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Slicing Your Meat Budget
Meat is a major part of the food budget of most families. But you can take steps to reduce the amount you spend on meat – and serve healthier meals while you’re at it.
Start by cutting portion sizes. Most Americans eat too much meat, which adds to a variety of health problems from heart disease to obesity to cancer. The recommended serving is 3 ounces of lean meat, which is about the size of a deck of cards. That means that for a family of four, you need less than a pound of meat.
You can make your meat go farther by adding vegetables. Try stir-frying cut up chicken or beef with broccoli, for example. Then add brown rice and black beans. The result wll be a delicious meal that provides plenty of fiber and protein.
Another way to cut your meat costs is to use a slow-cooker. Cooking less-expensive, tougher cuts of meat in a slow-cooker makes the meat much more tender. Add some potatoes and veggies to the meat while it cooks, and you have a full meal.
Also, use your freezer. Supermarkets often run sales on meat, so stock up. In addition, you usually can save by buying larger packages of meat. Just divide it into individual-meal sizes, and wrap it for the freezer. Remember to write on the outside of the package what kind of meat it is and when you put it in the freezer.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to buy a portion of a steer or a pig. The butcher will usually wrap the meat for freezing. The upside is that it can cost much less per pound. However, you have to take whatever cuts are in the portion you buy, so you probably will end up with cuts you don’t usually use.
But that is just an opportunity to be creative. Whether you buy a portion or not, you should try out some new recipes that use less meat or less-expensive cuts of meat. Again, adding veggies and starches such as brown rice or potatoes can make a little meat go a long way.
Finally, go meatless. Start by designating one night a week for a meatless meal. Check your cookbooks or look online for recipes that use beans, tofu, quinoa, eggs or other protein substitutes for meat. Explain to your family that you are trying to eat healthier and also to help the environment, since raising animals for meat takes a significant environmental toll. You might be surprised at how quickly your family members get on board with the idea, especially if the meals are tasty.