Think you can't stock up on meat because of your tight budget? Well, buckle up! I'm going to prove that not only can you build your meat stockpile, but I'll also show you how to prep, process, and freeze meat, too!
I get a ton of questions about how I shop for (and freeze) meat for storage. If you've been following me for long, especially on Instagram, you know my key to saving money is shelf cooking and meal planning. It's cooking first with what you have on hand, starting from your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Then you go to the store only for supplemental ingredients. The rest of your grocery budget is used to buy ingredients (preferably on sale) to keep on hand.
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Once you get those two things down, eating on a budget will be so simple and will even start coming naturally to you! So, you ready to see how we do it?
Make sure that you subscribe to my YouTube channel, I have new videos every Thursday! Click to watch the meat budgeting and freezer prep video online HERE, or click and watch me discuss stocking up on meat budget below:
See, shopping for (and freezing meat) is actually pretty easy peasy! It gets even better once you get in the habit of doing it weekly. Follow how I shop for and freeze meat for my family of 10, and you'll be a pro in no time!
Quick disclaimer: As you may already know, a budget of $25/week isn't the “norm” over here, just something that we do during Shelftember! I usually recommend $100/person/month, starting at $300. You can find more info on that in THIS grocery budgeting post.
SOME CHEAP WAYS TO STOCK UP ON MEAT
Stock up on meat no matter your budget! Here's something I want you to think about: Do you. Do the best with what you have! While I might spend almost $200 to stock up on meat in a week, that doesn't mean you have to do that, too.
Even adding an extra $5 package of meat in your freezer is stocking up. So if you can spare $5, $10, $15, you're going to build up a fabulous supply! Here are some ways to save on meat:
- Split a Cow – We have a lot of beef because we split a cow with a cousin using money from our family savings account, not our weekly grocery budget.
- Look for Yellow Stickers – We got our pork on clearance and saved 30%! Meat with a yellow sticker is getting close to the sell-by date, and stores simply want to rotate their stock. It's still perfectly fine!
- Look at Savings, not Just Price – Look for how much you're saving on the price tag, not just at what you spent. This way you can be sure you're really getting the best deal.
When shopping, I try to use half my budget for stockpile items and half for things we'll need right away. Another really easy way to look at this is “buy one for now, and buy one (or two, if you can afford it) for later.” You should especially do this if something is on sale.
PORTION OUT MEAT FOR NOW AND LATER
So, as an example, with my $200 per week allotted grocery budget, I might spend about half ($100) buying meat (most of it discounted). Once I purchase the meat and bring it home, I process the meat in one of three ways:
- Cook, then Freeze – With things like ground beef, I like to cook up a few pounds, divide it up, and then bag it (and freeze it) for meals later.
- Cook, then Eat – For the meat we plan to use right away, I'll and prep and leave in the fridge, just to save some time.
- Bag and Freeze – The rest of the meat gets processed and then put into the freezer for use at a later time.
A word on the “Cook by” or Freeze by” date: when you freeze meat, you're basically hitting the pause button on the expiration date. Then it resumes once it's thawed. So, if you buy meat that's going to hit it's “Best by” date in three days, you'll probably have three days from the time you thaw it again to use it.
Now that I have a plan for how I'm going to pre-prep my meat, I move to the next stage which allows me to save money (and time) since I…
FREEZE MEAT IN USABLE PORTIONS
Are you ready to freeze all of that delicious and wonderful meat? Here are a few things I like to keep on hand when I'm processing meat:
- Tongs – Use a pair of tongs to handle the raw meat. This will keep your fingers clean and dry. Clean the tongs in between meats to help prevent contamination.
- Vacuum Sealer – Vacuum seal meats you won't use as frequently and that'll probably sit in the freezer a little bit longer. Also, since tilapia is a more delicate meat, I vacuum seal that. I got my FoodSaver at Costco, but there are fantastic, affordable options on Amazon as well.
- Freezer Bags – For meats you plan to toss into a crockpot (or meats you'll access more often), splurge, and buy quality quart and gallon freezer bags with thicker plastic and a quality zipper. Don't waste $5 in meat for a $.02 baggie!
- Anti-bacterial or Disinfectant Wipes – Use some kind of disinfectant to wipe down surfaces and to prevent contamination.
Pro Tip: When I have meat I plan to throw into a crockpot straight from frozen, so I'm taking a minute now to trim off the excess fat. This way I don't have to try and do that while they're frozen.
HOW TO LABEL YOUR FREEZER BAGS
Look. Life gets busy, and meat sits in the freezer for a while. If it frosts over, chances are, you're not going to be able to tell pork from tilapia. This is why it's so important to take a few extra seconds to label your meat. For simplicity, I include the same information every time:
- What's Inside – Even if it seems obvious now, you're gonna forget.
- How Many/Quantity – I circle the number just so it doesn't look like the date.
- The Month & The Year – Keep track of when you should be using things by.
- Optional: “Use By” Date. If I have three more days on hamburger before it goes into the freezer, I could write on the package “Use within 3 Days”. Since I only pull stuff out of the freezer when I'm ready to use it, this typically isn't an issue for me.
Pro Tip: If you're not adding the day to your freezer bag date, and you're freezing and labeling meat at the end of the month, move the date forward a month. This way the meat doesn't appear a month newer than it really is.
LET BUDGET BOOT CAMP HELP!
Saving money on meat is one thing, but saving up all of your “bread” is important, too! If you love these money-saving tips, and you would like some extra support, then Budget Boot Camp is for you! It's our fun, online video program that makes managing your finances and getting out of debt a breeze. Check out what we're talking about…
Sounds awesome, right? We know you'll love it so much that we even have a 100% money-back guarantee! Plus, you can use the code FCFBLOG for 10% off at checkout. You're welcome. 😉
REMEMBER: BABY STEPS SAVE YOU MONEY
Do what you can with what you have… and know that you don't need to buy all of your meat at once. You don't even need to spend $100 as I did. Just one at a time, or even one for now, and two for later, especially when you see meat is on sale.
Saving money when you shop becomes easier as you go! Definitely take things one step at a time. Go at your own pace, and you'll soon find yourself with a yummy, healthy stockpile of food your family will enjoy for months to come!
Whew, well there you have it! You now know how to get a good deal on meat, how to stock up, and how to freeze meat for later. Good luck! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments!
Looking for more great ideas?
- Use the 3-month rule before making any big purchases!
- A monthly budget is so yesterday… Try a weekly budget instead!
- Keep your money organized and give it a purpose with 7 bank accounts!
Meat you later!