car.  (This is a serious issue in south Louisiana, as the trunk of the car can get really hot and the ride to the suburbs can be really long.  Ice cream with melt to sugary milk in the 10 mile drive home.)  By the time I got through the store, all the sale meat was gone, every week!

So I changed things.  I brought a cooler with me, and on Tuesday, I showed up at 8 a.m., with a cooler in my basket.  I bought the soft-sided thermal cooler from thirty-one gifts, but any soft cooler will do.  I went straight to the meat department and picked out meat before anyone else arrived at the store.  What a score! (Note that I did not clear out the shelves.  I only took would we could reasonably freeze and eat.  There were still discounts left for others.)

I bought:

$3.78/lb (2.6 pounds) Beef Chuck Tender Steaks (that we mostly use for fajitas)
$5.99/lb Raw Shrimp
$6.65/lb (24 ounces) Cooked Shrimp (defrost in warm water) 

$2.11/lb (3.2 pounds) Ham

The cooked shrimp and ham both came in two packages, meaning two $3 off stickers.  

Retail Cost: $50.50
Savings: $18.00

Final Cost: $32.50 

Immediately upon arrival home, I repackaged into labeled ziplocs in serving sizes that fit our family (for example, cooked shrimp in single servings for a quick supper for one but steaks in packs of three to four since we all love fajitas).  (I happen to have ziploc bags, purchased at about $0.07 each because that's as cheap as they have gone lately in my area.  Sometimes I get the store brand, when that happens to be cheaper.)

I make sure this meat, which will feed my family for weeks, doesn't get lose in the deep cavern that is my freezer by keeping a simple freezer inventory:

I use slashes to indicate a package with the food in it and color in the box when we are out.  I used a form I found on a website, but think I will just do my own soon.

I couldn't find cheese on sale, but the bulk packages were cheaper per ounce, so I made individual packages for my freezer.

Now, real budget savvy people will tell you how much we could save by not buying such expensive meat, but they probably would not sneak away to the seafood place for much more expensive shrimp once a week to take care of their craving.  I would totally sneak it.  {blushing}


Partied at: Share the Wealth

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow...not only are you great at saving money but I love how organized you are about it! I'm impressed and could take some lessons from you. Thanks so much for sharing at Share The Wealth Sunday!