31 Days to Frugal Real Food in Less Time
Reduce the mental effort and time you invest in your pantry, grocery list, menu plan, and dinner recipes process. This 31 Days to Simplified Menu Planning series will break down the simplification into baby steps and show you how to develop a simple, easy, and effective strategy for feeding your family every day: without an overflowing pantry or extra trips to the grocery store. Join me for the month of October as I explore how we can streamline our processes, declutter our food, and alleviate stress.
As we consider our grocery shopping options, we should particularly look at our meat purchases. We can get flour and sugar anywhere, but where should we purchase meat and what sorts should we do our best to keep on hand?
5 Methods of Keeping Meat in Stock
1. Shop the Weekly Specials
Of course if you want to get the best deals on meat, the obvious way is to look at all the grocery store ads and take advantage of the best sales. Be careful, though, because often listed “sale” prices aren’t actually lower, and the
- Takes advantage of loss leaders & gets the best deals available
- More options are available
- Takes weekly research time
- Takes more time to shop at more stores
2. Choose the Best Regular-Priced Options
If you have a favorite store or two and very little time to spend on price comparisons, then the simplest thing to do is to scope out the options at your store(s) of choice and figure out what they always carry at a good price. Think about how much meat you need in a week or a month and decide something like, “Every month I’ll buy ground beef, a pack of ham steaks, a pork roast, a bag of boneless chicken thighs, and 2 whole chickens.”
- Think through it once and never have to again.
- Makes it easy to pass the list off to another shopper.
- Speeds up the grocery trip.
- Doesn’t take advantage of the best deals.
- Might end up with less variety.
3. Shop the In-Store Specials at One or Two Discount Grocers
This is a compromise of sorts between the first two options. Pick your standard grocery shops, then whenever you are shopping, browse around for the best sale items (or near-expiration discounts) available then. If you get a chance to talk to a knowledgable employee or a manager in the meat department, you might even be able to find out when they mark down meats.
- Takes no research time at home.
- Don’t have to spend the extra time or gas shopping at several stores.
- Takes more time at the store.
- Sometimes there might not be any deals to be had.
4. Buy in Bulk from a Local Butcher or Small Farm
Buying a whole or part of a cow, pig, or chicken directly from a local farmer or butcher can be a great way to affordably get a variety of cuts and cut down your grocery store time significantly. It’s a great feeling to have a freezer full of meat, full of potential dinners just needing a few supporting pantry ingredients.
- Stocking your freezer means less time and thinking at the store.
- Usually the quality of meat is much greater.
- Supports local businesses and farmers more directly.
- It’s a large upfront cost.
- You need to have a large freezer.
5. Buy in Bulk from a Distributor like Zaycon Foods
This option is similar to buying from a butcher, but might be more viable if there are not many local options in your area. Zaycon Foods sells meat by the wholesale case, making occasional scheduled truck deliveries to towns around the US.
- Low wholesale price, lower than almost any sale price at a store.
- Never frozen, high quality meat.
- Bulk purchases mean you have to think about and purchase it less often.
- Might not be available in your area.
- Higher upfront cost.
- Requires freezer space.
These are some differing strategies for acquiring meat for your menu plan. I’ve tried most of them and found each to be useful in different life circumstances. Try them out and find out which way works best for you!
Remember, once you have your meat, Simplified Dinners gives you the strategies you need for preparing whatever you’ve purchased simply, frugally, and with variety.