Category Archives: price comparions

Using Expensive Meat: Conclusions

So far we’ve had 15 portions using the expensive pork roast I bought. (See this post.) That brings the price down to $1.86 per portion. Surprise!

What I still have in the freezer: 1 slab which could be turned into stir fry, soup, or two pork chops, and a small container of carnitas. At a minimum, there’s probably still 4 portions remaining. If I figure 19 portions from this pork roast, it’s $1.47 each.

Just wow.

I had no idea I could do that. I’ve been watching it go, but I’ve used the meat as I cut it: about 1/2-1/3 for the roast (which became the carnitas), 3 slabs, and one small piece off the end. The small piece was turned into soup. That left the 3 slabs. We’ve eaten 2.

I admit it probably wouldn’t work this way in a bigger family, or perhaps with other cuts of meat. I started with a boneless hunk of pork loin. Very little waste, especially since I’ve used the small amount of fat that came with it to cook something every time we’ve eaten the pork. But I haven’t skimped or deliberately stretched it, I’ve just used it as convenient.

I also admit we’ve been eating it pretty steadily, because I knew I had this chunk of beautiful stuff in the freezer. . . My plan is to use meat for dinner 2x a week, which would have been 6 meals or 12 portions.

We also ate it for lunch: 5 6 portions worth. We tend to eat smaller lunches than dinners, so it went further that it might have otherwise.

My conclusion? It’s possible to get to my target price with expensive meat, if you have minimal waste in the original, large piece of meat AND if you use any leftovers for lunches. Otherwise? I’d have made 10 meals, at $2.79 per portion, over the $2 per portion price I wanted.

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Retirement Frugality: Budgeting Meat & Vegetables

MEAT

In general, chicken is the cheapest meat available, then pork, then beef, with veal being the most expensive. (When I figured this out from perusing years’ worth of USDA data, I stopped buying veal.)

I found a write-up about turning a 3 lb. pork loin into at least 4 meals for 2 people: a roast, sweet & sour, chow mein, and a pork chop meal.

That’s 8 meals. I researched a price per pound for natural pork loin, so I could figure how many meals I’d have to make to get to my magic .25/portion or more realistic .50 ?

I found a price, $3.99/lb. For a 3 lb loin, If I make 8 meals as in the write up, it’s $1.50 a portion. If I can do 12, it’s $1 a portion. And given what I found with the chicken as well as this research, I think an actual, realistic target price per portion is $1 for meat.

The only ways I can see around this are:

      • Abandon the idea of eating organic/natural meats, or
      • Do that (above) AND buy bargain meats only, or
      • Become vegetarian.

We eat “breakfast” one day a week, and lunches are left overs or catch as catch can. That makes 15 meals a week I need to budget for, and there are two of us, so 30 portions. We eat meat for 2 meals a week, so the cost of the protein for those days should be around $4. (We might, or might not, have sausage or bacon with our “breakfast” meal.)

How do  I use this to figure meats I can afford OR decide which meats I can’t?

The most realistic quantity I can come up with uses 1/4 lb of meat for 2 portions. At $1 per portion, that means:

 Any meat I buy has to cost $8/lb OR less!

The pork price I found fits ($3.99), so do the bulk chicken thighs ($2.49) I’ve been using. Ground beef at the local small green grocer, at $8.99/lb does NOT.

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VEGETABLES

This year, I worked hard to find a way to reduce our vegetable cost, and managed to save about $100 by not buying a December share and full farm share, as we have in the past.

Instead, I bought a 1/2 share and a second share (at a different farm)  which starts earlier than the farm we’ve always used. This gives us fresh produce longer, but requires more work on my part retrieving it, meal planning, etc.

We spent approx. $600 this year for the farm veggies. That covers 8 months. Assuming there are 4 weeks per month, it’s $75/month, 18.75 per week, or .63 per portion (for 15 meals, 2 portions each).

This leaves us $125/month of our stated budget ($200 a month) for everything else: supplies, condiments, etc. And, as long as DH is working, that’s realistic. When he retires? I think I need to find ways to do better.

Meat & veggies aren’t going to be the answer! I don’t see how I can cut much more. As it is, we’re paying bulk prices for months’ worth of food up front, and retrieving it ourselves to avoid delivery fees.


I forgot Stew vegetables for winter! I run out of some, if not all of these every winter: carrot, celery, onion, parsnip & potato. What I have left right now are carrots & onions.

There was a huge quantity of carrots in last December’s share and I bought a 20 lb bag of onions from the farm sometime late fall.

I guess I need to do the same with all the stew veggies this year. Fifty lb bags of “chef” potatoes show up in the fall in some markets, I’ve never bought them as I want organic.  I need to ask the co-op about this or the farm(s)…

In general, we can’t use up wholesale quantities of perishables. I don’t have room to store them and we can’t eat them fast enough. But I hate going out midwinter for a 3 lb bag of onions!

Instead of making up 1/2 made casseroles, etc. like I did in 2019, maybe I need to make up/freeze stew veggies, like the stewed tomatoes and salsa verde I already make?


Assuming we will need to spend 1/2 of what we currently use? That will have to come from supplies and other foods, if possible. That’s another blog!