Couponing Basics

Savings Tip: How to Buy Meat in Bulk to Save Money – Couponing 101

If you’re big on saving money, you probably already buy things in bulk. Paper goods and laundry detergent are the most popular items to buy in bulk because they don’t go bad, or at least take a VERY long time to do so.

One thing that you may not be buying in bulk (I know it took me way too long to start) is meat! After all, it’s the most expensive part of most families’ grocery bills, so why wouldn’t we save as much as possible on it? Even a few cents per pound can really add up over time.

When I first started grocery shopping, I would buy meat in 1 pound packages because that is generally the amount I would need for our meals that week. I avoided the larger packages because few things pain me more in life than throwing away food because we couldn’t use it before it went bad.

Honestly, I just assumed those larger packs were meant for families with lots of kids or the occasional party-sized meal. It didn’t occur to me that I could separate the large packages of meat into smaller portions and freeze what I wasn’t going to use right away. I soon learned that buying the larger package could save me a lot of money!

When buying meat in bulk, I try to set aside time after my grocery run to portion and freeze it right away. The last thing I want to do is forget that it’s in the back of my fridge and have to throw it out because I didn’t freeze it in time.

And, bulk meats are often featured in grocery stores’ weekly ads. If you see a special for a type of meat that you’re likely to use in the future, I’d say snag it and freeze it. You don’t have to have it on the menu for the week to take advantage of a great deal! Just make sure you have enough freezer space and storage bags for it.

Some tips for portioning and freezing meat:

  • Portion them into sizes that you will be able to use all at once — avoid thawing and refreezing meat
  • For ground meats, the flatter the shape you store them in, the faster they will thaw
  • Label each portion of meat with the type and amount of meat, as well as the date it was frozen
  • Use reusable freezer-safe bags that are better for the environment and your wallet
  • Set up your bags or containers so that you don’t have to touch the outside of them much or at all once you start handling the raw meat
  • If you have them, use food-safe gloves to avoid touching the raw meat directly
  • Pay attention to anything that gets touched by the meat or residual liquids and disinfect them when you’re done

Real life example:

I recently bought a 5-lb. package of ground chuck at $1.49 per pound, so the entire 5 pounds cost me $7.45.  If I were to buy five 1-lb. packages at $1.99 per pound, I would pay $9.95 for 5 pounds.  By buying in bulk I saved $2.50 on 5 pounds of meat. It took – no kidding – 3 minutes for me to portion and freeze 5 pounds of chuck. Translation: 3 minutes to save $2.50, or $50 per hour! Now, obviously I’m not going to separate meat for an hour, but you get the picture. Little money saving efforts like these really do add up.

Hopefully this will help someone to save a little money on groceries this week, and a lot of money over time!

What are your favorite meats or groceries to buy in bulk? Do you have any creative ways for storing or using up large quantities of meat?

    25 Comments

  1. I have a great tip I use when buying bulk meats such as steaks, pork loins, chicken legs, beef cubes, etc. If you plan on marinating them put the marinde in the freezer-bag, seal it almost all the way except one small corner and squeeze ALL the air out so that just a drop of marinade starts to come out and seal it the rest of the way. Massage the meat a little to make sure the marinade has coated all surfaces of the meat then put in your freezer immediately. When ready to eat, defrost in a large bowl or sink of cold water. The meat marinades during the freezing and thawing process and the best part: NO FREEZER BURN. It works great, try it!

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  2. We lived in a high cost area for a time and were only able to shop in one particular store for meats and dairy/ When their 5lb+ packs of meat went to only about 80% lean I invested in a meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer. Now I buy london broils, or other applicable roasts, when they go on sale and grind my own ground beef (and control the fat content). More often than not, I can get more meat for less money than is charged for the stores ground beef. And I know whats in it, for my germaphobic husband 😉

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  3. We do the same with whole pork loins. You can slice these into pork chops, make them as thick as you like, and package them 2, 3 or 4 in each bag, whatever you need for your family. I do different sizes as my kids are grown and I never know who might be coming for supper! I also use a vacuum sealer for this.

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  4. I hunt and grind all my meat into burger meat. Ladies I know this may sound gross to you, but you can not tell the difference between deer burger and cow burger meat. If you live in the country there are always lots of people that hunt that dont eat the meat if you ask around you can probably get it donated to you. Then you just need a grinder. I personally at the end of deer season can bring home between 200-400lbs of burger meat for less than $50. If I asked for more deer I could easily get 1000-1500 lbs of meat I just don’t know what I would do with that amount. So if you want to be frugal on meat find a hunter!

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  5. Hi Steph,

    I know it sounds dumb, but it never occurred to me to flatten out the meat and freeze it that way…lol…I have about 12 “lumps” of burger hogging up the freezer right now 🙂

    Thanks for the tip!

    Reply

  6. When I am putting my meat in the bags, especially the snap seal ones, I will turn down the top of the bags about one small fold and after I add the meat I unfold it and I have a clean seal. This works well for the cheaper baggies that may not seal if you get anything on them.

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  7. Stephanie,

    I like to cut the 5 lb. chubs into pre-made hamburgers as well.. you just slice the thickness that you want and put them in freezer bags with wax paper in between so they don’t stick. Way cheaper than buying them already cut at the store!!

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  8. As a working mom, I like to cook up the meat before I freeze it. This way, when I am in need of ideas to make dinner, I can just take out the package, add the seasoning or put it in a pot of spaghetti sauce and dinner’s halfway there!

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  9. My friend and I bought 40 lbs of chicken breast together (so we each took home 20 lbs) I froze half and canned the other half (in a pressure cooker).

    What I do with a lot of my ground beef is to cook it first and THEN freeze it. That way on a really busy night, I can put it in spaghetti, chili, tacos and it’s so fast and easy! You can cook your 5 lb of meat in a big pot and end up with 5 freezer ziplocs of quick easy ready to go meat! A pound cooked is about 2 cups or so.

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  10. I buy 10lb rolls of 90/10 at Sam’s also. I use a tape measure and a marker to divide it into 10 one pound sections. It seems silly but it works.

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  11. You can buy 90/10 ground beef at Sam’s Club by the case for around 1.55/lb. I don’t know about where you live, but around here that’s about HALF what it costs in the store regularly. It’s 80lbs to a case. I just split it with 3 friends and we get 20lbs each. That keeps me in hamburger for about 4-5 months. You can do the same thing w/their whole pork loins. 50-60lbs/case and I split it with a friend. It’s really easy to cut them up into roasts and chops. They also do whole chickens, pork butt and several beef cuts by the case. If you have enough freezer space and a few friends willing to go in on it with you, it’s GREAT savings.

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    • Britney,

      We purchased a half of a pig once, and it took up way more freezer space than we expected. I can imagine half a cow would take up even more. Totally a great idea though if you have the space!

      Reply

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