Meat has got to be the single most expensive item on the family grocery list.
Rising meat prices and, well face it, rising everything else too prices means you might turn to the family food budget as a place to make some cuts.
The grocery bill is one of the largest bills in the home. Averaging a several hundred a month for a small family the regular addition of meat might seem like a good place cut back on.
Chicken breast averages over $3 a pound in the US. A family of four would use about 2 pounds in a meal. That makes it $6 alone just for the protein in your meal each night. Just say your family loved this chicken breast and you served it 7 nights a week along with other sundries. That makes it $42 alone just for your protein in one week's dinner. We haven't even touched on side dishes, breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Can you just hear the cha-ching?
Other meats may be a bit cheaper but it all still adds up to a lot of money for your protein.
Finding innovative ways to make your food and food dollars go further is key.
Stretching the Meat in Your Meals
One of the ways to make your food dollar go further is to stretch the meat in your family meals.
You probably already knew this. But do you have some ideas of how you could do this?
- Ground Meat: Ground meat was created so that mother's could spread that protein throughout the meal (I'm making this up). It makes good sense to buy your ground meat when it goes on sale and then freeze it. I've landed on deals such as ground turkey for $1 a pound. And then my regular grocery market has ground meat on sale every few months or so. You can also purchase your ground meat from Costco and some restaurant supply stores. We prefer grass fed ground beef so I keep my eyes open for that.
I also like to mix ground beef and ground turkey together for a healthier meat mix. Sometimes ground turkey costs much less than ground beef. It's perfectly fine to substitute all ground turkey for ground beef.
- Fish: Instead of giving each family member their own fish filet try making dishes that mix the fish with various ingredients such as salmon loafs, salmon quiches, and fish cakes. This will stretch your fish further and they all taste great!
- Roasts and Steaks: Use cheaper cuts of beef to make stews. Instead of buying already cut up stew meat sometimes it's cheaper to buy cheap steaks and cut them up yourself. Pay attention to the per pound price.
- Whole Chickens: Buy whole chickens when they're on sale. The meat on a whole chicken can really go far. Cut up the chicken and cook all the meat. Take it off the bones and pack in portions in the freezer. Use the portions for tacos, sandwiches, and pasta sauces. Cook a whole chicken for dinner one night and save the leftovers for quesadillas the next night. Use the bones to make bone broth.
An Instant Pot is a great tool to heat up leftovers quickly.
Ground Meat Recipes to Try
Plov this easy Russian dish is hearty, filling, and a staple in many Slavic homes. A friend taught me how to make it in the Instant Pot (got yours?) and now I make it often. . I think most ever culture has a form of this but this is particularly tasty. Onions, rice, and carrots combined with savory spices round out the dish.
Lazy Cabbage Rolls: I love cabbage. It's just so satisfying. I probably cook it most nights of the week so finding new ways to use it makes me smile. Cabbage rolls are new Russian dish I've been enjoying. But I can be lazy in the kitchen so this recipe is more my speed for a weeknight dinner.
Fish Recipes to Try
Fish Cakes: We're headed back to my new favorite, Natasha's Kitchen for these. Salmon cakes is another recipe I like to make with leftover salmon. They're delicious and stretch the salmon far. I've tried so many or Natasha's recipes and they never disappoint.
Fish Tacos: Here's a way to make a little more than 1 pound of fish fillets feed more than 10 people! A great alternative to regular beef tacos.
Dishes Made From Cut Up Roasts and Steaks
Stir Fry: For both my husband and myself stir fry is our go to meal. Savory veggies and meat over rice or noodles. So quick, so easy, and a great way to stretch your protein.
Steak Samsa: While I usually make this yummy tidbit from ground meat my friend, who introduced me to this great dish, makes it with cut up pieces of steak. Here is a more traditional version of it.We use the uncooked wraps found in Costco and Walmart.
Chicken Curry: Another delicious quick dish like stir fry. Served over rice with a savory sauce. There are endless types of curry. Here are a few to get your started, Green Curry, Red Curry. Some of the ingredients may not be in your local grocery store such as Kafir Lime Leaves, Thai Sweet Basil, but you can always find stuff like this on Amazon.
What to do with Whole Roasts
Have you ever discovered the beauty of using a whole chicken for a week's worth of dinners? Sarah at Kichn.com shows how she uses a whole chicken from Monday thru Friday. It's worth a try.