A few weeks ago, the USDA warned about the impending increase in food prices as drought continues to diminish corn and soybean crops. More recently, however, the USDA advised corn crop yields are even less than previously estimated, making the future of grocery bills even more bleak.
Since 40% of US-grown corn is used for animal feed, beef, pork and poultry will see the most significant price increases. If you and your family depend on meat as a primary source of protein, consider the following eight strategies for how to save money on food without sacrificing your taste buds.
Top 8 Tips for How to Save Money on Food and Expensive Meats
1. Buy Lean
You may be tempted by the pricetag of 70 or 80-percent lean meats, but all of your savings will end up at the bottom of the grill. The fat comprising the remaining 20 to 30 percent of that package will render during cooking, making the lean-meat purchase a better deal in the long run. Plus, lean meat is the healthier choice -- bonus!
2. Avoid Pre-Cut
Cubed meats and pre-made patties are convenient, but ultimately a waste of money. If you're guilty of purchasing these pre-made provisions, cease and desist to realize immediate savings. Additionally, grind your chuck at home or ask the butcher to do it for you. You'll get the same ground meat for much less, plus it seems fresher!
3. Buy in Bulk
If you consume a lot of meat, buying in bulk is a no-brainer way to keep costs down. Consider going in on a side of beef with a few other families to score healthier, high-quality meat for less. You'll need storage space, but you'll pay the same price for tenderloin as ground beef (on average between $3 and $5 per pound). Check out this article from Business Insider for a breakdown of how to save money on food.
4. Look for Markdowns
Buying meat on clearance may seem a bit daunting, but ultimately you can find good deals on meat nearing its expiration. These meats are usually labeled "Manager's Markdowns" or have bright stickers noting their "best by" dates. Additionally, you can find a great deal on FreeShipping.org for Omaha Steaks, who is currently offering up to 62-percent off select gourmet products, plus four free burgers and franks through Sept. 30.
5. Try "Meatless Monday"
A trend among mom bloggers, "Meatless Monday" promotes healthier, cheaper meals sans America's go-to protein. If you and your family are nightly meat-eaters, consider cutting the costly ingredient once per week. Try these recipes from EatingWell Magazine for meatless-meal ideas -- you just might decide to reduce your meat consumption even more.
6. Don't Be Fooled
If you buy organic meat, you're already paying premium prices for pork, beef and poultry. However, you should be careful of confusing the terms "natural" and "hormone-free" for organic. While these are good alternatives to commercial meats, only the certified seal from the USDA proves meat is organic. Review this PDF from the USDA for more information.
7. Rotisserie for Rush Meals
Okay, I concede; you don't have time every night to thaw pre-cut meat or whip up a meat-based meal from scratch. If you're in a hurry, avoid the fast food joint in favor of pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from Costco. The product is so popular it has its own Facebook profile. These chickens are a great example of how to save money on food, plus you can retain leftovers to use in salads or sandwiches the next day.
8. Add Healthy Fillers
The meat industry suffered a blow earlier this year when "pink slime" was revealed as an ingredient in most packaged ground meat. While I don't advocate adding anything laced with ammonium hydroxide to your ground chuck, you can use oatmeal and bread crumbs. Doing so allows you to purchase and consume smaller amounts of meat without noticing a difference in portion size.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!