There is lots of talk about what you can and cannot eat if you are watching your budget. If you really enjoy something there are usually ways to fit it into your budget. Steak is one of those things that people often feel they cannot have on a budget. If your budget is really tight you may not be able to have steak as often as someone who’s budget isn’t so tight, but it is still possible and can be frugal.
Here are three strategies for eating steak on a budget. You may also be able to use some of these strategies to get other special treats that your family enjoys too.
1. Watch for markdowns and sales.
Get to know where your store displays their marked down meats. These are usually dated to be sold within two days. With the shortened “use by” date, be prepared to cook your meat within the next couple days or to freeze it when you get home for use later.
Make a habit of checking the marked down section every time you visit the store. Sometimes you will find good deals other times there won’t be much. Last week I found several packages of lamb steaks marked down from $8.99 a pound to $5.39 a pound. This is a little more than I normally want to spend on meat, but I was able to make my husband a special meal and I have two more meals worth of lamb steak in the freezer to eat over the next month.
If steak is something you already buy regularly, check your store’s weekly sales flier. Every 3-6 weeks you will usually see prices drop lower than normal. This is a good time to buy. You will see especially good sales around holidays that involve grilling, like July 4th and Memorial Day.
2. Be your own butcher.
A nice fillet mignon will easily cost you $17 or more per pound, but you can often find beef tenderloin on sale for $6-7 a pound. If you are willing to do a little trimming and cut it into steaks yourself, this can be a very nice savings. (There are many YouTube videos out there that can show you how to do this. I learn lots of “how to” things there.) It will take a little practice to learn, but even the mess ups can be yummy. 🙂
3. Buy the whole cow (or a share of cow).
Yes, you can buy a whole cow (or a 1/2 or 1/4 share of a cow) from a local farmer. If you don’t know a local farmer, you may be able to find one through a butcher in your area. When you buy a whole cow, you get all of the different parts and pieces everything from soup bones and stew meat to ground beef (at whatever fat level you like) on up to the high end steaks.
The half cow that I bought in January ended up costing me $3 per pound. That is a little high for ground beef and roasts, but a super deal on steaks. If we weren’t buying a cow we probably wouldn’t eat the higher end steaks as often. My meat budget hasn’t gone up, but the quality of meat is much better.
The other benefit of buying a cow share is that you have the opportunity to talk to the farmer. If you ask you will probably be allowed to go see the farm where the cow is raised. You can also ask about your cow’s health and what they have been fed. You can find out if the cow is completely grass fed or if it is grass fed and grain finished. If any of those factors are important to you, this gives you a little more control over them. If you are looking to eat more locally or closer to organic, this is a frugal way to do that.
No matter what your family likes to eat, there are often ways to find it cheaper and trim your grocery budget.