I would love to know how you save money on kosher meat. As you know this type of meat is very expensive and I have never seen coupons for it. Since my family is not strictly vegetarian, I continue to purchase meat. However, I have tried to cook some vegetarian meals during the week to save money. I would love to hear your input.
Great question, Rachel! And the truth is – it’s hard. When I read non-kosher frugal blogs, I want to cry at the cost of their meat – hamburger meat for $.99/lb?! Boneless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb?!
We will never be able to pay THAT little for kosher meat, but my husband and I have discovered a few strategies that allow us to keep the cost of meat from completely overtaking our budget.
#1. Eat meat on Shabbat and Yom Tov, not during the week. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I’d say that 90% of our weekday meals (Sunday – Thursday nights) are vegetarian. If we have left-overs from Shabbat, or we’re having a Sunday night BBQ (common in the summer), we’ll have meat. But otherwise, we eat veggie. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone – but if you can cut out even two meat dinners a week, that will definitely save you at least $10 or $20 a week – if not more!
#2. Look for meat on mark-down. This doesn’t happen very often in Kansas City, but I’ve had many readers tell me that it’s quite common in larger markets. Especially at Kroger and Kroger-affiliate stores. If fresh meat or chicken is nearing it’s sell-by date, you may find savings of up to 50% or more. Stock up and stick it in your freezer! And by the way – if the meat is at its sell-by date and it’s NOT marked down, there’s no harm in asking. I once found hamburger meat at Coscto for $2.99 a pound. It hasn’t happened again, but you can bet I check every time I’m there.
#3. Comparison shop online. I know many of us miss the meat (and sales) from Golden West Glatt, but there are other online sources. For example, when I wrote about What Happened to Golden West Glatt, a lot of you commented with good suggestions for alternative online kosher butcher. You can also check out Kosher Kuts Direct, which is one of KOAB’s newest advertisers (yes, shameless plug ;-))
And finally, if you live in one of the 12 cities that the KC Kosher Coop operates in (Atlanta, Boca Raton, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Memphis, Kansas City, Raleigh, Sacramento, Savannah or St. Louis), you should definitely compare meat prices there as well. I switched over to the Coop for hotdogs, for example, after realizing that they cost me $.75 – $1.25 less per package. As always, a good price book will help you compare prices and make the best decisions – especially if you’re buying in bulk.
#4. Use meat as a part of the meal, rather than the main focus. This is pretty standard stretch-your-budget advice, whether you keep kosher or not. A meal of chicken stir-fry with a lot of other veggies may need two breasts to feed a family of five. A meal of chicken breasts with a side salad will need five. Ground beef can be stretched with grated carrots, zucchini and even rice. Less expensive cuts of meat taste just as good – if not better – than more costly cuts once they’ve been cooked in the crockpot. And of course, we try to creatively use up our left-overs. Chicken soup becomes chicken pot pie. Roasted chicken becomes chicken fried rice.
#5. Create margin in your budget. Our final money-saving strategy is possibly the most important: We accept the fact that there isn’t much we can do to significantly reduce the cost of kosher meat and focus instead on building margin into our budget to afford that meat. I will never be able to buy ground beef for $.99 a pound. I can, however, significantly reduce the amount I spend on other items in my budget. If I spend $10 a month on toiletries rather than $100, that’s $90 of margin. If I get my cereal for $1 per box, rather than $4, that’s $6 of margin a week. I save as much as I can where I can. And then I use most of those savings to cut my overall budget, while reserving some of them to absorb the cost of kosher meat and dairy.
How do you handle the high cost of kosher meat? What money-saving strategies am I missing? Any other advice for Rachel?