We firmly believe well-raised meat is for everyone. We also know some people worry it’s out of their price range. Affordability is critical. If budget is a concern, we have a few ideas.
The first thing to consider when eating meat on a budget is how much you eat — generally Americans buy and eat too much meat. You don’t need mountains of sausages or pounds of ground beef to make a filling and flavorful sauce. Reduce portion sizes. It’s better for you, and it will go a long way to making well-raised meat less expensive. If you would like to try something like tenderloin but can’t get over the sticker shock, just purchase a small medallion and don’t make it the center of your meal.
Beyond eating less and shrinking portion size, you can also lower costs to meet your budget by buying cheaper cuts instead of ribeyes and strips. And plan for leftovers — a big roast can be dinner tonight and sandwiches tomorrow. If you buy smart and cook smart, you can make the cost work.
We have a number of cuts that cost $10 or less per pound. (Butcher’s secret: These are some of our favorites and are what we actually eat week after week. We prefer them to the high-ends.) Here’s how to shop the vending machines for ten meals for four people spending $10 or less per pound. Depending on the weight of the packages you select, some of the meat might cost as little as $5. If you don’t eat meat daily, you could spend $50 on meat and easily have enough meals for two weeks.
TEN UNDER TEN
Ground meat is a staple for good reason; it’s budget-friendly and there’s pretty much nothing you can’t make with it, well beyond burgers and meatballs. Combine it with other ingredients to stretch it—make chili, meat sauce for pasta, casseroles, albondigas, enchiladas, and so much more. Ground shines in so many traditional and penny-pinching comfort food recipes: dumplings, pork buns, meatloaf, cabbage rolls, rice bowls, larb, and beyond. Need inspiration? Check out this Bon Appetit roundup of 45 ground meat recipes.
You could make sausage the center of your meal (what’s better than a hot Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a crusty piece of bread?). But if you’re looking to stretch your dollars, try working sausage into dishes as an ingredient. Use parmesan and parsley in a white bean and kale soup, slice a sweet Italian over a pizza, use Andouille in a gumbo. Whatever flavor you choose, you can’t go wrong.
There are so many ways to make pork stew, and none of them require expensive ingredients. A traditional stew with hearty root vegetables is a home run – especially if somehow there are leftovers. So is pork stew with hominy.
Want a quick way to save money? Cut back on ordering in by making your own take-out favorites. Try beef and broccoli with rice. Make stir-fry beef with rice or lo mein noodles and vegetables. Cook a spicy curry. It all comes together quickly and you may find yourself wondering why you ever ordered in in the first place.
Bones are the best, especially for those of us paying attention to a budget. Pork neck bones are easy to work into a number of dishes — and tasty, too. They also have a small amount meat on them, which can fall off the bone after a few hours of cooking and add a special something to whatever you’re making. Try this with a pot of beans. Use neck bones in your favorite tomato-based spaghetti sauce aka gravy, or put aside many hours to make creamy and delicious tonkotsu broth for your ramen, or use them for gravy and rice — the South’s answer to mac n cheese.
These thin cutlets cook quickly and are just the thing for one person — or make enough for four. Bread them and pan fry them for an easy protein to be paired with rice, pickled vegetables, or salad. Or try making tonkatsu at home.
Pork rib tips are often discarded while squaring up a St. Louis style cut of ribs. Some butchers grind them, but we sell them as they’re delicious. They have the flavor of a spare rib and the fatty goodness of the belly. One pack is usually under a pound. A budget treat!
Consider this steak the poor man’s ribeye. It comes from the end of where we cut ribeyes. This means it’s kind of a un-aged, fattier, and much less expensive ribeye. Season well with salt and pepper and stick your chuck steak on a grill. Or you can easily use our perfect steak recipe – just sear it well on both sides in a cast iron pan and transfer it to the oven. It’s the perfect high-low treat.
Cross-Cut Beef Shanks $6.99/lb.
Our beef and pork stew meats are both under $10/lb., but cross-cut beef shanks are less expensive and more special; you can use them to make osso buco, a very simple, very delicious, very impressive dish. The marrow in the bones adds something truly special to this wine- and vegetable-heavy stew. It’s traditionally made with veal shanks but beef shanks work, too. Try them when you want to cook for a crowd without breaking the bank.
These chops have great fatty flavor and are larger than your average lamb chop. Try them braised. You can grill, but use indirect heat to avoid fat flare ups. A bargain!