In her new book “The Big Fat Surprise,” Nina Teicholz says this assumption about saturated fat is incorrect, and it isn’t nearly as bad as the claims have made it to be. She argues that the belief came from a study in the early 1960’s, but that study was flawed because it looked at overall cholesterol and cherry-picked the countries which were part of the study. She notes that our understanding of cholesterol had greatly improved over the years, and we know heart disease is linked to the type of cholesterol (HDL or LDL) in the blood, not necessarily the amount. Her conclusion is that we shouldn’t demonize foods which contain saturated fat the way we do.
If true, this is good news for those who like red meat, but it may not be so good for those who are looking for ways to save money. For anyone who is on a grocery budget, the high price of beef can make sticking to that budget quite difficult. Below are a number of steps that you can take to help reduce the cost of beef in your grocery budget.
A Slow Cooker is Your Friend
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount that you spend on beef is to buy less expensive cuts. The problem is that these are often tougher and less tasty than more expensive cuts. The solution to this problem is to take out your slow cooker. Placing inexpensive cuts of beef into a slow cooker with vegetables, and letting it simmer for the entire day, will make the meat tender and juicy. If you have never tried it before, you’ll be amazed.
Beef that has not been sold which is nearing its sell date will almost always be heavily discounted by the grocery store. They would rather sell it at a discounted price than have to throw it away and get nothing for it. The meat is still perfectly fine, and can be 50% off or more from its regular price. Many people shy away from this because they don’t think they’ll be able to consume it in time. This is where your freezer is your friend. Get the beef at a great discount, take it home and immediately freeze it into perfect portions for your family. It will be in great shape when you’re ready to eat it, and in the perfect sized portion.
Do It Yourself
The more that you’re willing to do yourself with the beef, the less expensive it will be. Think of it the same way as you would a block of cheese and shredded cheese. A block of cheese is much less expensive than shredded cheese, but you have to do a little bit more work if you want shredded cheese. The same applies to beef.
Ground beef will be less expensive than premade beef patties. Purchasing chuck roast when it’s on sale and grinding it yourself will be less expensive than ground beef. Steaks which haven’t been marinated will be less expensive than those that have. The more preparation of the meat you do yourself, the less expensive the beef will be.
Change the Meal Focus
It’s common in the US for meat to be the main focus on the plate for meals. That’s not the case in many countries. In many places around the world, meat is used more as a side to bring extra flavor to the main portion of the meal. Making other foods the focus of your meals, with beef being a tasty side, will allow you to spend less while not completely eliminating it from your diet.
Switch to Less Expensive Meats
Another option is to switch to less expensive meats than beef. Pork and chicken are less expensive than beef, and switching to these in place of beef can help you stay within your grocery budget.
Even if you don’t have a large family, consider buying the family-size packages. The family-size packages will usually be less expensive per pound then the same beef cuts in smaller packages. Once again, the freezer is your friend, and you can freeze all the extra meat in proper portions to use at a later date.
Explore Other Options
Purchasing beef from your local grocery store is not the only way that you can buy it. Purchasing it from another source may save you a significant amount of money. Check to see if there are any butcher shops in your area, farmers who raise beef cattle, or meat lockers. One of these alternatives may be able to supply your family with beef at a better price than you can buy at your local grocery store.
When you go to buy hamburger, look at how lean the ground beef is as well as the price. Ground beef that is 70% lean will be less expensive than ground beef that is 95% lean, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better value. When you cook up the hamburger, leaner ground beef will leave you with more meat for your money because less lean ground beef has a lot of fat in it, which cooks away.
Look for Coupons
Most people don’t even realize that beef coupons exists, but they do. They can be a little difficult to find because you won’t find them in your Sunday paper. Beef coupons usually come on products which are related to cooking or eating beef. Some common places you might find beef coupons are on alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine. You might find it on barbecue sauce or on barbecue charcoal. The coupons will usually give you a few dollars off the purchase of the beef of your choice when you buy it in conjunction with the product that is offering the coupon.
(Photo courtesy of Marshall Astor)