Stretch Your Meat Budget

Heather and Ivy say:

Go ahead and laugh, our inner twelve year olds are having a ball with today’s topic. All better? Of course, you could always become a vegetarian and save even more, theoretically. Ivy just spent $40 just on fruit the other day. Yum. Fruit.

Anyway, here are some ways to stretch your meat budget:

  • Soup
  • Stirfry – vegetables, tofu, and peanuts add a lot of color and flavor
  • Pizza – load up on the vegetables and be creative: zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms
  • Meatloaf & meatballs – use breadcrumbs or rolled oats to stretch ground beef. Remember there is such thing as going too far, adjust your seasoning to make up for bland additions.
  • Fajitas & Tacos- Use lots of vegetables and thinly sliced beef or chicken: bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, portabello mushrooms. Don’t forget loads of cheese!
  • Crab or fishcakes – breadcrumbs to the rescue again
  • Salads – Especially useful during the spring and summer when produce is plentiful
  • Kebabs- Anything on a skewer automatically tastes better. 😉

“Ethnic” food in general is a good meat saver. Think especially in terms of poorer countries- Mexican food, Indian food, Asian food. Most are really good ways to stretch your meat budget and save money!

Now, you tell us: what are your favorite meat-stretcher recipes?


  1. Bramble on June 1, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I try not to buy meat unless it’s less than a dollar a pound. sounds crazy but it exists and now there is 8lb of pork roast in my freezer that i dont know what to do with.
    that said, here is what i do when whole chickens go on sale:
    day 1: roast chicken dinner
    day 2: open face chicken sandwiches with gravy
    day 3: chicken and rice
    day 4: chicken and rice soup
    day 5: chicken pot pie

    i got a bunch of chickens for 79 cents a pound the other day, each chicken can be nearly a weeks worth of food if you have just a few staples for mixing or sides!

  2. Jaki - inexpensive home decor on May 31, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Chili is my favorite meat stretcher and if I have the time stuffed peppers. As food keeps gets more expensive I think we’ll see a lot more advice on stretching the food budget in general. Keep it coming people 🙂

  3. Stretch Mark Mama on May 31, 2008 at 3:23 am

    When making a “Meat” meal, I pack about half of it away in storage containers before we eat. That way, we are not tempted to overeat, and there are leftovers for the next day.

  4. Susan on May 30, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    The recommended serving size for meats is the palm of your hand, so my husband and I started splitting a single chicken breast, steak, etc. We’ve instantly saved 50% and we don’t even notice a difference at the dinner table. I was worried that we wouldn’t feel full, but that hasn’t been the case at all.

  5. Carol on May 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Get an invite to my sisters house. Or at least ship the kids to her once a week.

    Ok, really though we love Mac & cheese and Spaghetti and sauce.

  6. emily on May 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I totally agree with the black beans comment. We eat black beans and rice all the time. Speaking of…. rice is a great filler. If I make something like a chicken and rice casserole I just add a little more rice and a little less chicken and it goes just as far.

  7. Mom of three on May 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Just cook less. If there are 5 of us eating, I cook 4 pork chops. The kids don’t eat a whole one, so when they are done, I cut the meat off the bones. They eat the round fleshy part, I eat the parts next to the bones. Add veggies and a salad, and I saved 20% on the meal.

    I used to cook enough that we always had leftovers, which never got eaten. Now I cook less, and if you aren’t totally full after dinner, you can have dessert. We are eating less, wasting less, and it’s funny but they rarely ask for that dessert. Once we eat, and talk for a while, everyone feels full on less food.

  8. Mrs. Micah on May 30, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    One thing we’ll do with a lot of recipes that call for meat is put in about half meat and half black beans (my favorite beans!). Works like a charm.

  9. Lisa- Domestic Accident on May 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I would just add chili and stew although those seem more like winter-fare.

  10. Courtney on May 30, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Black Bean and Corn Salsa:

    1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
    1 can Mexicorn (not drained)
    1 small jar prepared salsa
    several Tbsps chopped green onion
    several Tbsps chopped cilantro

    Mix ingredients and chill.

    Great served with cheese quesadillas!

  11. Angela on May 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I made oriental chicken last night. I took a bag of frozen chicken breast and made enough for last nights meal and froze two others. If we would have had straight chicken we would have used it all last night:)