Buying in Bulk to Save Money on Meat

You know there’s one thing my husband and I can’t help but enjoy: a good steak.  Don’t go all PETA crazy on me, but we do like eating meat.  We actually don’t have steak very often but when we do we like to have a good one.

In the past we have tried many things to cut back on how much money we spend buying meat:

  • We have always bought when on sale.  When we lived in Pennsylvania the grocery store we shopped used to have meat on sale buy one get one free often and that’s when I would stock up.  My current grocery store doesn’t have the same type of sales so we have tried other options.
  • Two years ago we tried buying in bulk.  We bought a quarter of a cow and that meat lasted us a whole year.  The problem, I found, was that most of the meat was ground meat and the steak selection was not very good.  Also, later we found out that the person we bought from lied to us and the meat was not in fact hormone-free.  We have not been able to find another trusted source so we have not explored this avenue again.
  • I have tried using coupons.  Thanks to coupon trades and the generosity of friends I have been able to use winetags to save on meat purchases.  I have also taken advantage of Mail in Rebates.

However, my access to winetags has been more difficult as I engage in less trading.  It was time to try something different.  In the past many people have raved about the quality of the meat at Costco.  My husband and I decided to give this a try.  Initially we looked at buying already cut NY strips steaks for $6.99 a pound.  That was until we walked a few feet over and we found a slab of NY steaks on sale for $4.69/lb.  So check out what we did:

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We bought around 11 lbs for $51.45.  We did lose maybe a pound of it after we trimmed the fat.  But we would have done the same with the steaks since they also needed trimming.  We vacuum sealed different portions of about 1 lb each.  This should last us for possibly a year.  Like I said we don’t eat it that often.  To put it in perspective, before buying this meat I told my husband I would love to hit Fogo de Chao.  That place is amazing and expensive! We spend around $120 for both of us when we have been there and that’s only because we don’t drink any wine or other alcoholic drinks.  While buying this meat was not cheap, it will probably keep us away from this or any other steakhouse for a while.  So what we spent on ten steak meals is paid back with the cost of a meal for one at a steakhouse.

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Comments

  • That’s fantastic. Well done! (Pun unintended).
    We recently made the switch to buying meat at our local farmer’s market. It’s more expensive but since we eat very little meat, I think it’s a good choice. I think you will definitely save money by enjoying your steak at home.

    A friend of ours actually buys his beef by the side at absurdly low prices, as he has a huge freezer.

  • Marcia

    Let me know if you think the meat is as good as others say, We eat red meat alot at our house and that would save us a ton of $.

    • Marcia,

      It was really good and tender. Really really good quality. You can borrow my vacuum sealer too. That would keep quality and prolong time in the freezer.

      Mercedes

  • Heather

    I’ve been buying a large piece of meat and cutting my own steaks for several years. I’ve found it’s at least a dollar or more cheaper per pound than the same cut of meat already in steaks.

  • I usually buy all my meat and stock up when it is on sale but I never noticed Costco had the slab for steaks! I usually bought roasts and cut them into steaks but this seems like such a better cut! I will definately check this out! Has anyone ever looked at you weird or thought it odd that you stock up and store your meat in the freezer rather than buying and eating fresh? I had never thought that stocking up and freezing the excess was weird until someone asked me “YOU FREEZE YOUR MEAT?” in a tone that inferred I was a bit looney. I asked back in a more polite tone “YOU BUY YOUR MEAT RIGHT WHEN YOU NEED IT AND SOMEHOW THINKS IT TASTES DIFFERENT?”

    • Theresa,

      That’s very funny! You should have also mentioned that at some point or another their meat was also frozen and who knows for how long. They are a bit delusional if they think they are eating “fresh off the cow” meat.

      Mercedes

  • Kate

    Today I found 5 lb portions of All Natural Ground Chuck at Meijer for $1.44/lb! I bought 25 lbs!

  • charlene

    I just rediscovered Costco this weekend. I found 32 oz packages of Cheddar for 3.59 and Mozzarella cheese for 3.99. That is soo much less than I typically spend even with coupons. I also found 25lb sacks of flour for 6.99. I usually spend 2.99 for 5lb sacks and I always seem to run out. I think I get obsessed with using coupons on everything and sometimes lose sight of the best bottom line price.

    • Amen Charlene, that’s why it is very important to keep a price book.

      I also buy my flour at Costco. 25 lbs will probably last us 6 months but we keep it in a cool place so no problems.

      Mercedes

  • Michaela

    This may sound like an odd question, but what type of knife or cutting instrument did you use to cut up the meat?? Just curious!

    • Hi Michaela,

      I use a regular 10 inch chef’s knife. All it needed to be is sharpened well. i forgot to mention the whole thing didn’t take more than 45 minutes, from trimming to vacuum sealing.

      Mercedes

  • Great tips! We are looking into buying meat in bulk from a farmer right now, I hope we don’t get treated the way you were. Sorry about that!

  • Tonya

    Mercedes,

    Once again, great tips! Where did you get the vacuum sealer from? I am new to all of this and as of right now, I do not buy meat like that but see how it can save a ton of money.

    • Hi Tonya,

      I bought my vacuum sealer at Kohl’s. if I remember correctly they were on sale and I had a 30% off coupon. I love it though! it’s very easy to freeze veggies form your own garden this way too.

      Mercedes

  • I’ve been trying to find ways to cut back on meat and wine expenses, as I do need both, LOL! I often get a really inexpensive bottle of wine with a $2 off meat hang tag with purchase. (that will get a pack of porckchops or chicken wings!) I’ve been wondering, if I did this at Pick n Save on double coupon days, does wine count towards your $25 purchase? And would they double a meat coupon? Anyone ever tried it?

  • Kathleen

    We do this with ground hamburger and chicken breasts. Buy in bulk and separate into smaller portions using ziplocs. The meat is always great and we save TONS!!!

  • Scott Perry

    The numbers aren’t working for me. Am I missing something? If I buy the steak at 4.69 and cut it in to one pound steaks. Now I use my vacuum sealer that costs $120 bucks. It will last for three years, I assume. That’s $60 per year. I figure we would eat two steaks once every other week. That’s a total of 52 steaks per year. If I amortize the $120 over three years of steaks, 156 steaks, that is $0.77 per steak. The plastic wrap costs $17.89 per roll of 18 feet, or 216 inches. Each steak takes 5.5 inches of wrap. That is $0.46 per steak. To total, one steak $4.69, wrap $0.46, sealer $0.77 = $5.92 per steak. $6.99 per lb fresh, not frozen vs $5.92 frozen means I save $1.07. So I save a whopping $55.64 per year? I’m not sure that it is worth the effort. What do you think?

    • HI Scott,

      Great point about adding the cost of the vacuum sealer and the storage bags. However, a couple of things: First, personally I don’t count the cost of the vacuum sealer because I bought it for another purpose and I also use it to store vegetables from my garden in the summer. I also didn’t pay $120 for it more like half of that. Also mine is two years old and it’s not kicking the bucket yet. And if like in your scenario you use it just for this it should last you longer than three years. . For me I would really only account for the price of the bags which is like you already mentioned around $0.47 per 1lb pack if you pay full price. Although I would also never pay the full price and use a 30% off coupon at kohls to buy it there. I notice they carry the 5 pk box and that comes to $0.21 per lb packaged after coupon. So for me the price would be $4.90 per lb or around $55 bucks a year, if I ate one 1lb every other week, or 1 lb a week as I think your calculations were based on. I imagine there’s a lot of people who would shrug that. Maybe I would too but I would put it in terms of that’s maybe an extra dinner out for my family or a college book for my kid in the future.

      Personally I can’t tell a difference between frozen or fresh meat. So that has never been a deciding factor for me.

      Mercedes

  • if you have any mom and pop type butchers near you, you should check those out! we have three one i dont waste my time with as he is so expensive, it is cheaper to shop at krogers.
    the other two I just love. They cut fresh cuts everyday, but they dont sale that meat everyday…if they cant sale it in 2 days, then they freezer wrap it and put in on sale in the freezer buy one get one.(these are steaks and brats they make there, never seen a roast, as they just turn it into ground beef, wish they would do those though) also one of them..my fav by the way…they have sales every week on some type of beef and sometimes on there chicken, last week they had chicken breast (and these are huge ones, like chicken on steriods LOL)for 1.99 a lb, but if you bought it in bulk, (30lbs) he would sale it to you for 1.39 a lb. New Yrok Strip steaks were 3.99 a lb on sale, but if you bought the whole loin he sold it for 2.99 a lb. They will also cut it the way you want and freezer wrap it for you for free! So he repackaged the chicken breast 2 whole breast per pack..because like i said these things were huge, so 2 would feed my family of 4. The steaks I ahd him cut and trim in 1 inch steaks..hubby loves thick steaks, packaged them in 4 to a pack and got 5 packs! and if you shop there late on thursdays..(before the butcher manager leaves)then meat they had not sold, like round steaks, roast and things of the sort, you can get at a discount, as they want to start the cases with all fresh meat on the weekends!

  • Amy

    We buy most of our meat at Sam’s Club. The quality is EXCELLENT as is the price!! You can further your savings by buying in bulk; and if that is just too much meat for your family, you could always split it with a friend. Generally, the only meat I buy at our regular grocery store is chicken breasts when they are BOGO – mostly because the price is about the same and since I don’t like to handle raw chicken this allows me to just buy the package size I want and toss it in the freezer.

  • Juli

    My husband and I bought a buffalo a few years ago. There is a ranch in Wyoming that sells hunts. They are completely free of any medications and the meat is very good, lower in fat than chicken and the meat lasted us about 2 years. Like you mentioned we had a lot of burger, but the steaks and roasts that we got were well worth it we felt. It is an investment, but we hope to do it agian next year.

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  • maria

    I don’t know if someone mentioned it or not, but our Sams will slice your meat for you.

    I buy a huge rib roast. Usually when it’s 3.99 a pound and ask them to slice it for me. I tell them how thick I want it, and they slice it, wrap it up, and hand it to me before I even pay for it.

    It’s a great time saver, and they’re willing to do it so they can sell that large portion of meat.

    • Hi Maria,

      That’s a great tip! Thank you for sharing.

      Mercedes

  • maria

    oops…I forgot to add, that in the rib roast, I usually get 16-20 slices of rib eyes. 16 perfect slices and the other 4 are usually a little smaller in size since they are the end pieces.

    If I buy it as I need it, the price is 7.99 to 8.99 a lb at our local store if they’re not on sale. Plus it’s also convenient to already have it in our freezer since we live in the country, and don’t have to make a speical trip to town just go get steaks

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  • Becky

    I’m not much of a meat eater myself. In fact, I was vegetarian for a few years but I got seduced by a bacon roll. Matters are not helped much by the fact that my partner makes the best bacon rolls I’ve ever had.

    But anyway, I have bought meat wholesale, mostly for my partner’s benefit, as he seems to be allergic to anything that’s even vaguely healthy. Sometimes I cook it before I freeze it, to minimise the inevitable faffing about later.

    Though on that subject, I once did something really stupid and I’ll never be allowed to forget it. The first time I bought meat from a wholesaler, I only went and forgot to separate it into portions. Felt like such an idiot. Now every time I buy meat of any kind, my partner asks me if we need to buy a hammer and chisel!