Sunday, August 30, 2009

Savvy How To: Meat Savings (Part 2)

Savvy How To:
Don't Be A Chicken

It's easier than you thought to save money on poultry buys.

Watching seasonal sale prices is always the key to saving on any meat purchase. Did you know “chicken is usually the cheapest around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and starting January 1st the price goes up as we are trying to shed all those holiday pounds,” says Matt Mendonsa, meat manager for Reams Springville. But what if you need chicken and it's not “in season”?

Here are some key tips to saving money on your chicken purchases in the meat department:

* Buy the whole bird - not just the boneless skinless chicken breast. You can easily buy an entire roasting chicken for the cost of a few breasts. When you cook a whole chicken you get more bang for your buck. Besides just eating the meat at a cheaper-per-pound price you can also use any broth or unwanted cuts to flavor soups and stews. Whole roasters are simple to prepare - just clean and rinse. They taste great when cooked slowly and feed larger groups with leftovers to spare!

* Buy your chicken breasts with the skin and bones. Buying your chicken breast cuts this way is much cheaper than buying boneless skinless. Sure there's the weight of the bones to consider, but the bottom-line savings far out weight any added ounces. Cooking on the bone also adds flavor, and the skin provides a great buffer that keeps the meat from drying out.

* Buy a thigh! Chicken thighs are a very affordable dark meat. This cut has a higher fat content than breasts and thus has more flavor. Counting calories? Grilling is a great option! They are moist, flavorful, cook quickly and most excess fat drips off during cooking.

* Buy boneless, skinless in bulk. If you prefer the convenience of boneless, skinless chicken breasts then buy by the case and you can usually save at least 50 percent. You will have more work to do: trimming, rinsing and bagging. But the overall savings is worth the extra minutes to prep the chicken.

* Use Beer Rebates! Many beer companies offer tearpad type mail-in rebates on a variety of products including deli items, produce and chicken. The rebate forms are usually found in the beer aisle of your local grocer. If you don't see them on the beer aisle, just ask at the customer service desk or the meat counter. You can often get your entire purchase for FREE after rebate. Regulations vary, but there is no beer purchase required in Utah and several other states. Simply buy your chicken cuts, mail in the receipt and cash your rebate check!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cooking With Coupons: How To Save on Meat (Part 1)

Cooking With Coupons: 
 Where's the Beef?

So you think saving money on meat means sacrificing taste and quality? Wrong! Saving money in the meat department is as simple as talking to your trusted local butcher. Don't be afraid to ask questions about the quality of specific cuts or even haggle over prices with your grocers' butcher, says Matt Mendonsa, meat manager for Reams Foods Springville. “They can often give a better price when it's for a good cause, i.e. birthdays, family reunions, weddings, or to build your food storage ? especially when buying in bulk.”

Bulk buys on meat are a great way to go, but make sure you stock up in the “off season.” Unlike produce, meats often cost more during high demand times of the year. Here's some tips for saving even more on your meat:

Chuck or Round, what's the difference? Chuck is the more flavorful cut of meat as it comes from the neck portion and is full of flavorful collagen. Buying cheaper-priced cuts of chuck roasts or steaks still gives great flavor without high prices. Often these cuts may be tougher, but slow-cooking methods like crockpots and braising or more intense pressure cooking (a new-found favorite) easily overcome this dilemma and results in tender, moist and flavor-rich food.

Steaks and ribs are usually $1 to $3 more per pound in the summer and roasts are usually $1 per pound more in winter, says Mendonsa. However, during big holidays, many grocers will actually offer meats at significantly reduced prices and even lose money to get your business on other holiday staples. Stock up during these times.

Buy in bulk! When prices are low, buy in high volume. Instead of buying 1 pound or roast at a time, buy big and freeze for future use. Fluctuation in prices won't affect you, because you have meat to spare. And ask your butcher to freezer wrap it. Most butchers will freezer wrap your meat for FREE! Simply take any cello wrapped meat from the case and your butcher can repackage and wrap the meat to your needs. This saves you using your own bags and cuts costs even more! Just make sure you give your butcher some lead time if you're buying in higher volumes so they can schedule your wrapping.

Search your store for the reduced price section. Many stores mark down close-date meat every morning. You can get quality meat for significantly cheaper this way. Just make sure you cook the meat or freeze it soon after purchase. Finally, find a butcher you trust, give them plenty of time to find the best deals for you, and you will be surprised on how much you can save.
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