It probably goes without saying that we don’t eat a lot of meat. When we do, it’s usually treated as a garnish, or plays a very minor non-speaking role in a dish. My general rule is that beef and pork should not cost more than $2.99/pound, and chicken should not cost more than $1.99/pound. (Although I usually buy whole chickens and break them down myself in order to use the bones and carcasses for stock, and for those I never pay more than 99 cents/pound.)
The easiest way to meet this budget is to buy in bulk, but at the rate we use meat it ends up sitting around for a bit too long, wearing out its welcome with freezer burn and off flavors.
Enter my favorite area of the grocery store: the discount meat bin.
People who know me are probably rolling their eyes about now, as it’s well documented I have absolutely no shame when it comes to the discount meat bin. I’ve elbowed old ladies out of the way, I’ve showed up in sweats at 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, I’ve entered the checkout line with nothing but 5 packages of marked-down pork chops and a 12-pack of Hamm’s. I could not care less. It’s my one chance to get meat I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, and since I freeze all meat as soon as I get home anyhow, it doesn’t matter if the “sell by” date is tomorrow or a week from now.
For example, today I bought this 3.84-pound hunk of top round steak, which works out to about 54 ounces. (I even toted it, in all its bloody-plastic glory, to the pharmacy, where I proceeded to wait in line for over 20 minutes. As I said: no shame). It was $2.79 a pound, which works out to about 19 cents an ounce. I’m going to freeze it in individual 8-ounce, $1.52 pieces, each of which will more than likely end up marinated, broiled, and sliced very thinly atop a salad like this one or this one to turn it into a main dish.