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Monday, September 14, 2009

Frugal tip of the day: Using Less Meat

Less is More

Today's frugal tip is another great way to save money and make your purchases last longer!

Meat...how much do you really need to use in a recipe?

My grandmother taught me this trick years ago when I moved out on my own for the first time!
She would just simply use less meat than a recipe called for and we could never tell the difference! It is really as simple as it sounds!

The rule of thumb is to try and use 1/2 off the meat that the recipe calls for. There are some things...such as hamburger patties...that won't allow you to quite cut things in half but for the others a change like this is barely even noticeable!

Here are some examples of using less meat:

Hamburger Helper: 1 box calls for 1 pound of meat. Use 1/2 of a pound and save yourself around $1.50 (based on a price of $3 per pound)

Chili: Most recipes call for 2 pounds of meat. Try using 1 instead! Does the chili look a little on the skimpy side? Throw in an extra can of beans for just as much filling!

Soup: Any type of soup made with meat usually calls for 2 pounds. Again...cut that in half and add more veggies if you want to!

Portion Control:

The manufacturer's package meat in huge portions to try and get us to buy more than we need! As a result most of us tend to eat that entire split chicken or boneless chicken breast without giving it a second thought!

Here is an example of what I do with chicken.

The split chicken breast packs that I buy usually come in packs of 3 breasts. My husband can down a whole one without a problem but if I try to it leaves me feeling icky! There is no possible way that my 7 year old can even touch half of the piece of chicken. My husband eats one, my daughter and I share the second piece and then my husband takes the third to work the next day!

Here is an example of what I do with steak.

Steaks usually come in huge pieces. We usually just buy the biggest one available and split it between the 3 of us!

Portion Guidlines For Meat: Courtesy of MyPyramid.Gov
  • 1 oz. meat: size of a matchbox
  • 3 oz. meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of soap -- the recommended portion for a meal
  • 8 oz. meat: size of a thin paperback book
  • 3 oz. fish: size of a checkbook

The Flip Side: Families with children "who could eat a horse"!

I understand that there are families who may having growing teenagers who seem to consume their weight in food each day. You too, can still cut back a little at a time. I have had families tell me that they just have more of other things for the kids to eat. The less expensive ones like sides! Try to go a little smaller on their portions but allow them to eat more veggies...it's a win-win situation for both of you. You are not sacrificing their nutrition AND you are saving money in the process! If you have a "Horse-Eating" child (or other family member AKA husband) let us know what you do to compensate for how much they eat!

Wrappin' It Up:

To show you how much these changes can affect your wallet let's use ground beef for example. (This example is simply to run the numbers. Your family may eat more or less ground beef than I propose!)

If your family normally consumes about 10 pounds of ground beef each week at $3 per pound (your average price for the 70/30 cuts) you are buying $30 worth of meat each week or $1560 worth of meat each year!

If you cut your meat down to half by using less in recipes you will only be spending $15 per week or $780 per year!

YOU JUST SAVED YOURSELF $780 PER YEAR by making this one change!

Even if you only cut back 1/4 of the meat in each recipe you will still be saving yourself $390 per year!

Meat IS the biggest part of our grocery budget (unless you are vegetarian). Cut back on meat purchases and have room to buy other groceries or save it up for that purse you really would like to have!

You can go here and here to see some shopping trips where I purchased some really good meat at a discount!

Finding deals like this can either allow your family to continue to eat the same amount of meat for less money or to help you save even more money than the example I provided!

Leave us a comment if you have a particular recipe that you use less meat in but can't tell the difference! I would love to hear what frugal steps you take to make your meat last longer!


mherzog said...

Here is a video that will help you lower your meat consumption: http://meat.org

Anonymous said...

great tips!!

Stella said...

my boyfriend eats alot.. ill try this

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