How to Buy Meat on a Budget (Despite Skyrocketing Prices)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

By Daisy Luther

The headline on Drudge Report caught my attention yesterday, In large font, it screamed “Prices for Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs are at an All-Time High.”

To those of us who have been watching the alternative news, this is no surprise. Mac Slavo of SHTFplan wrote about it HERE.  Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic warned us HERE.  Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse Blog and The End of the American Dream has been shouting this from the rooftops for more than a year – HERE and HERE are two recent examples. Between the drought in California, the virus that killed off a bunch of baby pigs, and overall inflation because of an increase in fuel prices, every bite you put in your mouth is costing more this year, and those prices will continue to rise.

You may be wondering if it’s even possible to buy meat on a budget.

Does this mean that you have to become a vegetarian? Does it mean that you have to eschew healthy hormone-free meats and go with the toxic grocery store offerings?

Not at all.

My last trip to the grocery store here in California was absolutely appalling. I vowed to use a combination of strategies to help our meat purchases go further.

Buy in bulk locally

The absolute best way to buy meat when you’re on a budget is to purchase in bulk and to do so locally. We purchase direct from a local farmer who field-raises his animals and doesn’t use hormones and antibiotics.  You can buy a quarter or a half of a pig or cow, and you’ll pay on average a much lower price than you would if you bought the meat packaged separately over the course of the season. As well, you are locking in your meat price by purchasing it all at once. This way, you won’t be strongly  affected by the meat inflation until next season.

Here are a few tips for bulk purchases of meat

  • Check out the farm from which the meat originates. You want animals that were not raised in cramped factory farmed conditions, not fed GMO feed, and not injected with growth hormones and antibiotics. If you are making a purchase like this go for the best quality you can find.
  • If that is more meat than your family can use, or more money than you can spend right now, consider going in with another family and splitting the purchase.
  • You need a deep freezer in order to make the most of such a large purchase.
  • I also like to can meat so that I am not as dependent on the electrical grid.  Look into canning entire roasts, meatballs, or chili. (You can also check out my canning cookbook for more whole-food canning recipes.)
  • Have the poorer cuts turned into stew meat or ground meat.
  • Slow cooking a lower quality cut can turn something tough into something that melts in your mouth.
  • Learn more about buying meat free of hormones and antibiotics HERE.

Eat leftovers

Often when you purchase meat in bulk, you end up cooking large portions. You probably won’t open a Styrofoam tray of chicken breasts, but instead you’ll purchase a whole chicken.  You will be more likely to cook a stew or a roast. Have a plan for what you can do with those leftovers to extend them through another meal. Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Make gravy – if you have a serving a meat too small to go around for all of your family members, consider making a gravy and serving it over mashed potatoes. Add some onion and mushrooms to the gravy to extend it even further.
  • Make a soup or stew – this is another way to extend a serving that isn’t quite big enough to go around
  • Mix it with beans and add Mexican seasoning to make burritos or to serve over rice.
  • When you make a large roast, thinly slice the meat for sandwiches and salads throughout the work and school week.
  • Cover leftover stew with pie crust or biscuit dough for a delicious potpie
  • Look for recipes specifically written to use up leftovers. (This cookbook has some fantastic ideas.)
  • If you have more leftovers than you can use before they spoil, sometimes they can be canned – check out the instructions here.

You can find more ideas for repurposing leftovers HERE.

Don’t waste anything

Use up the things that most people throw away.  When preparing the meat, if you are cutting away some fat or bone, place it in a bowl and put it in the freezer. When you have enough like scraps of meat, it’s time to make broth from it.  You can make hearty broth from ham, turkey, chicken, beef, or pork – virtually any kind of meat.  Use the inedible parts and cook it down for hours to get a rich and delicious broth. You can then use this broth as a base for soup or to cook your rice in to add a hit of nutrition.

Here are directions on how to make and can poultry broth and ham broth.

Do you have such a tiny amount of leftovers that it won’t equal a full serving? Start a container in your freezer for those leftovers and create “leftover soup”.  Sometimes it’s fantastic, sometimes it isn’t so great, but those odds and ends can combine to make meals that I consider to be basically “freebies.”  We always have a large tupperware container in the freezer that contains little bits of vegetables or meat. Add a jar of homemade broth and a handful of rice, barley or pasta, and you’ve created “leftover soup.” It will be different every single time, based on your family’s leftovers.

Hunt and fish

This answer isn’t for everyone. Some folks prefer to forget that the meat on the styrofoam trays at the grocery store didn’t originate on those trays. Other’s have gotten locked in to a more narrow definition of “meat” , believing that the options are fish, pork, beef, and chicken.  However, if you aren’t bothered by the concept of hunting, there is an abundance of meat walking, swimming, and flying around. Invest in a good game cookbook to best prepare meats that may not be familiar to you.

You don’t have to hunt, yourself.  I’m fortunate to have some friends and neighbors who hunt. In exchange for some of the bounty, I’ve bartered my skills at canning things like venison chili or moose meatballs in spaghetti sauce.

If you fish, that can put an instant meal on the table.  Learning to quickly and efficiently clean fish is a great skill and can gently prepare you for butchering other types of meat.

Perhaps with the sharp uptick in meat prices, it’s time to brush up on these skills and learn to harvest what is naturally abundant in your area.

Any suggestions?

How do you combat the outrageous meat prices?  Share your ideas  for how to buy meat on a budget in the comments section below.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Looks like you have covered all the basics of inexpensive meat. I have raised or bought beef steers and pigs since 1968 that I took to the local packing house where they process them and we get the meat fully wrapped and frozen in the portion sizes we designate. My children and grandchildren have had home raised meats all their life. The quality is unsurpassed when compared to grocery store meat and resturant meat except for the 5 star resturants. The hamburger we have prepared is 90%+ lean. This type burger is $8-$10 per pound at the store, and we put it in the freezer for about $4.50-$5.00/# if we buy a steer. Since we raise our own steers, our cost consist of some grass and a little feed, so our cost is the processing bill. Of course the steak and roast cost $4.50-$5.00 a pound too. The initial outlay for the processed beef will set you back about $2400, but the same beef of lower quality bought a week at a time at the grocery store will cost you 3 times that amount unless you buy that cheap hamburger that is 2/3 tallow and 1/3 sawdust that smells like something died in the kitchen last week when you cook it. Since we have our own meat and we raise a big garden, we hardly buy anything at the grocery store this time of year. Most of what we buy is junk food that we could easily do without.
    In my experience there are 100’s of small farmers that would like to work with you in providing you beef or pork. Just don’t expect them to sell you an animal for less than it will bring at the local livestock market. If you have a marketable skill, the farmers will barter with you.

  • We generally get a half of beef yearly. Since that gives more burger than we need, we get half of what would have been ground into burger set aside for “canning meat”. This is the best way to use the tougher cuts of meat. Pressure canning it makes any cut tender as loin meat. Saves freezer space and lasts for years. The heart and kidneys are cooked up for the dog or pickled and canned for “card game” eats.

    There is nothing known as leftovers here. If we or the dog don’t eat it, the chickens will. The compost is inside the chicken run. If they don’t eat it out of the compost, mother earth recycles it and on to the garden it goes.

    All fruit peels, etc. are made into jelly or wine. Bread crusts are saved for meatloaf or chicken stuffing. Egg shells are recycled back to the chickens.

    The only food based scrap that is thrown into the garbage is lard that has been used for a while. I just read yesterday how the farmers made lye soap from this old lard in the 1800s. I need to research this more.

    They don’t call me a skinflint for no reason.

    • Hoping you get this comment. Your comment about pressure canning meat intrigued me, and I ran it past a knowledgeable domestic friend of mine. She said:
      “It gets mushy and looks like dog food. We made some and I tossed it. And for the amount of time and gas that it takes to can a couple of jars…it’s not worth it I. My opinion.”


      • Dear Emily:

        Everyone has different preferences, but I absolutely love home canned meat, and everyone I have served it to also has really enjoyed it.

        A couple of tips: It’s better if you do NOT cook it ahead of time, aside from soups, etc. Allow the pressure canning process to cook it. This results in something very tender. For boneless chicken it tastes similar to pached chicken – so it’s good in things like chicken salad, shredded for tacos, or in casseroles – but not so great if you want to sink your teeth into a chicken breast. Beef turns out like a pot roast – that kind of meat that is fork-tender and tastes like you have cooked it all day.

        I’ve also done ground beef and ground turkey – it’s not bad “in” something like tacos or burritoes, and makes a nice taco salad topper. As well, it can be used as an ingredient in spaghetti sauce or chili or anything else you happen to need ground beef for.

        I don’t generally can just a “couple” of jars. I do a full canner load. Once the jars are in the canner and at the right pressure, it’s 90 minutes, but that isn’t hands-on time. I usually just can meat in the colder weather, when the warmth from the stove is quite welcome.

        So, there you have it – that has to be more than 2 cents worth, I think it’s at least 5 cents! 🙂

        Have a great day!

        ~ Daisy

        • Thanks, your reply is way more encouraging than my friend’s, haha! I wasn’t sure if she’d maybe had a bad or limited experience, or maybe wasn’t aware of certain techniques. Very glad to read what you have to say, since I was unsure about going out to buy a pressure canner and taking the time to learn the whole process. I think this will be a goal come this fall!! Thanks again for the tips you shared!

  • Heck, I was just telling my wife last week that we are going to have to become vegitarians because the price of meat has tripled in the last few years. Of course my 3 year old thinks vegetables are ‘ucky’. The only type of meat that I can buy at the local grocery store these days without having a heart attack is pork, and eating too much pork can’t be all that good for you. As much as the central bankers have tried to disguise the true rate of inflation it is really starting to creep into commodities like gas and meat. I see this as a real canary in the coal-mine for the inevitable end of the U.S. Dollar hegemony.

  • I’ve lived in Ireland for the last 18 years, and we already do a lot of these things (I may have the only All American Pressure Canner in Ireland lol) but I also noticed the huge spike in US prices (especially bacon) when I was visiting California this past Winter. Now your prices are about the same as ours and we also want to avoid animals feed GMO feed (that isn’t labeled here, people foods are).

    So we buy lamb from a local farmer, we buy pork from homesteading friends from California who raise pigs, and will also be getting goat this Summer (that’s another unusual meat). Hunting is tricky here (legal issues) but husband has managed venison some years; though not so much now that he is in medical school.

    But one thing I wanted to suggest is look at traditional, peasant recipes from all over the world. With the net, you no longer have to collect lots of cook books to do this- I do a lot of historical re-enactment as well, and the one constant you tend to find between peasant and period cooking (most of the time) is various ways to extend meat.

    My husband, is the sort of guy who thinks it isn’t a meal without a huge chunk of dead-animal in the middle of it, but even he will be happy scarfing down “Cornish Pasties” (basically hand pies made with a mix of lamb and vegetables inside) or Mongolian Pot Stickers (same thing only steamed and pan fried with spring onions and garlic).

    Other ways meat was extended was the “eternal” stock pot going on the stove in Winter (which can be done safely if you have a wood/turf stove) or you can do a modern version of just keep a stock pot/crock pot going overnight and throw frozen bits of meat/veg etc (as you described) and make a stock. Most “period” soups in Europe were done this way before there was canning etc; now most cookbooks say “make with water” but they are much better with broth, also small amounts of meat are added that add flavor but not a lot of cost.

    Finally, when shopping at regular stores (especially if you simply can’t buy in bulk) look at less commonly used forms of meat. If you are lucky to have a real butcher (we do) see if they have necks, feet, backs, extra wings etc of birds or pigs; big bones from beef (great for stock) etc. All of these can be used for simmering the meat off the bone to be frozen to use later and/or for making stock.

    If you have some animals cat, dogs, chickens etc they are also great for using up what you really can’t consume. Anything from pure fat to the barn cats in Winter (they don’t need it in Summer) to those bits of bread with tiny specks of mold to the chickens (again don’t feed them food gone totally green, they also love apple cores).

    Melodi in Ireland

  • We live in a part of the country that hosts lots of hunters during the season. In the small town where we live there are two processing places where the hunters leave their deer to be processed.
    Sometimes (and it is becoming more frequent) these “big city” hunters don’t return to pick up the meat.
    We have a deal with one of these places that if she has unclaimed meat, we get it and pay the processing fee. It amounts to approx. a dollar a pound.
    If you live close to one of these kinds of establishments, maybe you could get the meat for a small sum.
    Since it is “wild” there is no chance of extra hormones or antibiotics.

    • Hmmm…personally, I have also gotten deer meat that was left at my butcher. However, it is illegal here to do unless you get a permit from the Fish and Game “Overlords”. They seem to think they need to track every sliver of game from hoof to table so no one can get out of their hunting fees and licenses. I like to get over on them once in a while.

      • This processing place will only take animals that are properly tagged when they are killed. So, the problem of the hunting license is taken care of.
        This is unclaimed meat from hunters who have the proper license, but never return to claim the meat.
        The business has already processed it, which has cost them for the materials, time and employees. So, she sells it to locals that will pay that fee.
        What she can’t sell, she donates to needy families.

        • Same here. But F&G require you to get their “permission” to get the already processed deer meat from the butcher if you are not the owner.

  • Buying directly from the farmer is not possible for those on EBT for whatever reason, and I’m already in a farm scarce, highly urban area. Any other ideas?

    • Hmm, many of the farmers in my state accept EBT. Maybe you just need to look a little harder? …Or, move?

      Also, first two deer I ever got were with a car. By accident of course. Maybe that’s what roadkillchef was gettin’ at?

    • Bartering can work. I used to use coupons all the time to get cheap/free items (mainly hygiene and cleaning supplies-before I made my own cleaning supplies)I would exchange the things I got for pennies for fruits and veggies from a relative that could grow things when I couldn’t. Once I exchanged 2 bottles of body wash, 2 deodorants, 2 shampoos, and 2 bars of soap. (about $3 out of pocket for me) I got 4lbs of tomatoes, some jalapenos, and about 3lbs of peaches. $14 worth of food for $3. Ask if there is any work they need done, or anything they want in exchange.

      You can use coupons to save some $ on hygiene items and other things. Use what you save to buy stuff you can’t get on EBT (such as from a farmer)

      Sell items you don’t need on a yardsale website in your area.

      Make something yourself to sell. I know people in my area that sale homemade laundry soap and homemade cleaners.

      Donate plasma-if that is possible in your area.

      Use part of your tax refund at the beginning of the year to make a large purchase of meat and put up. (In January it was $2.50lb from my local butcher for 1/2 to whole side of beef-it is now $3.50-and I am sure it will be more before the year is out)

      You can use EBT to buy seeds/plants (food producing only) from places that do take EBT. Use those for a container garden. You don’t even have to put them outside if you are not able to. Just make sure they are in a bright and sunny spot in the house. (Check the individual packages to make sure it will get enough light) This works great for more expensive herbs. My windowsills (inside) are lined with herbs my kids planted.

      One of the places just outside my town is a pick your own fruit place. They also sale some already picked. They will let you pick for others and pay you a very little, but enough to buy some of what you are picking. (others will let you have some for picking so much) EX: you pick 5 of their baskets of peaches you get a basket of peaches.

      Most of this stuff works better for fruits and veggies, but if you save $$ in one place you can shuffle it to another that is more expensive.

      • Oops I forgot to mention-some farmers and individuals don’t pick everything-you can ask for any leftovers they might have. (You can ask someone to pick the pears on their tree if they want them-in exchange you dispose of any that are rotting on the ground and leave them with some pears of their own they did not have to pick)Some farmers won’t sell produce if it did not turn out just right (especially large farms) they might let you have some if you pick it.

  • ..y’know, a lot of people I send important links to will not get to see this one now, thanks to you and your witless comment Joey.

    • Gee whiz, Osh. I am glad you said something – that comment snuck through and I totally missed it. It has been deleted now.

      Thanks ~


      • You are welcome Daisy…. I figured it snuck through, these days there is just so much a person can do so we all need to help out where and when we can……thanks for removing it, and now I can and will send the link to this important post to my email list…

  • Meat is no problem if you are a vegetarian. I have lots of nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, legumes, and whole grains for protein. I don’t trust any of the commercial or organically raised meat in this country. I won’t eat eggs, either, because male chicks are killed even on organic farms. Unless you know a farmer personally, it’s better to be a vegetarian. I do give in and have yogurt and cheese once every few months. And I also have dried whole fat milk that is imported and GMO-free and some dried butter in storage but no other animal products.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security