Lowering Your Grocery Costs Without Cutting Back On Meat Dishes

If you’re in debt, like me, then you have likely been looking everywhere in your budget to see where you can trim the proverbial fat. For most people, housing is the numero uno expense, and there usually isn’t a lot that you can do about that. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does a consumer expenditure survey regularly and the most recent data  is from 2010. You can view the highlights of the most recent data here or in the image below.

average household spending pie chart

For the average American household, here is how that spending breaks down:

Food  $      6,129 13%
Housing  $    16,557 34%
Apparel  $      1,700 4%
Transport  $      7,677 16%
Healthcare  $      3,157 7%
Entertainment  $      2,504 5%
Cash contributions  $      1,633 3%
Insurance & pension  $      5,373 11%
All other  $      3,379 7%

And of the food spending, 59% is spent on food eating at home and 43% on food dining out. I find that a little surprising since most of the people I know seem to spend more time in restaurants than in their kitchens.

So, the third biggest expense for most households is food. It is also an easy area to cut costs. Most of the time, people tell you to do this by eating rice and beans. If you’ve ever listened to the Dave Ramsey show, then you know that he often says this.  Usually this is said because meat is considered an expensive part of the food budget and staples like rice and beans give you protein at a fraction of the cost.

The truth is that you can cut your food costs while not giving up meat.

As I have said before, I eat an all organic diet, so a pound of grass-fed organic beef runs me $6.49/lb when I buy it at Trader Joe’s. Sounds expensive, right? For comparison, I just checked this week’s Kroger ad and see that conventional ground beef is priced at $2.29/lb this week.

I have relatives who claim that they cannot cut costs in their grocery budget or eat organic because their family of four needs meat at each meal and that one pound of ground beef only lasts one meal for them. But, they are wrong…

I get 14 meals (for 2 people) out of one pound of ground beef.

Earlier this month, I bought a pound of ground beef at Trader Joe’s for $6.49. Upon getting home, I put half of it in the freezer and cooked the other half on the stove. When that 1/2-lb. of meet was done cooking, I added some quinoa and lentils to it. Then, it was turned into meatloaf that made 7 meals for two people.

Last week, the same thing was done with the other half-pound of ground beef. That is a total of 14 servings for two people, or 28 servings total. That makes the organic grass-fed beef cost per serving/meal just $0.23. (and it still actually tastes like beef despite the lentils and quinoa.) Meanwhile, my relatives are spending $0.57 per serving/meal on their ground beef, when it is on sale. And the beef that I am eating is healthier.

And I don’t always turn the ground beef into meatloaf. Sometimes it is chili or spaghetti sauce. But – it always gets either lentils, quinoa or both added to it.

Doing things like this is how you cut your grocery spending without sacrificing good, varied meals.

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