Is meat eating up your whole grocery budget? We've got all the tips, tricks, and hacks you need to find cheap meat. Let's save your supper and your wallet!

woman shopping for meat, from Shelf Cooking

If you've been following us for a while now, then you know we're all about frugal living. If you're new here, yay! Nice to “meat” you (see what we did there).

Here's the quick lowdown on our approach to grocery shopping: you should only spend $100 per family member each month. (Head over to our post about grocery budgets to get the full scoop!)

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Now, you may be thinking, “$100 for the whole MONTH per person? How the heck is that possible?!” Fair questions! Here's the deal: you're probably overspending on meat, and we're going to help you fix that. Keep on reading for all the tips, tricks, and secrets you need to find cheap meat.


freezer bags of cheap meat, from Shelf Cooking

Okay, right off the bat, let's get down to the nitty-gritty! How do you even know what to spend on meat in the first place? What's a good deal, what's not? Let's talk about it! We did some research and found the average prices for meat:

  • Chicken Legs – $1.55 per pound
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – $3.41 per pound
  • Whole Chicken – $1.64 per pound
  • Ground Beef – $5.60 per pound
  • Pork Chops (Bone-In) – $4.05 per pound
  • Pork Chops (Boneless) $4.29 per pound
  • Whole Ham – $3.34 per pound
  • Steak (Sirloin) – $8.87 per pound
  • Chuck Roast – $5.96 per pound
  • Whole Turkey (Frozen) – $1.41 per pound

These are averages! Prices can vary by location and based on other variables like the time of year, cut of meat, etc. But, keep these baselines in mind as you're evaluating whether a “deal” is really a deal!

Pro Tip: Focus on the savings, not just the final price. It's a great way to figure out how good a deal is!


Jordan Page showing off a cheap meat haul, from Shelf Cooking

Read these tips before you make your next grocery run, and don't ever spend full price on meat again. Instead do these things to find cheap meat:

  • Look for Yellow Tags – Yellow is the new black! Those flashy tags are your friend. Buy meat that's nearing its expiration and freeze it for later. And don't forget to follow our golden rule of stocking up on groceries: buy one for now and two for later!
  • Buy Whole – Instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken breast, buy the whole dang chicken and cut it up yourself! You'll get a heck of a lot more meat for way less money! Then make Bubba's whole chicken recipe. It's SO good!
  • Find Out When Your Store Marks Down Meat – Every grocery store is different, but most stores mark their meats down just before a new sale cycle begins or a new shipment arrives. Pay attention and adjust your shopping day accordingly. It also never hurts to make friends with the meat manager and ask for the inside scoop!
  • Try Cheaper Cuts of Meat – Think about the meals you plan to make. If you use your slow cooker a lot, you can go for the cheapest cuts of meat without sacrificing quality! Cooking low and slow makes any cut of meat turn out tender and juicy. Another example, instead of buying chicken breasts, go for the legs! They are SO cheap, so flavorful and, a huge hit with the kiddos!
  • Buy Frozen – You can save some serious cash by buying some meats meat instead of fresh. So, especially if you don't plan to cook your meat immediately, go ahead and buy it frozen if it's on sale!

Pro Tip: To make your meat stretch even further, add beans to the mix! We do that all the time with taco meat. Want to make steak go further? Check out this steak quesadilla recipe.


cheap meat stockpile in Ziploc bags, from Shelf Cooking

Now you're a meat shopping pro, but you probably don't know about some of the out-of-box secrets that we're about to share, so don't run to the store just yet! Check out these tips:

  • Buy a Cow – Wait. What?! Yup. We just said it. Don't have a cow! Buy the whole dang cow. Well, half, at least. We like to split a cow with a friend or family member. The meat lasts for AGES! How do we swing it? Head over to our sister site, Fun Cheap or Free to read how we use money from our family savings account, not our weekly grocery budget.
  • Buy a Pig – While we're on the subject, here's another fun fact! You can buy a whole pig, too. Go ahead and pig out! You'll have bacon, pork chops, and barbecue GALORE. Check with your local 4-H club to see if they have any pigs for sale.
  • Shop Local – Don't sleep on your local butcher, you guys! A lot of the time, they offer cheaper prices, and they're also usually willing to share tricks of the trade for using cheaper cuts of meat.
  • Grind Your Own Meat – Investing in a meat grinder can pay off BIG time! Instead of spending an arm and a leg on ground beef, buy a cheap chuck beef and grind it yourself!
  • Cut Your Own Chops – If you see a sale on pork roasts, buy one! You can cut your own pork chops in 10-15 minutes and pay a whole lot less! Don't be scared. All you need is a good knife and cutting board!
  • Buy the Bones – Ham bones are dirt cheap and they make great soups, hearty bean dishes, and more! With one ham bone, you can easily serve your family a filling dinner for $3 or less!

And speaking of bones, don't ever throw them away! Whether you have chicken bones or a turkey carcass, use it up! You can make a broth or soup and turn those leftovers into gold. Check out this simple turkey stock recipe.


woman meal planning for the week, from Shelf Cooking

Alright, before you start shopping, we have a few more tricks of the trade to share! These tips will help your dollar go just a bit further the next time you're buying meat:

  • Plan Meals Around the Deals – Before you set your meal plan for the week, take a quick peek at what you have, then peruse the grocery deals. If you need to stock up on meat for any of your meals, then buy what's on sale.
  • Ask Your Butcher to Cut the Fat – If you're buying a fresh cut of meat, then you pay by the pound. Don't pay for the weight you're not using! Ask your store to trim the meat before you buy.
  • Stay Away from the Deli Counter – Their meat is expensive with a capital “E.” Just buy the stuff on the lunchmeat aisle, and keep an eye out for BOGO deals. Our sister site, Fun Cheap or Free, has a recipe for make-ahead and freezer sandwiches with lunchmeat, so stock up while prices are good!
  • Grab a Rotisserie Chicken – When you do the math, most of the pre-cooked rotisserie chickens are a dang good deal! We make several meals out of one chicken. And if you have a Costco card, they sell them for just $5. You can't beat it!
  • Start Observing Meatless Monday – Serve a lentil soup or meatless pasta dish instead! You can feed a crowd and keep them full without serving meat. Think about how much you'll save over the course of a year!

As you're planning that next grocery run, keep your eye out for other deals and steals, too. If you can save money on cheap meat AND cheap produce, then go for it! Your wallet will thank you. Check out these great tips for grocery shopping on a budget.


Now you know a few our favorite ways to scout out cheap meat! Remember, yellow tags are your friend, and always plan ahead. Now, we'd love to hear your favorite tips and tricks.

Head over to the Shelf Cooking Facebook group and share your best hacks for finding cheap meat, or leave us a comment below. We can't wait to hear from you!

woman at the grocery store shopping for meat, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more budget-friendly tips?

Until we meat again!