Beef: It’s Not What’s for Dinner

Photo (cc) by I-Man--10N

If your idea of a delicious dinner is a slab of red meat with some sides, get ready for sticker shock. Beef prices are hitting record highs, and it could be years before they come down.

Don’t despair. You can have your beef and eat it too. Here are six ways to either save on beef or free up some money in your grocery budget so you can occasionally splurge for steaks on the grill this summer.

1. Buy the cheap cuts

Sure, we’d all like to have filet mignon and rib roast every night, but you’re on a budget, right? That means you need to swap out those expensive cuts for something cheaper.

Take a stab at cooking these less expensive cuts of beef:

  • Sirloin steak.
  • Chuck steak or roast.
  • Round steak.
  • Eye of round.
  • Ground beef.

Of course, you may need to try marinating or slow cooking tougher cuts but with the right technique, they can still be delicious.

2. Fill your freezer with bulk beef

If you can’t bear the thought of giving up prime cuts completely, try to get them a little cheaper by buying a side or quarter of beef.

Buying bulk meat will require two things: a lot of freezer space and a lot of money upfront. If you have both, you could save beaucoup bucks on the overall cost of your beef.

However, you have to know how to calculate your true cost or you may end up spending more than you think. You see, most beef sides are sold by hanging weight, which is the cow after it’s been slaughtered but before it’s been cut, trimmed and wrapped.

Once all that processing takes place, you lose an average of 25 percent (or more) of the cow. The 300 pounds of hanging beef you paid for turns into 225 pounds in your freezer.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service has published this informative bulletin with more details about how to buy a side of beef.

3. Go cowpooling

Can’t fathom having 225 pounds of meat in your freezer at one time? Then it is time to set up a cowpool.

Unlike the cowpools that involve sharing milk from a single cow, beef cowpools are simply many people splitting a single animal. Some involve one person rounding up friends to share a steer, while other farms allow individuals to register and be matched to an existing pool.

Whether you are splitting the beef or buying your own side, you may want to check out this section on Cooking Light’s website regarding cowpooling.

4. Minimize the meat per meal

There is no reason to serve each family member their own hunk of beef each night. Do their hearts and your wallet a favor by spreading a smaller portion of meat across the whole family.

Mark Bittman said it best in his column in The New York Times. The food writer who went from telling us “How to Cook Everything,” his bestselling cookbook in 1998, to explaining “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” in 2007 has been on the front lines of trying to convince Americans to reduce their meat consumption. That doesn’t mean passing on beef completely but rather making a little go a long way.

See this plantain ground beef torte as an example of a dish in which the beef takes a supporting, not starring, role.

5. Learn to love other proteins

For many people, beef is their go-to protein choice, but it most certainly isn’t the only option available. Pork and chicken are cheaper meat substitutes which, while not beef, aren’t bad.

The USDA weekly report on retail pork prices finds that stores nationwide are selling pork for far below the average beef price. Bone-in loin was running an average of $2.67 per pound the week of March 7. Meanwhile, fresh pork tenderloin was $4.14 per pound, assorted bone-in pork chops were $2.16 a pound, and bone-in pork sirloin end roast was bargain priced at $1.58 per pound.

As for chicken, it’s not as cheap as it used to be, but it’s still a frugal shopper’s best friend. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whole chickens were averaging about $1.53 per pound in January.

Of course, you can get your protein without eating meat. For the ultimate cheap dinnertime dish, look for meals centered on these protein sources:

  • Eggs.
  • Beans.
  • Canned tuna.
  • Quinoa.

6. Make meatless Mondays a tradition

While we’re on the subject of alternate protein sources, how about you drop meat from the menu altogether a couple of days a week?

The Catholics in the crowd are probably already doing meatless Fridays, but don’t stop there. Have a meatless Monday – or Tuesday or Wednesday – too.

With the money you save from those meatless meals, you’ll be able to buy the good stuff when it comes time to fire up the grill.

Have high beef prices changed how you shop and menu plan? Share your tips with other readers in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

And if you need some inspiration for budget meals, we have plenty of Frugal Family Feasts posted right here on Money Talks News.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Things You Should Never Put in a Microwave
8 Things You Should Never Put in a Microwave

A microwave can be a busy cook’s best friend. But heating certain things in a microwave can cause disaster.

16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live
5 Reasons You Should Work for as Long as You Live

These benefits might make you think twice about retirement.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
The Next 5 Groups Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The CDC has unveiled a schedule that likely will determine who gets the next doses.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.