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Favorite cheap meats?

In the late l960's I discovered skirt steaks. Super cheap, and full of beef tastiness (and a raggedy texture guaranteed to keep the price down). Loved them, and this was a time when my budget needed all the help it could get. Then fajitas got invented and there went my favorite cheap steak.

More recently I've gotten into turkey wings -- very good braised. And breast of lamb (I slow cook it with spinach and eggplant).. And pork shoulder steaks - breaded and pan fried.

What are your bottom-budget secret favorite meats?

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  1. Just last week I saw some lamb riblets in wholefoods that were dirt cheap. I was planning to make a "Sunday gravy" with Meatballs and some pork ribs but the lamb was so cheap I decided to use them in the gravy instead. I never made the riblets before but the flavor was so good I now want to try using the riblets in other dishes. My new favorite cheap meat!

    3 Replies
    1. re: TVC15

      I wish I could find lamb anything, cheap. Even in our local "dirt cheap" store, lamb has been running $5.99 a lb. for shanks and up from there. I have a family of five, all of whom love lamb, and I really can't justify $5.99 a lb. and up. I scored some boneless Australian lamb shoulder stew meat today for $1.99 a lb. It was a manager's special, the tag ends of cutting shoulder chops (my least favorite cut, as they always cut them too thin). I bought out all that was left (about 7 lbs.).

      I prefer the Australian/NZ lamb to the American, because the American lamb has been bred to taste more mild, like beef. I like my lamb to have that slightly gamey taste.

      1. re: sablemerle

        I've mentioned this before, but - if you love lamb, check out any local or state fairs or 4-H groups. You can go in halves with a friend and get lamb fairly inexpensive. I buy this way and have a friend that owns a large sheep ranch. I don't find the meat to taste like beef whatsoever.

        1. re: nvcook

          Could you email me and let me know your NV lamb source please?

    2. Skirts are still relatively cheap by my in the Mexican grocery stores - usualy 2.99 lb for choice grade. Outer usually runs a little more. I can regulary score choice top sirloin for 2.99 lb as well. Choice flank I can get for 1.99/lb on sale. One thing I've been digging on lately is shanks. Deep beefy flavor outta that cheap stewing cut. I usually stock up when they go 1.49/lb for choice grade.

      Pork rib tips and country style ribs are stock up items for me when they go under 99c / lb. OOH pork spine aka neckbones - awesome for sunday gravy. I usually buy in at 59c /lb.

      I'll have to look into turkey wings - thanks for that suggestion.

      18 Replies
      1. re: gordeaux

        I am awed by the cheapness of your prices. Here in Marin County, the cheapest things are about twice as much as you quoted.

        Turkey drumsticks are good too, for meat for tacos and enchiladas.

        1. re: Sharuf

          Lamb necks are divine. Deer liver is wonderful.

          1. re: oana

            Lamb necks are the absolute number one meat for me. They are almost free and cook out to texture that is remarkable. While at D&D we sold Jamison holistic lamb, We had to buy the entire animal butchered. No one ever bought the the necks, guess who got to take them home. With deer liver, how do you get the really strong iron/hemoglobin smell and taste to go away. Someone just gave me livers from 6 fresh killed deer. l soaked them in water, milk, and were still to 'irony' for me.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Hi Delucacheesemonger, That is so awesome :). Do you have a particular way that you like to cook them? Honestly, I asked my "game and other non traditional meats" butcher how I should cook the liver and he said just put it straight into hot butter :). I questioned him about soaking (I usually soak in cream) but he said not to bother because it did not need it. To my surprise, he was right. Perhaps it depends on the deer. I have heard that different deer livers can taste quite ... well...different :). Depending on what the deer was eating though the seasons...

              1. re: oana

                I've never had venison liver that I felt was so strong it had to be soaked (and not noted any difference between farmed or wild venison). Straight in the pan for me - very, very briefly.

                1. re: Harters

                  Agreed, I have had it two or three times since discovering it a few months ago and straight in the pan it went :). In fact, here it is :).

                  1. re: oana

                    Nearby butchers used to give customers free liver if they bought any any other cut of venison. Used to make it a great bargain.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I would love it if that came back :).

                2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  The local Native American tribes around here eat the deer or elk liver raw as sot of a prayer of thanks and to gain the strength of the animal.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Hubby loves the liver and the heart. The heart is for stew. For such a hard working organ, very tender.

                    1. re: nvcook

                      Never met a heart I didn't like.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Capitano Anticuchos?

                          Hey, have fun in SFBA. Know you will :)

                          1. re: c oliver

                            A contradiction in terms: cheap chiapino and cheap dungeonous crab?

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Cioppino's never cheap, but the Asian markets around here were selling Dungeness crab for $1.99 a pound not too long ago.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              Now you're cooking with eeeeeeeeeleeeectricityyyyyyyyy!

              2. May have to try the turkey wings. I love the thighs. Boned and braised with Worcester sauce, slice and returned to the pan to get coated with the sauce. Sooo good. Problem is that they aren't always available.

                1. I cannot fathom getting skirt or flank for only 2.99/lb - it can be triple that here.

                  Anyway, one thing that is still inexpensive is oxtail. Chicken livers and hearts are still not in the expensive category - YET.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: chefathome

                    I was also going to say Oxtail but it's gotten really expensive in the LA area. Even in the Asian or Latin markets, you're lucky to find it at $3.99/lb on sale.

                    Turkey wings or thighs can usually be found for under $2/lb.

                    Another cheap cut around these parts is pork country spareribs. On sale regularly for $.99 or $1.29/lb. Even after trimming off the bone and some of the fat, I feel like I'm getting a good deal. Especially if I save up the bones for some stock and render the fat .

                    1. re: chefathome

                      This is why you need to frequent Mexican Carncerias. Skirt steak is typically 3.00 to 3.25 here

                      1. re: chefathome

                        Chicken gizzards- my favorite cheapo meat.

                        BTW- a friend who owns a wings-type restaurant tells us that the wings are now the most expensive part of the chicken- more than breasts or tenders. Amazing.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          How do you cook the chicken gizzards?

                          1. re: MARISKANY

                            IMO the best way is to boil the gizzards for 10 to 15 minutes, drain and cool them, then dredge the gizzards in flour seasoned with a teaspoon of pepper and salt.

                            Then drop the gizzards into a skillet w/hot oil (your choice of oil; but lard or Crisco works best), and fry them for another 10 minutes.

                            Just make sure you quarter and remove the connective tissues from the gizzards before you cook them.

                            You can cook chicken livers the same way, just skip the boiling part.

                            1. re: deet13

                              Marinate, skewer and put on my smoker.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                What are you marinating the gizzards in?

                                1. re: deet13

                                  Lemon juice, olive oil & fresh mint. It's all Greek to me!

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Hmm, this sounds pretty good. How long were you smoking them for?

                                    1. re: deet13

                                      I dunno! They are a side when I smoke a chicken, when they look done I pull them off. An hour?

                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Wow, that sounds great. I never think to do offal a la Greque. I will have to make more of an effort...

                                2. re: deet13

                                  I just put 'em on a baking sheet and roast 'em til they look brown and crispy. Obviously I should be doing more :)

                                  1. re: deet13

                                    Mmmmm- fried gizzards, like from the Lucky Wishbone.

                                    I usually simmer them for a loing time in chicken broth and eat the gizzards out of the broth, Then I have some ramped-up chicken stock for another dish, Mr Mr doesn't care that much for gizzards.

                                  2. re: MARISKANY

                                    gizzards, garlic (as much as you can muster), onions, chicken fat (Jewish) or olive oil (Mediterranean) or butter(North European).
                                    Lightly brown the onions in the fat/oil, add gizzards for a little browning, add garlic (sliced) to warm up & add water to cover. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook till tender & the gravy thickens from the connective tissue of the gizzards (reduce if needed). Pour over rice.

                                    My mother also added tiny meatballs (beef) and chicken necks too - a fricassee she called it.

                                    You can "tart" it up from there with herbs

                                3. re: chefathome

                                  Oxtail is not inexpensive in my area of California. At the Asian market it's $5.69 a pound, but at markets with butchers it's closer to $10 a pound.

                                4. Well, first of all, as a St. Louisan, i must point that the ur-use of pork steaks is to be barbecued. One of our signature dishes. That said, I acknowledge that my initial response to the title of this thread made me harrumph. The cheap cuts I used to love, especially oxtail, are now so bloody chic that they are no longer budget foods. When I was paying 49 cents a pound for oxtail and short ribs, I made them frequently. Now, quite seldom.

                                  Interestingly, chicken livers here are quite cheap by the standards of either coast. When my dear late MIL came here after 60 years in Brooklyn and 30 years in SF and went to the grocery store (and yes, she was still cooking) and saw the chicken liver prices, she nearly toppled over at their price. They went up about a year ago to $1.49 a pound after being 99 cents for ages and ages.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lemons

                                    Sometimes I think pork steak is the only thing that keeps me from turning vegetarian. Pork steaks with Maull's.

                                  2. Beef cheeks. Like oxtail, though, it's gradually becoming a pricier cut.

                                    1. Obviously cheap is relative. (I can't get potatoes for what some of you pay for beef.)

                                      I love hanger. In NYC it is usually a buck/buck fitty less per pound than skirt. (Skirt steak that is.)

                                      Flank for $1.99/# My mouth is still a little open in shock on that.

                                      1. Most offal is well priced. As is rabbit and pigeon.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Harters

                                          psh, what? the tiny d'artagnan rabbit i see is almost 30 dollars..
                                          and quail? forget it..

                                          1. re: monpetitescargot

                                            I suppose it must depend on where you are in the world. A rabbit would be the cheapest meat I know to feed four people. And who mentioned quail? I said pigeon which is also dirt cheap at farmers markets.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              In the US, rabbit is sold as gourmet meat and costs much more per pound than chicken or pork. Too bad, as it is delicious.

                                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                Ah, that is a shame, maestro. Here in the UK (and I suspect other European countries), it's readily available and very cheap. A wild rabbit is only going to cost about £3.50 at the farmers market, maybe £4.50 at the butchers.

                                                Imported ready-diced rabbit (usually from China) is also pretty cheap but doesnt have the taste.

                                                1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                  I buy whole rabbits at my local butcher(eastern North Carolina) for $2.99/lb. Prices are much higher if you buy the little frozen bits at a chain grocery. Same thing applies to buying quail at the carniceria instead of at the Harris Teeter. Quail is somewhere between $2-4 a pound at the former.

                                                  1. re: Naco

                                                    sadly, i dont have those options where i live.

                                                    1. re: Naco

                                                      This makes me smile as I am over run with cottontail rabbits and quail. Probably cause i put feed out for both. Now the Dove population is growing. Hubby is restless, he knows how well fed the little buggers are.

                                                      1. re: nvcook

                                                        I bought a rabbit last week at my grocery store. It cost me $28. Somebody please explain why I'm getting so hosed!!! It was a sizeable beast, probably 3 pounds or so, but still ...

                                                        My husband and I recently bought an entire young lamb from a local halal meat shop, had it butchered into cuts we wanted, took all the other sundry bits too and a put it all in the freezer. We take something out every other week and enjoy it. Any parts we're not into eating have fed my chihuahua beautifully. He loved the kidneys and heart, and has liver and lungs to look forward to yet. My butcher threw in a couple of extra heads too, so we have 3 lamb heads in the freezer, for another adventure in cooking. We made curried brains masala while the brains were still ultra fresh. Odd texture, but tasty.

                                                        The entire lamb (plus the two extra heads and a bag of cow's foot, since it's apparently not legal to sell the lamb's feet) cost me $250 (CDN $), and that was completely butchered to my specifications. Compare that to the $12 I'd pay for 6 small New Zealand lamb chops and I'm pretty happy with the price, not to mention that wild supply of parts I now have stored in my freezer.

                                              2. re: Harters

                                                I agree about the offal; just made a veal kidney meal for a friend that was about a dollar a serving (if you don't count the wine).

                                                I've heard that rabbit is delicious, and wish I could get my hands on some. Unfortunately, I've experienced the same thing as others here in Chicago: they seem to be priced at around $25 (unless anyone knows a magic rabbit store around here that I haven't heard of).

                                                1. re: caseyjo

                                                  Would CSAs or ethnic neighborhood stores sell them for much less?

                                                  1. re: David11238

                                                    Probably. Unfortunately, I haven't seen them in the Mexican or Asian markets I frequent; I'll need to keep an eye out for them when I check out new stores.

                                              3. Salisbury Steak ... you can get On Cor family sized for $3.99, it's a good two and a half pounds of steaks and gravy ... the flavor is the closest thing you will get to heaven.

                                                1. Chuck steaks, can often get them for around $3/pound. Marinated for a bit in a favorite mixture, then reverse-seared on the Weber. Makes for a great cheap steak.

                                                  1. Beef & lamb is expensive where I live unless on sale so I'm another one who was floored by the cheap flank & skirt steaks I read about upthread...First of all, it's very rare that I buy any meat when it's not on sale then I buy alot & stock my deep freezer. Some of my favorite "cheap" meats include pig products like country pork ribs, pig feet & tails, loin chops (recently priced at 1.49 lb/sale) Chicken is cheaper in parts instead of the whole bird; last week leg/thigh quarters were .59 lb in the 10 lb bag and I load up on the bone in breasts when they're priced between .89 to 1.29 lb...chicken livers are about .99 cents/lb all the time. I love them fried on a salad. I will buy lamb chops & ground lamb and veal when I see it marked down; same with beef tongue, which I've recently gotten into as well as beef heart, kidneys and liver for my dog. I also love turkey parts and they are mostly inexpensive...wings & legs between 1.49-1.89 lb but when they put the frozen turkey breasts on sale for .99 cents/lb, I'll buy five. Cheaper than sliced turkey in the deli!

                                                    I've never really been much of a steak person with the exception of maybe skirt but if the price is right, I'll buy short ribs and roasts...oh, and ground beef. When I lived in New Mexico, we ate way more beef (it's beef country after all) cause the price was dirt cheap but here in my area of NC, it's pork country so it's cheaper. Unfortunately, there are no meat markets or ethnic stores so that limits my choices. I miss those places in New York!

                                                    1. For beef it's chuck. For chicken it's thighs or better yet leg quarters which are often even cheaper

                                                      1. Really like this tread....a lot of what is posted on these boards are about high priced items or expensive dinners out. Frugality is sometimes lost in the foodie universe.

                                                        I'm always amazed by the the rising prices of meat that was once consider "lesser cut". My favorite being ox tail. I no longer really buy it because it just has gotten so expensive. I saw it at 5.99 per pound at a korean grocery this week. Tongue is another one.

                                                        However, I have gotten good deals from costco and local butcher I've been frequenting. My favorite is hanger steak. You want good beefy flavor off the grill, it cannot be beat. I trim it myself and it does take some doing. Another is brisket, I can still find it at $1.99 to 2.29 per pound. For me the freezer has been a good tool to making my budget of meats go the distance.

                                                        I believe the source of your meat matters so I've been staying away from some of the grocery chains near me. I am considering the quarter of a cow, from a local farm. I would get a lot of hamburger but It works out to be $4 lb for organic and humainly raise cattle.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Soup

                                                          $1.99 brisket!! I can't remember the last time I made brisket- kosher brisket goes for $13+/lb.

                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                            Brisket, I forgot about that! I know nothing of kosher brisket, but I know that brisket is still a cheap meat. I used to be able to find whole packer briskets for under $2/lb, now it is in the mid $2 range. It is cheap, but at 12 hours or more in the smoker for a large one, it is certainly not a quick thing. Pork butt is another one - still less than $2 at Sam's and the like, but again, a long time on the low 'n slow route. Also makes the best pork and sauerkraut though, and can be cooked a bit faster then. Back on the brisket thing, St. Patty's day is approaching, can't wait for the corned beef sales!

                                                            1. re: Cheez62

                                                              Brisket is more than steak where I live; I saw it at the store this week for 4.99/lb, which is why is stayed there. Hope it'll be on sale in my neck of the woods soon, then I'll buy 3 or 4 for the freezer

                                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                Yeah, 4.99 is a bit nuts, I think. But would that be for trimmed flats? Those get expensive here as well. I was talking about whole, untrimmed packer cuts in the cryovac. They will run from at least 8 and up to 14 pounds or more. I am in Ohio, hardly the center of the brisket world, but if nothing else I can always find whole ones at WalMart.

                                                          2. re: Soup

                                                            I completely agree with you comment on frugality... Nothing wrong with seeking both good value and great food!!

                                                            1. Turkey tails (pope's nose), chicken tails, turkey, duck and chicken offal and feet. Bone marrow.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: David11238

                                                                Wait. You have a place that sells turkey tails and chicken tails?

                                                                1. re: lemons

                                                                  Two places. I'm looking for a third. Pomegranate, on Coney Island Avenue by Ave L will get you turkey tails. I ordered four pounds and it they had them read within five days. They charged me $3.99 a pound. A bit much, but kashrut usually is. I hae tried many, many times to get Di Paolo's turkey stand in the GAP Farmer's Market to carry them. But they seem to not care, even though they advertise as carrying them. I get chicken tails once a year from a butcher in Maine on my annual road trip. I have a feeling you may be able to get chicken tails from Pomegranate as well. And at a low price if you're a good haggler.

                                                                  1. re: David11238

                                                                    and t hey make wonderful turkey broth!

                                                                  2. Split lambs head (excellent braised-just sit there and pick the head clean of it's tongue, cheeks, and brains), lamb and pork necks, shanks, backfat, and pork jowl/cheek.

                                                                    These are all very reasonably priced in my area. I live in a prodominantly Italian/Greek/Croatian community, so these items are always easily available and used very often.

                                                                    1. Turkey Necks are great to cook with, they can be used as an oxtail replacement in many stewed recipes which gives you a completely different but interesting plate and give body to the dishes broth. Similarly, use cross-cut beef shin in stewed/braised recipes which call for short ribs. And a whole beef tendon is an excellent braising cut, as well as good for grinding (don't try this on a wimpy grinder) for picadillo, beef stew, or other cooked dishes with ground beef. I like to work a lot with primals and sub-primals to get multiple meals out of a cut of beef, one I like a lot us the shoulder clod (which has cuts that can be grilled and others which can be smoked) as well as a cap on top sirloin butt (which can be used for steaks). Chicken backs are also overlooked outside of stock. Here I often buy chicken legs that include the backs for cheap, cut the drumsticks and thighs for grilling, then season the chicken backs with a super spicy sauce and serve them to people who don't mind bones and like spicy food.

                                                                      1. Tongue! Honeycomb tripe (great braised, and I can also provide you with an excellent recipe for menudo). Flap meat steak is like flank, but has the benefit of being more plentiful, therefore cheaper as well. Country style pork ribs are great marinaded and put on the grill. Spare ribs can be baked with just salt and pepper and end up being pretty cheap when on sale. I read somewhere (can't find a link today) that while chicken wings are suddenly expensive, bone-in chicken breasts are actually getting pretty cheap. Times change, so it's always the next thing for the bargain shoppers, I suppose.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: gilintx

                                                                          I would like to see your tripe recipes. The only tripe I've tried that I actually liked is honeycomb tripe. I have had it at two tapas restaurants and enjoyed it both times. I really dislike the book tripe (omasum) and whatever they serve up at dim-sum.

                                                                          My husband greatly enjoys the menudo he's had at a Mexican restaurant in Detroit. I'd like to try making it at home sometime if the recipe sounds really good.

                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                            I only ever use honeycomb in my menudo, as it tends to be less fatty. Here's the version I learned from my cousin, which also happens to be my grandmother's recipe:

                                                                            5 lbs. honeycomb tripe
                                                                            3-5 dried New Mexico peppers
                                                                            5-7 dried ancho peppers
                                                                            whole head of garlic
                                                                            2 30 oz cans white hominy
                                                                            dried oregano

                                                                            Fill large stock pot with about 5 quarts of water. Stem and seed peppers. Add peppers and entire head of garlic to water and bring to a simmer.

                                                                            Meanwhile, rinse tripe well and cut into bite-sized pieces.

                                                                            Remove peppers and garlic from water when water becomes reddish colored. Reserve water and set peppers and garlic aside.

                                                                            Add tripe to pepper water and bring to a boil. Water should just cover tripe. Skim off any foamy residue.

                                                                            Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, occasionally skimming off any fat, until tripe is tender.

                                                                            Seed peppers and put into a blender, along with two or three of the garlic cloves. Puree pepper mix, adding some of the water from the stock pot if necessary.

                                                                            Stir the pepper puree into the stock pot. Add water if necessary. Add salt to taste.

                                                                            Add hominy and simmer until warmed through.

                                                                            Here's a link I found to help you with dried peppers:

                                                                            It turns out my names for these peppers had been wrong all along.

                                                                            1. re: gilintx

                                                                              I made menudo awhile back and froze in meal size portions. A Diana Kennedy hybrid. Had some last night and it was fantastic. Unfortunately i changed and added to sufficiently I probably can't recreate but it will never be bad. My Latino market sell "mixed" tripe for menudo. I like the different textures.

                                                                            2. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                              I think you had callos in Spain, which I also love. It's not very hard really: cook down onions and garlic, add sliced chorizo, tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes and stock with a pig's foot and finally your chopped tripe. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, bay leaf, parsley . If you like heat, add some sambal oelek, if not, do add some wine for acidity. I also like to add beef stew meat to my callos, though I might experiment with beef cheeks. Simmer until tender. Devour.

                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                When we've gotten a gallon of menudo from a restaurant, I've noticed that there is NO fat floating on the broth after it's been refrigerated, ever. Is it possible that honeycomb tripe has no fat? It's an organ, after all.

                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                  Sometimes there a pieces of fat on the outside of the tripe, the tripe itself has virtually no fat. But good cows or pigs feet are often cooked with trip to give body to the broth. They will contribute fat as well. So it could be that your soup was well skimmed.

                                                                              2. re: gilintx

                                                                                Also tripes Nicoise...in a wee restaurant in Nice, where I had to argue with the waiter who didn't think I knew what I was ordering. Remarkable.

                                                                              3. A lot of the cuts cited here are expensive by me. Mostly I get by with chicken quarters, pork neck, pork shoulder, center-cut pork chops, spareribs and lamb blade chops. I can usually get them for under $2.99/lb, with a few cuts coming in under $1.50/lb on sale.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                                  pork shoulder, picnic , Boston Butt...or by any other name.

                                                                                2. "Variety meats". I've been on a beef heart bender recently.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                    Beef heart's great, though some people are a bit turned off by the stronger beef flavor (which can be remedied by soaking it in brine for an hour or so).

                                                                                    Plus heart is very lean, so it will broil nicely. Whenever it's cubed, diced, or minced (w/suet or fat added to it) it makes for a excellent beef base for stews and soups.

                                                                                    1. re: deet13

                                                                                      That's interesting; I wonder how good it would be ground in a burger or diced for chili?

                                                                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                        Beef heart makes great burgers. My Mom used to make them for me as a kid. It was a Diet Center recipe. They were so good my stick thin older sister used to steal them from me.

                                                                                        1. re: rabaja

                                                                                          Do you have her recipe by any chance rabaja? I would love to try it ...


                                                                                      2. re: deet13

                                                                                        Agreed! That's (the stew) how I discovered it.

                                                                                    2. Under $2 per pound is what I look for. Here are some of the things I've bought in the last few weeks ...

                                                                                      Hormel pork roasts for $1.68 per pound in six pound packages at Winco.

                                                                                      Inexpensive bacon ends for $.99 / lb and after cooking love having bacon fat to fry in at Winco.

                                                                                      Boneless skinless chicken breast 3 lbs for $6 at Winco little waste and convenient.

                                                                                      Get day old extra burger for $.99 to $1.49 per pound at Albertsons / Safeway.

                                                                                      See sirloin steaks and petite sirloin steaks for $1.99 to $2.99 per pound Albertsons / Safeway / Winco.

                                                                                      Dated marked down cooked sausages from Hillshire Farms and Johnsonville (package of six) for $1 / lb at Albertsons.

                                                                                      Dated marked down tubes of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage $1 / lb at Albertsons.

                                                                                      Beef rump roast $1.99 per pound on sale at Safeway.

                                                                                      Hormel 8 pound pork shoulder bone in $2 per pound at Winco.

                                                                                      1. Without bragado or chest thumping, road kill deer is very popular in Northern Maine. It is very common and the police even cooperate. If the driver that hit the deer doesn't want the carcass, the police call some "poor folks" on the list to haul it away. Aside from hunting and fishing, one of the last sources of cheap meat in the U. S. of A.
                                                                                        The soft under belly that the summer lobster pound tourist never sees.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            Summer tourists see the the glory and hype for coastal towns and harbors. What they don't realize is how poor a state Maine is. Think, Beans of Egypt, Maine and you've got the idea. From Columbus Day to Mother's Day, those thousands of folks working in the tourist industry have no work unless they can pick up seasonal work cutting wood or making Christmas wreaths for LL Beane, payed as piece work. For these folk, road kill and "jackin' deer" is an essential part of existence. It would break you heart to see the impoverished conditions of some of my students, living a stones throw from a 25 million dolar mansion.

                                                                                        1. I'm taken by the mention of "country-style ribs" in this thread. Where we live, that's a loin that's been sort of butterflied and maybe 1-2 inches of rib left attatched, leaving the whole thing no thicker than maybe a wee bit over an inch. There are even boneless country ribs. Lots of meat, of course, and very little fat, but definitely not budget cuts, esp. compared to rib tips. Of course there is almost no waste. I'm thinking that years ago, what went by that name was different hereabouts, and I tried cooking them and thought it was too much work for the dab of meat compared to regular ribs. DH encouraged me to try them again after we married, and I'm a convert.

                                                                                          And of course pork butt/shoulder is swell, especially on sale. But again locally, the $1.38/lb shoulders were sold pre-cut into pork steaks, the local specialite-de-barbeque. Not much good for marinating and roasting unless you, you should pardon the phrase, hog-tie it.

                                                                                          18 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: lemons

                                                                                            Best bang for the buck is a 7 bone chuck roast. I can find them in Dallas for 99 cents an lb every other month or so. 7 bone chuck steaks run around 1.39 when on sale.

                                                                                            Pork sirloin steaks are very good value. Turkey tails are great for Turkey tails and dumplings.

                                                                                            I can't believe how the price for beef short ribs has jumped. Many times they are more expensive than ribeyes. Even the Asian and Korean shops have sent the prices thru the roof.

                                                                                            1. re: lemons

                                                                                              Where I am, "country-style ribs" is pork shoulder cut into ~1" thick slices, bone-in or boneless. Often available for around a buck a pound.

                                                                                              Lately I've been getting frozen chicken livers for $0.99 a pound. Not diet food, but very tasty. Lamb breast tends to be about that price, too, although I don't know what the price would work out to net of fat and bone/cartilage.

                                                                                              But my absolute cheap meat of late is top blade. It's often on sale for $1.99, and is one of the most flavorful pieces of beef you're going to find. There's a streak of gristle running through the middle of each steak, but I'll gladly work around that for the price.

                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                How do you cook the top blade? The genesis is awaiting a new NG hook-up and I am ready to try new cuts.

                                                                                                1. re: Dax

                                                                                                  If I had to pick a cut that's the most similar, I'd go with the strip steak. Tender and juicy, with a decent amount of intramuscular fat. Let it come to room temp, salt generously, sear it hard, then let it come to mid-rare.

                                                                                                  It's also great for stir fry; trim the strip of gristle out of the middle (see photo) and you're left with a couple of strips that you can cut to whatever shape you want. Yum!

                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                    Medium rare is the best way to enjoy this cut.

                                                                                                    The picture AB posted shows what the steak would look like if you purchased a top blade roast and cut it into steaks across the large slab of connective tissue. When you look at the roast from the side you will see that characteristic layer of connective tissue.

                                                                                                    If you want to avoid having to eat around that tough connective tissue you can take the roast and cut lengthwise with your knife just adjacent and parallel to the connective tissue and follow the path of the connective tissue splitting the roast into two long steaks. This will allow you access to that large tendon so you can cut it out.

                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                      cut lengthwise with your knife just adjacent and parallel to the connective tissue and follow the path of the connective tissue splitting the roast into two long steaks.

                                                                                                      Flat Iron.

                                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                        Yes I know. Wasn't the term really used to describe the top blade when cut across like in the photo above? The resulting steaks look like flat irons.

                                                                                                      2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                        That would be a flatiron steak. I actually prefer it cut that way, but around here it costs three times as much as the (cross-cut but otherwise identical) top blade.

                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                          It cost less when you buy the whole top blade roast and cut them yourself. The cheapest I can get the whole top blade roast is around $2.99/lb.

                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                            For whatever reason, the whole roast almost always costs more than the trimmed steaks around here. It makes no sense, I know, but sometimes you just have to roll with it.

                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                              I had wondered about those because I normally think of shoulder only for braising or grinding. Good flavor, huh? They're not anwhere nearly as expensive as "steak steaks" here.

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                Great flavor, and aside from that streak of gristle, very tender.

                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                  I don't have the gristle to deal with but I find the flavor quite different from other steaks. Hard to describe but maybe a mineral taste. Not sure If I'm loving it compared to other steaks but it sure is tender and you can't beat the price. I was picking these up every time they had the top blade roasts on sale.

                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                    Well, they don't taste like beef steaks, that's for sure. And they don't taste like calamari steaks, either. They taste like pork.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lemons

                                                                                                                      ? When you braise them they're very beefy. Pork?

                                                                                                                      1. re: lemons

                                                                                                                        Not like any pork I've had. Are we talking about the same thing?

                                                                                                                        1. re: lemons

                                                                                                                          Sorry, but I couldn't disagree more. Beef top blade is **very** beefy. Doesn't taste a thing like pork.

                                                                                                      3. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        Oh, hush. There was a thread like this a few years back, and I mentioned blade as the best of the "cheap' beef cuts. At the time, I could get it for $1.99-2.49/lb. Then I opened my big mouth.

                                                                                                        Saw it today - $12.30/kg ~$6/lb. I'm keeping quiet from now on!

                                                                                                    2. Some $.99 /lb. tripe. Add some posole (hominy), red chile and dice raw onion and fresh made flour tortillas and you got a lot of cheap eats!
                                                                                                      While dining you may want to listen to Menudo, The Red Hot Chile Peppers, but not The Flying Burrito Brothers (save them for burritos.).

                                                                                                      1. Beef tongue is another good cut of meat which is inexpensive; but unless you know how to make it, you won't be able to serve it.

                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: deet13

                                                                                                          Doesn't all these "cheap meats" come from factory farming CAFOs? Are you really getting a good value?

                                                                                                          1. re: mwok

                                                                                                            My SIL"s cousin lives across the street. She is recently widowed. She is part of a large local ranching family and loves "exotic" foods. We have worked out a deal, I get a free freezer full of pork and beef and I cook it and she dines w/ us.
                                                                                                            Irony: my weight and cholesterol are up and I have begun eating a low cholesterol stir fry and Med. diet.
                                                                                                            Still, she joins us for company though...

                                                                                                            Dumkeg the Big Hearted

                                                                                                            1. re: mwok

                                                                                                              Heh, nice to have access to a full side of anything. We were doing that with goats and chickens at my uncles farm for a while.

                                                                                                              Now we hunt wild pigs that tear up his property to score our really cheap meat.

                                                                                                              1. re: deet13

                                                                                                                Like to hunt and fish. We especially like it when get an elk and know our freezer is going to be full most of the year.

                                                                                                            2. re: deet13

                                                                                                              Inexpensive? Depends on where you live. I wanted 3 beef tongues to make this weekend with raisin sauce for company. The cheapest I could find was $5.99 lb in my area of Fairfield County, CT.

                                                                                                              I buy and pickle veal/calve's tongues for deli sandwiches and they have been $9.99 and up when I can find them. No wonder a tongue sandwich at the deli is $14.

                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                veal tongues are 3.49/lb...and have been for the past year at ShopRite Supermarkets here in Northern New Jersey. Every time I shop(weekly), they usually have a half dozen in cryovac packaging available.

                                                                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                  Unfortunately the Shop-Rites closest to me do not stock veal tongues, bit will special order by the case @$9.99 and want prepayment of $150.

                                                                                                                  I did place an order in Massachusetts last week for pickup next week @6.99 a bargain.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                    Just came back from Paramus, NJ ShopRite......Beef Tongues 3.29/lb. I think you should complain

                                                                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, Shop-Rite (Wakefern Food Corp) is merely a co-op. There are many owners and operators of supermarkets under the Shop-Rite name, but it is not a chain. Here, the Milford and West Haven Shop-Rites are individually owned, While the owner of Derby also owns The new Shelton Store. There are about 8 stores owned by Grade A out of Stamford.

                                                                                                                      So, there;s nothing to complain about if Shop-Rite in Ny is cheaper than an individually owned store in Connecticut.

                                                                                                                2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  Ugh, $6 per lb. That sucks Bagelman...

                                                                                                                  Luckily there's not many people in my neighborhood who buy beef tongue at my local market, so it's still pretty inexpensive.

                                                                                                                3. re: deet13

                                                                                                                  OMG! Tongue used to be cheap, but not in the Japanese markets!

                                                                                                                  My local market occasionally has tongue - best way is to blanch it, peel the outer covering off, slice it real thin & do a quick two-step on the grill -keep it close to rare as you can stand - amazing!

                                                                                                                  Other than that, there are nice recipes for tongue with dried fruit which is nice.

                                                                                                                4. Wow.

                                                                                                                  Can I just thank everyone in this thread? I'm cutting back my budget, and this thread is like . . .

                                                                                                                  . . . a slow roasted beef tongue on a cold rainy day. Thanks. :)

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Altarbo

                                                                                                                    A german lady served us her specialty -- boiled beef tongue served with a horseradish-laced white sauce.

                                                                                                                    It was very good. Don't know what beef tongue costs -- never bought it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                                      I love your post. My profile refers to the best meal I ever ate which was barised calve's tongue (baby beef) with slivered horseradish. This was at a restaurant in Zurich in 1985.

                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, in most American locations Tongue is expensive (more than $8 per lb) and has to be ordered special. Ever since the arrival of boxed beef, local markets tend not to get these 'specialty cuts.

                                                                                                                      We make tongue about 6 times per year, roasted, braised, pickled or sweet and sour in raisin sauce, Beef or Veal tongue is our tongue of choice. The veal is more tender and smaller and best for braising. We use beef exclusively for roasting of pickling.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                        Pork tongue is an inexpensive alternative to beef, around $2.30/lb v 3.50-5 for beef (at 99Ranch). And having pork for a few years I actually prefer its taste. It's less fatty.

                                                                                                                        If I simmer a package of 3-4 till tender, I have as many meals for 2, usually sliced and served in a piquant sauce.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          We're going pig hunting in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I'll be able to bring one home to try out.

                                                                                                                  2. I get chicken thighs on sale for .99 cents a pound and stock up my freezer.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                      I do too and often you can find leg quarters for .69/lb

                                                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                        Yes, we have those sales here as well. But, I am not sure I'd like them as well.
                                                                                                                        I find the thighs so versatile and easy to adapt most of my chicken recipes too.

                                                                                                                        Thanks scuba.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                        If you buy steaks from the reduced $ meats bin, can you regard them as somewhat "aged" as a result, or are they just going bad because they weren't properly hung?

                                                                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                          Who knows? Americans are pretty anal about food's date. I lived 5 years in Bolivia, where the meat was hung out in the sun, covered w/ flies. I never got sick. But I have been buying US reduced meas for 20 years and no problems (put 5 kids through college).

                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                            But, the Bolivian meat was probably slaughtered that day, no, so it is super fresh? I've been to very hot countries in North Africa and Central America and seen meats covered in flies, sitting out in pretty sweaty temps, but I'd probably trust them more than what's on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in cellophane in refrigerated to the correct temps, simply because the animals are raised more naturally and are probably killed that morning. Aside from buying meats or poultry that have best-before dates as far off into the future as possible, I have no idea how long it takes for the meat to get from the farm to the store. Any factory farmed animal, to me, will be less healthy and tasty than one raised naturally, flies or no flies.

                                                                                                                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                              You have named the reason I hunt and fish so much, A great crowd avoidance technique as well Good for the body and soul. And.....fresh food.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                Grew up hunting and fishing. Then hunted with my camera and for meat in the store. Until realized was being poisoned so someone could make more money. Now hunting as well as fishing again. Love elk meat from a clean natural place, as they probably don't have growth hormones or antibiotics in them. And to spend quality times in the outdoors camping with friends and family is awesome even if don't get any meat. And the exercise getting ready and durring the hunt often hiking 10+ miles a day with a rifle and pack does not hurt me either. Survival skills get better through practice as well.

                                                                                                                                Taught by grandparents over decades, when I get a deer we let it age for a week or so until it looks right before cutting it. From experience what is good, we can tell when it is ready to wrap and freeze by the color, smell, and texture. Elk usually hang about 4 days before wrapping and freezing. Covered with cheese cloth the few flies around here in the cold winter times in the right place flies never see our meat. Find if do not age a little is not as good. So those guys in Maine who get road kill deer should clean it up and let it sit around about a week in a cool but not freezing temperature before wrapping and freezing or eating would be my advice.

                                                                                                                                When buy meat, try to get it from family who has grass fed Texas Long Horn who only eats grass (this bread is known tio be lean and these cows spend their lives training hearding dogs so they get more exercize than most).

                                                                                                                                1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                  I would love to try Elk. What region are you in smaki? I am in Quebec...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: oana

                                                                                                                                    Portland, Oregon is where I mostly live.

                                                                                                                                    Elk is commercially farmed and sold, while to me is not the same as wild with same genetics probably due to diet. To get need to hunt one or know someone who will give it to you as is not sold. Have not had any bad elk, while would rather eat one that likes grass with corn from a few local farms than one that eats sagebrush. While elk to me is a favorite thing to eat from any source (Rocky Mountain or Roosevelt) as is often more lean than most beef with similar non-gamey flavor when processed right. Given a chioce like Roosevelt as often a bit bigger with great flavor.

                                                                                                                                    Travel often and have been all over the globe. Enjoy local PNW fresh foods, probably as is where grew up so is most of what recall when young. I find comfort in eating quality basic ingredient foods. While not always possible, like to know the entire history of their lives including food with water plants / animals consumed while growing before going into my mouth. For examples: have a huge garden already going this year and still eating my hot pickles / beets / green beans canned in 2009.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                    I only had a deer license in Maine, but lots of clam digging. Back in NM and hope for elk permit and 2 kinds of deer and I need to apply for an antelope permit. Big horn sheep too few and too much trouble. Our little town is surrounded w/ game rich national forest land.

                                                                                                                        2. Pork neck bones-----braised or in the slow cooker with aromatics and seasonings are my favorite cheap meat....have never seen them for more than $1.50 a pound

                                                                                                                          1. Chicken livers, turkey legs, lamb shoulder steaks, ground pork. Gawd, I remember when short ribs were cheap meat too....let's see; what else? Beef tongue, chicken thighs on sale, decent sausages and hot dogs, and every now and again, beef heart, which I learned from my MIL to chicken-fry and make buttermilk gravy for, yum.

                                                                                                                            1. What I don't pack in the freezer myself from hunting and fishing is purchased when on sale.

                                                                                                                              Boneless chicken breasts $1.79/lb stocked up; Chicken thighs $0.79/lb; Whole roasting chickens for $0.69-0.79/lb on sale; stock up and part some out. Good ground turkey for $2.50/lb used sparingly.

                                                                                                                              Plenty of options; I love cooking with the flavorful cheaper cuts as well, but when you can get some of the "normal" mainstream cuts like boneless breasts I stock up.

                                                                                                                              1. Shin beef.

                                                                                                                                If you can get the shin muscle from your butcher - or an Oriental store which may have it in their freezer.

                                                                                                                                The meat is totally lean with the tendons & connective tissue. It makes a flavourfull ground beef when mixed with moisturizers. Can be slow cooked in stews.

                                                                                                                                Check out the Chinese cuisine for red or white cooked beef or cold beef.

                                                                                                                                I suspect that this cut of meat lands up as 95/5 ground beef at ridiculous prices.

                                                                                                                                My grandfather was a butcher, so I got to see just the other side of the "killing room floor" and that what he got to take home along with the "deckel" part of the brisket.

                                                                                                                                1. Hey! Just a thought -

                                                                                                                                  Fresh Albacore tuna is $5.99/lb - a bargain for a flavourful fish.

                                                                                                                                  Then again, any local fish in season - Mackerel, Flounder, Porgy, Blackfish, Bluefish is a deal.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: algct

                                                                                                                                    Get whole tuna in Astoria, Oregon at their docks off the boats for 59 to 99 cents a pound when the time is right (and they can not sell elsewhere to others for more). The trick is being in the right place at the right time. Kinda like fishing for fishing boats from land. When able to get can usually buy a whole boat full, and only take a few of the select ones for those who want it.

                                                                                                                                    When get can it in a pressure cooker in big chunks so awesome in all kinds of things later. When cutting a whole fish up, have learned to save the best parts for home made sushi and steaks I eat nearly cold in the center (I have it frozen in a very cold commercial freezer for at least 24 hours to be safe before eating any raw). More on curing tuna is at:


                                                                                                                                    With mercury concern in tuna, we eat in moderation and enjoy when do especailly from fresh I got off the boat to make sure stays cold every moment until processed.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: smaki

                                                                                                                                      I forgot about fishing boats.

                                                                                                                                      Used to fish out of Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn on a party boat, when the boat came back into dock, the mates were selling the catch of the day to the people lined up.

                                                                                                                                      Fish only a few hours old & cheap too.

                                                                                                                                  2. Ham hocks for soups, beef hearts for stews, pork and/or beef liver for liver and onions. I know a farmer who has pigs and cows and I can pick up all of these items for next to nothing. I'm strongly considering trying my hand at tongue as well.

                                                                                                                                    1. Braised beef and pork cheeks are amazing. I am sure they will get expensive. Chuck eye steaks are 1/2 the price or rib eye and I think about as good. They must not be cooked beyond med rare or they are garbage. I have not been able to find them since being in S. Cal.

                                                                                                                                      1. Can I add t-bones and strip steaks? I know how ridiculous that sounds, but where I live I can go into either Giant or SafeWay grocery stores and find t-bones or strips in those insanely large packages where there are 5 steaks that are about the size of Fred Flintstones' brontosaurus steak (the one during the credits that tips the car over) for $4.99 / lb. And the 93/7 ground beef will be $5.49!
                                                                                                                                        Imagine the conversation on the home front:
                                                                                                                                        Kids: Mom, what's for dinner?
                                                                                                                                        Mom: T-bones, potato salad, corn, and apple sauce.
                                                                                                                                        Kids: Awwwwww...t-bones again? We just had those! Can we have burgers?
                                                                                                                                        Mom: Now kids, we've already talked about this...burgers are too expensive.
                                                                                                                                        Kids: (in whiny teary eyed mode): But we don't wanna eat t-bones again...
                                                                                                                                        Dad: Kids, quit pouting and eat your t-bones or you can't watch TV later!

                                                                                                                                        1. You can get chicken leg quarters for $.49 a pound on sale sometimes.

                                                                                                                                          I like to take about a half boston butt, marinate it overnight in Mojo Criollo (Goya brand is good) and roast it.

                                                                                                                                          (Why is pork from the fore shoulder called butt? It was packed in Boston into barrels called butts.)

                                                                                                                                          1. Right now beef neck bones are a good deal. Lots of bits of meat left on them. Need to be braised of course. Lots of onions and carrots and a big celery root and some red wine. Your basic beef bourguignon. Made in a big pot. I freeze a dozen 'dinner for three' meals. Only two of us though. LOL

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                              ground neck and skirt is my favorite blend for hamburger. Sweet and delicious

                                                                                                                                            2. The shop where I work is unfortunately in a very affluent part of Brooklyn, so our prices are a bit skewed. However, we do cut down whole animals on site and source everything from upstate, family farms. Lambs neck is my favorite cheap cut, we sell it for $6.99/lb, but no one buy it very often, so I will usually just take it home for myself. We also sell Bavette (flap steak) for $9.99/lb which is both cheaper and more flavorful than flank/skirt.

                                                                                                                                              1. Pork is still the king of cheap cuts due to the high demand of pork bellies and low demand for the rest of the animal. Pork tenderloins can regularly be found for 2.99 a lb and most port butt or special trimmings in the 1.49 and under category near me.

                                                                                                                                                No-one has mentioned commercial cow tenders - can usually get them at the oriental market or split a case with a neighbor for about 3.99. Select tenderloins are at my local market for 5.99 a pound.

                                                                                                                                                Flat Iron steaks were on sale locally at 3.99 a lb and is one of the more flavorfull and easy to cook steaks for the public.

                                                                                                                                                Beef Ball tips are also a good piece of meat that is underutilized and can generally be gotten in the $2 range.

                                                                                                                                                Flap meat seems to fluctuate widely but I have seen it as low as 1.79 and then up to 4.99 but it is very flavorful.

                                                                                                                                                Also check out Tri-Tips, Brisket, and of course Chicken.

                                                                                                                                                1. I recently made pork chile verde with pork neck bones. A bit surprising, they had quite a lot of meat on them. I made a lentil dish the other day using smoked turkey tails. Both dishes turned out great.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I use beef 'shoulder'. The end cut that has the most fat to make b. bourguignon (just spelling the dam dish takes as much time as making it! LOL) To my mind there isn't a better cut of meat for stew.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Sometimes I'll find whole chickens for $0.59/lb. and buy about 6 of them. I just picked up a couple of corned beef brisket flats for $1.29/lb. After St. Patrick's day, they get cheaper and cheaper.
                                                                                                                                                      US farmed raised catfish fillets are usually around $7/lb., but when on sale they can be as cheap as $2 or $3/lb. Tilapia (or basa or swai) from China is usually just as cheap, but I stay away from that stuff. US farmed raised catfish is top feeding, clean, and very sustainable. It doesn't get a lot of love though, probably just a poor marketing campaign.

                                                                                                                                                      1. If you go to a discount grocery store you can get ground turkey really cheap. Ground turkey can be used instead of ground beef for lots of things: Meatballs, burgers, tacos,meat sauce, meatloaf etc. It's cheap and it's much better for you than ground beef.