how to beat the budget and still enjoy beef

Ah, January… that first month of the year when we’ve blown the budget on December holidays, presents, parties and rich, lavish meals. It’s why everyone finds it easy to stick to the New Year’s diet - they don’t have enough money for snacks and treats!

 

BUT it’s not just January. We know that times are tough, economically speaking, and that more and more households are having to tighten the purse strings and count every last cent when shopping for food. Often, this means cutting back on meat, especially beef, as it is perceived by many to be a luxury food. But what if you could still enjoy regular beefy meals without busting the budget or breaking the bank? Here are our top tips for budget-beating beef buying.

Talk to your butcher

Everyone knows that there are some cuts of beef that are cheaper, but do you know which ones they are? And would you know what to do with them once you’ve bought them? Your best option here is to talk to your butcher. They really are the experts on beef, and they will not only be able to advise you on the cost of the cut, but also on what applications they are suitable for - it doesn’t all have to end up as stew!

 

Top tip: compare like for like - for example, one type of steak cut may be significantly cheaper than another, which means you still get to enjoy!

Bulk buying

Buying in bulk can be one way to save on the per-kilogram cost of meat, but make sure to compare prices of similar cuts that are not being sold as bulk packages. Sometimes, your butcher may have a special on a particular cut, even if it isn’t being sold in bulk packs. Try to scoop up these specials when they are available.

 

Top tip: If you do find a good deal on bulk packs, remember to separate it out into smaller portions once you get home and before popping it in the freezer, so that you don’t end up wasting any.

Read the packaging

Beef, like any other meat, is sold by weight, and is also priced accordingly. However, some meat is sold with bone in and with fat on, while other cuts are trimmed down. Do a little maths to make sure you truly are getting value for money - the meat that’s seemingly a few Rands more expensive per kilo might be a better deal if the cheaper cut has lots of bone and fat.

 

Top tip: Mince is a great example of this. Extra lean mince might cost somewhat more than lean or even plain mince, but it has a minimal amount of fat in it. Of course, you may need the fattier mince for certain applications, so remember to bear that in mind, too.

Cook for volume

While we agree that there’s nothing better than a nice, thick, juicy steak, we also know that it’s just not feasible to eat it every day. Fortunately, many recipes can be bulked out with cheaper ingredients, while still allowing you to enjoy the beefiness. By using a smaller quantity of meat, and more veggies, you can still enjoy a delicious meal without sacrificing beef, and score on the cost.


Top tip: Combine this tip with tip #2, bulk buying. If you’ve managed to get your hands on a great deal, cook up a large batch and save the leftovers for easier cooking later. Check out our article about meal prep for more ideas on how to do this.