Now that most of you know how to get everything else in a grocery store for pennies on the dollars...let's talk about the things that some may "think" you can't score great deals on but truly can!
The price of "meat" is the highest part of our grocery bill. Using coupons has allowed me and many of you to cope with higher dairy, produce, and meat prices without even feeling the budget crunch but there is always room for improvement!
I am going to show you how I am able to score great meat prices in hopes that you will be able to find the same great deals!
Buying Discounted Meat 101
In my experience any grocery store will mark down dairy, bakery, and meat products if they are nearing their expiration dates! The meat department along with the dairy and produce departments are required (store policies) to go through each of their items on a daily basis! This is usually done in the morning (times may vary by store). Kroger has been a jackpot for me personally on scoring great mark-down items in each of the above listed departments.
Each store may vary on their policies of mark-downs but many would rather sell the item than to throw it out! The manager of each department should be able to give your their specific time frame for discounts!
The hardest to determine for mark-downs. There are no expiration dates on most of the items. If there are...be sure to check and if it expires within 2-4 I always ask for the discount and never had something "not" be marked down!
Tip: Remember milk can be frozen and don't forget your organic department for refrigerated products!
The dates and mark-downs vary by the product. Poultry, Pork, and Seafood spoil quicker than beef, ham, and turkey. All of the above meats are marked down within 4 days of expiration. Poultry, Pork, and Seafood will be marked down at the 4/5 days(from the current date). Beef is marked down from 3/4 days (from the current date). Frozen ham and turkeys have a long shelf life (2ish months), just check them each week as you go in!
We tend to overlook areas such as lunch meat, sausage, etc. If you are in the market for some of these items...don't hesitate to scan the expiration dates on these too!
Tip: Discounts usually start at about 20% off and are discounted as much as 80-90% on the day they expire.
Tip: The meat that I find is often NOT marked at a discount. Sometimes I do find it marked down but it is such a hassle to deal with many people hovering over the "mark-down" man all at once fighting over a good deal. I simply pick up the meat that I know I want to purchase (after taking an additional 5 minutes or so to look at expiration dates) and have him mark it down. If you shop for you discounted meat this way it's a less stressful situation. The next time you go in...take a look around and if you see some meat that is within the 2-3 day range ask the meat manager if he will mark it down.
Tip: I have even seen meat discounted at 20% and the item expired on that day. Knowing that the item should be discounted more heavily than the 20%, I asked if it could be reduced lower and they did!
Tip: Look at your dates on the products next time you are in the grocery store. If you are looking at steaks you will notice that most of the packages on the shelf will have the same expiration dates within 1 or 2 days of each other. If you are looking for that particular piece of meat you may want to come back in on the morning that it expires. I would only suggest doing this if there are a variety of meats that expire on those 1 or 2 days. I have made the mistake of going back in, only when a few packages were going to expire, and they had already sold them ~wasting a trip!
Tip: Never pass up a deal to get chicken breasts for .88-.99/lb. This is a great price to stock up on these items without the worry of spoilage. Hamburger meat is a good deal at $1.68/lb or lower. A great deal on steaks range from $3.99/lb to $6.99/lb depending on the cut! Pork chops at about $1.50/lb or less are good. This is just a few of the great prices to look for!
I almost always cook discounted meat immediately. Whether we are going to eat it that night or in the future this eliminates the chance for the meat to spoil. If I do not cook it immediately...(i.e. hamburger patties, meatballs, meatloaf, boneless skinless chicken breasts) I prepare the meat and then freeze it. I only do this with items that can be cooked from a frozen state.
When you properly thaw out a meat for cooking it can take 1-3 days to do so in your refrigerator. Buying discounted meat, freezing it raw, and thawing it out in the required time frame could possibly allow for spoilage. All meat has potentially harmful bacteria in it (hence expiration dates). The cold "frozen" temperature of the meat stops any bacteria from continuing to grow but it is still there. During the process of "thawing out" the bacteria is reactivated (due to the temperature) and the deteriorating state of the meat continues.
It's not such a great deal if you have to throw it out!
Each of you have a budgeted amount of money each week for groceries. When shopping for discounted meat it is possible to over your budget for that week. Most of my discounted meat purchases have caused me to personally go over my weekly budget but in the next weeks to come the money balances itself out because you do not have to buy meat for that week (the stockpile method)! If it is possible, you may want to put any money left over in your grocery budget each week and distribute it for just such an occasion or set aside an additional "initial" amount of money to use in purchases like this (that you cannot prepare for otherwise).
Other articles you may be interested in!
You can go here to read an article I wrote on proper "meat" food storage complete with links here.
You can also go here to read an article I wrote on "How to negotiate prices on just about anything" here!
"It never hurts to ask, the worse thing that someone can tell you is NO!"