I’ve seen Food, Inc. I know that for the health of my family, the health of small local farms, and the health of the animals involved, the best decision when it comes to meat is to eat sparingly and eat organic. According to the USDA, in 2008 Americans ate an average of 215.8 pounds of meat per year (includes, chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, pork, and beef). That is a little over 4 pounds per week, or a half a pound a day. From these statistics, it seems pretty likely that meat is a daily habit for many Americans, and an item that takes up a good portion of the food budget. So the question becomes, How do you procure meat to feed your family while staying within a budget?
Listen, I get that some people will respond by telling me to just go vegetarian. And I get that. I was a vegan for several years before I got married. Going vegan or vegetarian is certainly an easy way to eliminate the dilemma of how to afford meat. That plan of action comes with its own issues, though. Have you seen the price of (or tasted, for that matter) vegan cheese? Scary on both counts.
The fact is, while some family members (like me) would be fine with vastly reducing or eliminating meat from their diets, that is not the case for everyone (like my husband). In my quest to become more frugal and creative in my meal-planning, I have come up with quite a few ways to include meat (or make heartier vegetarian entrees) in ways that stretch the budget instead of straining it.
Today’s tip is to purchase meat in bulk directly from a local farm. Go to EatWild.com to find a farm near you that sells meat and other items that are certified grass-fed and pastured, among other qualifications. I found that when you purchase a large amount of beef (like a quarter cow), you can get deeply discounted products. After a quick search of Eatwild.com, I found beef for $3.15/lb at a farm less than 40 miles from my home. You can’t find non-organic beef at the grocery store for that price. Go in with a friend (or two) to purchase the whole cow, and the price will go even lower. Generally, the farmer will even butcher and wrap it for you. I’m dedicated to saving money, but trust me, my dedication does NOT extend to butchery. Nope. Can’t do it.
Next time I’ll give you some tips on how to save money on meat at the grocery store.
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