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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