HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cheap Beef Meals

Dearest Chowhounders,

Now with Pampers on board, I've been trimming the grocery budget week by week. We get all our meats from Whole Foods, which isn't the cheapest, but we are not willing to sacrifice that...yet. Fortunately. We have been eating well but are growing tired of chicken and pork, chicken and pork, etc. Does anyone have ideas on the use of cheaper cuts of beef? Tacos are good, but once I purchase all the toppings and shells, it gets quite expensive and no leftovers. Ground chuck is $4.99/lb where I am, if that helps put into perspective. Right now I am just buying a sirloin for us to half each week, which costs $14 plus a salad or vegetable. Not very prudent. Would like more options, if you have any.

Thank you so very much, as always.

God bless.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The age old solution is to stretch the meat with something else...
    Chili with beans, spaghetti with meat sauce, meatballs with gravy on noodles.

    Other ideas to break out of the chicken and pork rut... Sausage, turkey, fish, and meatless meals, or things with just a little meat for flavor, like pasta carbonara or many kinds of soup. It would help to know what kind of food you like and how much time to cook.

    5 Replies
    1. re: firecooked

      For the tacos a 50/50 mix of the beef with cooked lentils and chopped walnuts would be an economical move. And buying regular tortillas (vs shells) so the OP can freeze extras.

      1. re: Ttrockwood

        When I make tacos I frequently add mashed black beans to the meat. It blends in nicely and adds a smoky flavor. As an added plus, it makes the meat thicker and it sticks together better on the taco - less messy!

      2. re: firecooked

        This, except for that whole chili with beans thing.

        1. re: swoll50

          a lot of people eat it with beans, and having a bowl of chili with beans for everyone in the house is way, way better than everyone having a spoonful of chili with no beans.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Besides, chili without beans is boring and one dimensional.

      3. Ground chuck is $5?

        May I suggest a chuck roast and use your food processor to "grind" as needed. Also, you can make pot roast which is a delicious meal and relatively inexpensive.

        19 Replies
        1. re: dave_c

          Most grocery stores will grind beef for free.

          1. re: dave_c

            Ground chuck at local stores here is ~$4, outrageous. Last week I went looking for some cheap cuts to turn into stir fry. I'll often grab some bottom round steak, flank, strip, whatever. I'll even cut up a roast if need be, using it for stew and stir fry. The cheapest steaks/roasts I found were at Walmart, as expected, but were $6-7/lb., while over at Winn-Dixie they were pushing $9. WTF??

            Looks like it's chicken stir fry this week. Maybe something will be put on sale next soon.

            1. re: DuffyH

              I bought some eye of round slices at Publix last night for stirfry -- they were $5.29 a pound.

              My butcher (where I usually buy cheap cuts for stir fry) has ground chuck for $3.69.

              1. re: DuffyH

                Well considering (at least in NJ) regular chuck is 3.99/lb in bulk (Costco prices) 3.99 for ground chuck seems reasonable..

                Beef prices in general have gotten prohibitively expensive. The cheap cuts often outprice the premium cuts now...I remember barely 10 years ago getting things like skirt or flap meat for around 2.50$/lb at Costco/BJs...now they're up to 6 bucks! Supermarket prices are even more absurd...skirt is like 12 bucks a lb.

                The only beef I buy any more is the 2$/lb sale london broil and 6$/lb sale strip/ribeye deals. Occasionally I'll buy a whole cryo strip loin for 5.79ish.

                The only remaining good deal on beef I'm aware of is the whole brisket at Walmart...2.79 or so.

                1. re: joonjoon

                  Yeah, my best deals this week are boneless chuck roast for $3.95 (WD) and bottom round for $4.99 (Publix). Maybe Sam's will have something cheap.

                  Anyone familiar with BJ's Warehouse meats? We've got one of those about 20 minutes away. It might be worth a visit to see what they've got.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    BJs is my favorite place to buy meat, at least from my options. Better selection than Costco.

                    1. re: joonjoon

                      Thanks joonjoon,

                      That's good news. I don't get to Costco very often (too far), but our close cheap stores, Sams and Walmart, have a pretty minimal selection of beef cuts. A few high-end steaks, ground beef, and maybe one roast is about it. That's not where the bargains are.

                      I'll give BJ's a look-see.

                      1. re: joonjoon

                        Hi joonjoon,

                        We stopped by BJ's today and were pretty pleased with the meat case. One standout for me was the whole eye of round at $3.69 and the smaller long trimmed round for $3.89. With free cutting, it's a good option for roasts, stew, stir fry and fajitas.

                        You were right about the selection, too. Much more variety than Costco or Sam's. Enough to make us consider joining, for sure. If they sold gas at our store, we might consider dropping Sam's for them.

                        ETA - Thanks for the recommendation. :-)

                        1. re: DuffyH

                          Glad you enjoyed it! Back when my friends and I would grill more regularly I would stop by BJs quite frequently...lately I just stick with the supermarket sales.

                          I don't know about yours but our BJs even has things like tripe and pig feet...pretty cool for a club store.

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            We did see one really unusual cut, can't recall what just now. It was something that's normally a specialty item, only available in butcher shops.

                            I was pleased to see top sirloin caps, too. Can't recall the price, but I think they were cheap.

                      2. re: DuffyH

                        I buy a whole beef tenderloin from BJ's for Christmas dinner. I use the fat end for our dinner, and freeze the rest for beef stroganoff, etc. Always very well received.

                      3. re: joonjoon

                        There are a couple of large Hispanic grocery markets here in Central NJ where I can still get ground beef (generally 80% lean)for $2.99 to 3.50/lb. It's great quality, too.
                        Before beef prices started going up I was regularly getting it for $1.99/lb (that was as recently as 8 months ago).

                        Some predictions I've heard warn that beef prices will go thru the roof next year, with ground chuck potentially reaching $7-8/lb. I can remember in the 1970s when beef was in short supply, most supermarkets (at least where I lived) added soy protein to their ground meats.

                        I hope prices don't get that bad, but all in all, it makes me glad that I've always preferred pork anyway.
                        And as a bonus, pork is probably healthier to boot.
                        Unfortunately, even pork prices seem to be going up (though not as much as beef).

                        1. re: The Professor

                          Yeah we still get the 1.99 ground beef on sale but it's becoming rarer. I love beef but I love cheap meat more.

                          It's strange watching deals disappear one by one. We used to routinely get .69-.79c sales for chicken thighs or drumsticks...now sale prices are hitting .99.

                          I guess I just need to accept it as a fact of life..

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            If it gets worse, I might have to return to commissary shopping at MacDill AFB. It's an hour's drive there, which means with shopping, we're going to have lunch, too. Altogether, we can spend 5 gallons of gas ($18) plus a cheap lunch for two ($12). $30 before we buy groceries... but it can be worth it, if we buy enough of sale items.

                            Mostly, I'm learning which house brands to buy and which to avoid. Ex: Great Value peanut butter is very dry. Avoid it!

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Just curious, how is the quality of the meat at your commissary? My dad is Air Force retired, and about every other month I will go with him to Fairchild AFB to stock up on canned and dry foods, as well as stuff like foil, ziploc bags, and cleaning supplies. But I've always found the quality of the meat to be pretty bad, tough steaks and gristly ground beef. I think it's all select grade or ungraded.

                              1. re: gmm

                                Pork is the real star at the commissary. Really nice. We don't buy a lot of steak there, preferring choice or prime for those. For roasts and ground beef it's fine. Chicken we get cheaper at Sams.

                                But you know it's not just the meat case, prices throughout the store are much less than anyplace else. And it's all name brands.

                                1. re: gmm

                                  The Stop N Shop near where I live is now selling 'select' grade beef...and putting big stickers on the package bragging about it. And the prices for it are still higher than anywhere else (in typical Stop N Shop fashion).

                                  I actually don't mind 'select' grade for ground beef...I grind it myself and add some pork and pork fat to it and thusly doctored, it actually makes remarkably flavorful hamburgers.

                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    Select works for me for cheap cuts, too. If I'm going to slice it paper thin for fajitas/stir fry or cook it low and slow, a lesser quality cut suits me fine.

                            2. re: The Professor

                              With there being no end in sight for the drought (some scientists are saying 100 years), don't look for prices to drop. And that deadly piglet virus has killed probably in the hundreds of thousands by now.

                      4. I just made beef stroganoff last night using some bottom round steak I had scored for cheap a while back. I cut really thin slices (across the grain) and first browned, then simmered in about a cup of beef stock. After about 20 minutes the steak was super tender, so I added back in my shrooms and onions and made the sauce. It was every bit as good as the stuff made with tenderloin.

                        We used a 1 lb steak and have about half left over, so ½ lb is plenty for two people. You've still got the cost of the sour cream, shrooms, etc... but it's still a good meal for cheap. We like it best over rice, feeling noodles are too rich.

                        I've used this same steak (it was a BOGO at Publix) for Mongolian Beef. That was truly a delicious meal, and super cheap. Not much more to add but rice and some stir fry veggies. We made onions, carrots and broccoli to go with it.

                        1. What we call tacos isn't really but still. We take a small, soft corn tortilla (you can use flour), add some rice, beans, a small amount of meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato if we have it, some grated cheese, maybe avocado and salsa. Kinda like a small, open face burrito. I know of nothing else that stretches meat as far as this does and tastes so good. We usually use chicken or pork. Even some leftover steak or something is enough for two or three of these.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: c oliver

                            I was going to suggest, either make your own tortillas as c oliver does or else look for the big stacks of tortillas. You might have to go to a Mexican grocery for them but many stores will have them and it's dozens of tortillas for a few bucks usually.


                            Hard shell tacos are an American innovation. Just heat two of these through on a skillet and use both to wrap your fillings.

                            1. re: ennuisans

                              Oh I don't make my own tortillas (although I own a press for Asian dumplings!). Do you find those large bags freeze okay cause we just can't eat that many before they start disintegrating. But still cheap

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I read "We take a small-" as "We make a small-". I need coffee.

                                I have to confess we've let too many of those bags go to waste, but freezing is a really good thought. I haven't bought any since I bought a tortilla press and a bag of masa, both of which are still sitting lonely on my baking rack.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I freeze both corn and flour. I just pop the original bag into a freezer bag. They pop apart quite easily, frozen, and don't need to be separated with parchment or anything.

                                  The texture isn't quite as nice as when fresh (for tacos) but I don't really care... It's not horribly different. And you can't tell at all when making enchiladas or chalupas with them.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Corn or flour tortillas freeze fine. Corn tortillas can dry out very slightly but they still work even for tacos. Very fresh corn tortillas are good enough to eat with maybe just a little butter and salsa. I make my tacos with two tortillas. As condiments I like thinly sliced cabbage and a squeeze of lime.

                                    1. re: divadmas

                                      Napa cabbage was the same price/lb as the other lettuces this week, so we grabbed a head of it. It shreds beautifully for tacos.

                                    2. re: c oliver

                                      I freeze corn tortillas. There are a lot of good tortillerias nearby and the markets get them fresh daily. I separate them out of the stack by the dozen and freeze in baggies for enchiladas. I cut some into strips for frying as soup or salad toppings, things like that. SO economical. Like dried beans. Crazy inexpensive food stretchers.

                                2. My best advice is learn how to save on everything else so you can buy the best quality groceries you can. (Use sites like TotallyTarget and cukooforcoupondeals.com to get those diapers dirt cheap.)

                                  Meatballs with diced, sauteed veggies like onions, zucchini, mushrooms and carrots in them instead of breadcrumbs. Preserved lemon is my favorite add-in and feta or other crumbly cheese if you have some. It's a great way to use a little of this and a little of that left in the fridge. No need to buy anything special for it.

                                  1. I you're on a limited budget, why meat every day. Eggs for protein. Learn to make an omelet, frittata, huervos rancheros. We love breakfast for dinner. If you feel sinfull, take some great bacon and butter and eggs and make some Carbonara.

                                    1. Thank you for the comments so far. I am honestly saving everywhere I can, making my own baby food, making my own cleaning products, keeping the thermostat at 72 even though it's 100 outside, clipping coupons for baby items, etc. We usually have eggs or pasta for dinner on Friday, as that is the day we always abstain from meat, but we are low-carb types and already have eggs most mornings. I realize it is an expensive diet to have, but we feel better without grains in our bellies.

                                      I appreciate your help. I'll defer back to my original question: what are some cheap ways to use BEEF?

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: HumbleFoodie

                                        Stir fries. Like tacos, it's more about the vegs than it is the meat. With the caveat of no or few carbs, you're really limiting yourself dollar wise. Perhaps you should go to cloth diapers. Also when it's 100 where we live, the AC is set on 76. Then you can continue to spend on meats.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I was also going to suggest stir fry -- you stretch the meat out with the veggies.

                                          Instead of tacos, make taco salad -- You use less meat that way. Use lettuce for the base, add crumbled meat, cheese, tomatoes/salsa. Add sour cream too if you'd like. Crumble your taco shell or tortilla chips on it for crunchiness, like croutons.

                                          Buy a big roast and throw it in the slow cooker with a bottle of BBQ sauce or other seasoning. Cook all day. Now you've got BBQ beef for sandwiches, or just to eat as-is. You can do this with pork too.

                                          Grilled Steak salad -- make a salad and top with thinly sliced grilled steak. You don't need a lot, so one steak can make 2-3 servings easily. I like to do it asian style, so mixed greens, sometimes red bell pepper, edamame, blanched asparagus, etc, and a sesame vinaigrette.

                                          Think of meat as the side dish, not the main dish -- make the bulk of your meal veggies, not meat.

                                          I know you said you aren't looking to switch where you buy your meat, but if you are buying it from WF because it's grass-fed or organic, you should take a look at Sprouts and Costco. Sprouts has great prices on meats, especially on sale, and Costco also sells organic and grass fed beef. I buy the big packs from Costco, bring them home, and break them into small portions and freeze. From Sprouts, I buy multiple packs when they are on sale and freeze (I have a chest freezer for bulk freezing).

                                          Side note: we keep our thermostat on 77. If it's feeling warm in the room we are in, we use a fan and turn it off when we leave the room. If I kept my thermostat on 72, my electric bill would be through the roof!

                                          1. re: boogiebaby

                                            We turn our AC off at night and just use fans in the bedrooms (and yes, mid 90 temps). Helps a lot with the electric bills.

                                            For the beef ideas, do you like Indian food? I use a lot of ground beef for kheema, served with homemade chapatis (or you could sub tortillas from that big pack when you get tired of using them for tacos).

                                        2. re: HumbleFoodie

                                          My great grandmother's recipe for "goulash" was elbow macaroni, ground beef and ketchup, but I tend to use an herbed tomato sauce when I make it nowadays.

                                          There's also the "Mexi-rice" which is ground beef, rice, tomato sauce and whatever taco-like seasonings one has on hand.

                                          Either can benefit with sauteed onions, peppers, garlic, the usual, and can certainly be made more "spiffy" than we usually bother with.

                                          When I shopped at Whole Foods they would often have a beef bone available for soup if I asked for one, and would saw it in half for me to get at the marrow. That's probably still the cheapest beef around.

                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                            Your great grandmother and my grandmother were probably friends. My mother still makes that Goulash to this day.

                                          2. re: HumbleFoodie

                                            Learn to regard beef as a condiment rather than the mainstay of the dinner plate. But if you are avoiding carbs that's a tough challenge. No problem for those of us who use legumes for much of our protein.

                                            Check the quick-sale/manager's special section of the meat dept first. You're going to have to compromise SOMEWHERE. I'd steer clear of Whole Foods, if I were making the choice.

                                            1. re: HumbleFoodie

                                              HumbleFoodie, You ask " ... what are some cheap ways to use BEEF?" You have received a lot of good answers. May I ask about your portion sizes? It is possible to feed two hungry adults, low carb, with a single, small filet mignon steak if used creatively. 3 oz of meat per person is more than adequate. Upping the vegetable content of stir frys makes a very satisfying meal with just a little beef. Have you ever horizontally cut pockets in small beef steaks and stuffed them? You can also split a single piece of meat and serve it over mashed cauliflower/carrot mash. Any time meat is served atop something else, it looks bigger than it is. A beef ragu served on spaghetti squash is a low carb option. Joe's Special with a *lot* of spinach (yes, it looks like the dog's breakfast but is delicious and filling)! I used to grill beef rib bones for my sons. The devilled dinosaur bones were a treat. After they'd finished gnawing on them, the bones went into the stock pot for broth. How about stuffing zucchini with a small amount of ground beef and other vegetables + cheese? Peppers are another option for stuffing, especially at the low summer prices. Beef-vegetable soup similar to minestrone or a heartier beef-vegetable stew/soup like Hungarian gulyas. Mexican caldo or French pot au feu would work for your criteria as well.

                                              When my funds were very tight, as a new bride, we ate a lot of stuffed this and stuffed that. Off cuts of beef - tail, shank, liver, even flank steak - were options because they were affordable. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

                                              Looking at your entire food budget is another way to save. Can you trim in one place to spend those same dollars on the beef that you want? Make the butcher your friend. Often, they are a great source of information when they realize that the customer really wants to learn.

                                              I envy your 72 degree thermostat. I live in the AZ desert and it is high summer. My indoor temperature is 80-82 degrees. 72 sounds like heaven!

                                              1. re: HumbleFoodie

                                                Since you ask so directly, one "cheap" way to use BEEF is not to buy it at the most expensive market in town which, in my experience, is usually WholeFoods. Really, you won't drop dead if you buy your beef at Kroger's, Safeway, Publix, Giant, Wegman's, or any of the other major chain supermarkets. Millions have eaten it and survive to tell the tale.

                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                  Agree on the mainstream stores for ground beef. Can even buy cheap cuts and crock pot them (may not be gourmet, but works for basic chili, roasts, etc.) But, we do splurge on prime for steaks at CostCo. However, we now split 1 steak for the 2 of us, so that's essentially 1/2 the price (part for health reasons, part 'cause we're just getting older and don't need that much meat).

                                                  OP, of course it's about making choices that work for you and your values--hope some of these good ideas resonate.

                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                    Agreed. Costco sells excellent beef and one can get 4or 5 times the amount of beef at Costco for the same amount of money one spends at Whole Foods. Been there, done that. Put those extra dollars into a college fund for the diapered darling.

                                                    1. re: Susangria

                                                      that sounds crazy, but 4 - 5x the amount? are you being serious or hyperbolic?

                                                  2. re: HumbleFoodie

                                                    If you have a local butcher shop you might try beef tongue/baby beef liver/heart. These are all very tasty when cooked right.

                                                    1. re: HumbleFoodie

                                                      Here's a suggestion that hasn't been mentioned - Korean BBQ lettuce wraps. Cut beef into bite sized pieces and wrap in lettuce and various other things. A little bit of beef goes a long way eaten this way.

                                                    2. Chuck roasts make great braised dishes, whether pot roast or stew, especially good now as the weather turns cooler (and are great the next day, or you can freeze some for later). The braised meat can also be repurposed as sandwiches or pot pies.

                                                      Instead of sirloin, look at skirt steak which is great for stir-fries (also good for stretching out a small amount of meat) or making fajitas.

                                                      The ground beef you're buying can go into tomato sauce for pasta, chili, and dozens of different kinds of meatballs which, to come out tender, also get stretched by the addition of a bread/milk panade or moistened breadcrumb mixture.

                                                      Don't know what WF is charging for ground lamb, but if the price is comparable to beef, it's worth exploring, both for the Middle Eastern & Asian possibilities it opens up, and for a change of pace.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                                        But the OP says they want to avoid carbs. Very hard to stretch the ground beef if meatloaf and meatballs are a no-no. I don't think it's possible to stretch the meat budget much if you don't use carbs and buy from the expensive supermarkets.

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          Good point. Can you make a meatloaf without bread in some form? And just how much or little is OP eating or not carbs?

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            I think my mom uses oatmeal instead of bread. Never made it myself though.

                                                            Also I do not know the carb content of oats so sorry if that's a bad example.

                                                          2. re: greygarious

                                                            Meatballs and meatloaf can be great without any kind of grains in them. I make both with the addition of veggies all the time. I'm both low carb and avoid most grains.

                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              <But the OP says they want to avoid carbs. Very hard to stretch the ground beef if meatloaf and meatballs are a no-no. I don't think it's possible to stretch the meat budget much if you don't use carbs and buy from the expensive supermarkets.>

                                                              That may be, but it wasn't stated in the OP, which is what my comment addressed, and posted *just* before HumbleFoodie responded upthread about the eggs and Low-carb business.

                                                            2. re: mcsheridan

                                                              I often get WF's chuck roast and then pot roast it - most excellent leftovers, stretch into sandwiches or just re-heated the next day. Nice to do on a Sunday and have for the week.

                                                            3. go for the cheapest cuts and braise - I think a bone in shank braised in wine or tomatoes makes an excellent hearty main dish served with risotto or polenta or on pasta

                                                              flank steaks rolled and stuffed as braciola can go in a number of directions

                                                              roasts can be cut down into smaller portions for braising (if cooking for 2) think 2 thick slices of a chick roast braised with mushrooms served with mashed buttered potatoes or whipped parmesan cauliflower

                                                              if you want "steak" London broils well marinated quickly charred and sliced pink and thin against the grain is as satisfying as many more expensive cuts

                                                              Meatballs, meat loafs etc are versatile and can take a good amount of filler

                                                              In addition to altering the menu perhaps look into your sourcing - Whole Foods tends to be expensive you may be able to order meat from another source that is equal or better quality or find a butcher shop if they exist in your area. One thing I have not liked about WF meats is that for the price point it is often not local and very expensive and I can find locally sourced organic grass fed etc beef for less with some looking. If the quality is that important to you consider a cow share or buying direct bulk from providers.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                ^^ this -- braises and other slow-cooked dishes are awesome.

                                                                Buy yourself a crockpot or pressure cooker and use them -- with either of them, you'll spend minimal time in prep (more time for the wee one) and still end up with fabulous dishes with lots and lots of flavor (and tender!)

                                                                while nobody turns down a thick juicy steak at my house, they actually ask me for slow-cooked braised dishes -- the bonus is that they're made with the cheapest, toughest cuts.

                                                              2. if you're on a limited budget, the first thing is stop shopping at ueber-market places like whole foods. what do you actually think your extra 35-50% expenditure is buying?

                                                                as for beef - look for the least expensive cuts and learn to slow/low/wet cook them. cheap aka 'inexpensive' generally translates to 'tough' - but tough can be made into mouth drool with the right techniques.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: PSRaT

                                                                  You took those words right out of my mouth; I'm not criticizing but the OP said they were not willing to sacrifice Whole Foods. If the price is too high to just buy a steak to make tacos, a dish that is supposed to stretch and make the most of the meat, it really doesn't matter if we give suggestions for beef recipes because it's going to require beef more expensive than that steak. I only shop at whole foods if I can't get what I need at a less expensive store and I try not to buy my meat there because it's over priced. In this case, you can't have your cake and eat it too...you can't buy cheap beef at Whole Foods so a solution is to change stores to find other options.

                                                                  I'm not going to comment on things like dropping your thermostat or buying cloth diapers because it's not what you asked for so sticking with the topic of beef meals, as others have pointed out, look for cuts of beef that require low & slow cooking like chuck or rump roasts, beef shoulder steak or roasts, beef ribs, etc.. I'm a sale shopper; I buy most of my beef when a store puts it on sale. That's when I buy strip steak, prime rib, porterhouse, etc in the $7-$8 range. I also shop at Sam's where I can buy cuts like a whole sirloin roast for $3.27 lb and cut half into steaks for chicken fried steak and keep part to roast. Also can get brisket flat for $5.97 lb or a eye of round roast for $4.88 lb to cut into steaks that come out meltingly tender. Buy a large cut like a roast; have it braised one night and shred the rest up for bbq beef sandwiches or a soup, stew or things like stuffing cabbage.

                                                                  Some people think ground beef is cheap but it is often more expensive than a good steak...The key is to shop around.

                                                                  1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                    I routinely make stirfries with 1/3lb steak, for two people. it makes a mountain of food.

                                                                  2. re: PSRaT

                                                                    Good point. Albertsons as an example has gone to Choice beef across the board. I get a good piece of meat for significantly less than at WF.

                                                                  3. Do you have freezer room to buy bulk beef from a farmer?
                                                                    Because that's one way to get the quality you're looking for at better prices than Whole Paycheck.

                                                                    To further add, cheap cuts.
                                                                    Braising cuts, and searing cuts.
                                                                    Braising- chuck, shank, brisket.
                                                                    Searing- flank, skirt, flap.
                                                                    Avoid filet, prime rib roast, T-bone, Porterhouse. Not that their bad, but they tend to be $$.

                                                                    Think about the SECOND meal you'll be making from your beef, before you prepare it the FIRST time.
                                                                    Also, stretch with pasta, rice and stir fry dishes.

                                                                    You need a paradigm shift, first and foremost.
                                                                    You will stretch your beef automatically that way.

                                                                    1. Though you specify beef, our favorite meat is pork and pork shoulders can be great deals and you can do a ton with them - I think pork is just more versatile than beef.

                                                                      1. this is what we did when our first darling came along. granted its been a long time ago but prices/salaries/tuitions etc. were still relative. things I always had were:
                                                                        rice and beans/vegs and fruit/milk and juices. I baked a lot even then and only 1 income.
                                                                        tacos meatloaf chili calzones meatballs spaghetti pizza casseroles sandwiches salads couscous faro wheatberrys

                                                                        flank steak, tri tips, skirt steak, rump roast, London broil ground beef (all can be found on sale, check fliers each week/call super markets-who's offering sales and on what....never would I go to WF for primarily our protein source - just too pricey AFAIC

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                          OP and husband are low carb'ers.

                                                                        2. Have you considered goat as an alternative?

                                                                          For beef, many of the cuts that are best braised will be delicious and have the additional advantage that you can make extra for leftovers. I am thinking 7-bone roasts and whole beef shanks. I make tacos from whole cuts of meat. The only expensive topping is an avocado.

                                                                          I always spend much less money when I cook Chinese and Korean foods. Stocking the pantry can cost some money though.

                                                                          1. Round steak comes on sale here fairly often. Consider buying and use a meat tenderizer mallot and you can make some nice tender beef strips. Another alternative is to use them for swiss steak.

                                                                            I don't know about where you live, but we have a steak restaurant that will sell us bulk ground sirloin (that they grind on-site) for less than we can buy it at the local market. We buy and break down into 1 lb. bags and vacuum seal for various uses. You might call around and check that in your area.

                                                                            We always keep the small flour tortillas on hand. You can put anything in them. Make your london broil and use leftovers for fajitas.

                                                                            If you can afford a small investment, a vacuum sealer will really help your dilemmas. There is only 2 of us, but when there is a great sale, we will buy in bulk and freeze. It really saves us money and it holds well in the freezer. We also seal a lot of veggies in season which would work well for your "pampers". :-)

                                                                            1. Just curious, and I actually do a lot of shopping at whole foods myself...you say you're not "willing to sacrifice... yet". What do you think you're sacrificing by going somewhere else? I've generally found that WF meats are ok. I can get better, fresher and cheaper seafood from my farmer's market (Live in Bay Area so lucky in that regard) and my local butcher has cheaper, tastier meats. So while we buy a lot of produce there, we actually do not buy as much protein due to better, cheaper sources.

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                Agreed. I recently bought a Rocky Jrs chicken at Safeway for only 40 cents/# more than Foster Farms. WF does have super produce.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  WF is the only place in Tampa I've found that stocks cotija cheese. Even the best cheese purveyors don't carry it. I asked around for a mercado when we first moved here, no joy. I checked one of the Cuban stores... they looked at me like I was speaking another language, which I suppose I was.

                                                                                  Anyway, WF stocks it, so yay them. And it only took me almost 4 years to find it.

                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                    I saw cotija cheese at Costco just yesterday.

                                                                                    1. re: Mimi

                                                                                      In Tampa? It really is impossible to find. Queso Fresco, Quesadilla, all kinds of soft Mexican cheeses abound. But Cotija, not so much.

                                                                                    2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                      you need to head my way -- the Publix and Winn-Dixie on my side of the Big Guava carry it regularly.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        Hi sunshine,

                                                                                        Thanks for the rec, this is good news. I was just in Sarasota on Sunday, dammit. I'll have my dude check the stores in Tarpon next time he's there. Maybe he'll get lucky.

                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                          it's not a guarantee --

                                                                                          If you're headed toward Sarasota take the big swing to the east of the Bay -- Wimauma (SR674) has a big Latino population (and heavily Mexican descent) -- would probably be a good backup if you strike out elsewhere.

                                                                                      2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                        Sprouts and Wild Oats are two chains that carry cotija if you have either nearby.

                                                                                      3. re: c oliver

                                                                                        I am hoping to strike it lucky with the price of those chickens at Safeway.I will look for a Rocky Jr.The Butcher told my mom the best thing to do is buy a whole Chicken and have it cut up.There is a price reduction that way.Lately Safeway whole chickens have been burning a whole in my wallet.

                                                                                        1. re: Smiley881

                                                                                          They didn't have them at the Tahoe/Kings Beach one the other day. They had,IIRC,a store brand organic one for much more money. I'm going to talk to the meat manager next time I'm in. I've found that they have a list of things they CAN order but don't always stock.

                                                                                    3. You might want to check other purveyors of Happy Meat. Around my area I've found that WFM isn't the cheapest option for this (they're also farrrr from the most expensive as well)

                                                                                      1. Buy larg-ish pieces of beef chuck, cube it and make stews, chile, braises or currys. But it would be kinda ridiculous to buy this at WF if you are trying to be frugal. You want to pick it up at a budget market with a lot of turnover. If you cook with these basic methods, it's fine to use cheap-ish beef.

                                                                                        Also, round or rump is OK for roasting.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: nrthshr

                                                                                          I like buying cheap roasts or steaks, whichever is on sale, and if needed, cutting it up into portions sized right for us. A entire roast is nice once in a while, but if I cut it up I can use the smaller bits for stews, stir fry, braising, the stroganoff I mentioned above, tacos, so many things. I'm pretty frugal with meat.

                                                                                        2. Maybe more pricey but a cheap steak alternative... Buy a flat iron roast, and split the top and bottom steaks away from the middle sinew. Amazing steaks that cost much less than traditional cuts, ie ribeye, strop, etc., yet have great taste and texture.

                                                                                          1. This is a weird one for me. You're willing to pay top prices, albeit the lowest for where you shop, for cheaper cuts of meat and then most suggestions (all good, btw) are to treat the meat as if it were cheap cuts, thus losing the entire reason for spending the extra money. I dunno.

                                                                                            1. We, too, are on a somewhat restricted food budget (compared to days of fatter wallets). I often buy chuck roasts and portion them out and I also make my own beef stock, which makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of the beef dishes I make. One of our favorite meals is to cut a small portion (1 lb or less) of chuck into cubes, brown and braise in beef stock for 30 min., then add a lot of veg (carrots, potatoes, celery, mushrooms). You can thicken the stock, if you want, but I like it soupy. It's a quick dinner for two with enough left over for a lunch for me. Another piece of the chuck goes into the oven (or slow cooker) with onions and V8 juice for a slow braised pot roast.
                                                                                              I also watch for cubed steaks to go on sale and freeze them to make Swiss steak or other smothered dishes.
                                                                                              I recently splurged on a package of prime sirloin filets at Costco and have used them in stir fry dishes and others where I can make one little steak serve both of us. They've been a real treat!
                                                                                              Another favorite beef dinner is chopped steak...sirloin patties smothered in mushrooms and onions. Again, I watch for chopped sirloin to go on sale and freeze.

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: onrushpam

                                                                                                <One of our favorite meals is to cut a small portion (1 lb or less) of chuck into cubes, brown and braise in beef stock for 30 min., then add a lot of veg (carrots, potatoes, celery, mushrooms).>

                                                                                                I do a similar thing, browning the cubes, then putting them into one of our small slow cookers along with beef broth, onion (dried works well here) and other onion soup spices. Hours later, I thicken the gravy and serve it with rice or potatoes and maybe something simple like peas or snap beans. So rich, it's a treat to eat.

                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                  I wish OP would weigh in with some thoughts about the recs. I think this one sounds fantastic. Made my mouth water :)

                                                                                                2. re: onrushpam

                                                                                                  Re: Making your own beef stock - your mileage may vary. My one attempted home-made beef stock was, sadly, terrible. And the beef marrow bones for the stock were almost the same cost as steak.

                                                                                                  1. re: onrushpam

                                                                                                    I have been seeing prime sirloin steaks lately, about the only prime meat available. Since it is such a lean cut do you find it much different than choice?

                                                                                                    1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                      Prime has more marbled fat than choice.

                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                        So are you saying yes look for prime graded sirloin. Because compared to say a choice rib steak the prime sirloin is still much leaner.

                                                                                                  2. We also eat Low Carb, but I buy most of our meat at Costco, Trader Joes, Target or the little Asian markets in our area (Bay Area). I can afford WF, but refuse to pay more for 'feel good' meat. (I work in the food industry, so I am leery of the marketing and extra $$ behind 'sustainable, organic, etc.')
                                                                                                    As far as stretching beef and still be low carb:
                                                                                                    Add chopped mushrooms to any meat to mimic umami and bulk up dishes like meatballs, meat sauce, etc. (I serve meat tomato sauce over shirataki noodles, shredded cabbage or riced cauliflower)
                                                                                                    Make lettuce cups with ground taco beef, but fill with cheese, avocado, tomatoes, salsa and radishes
                                                                                                    Make a pot roast and use the mildly flavored shredded beef in any of the above dishes
                                                                                                    Tri tip is the best deal here in Northern CA. You can buy a large 4 lob roast for less than $3/lb.
                                                                                                    Mix ground chicken, pork or turkey if it is cheaper with beef and you can still get the beefy flavor
                                                                                                    I use tuna in a lot of dishes, like a tuna noodle casserole I make using shirataki noodles (not that the noodles are cheaper, but if you are doing low carb, you know you're not doing the cheapest eating)
                                                                                                    Make stir frys as others have suggested but use the low carb veggies like mushrooms, edamame, cabbage, broccoli and daikon
                                                                                                    Eggs are my favorite, but I know you said you alraedy eat them for breakfast. What about Joe's special which is beef, spinach, eggs and parmesan?

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sophiejj

                                                                                                      What a great post! These kinds of posts are why I love this place....

                                                                                                      1. re: sophiejj

                                                                                                        we use ground turkey as a sub for ground chuck a LOT -- but it's regular ground turkey, not ground turkey breast, which is, from a flavor standpoint, about the same as adding shredded cardboard to a meal.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          I am going to add ground Turkey to my shopping list.I will
                                                                                                          use the Turkey as a back up when I run out of ground chuck.
                                                                                                          Adding a little olive oil to that ground Turkey really keeps it moist.I am thinking about making some Lasanga using ground Turkey.

                                                                                                          1. re: Smiley881

                                                                                                            if you use regular ground turkey, it will have plenty of fat on its own.

                                                                                                            We didn't eat beef for several years, and I subbed ground turkey for beef and no one ever complained.

                                                                                                        2. re: sophiejj

                                                                                                          I was going to chime in with the "use mushrooms as extender" but sophie beat me to it! This story appeared (as a syndicated item) in my local food section only last week, so I haven't had a chance to try either of the recipes but both sounded really delicious to me: a Basic Mushroom Meat Blend that you can use for many dishes (lasagnas, crepes, tacos, meat pies, etc.) and Mushroom-Blended Graffiti Burgers. You can find them by scrolling to the bottom.


                                                                                                          Also, if you're doing a beef stir-fry, bulk up the protein and cut back on the beef by adding some firm tofu. I've also used TVP as a meat extender in dishes like chili or sloppy joes or tacos (and I'll bet the mushrooms will work the same way.)

                                                                                                          This came up in another thread recent, the book "Save with Jamie." He has these "mothership" recipes for beef, pork, chicken and salmon that he has you use as planned leftovers later in the week. Here's the mothership recipe for beef brisket: http://www.penguin.com.au/products/97...

                                                                                                          Here are all the dishes you can make with the leftover brisket (I'll bet you can even find the recipes by googling around):
                                                                                                          Beef rendang
                                                                                                          Spiced beef tagine
                                                                                                          Pulled beef salad, kick-ass croutons
                                                                                                          Humble brisket stew
                                                                                                          Brisket stew & Yorkies
                                                                                                          Brisket stew & jacket spuds
                                                                                                          Brisket hotpot
                                                                                                          Brisket puff pastry pie
                                                                                                          Beef noodle soup
                                                                                                          Korean stir-fried rice
                                                                                                          Sloppy brisket po'boy (recipe link: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/be...)

                                                                                                          Not beef, but you mention you eat a lot of eggs for breakfast and, therefore, you're not interested in having them for dinner. What if you have silken tofu smoothies for breakfast once in awhile? That might free you up for the occasional frittata for dinner...

                                                                                                          Congrats on your new baby. Do you post on babycenter.com's community? They have a couple of boards that might interest you, including Cooking on a Budget but also just some general families on budgets type boards. Also, I highly recommend their weekly milestone newsletter.


                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            I was also going to mention, for some pasta & beef dishes that you might otherwise rule out because of the carbs, you might be able to sub spaghetti squash, zucchini ribbons, the aforementioned shirataki noodles (if you can overlook the smell, which I never could no matter how much I rinsed them). Pureed cauliflower in lieu of mashed potatoes. You can even "rice" cauliflower.

                                                                                                            Yesterday, someone just mentioned to me the idea of slicing jicama really thin and using it in lieu of taco shells, although, lettuce wraps work just fine.


                                                                                                        3. I've mentioned this Harvest Day beef stew before - deliciously different. Stew meat and chuck roast (that you cube yourself) are equivalent, buy which ever is less expensive that day. Not sure what all changes you'd need for low-carb - just omit the corn? For just two of you, maybe make a half recipe since this makes a large batch.

                                                                                                          1. Splurge on a separate freezer and order up half a cow. Our "cow" now eaten and I need a replacement came from an farm which followed organic practices but wasn't willing to pay for organic certification, which kept prices down. They sold with a local market I respect so I was willing to trust them. Most places around here will ask how you want your beef processed and packed, so I could direct to how much I wanted ground vs cuts and what pound size I wanted my roasts, with extra going into the ground selection. It worked out to around $5/lb and was darned tasty. Plus bones for SOUP!

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: autumm

                                                                                                              I don't have a freezer and don't buy whole chunks of cow, but have been buying cheaper cuts at the farmer's market, from local producers who are not "organic" but say it's grass fed, minimal antibiotics etc. This beef has tasted great - I generally braise it, as I am buying chuck, arm and pikes peak. Low and slow with some green chiles, onions, and secret ingredient Red Boat fish sauce. It's delicious. I eat a lot of tacos, but it also makes great hash, made some wonderful rissoles when I got tired of plain beef (crispy little fried cakes with potato, carrot mash and beef, rolled in crumbs and fried). The farmer I usually get it from advised a medium rare roast, sliced thin, but I haven't tried this. I pay $5 per lb for this. Maybe $7 from the more expensive vendors.

                                                                                                            2. If you really want your beef, there are, of course, alternatives to sirloin. Per many of the suggestions here, you can do all sorts of things with beef chuck, there are alternatives to sirloin, e.g. rump, hanger, feather, onglet, skirt, etc. that can be very tasty - pressure cooker with some seasoning to tenderise, then chuck on a grill/pan/oven. Brisket can be used in all sorts of ways, not just smoked/bbq'd and is pretty cheap. You can also look at the bones: shins (ossobucco style), ribs, etc. are often cheaper than sirloin. I have cooked down beef ribs and used the meat for lasagne and similar bits and pieces.
                                                                                                              Buying half a cow was mentioned, and can also be a good route if you're happy with the source and the butcher, and have storage space (I have been able to use my butcher's place to age various parts of a cow until I wanted them/had space). It worked out a lot cheaper than buying the parts individually.

                                                                                                              1. not sure where you are but we go in with another family on 1/2 a cow, each year. we get it from western Mass, near Amherst. we tend to go heavy on ground beef but also get dozens of nice sirloins, t bones etc. the farm packages it for freezing for us and it averages out to $3-4/pound.
                                                                                                                buy a pot roast when on sale, or several, put it in the slow cooker with nothing else. at the end of the day, you have shredded beef for any number of things, tacos, sandwiches, stews, its also yummy by itself.

                                                                                                                1. I've never seen this at WF but the other grocery chains have marked down meat, sometimes in a particular section of the meat cooler. 30% to 50% off. That's where we buy almost all of our more expensive cuts.

                                                                                                                  As before, I wish OP would speak up and clarify some of the points raised.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    WF will have meats on sale, or discounted prices for 'family pack' sizes of meat.

                                                                                                                    I came here largely to say that given the OP's interest, and particularly the low carb dynamic - what might make the most sense is to largely scope out what beef is on sale (if anything is that week) and then plan a meal around that cut.

                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                      my local butcher wraps and freezes the odd lots, then marks them down 30-40%. I usually pick up all their lamb, but sometimes end up with big packages of country ribs and shoulder of various species.

                                                                                                                      THAT's a big deal.

                                                                                                                    2. Sloppy joes, add corn or chopped broccoli


                                                                                                                      Swedish meatballs


                                                                                                                      Stuffed zucchini

                                                                                                                      Cheese and beef enchiladas

                                                                                                                      Bean and beef burritos

                                                                                                                      Hamburger Stroganoff

                                                                                                                      Stuffed Peppers

                                                                                                                      Cabbage Rolls

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                        All the above food ideas sound delicious.I could go for some stuffed peppers.There is also Philly Cheese Steak stuffed Peppers also.I can provide the recipe for that if anyone is interested.Now Sloppy Joes is an oldie but goodie that is long overdue to get on my shopping list.

                                                                                                                      2. Do you have a Fresh Market near you? Same quality as WF. They have 2.99 Tuesdays where ground chuck is reduced from their normal of 4.99/lb to 2.99/lb. Lots of uses for this- Salisbury steak, meatballs, meatloaf, hamburgers, tacos, enchiladas, etc..

                                                                                                                        1. I made many meals on ground beef and a can of tomatoes! However when I needed to really stretch our food dollar I used canned fish. I like canned tuna and canned salmon. And I agree about using other protein sources.

                                                                                                                          Shop specials.

                                                                                                                          Some grocers offer organic meat. You could investigate to see if the organic meat offered elsewhere is less expensive than that at WF.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                            Costco is carrying more and more organic products of all types.

                                                                                                                          2. It's partly a matter of cuts but partly a matter of attitude.

                                                                                                                            Think of any beef you buy as lasting for THREE main meals.

                                                                                                                            Example--brown meaty short ribs and braise with canned tomatoes and wine. First meal, the meaty gravy--served on pasta or polenta is great, but if you're seriously low carb, you could use spaghetti squash, mandolined zucchini, or steamed cabbage as a base for it.
                                                                                                                            Second meal, pull off some (but not all) of the meat--use it as part of a salad or stirfry, or chop and stuff it into some turnovers.
                                                                                                                            Third meal, devil the bones (which still have some meat on them) with mustard and breadcrumbs under the broiler.

                                                                                                                            Similar routine for corned beef and cabbage. First night, corned beef slices with cabbage and boiled potatoes. Second night, chop up the potatoes with leftover corned beef and make has. Third night, use the smoky, salty broth as the basis for a lentil soup--slice in frankfurter coins.

                                                                                                                            Similar routine for pho--First night soup (notice how the Vietnamese will cook a few very thin slices of tender raw beef in the soup). Second night, pull your boiled beef into strands--use it for salad or fresh rolls. You can do this with borscht as well.

                                                                                                                            Similar routine for red-cooked beef or pork. Use a shin or add a pig's foot or some other gelatine producing cut. First night, a little meat with lots and lots of red cooked carrots, onions, and white turnips. Second night, cube the meat and serve it cold with chunks of the gelatinous gravy. Third night, braise fried tofu and/or hard-boiled eggs in the beef flavored gravy. (best with rice, obviously)

                                                                                                                            Similar routine for boeuf bourguinon--add lots of carrots and small onions, and serve hot the first night, cold the second, as part of Russian salad the third.

                                                                                                                            OK, you get the idea.

                                                                                                                            Years ago, a friend gave me a recipe that makes meat go a long way.
                                                                                                                            You use a small piece of bone in pork, brown on all sides, place in a casserole with some garlic and spices of choice, and pile in all kinds of greens--spinach, kale, broccoli rabe,parsley, arugula--whatever you have. Cook on a low flame or in the oven till the green subside into a delicious savory mass.

                                                                                                                            1. "Use meat as a condiment" comes in handy when beef is so expensive. Not quite to that extreme: 1) Cut beef stew meat smaller than the huge chunks it comes in and slow-cook it with onions and peppers until falling-apart tender then add to pasta with the tomato sauce of your choice; serve with grated Parmesan cheese. 2) Meatloaf: put half an onion and half a pepper through the food processor with an egg and a glop of ketchup. Add to a pound of ground beef with salt to taste and a couple tablespoons of commercial bread crumbs. Pat into a loaf. Make a ridge down it lengthwise. Moisten two tablespoons of brown sugar with a little ketchup and put this in the ridge, smearing it down over the loaf with your fingers. Bake until barely done (use meat thermometer). 3) Beef in Beer: In dry slow cooker pot put 1/2 cup flour and salt to taste. Stir in an 8-oz can of tomato sauce and two bottles of beer. Add 1 1/2 lb beef stew meat and some sliced onions (and mushrooms wouldn't hurt if you have them). Cook overnight or until meat is falling-apart tender. Serve with noodles.

                                                                                                                              1. How about a good Chuck Roast cooked in gravy with some nice mashed pototoe's.I like to use Recipe Secrets Beefy Onion Gravy.That is some of the best Gravy.Hamburger Helper is good also.You can add vegetables to it.I got a great idea for the Italian Cheese and Shells flavor of Hamburger helper,just add mixed vegetables.

                                                                                                                                1. I know you've gotten lots of suggestions, but you need to use beef as a lesser ingredient in a meal like stir-fry (use the bounty of the summer and use LOTS more healthy vegetables with a smaller amount of beef, and serve over rice).

                                                                                                                                  Meatballs or ground beef used in a spaghetti sauce (pasta with sauce, salad, rolls makes for a complete and filling meal). Hamburger stroganoff on top of egg noodles with peas and a salad.

                                                                                                                                  Stuffed peppers - the amount of meat is a lot less, and you're getting a decent-sized meal.

                                                                                                                                  Take a large chuck roast and cut it down into several meals. Cut it into cubes for stewing beef; serve with MORE potatoes and carrots, and a smaller amount of beef.

                                                                                                                                  Shaved beef can be used for cheese steak subs. Lots of lower-cost beef can be braised for a long time and make an amazing meal - beef shanks and short ribs are a perfect fall meal.

                                                                                                                                  Think about getting a Boston butt pork roast (pork shoulder) and making a ton of pulled pork in the crockpot. Easily freezable for later eats, and a different pork dish (although you didn't say if it was part of your "chicken and pork" routine).

                                                                                                                                  1. Do you do all of your shopping at Whole Foods? I would suggest going somewhere else for can items, and other staples.
                                                                                                                                    Enchiladas are a cheaper alternative to tacos. I can buy soft corn tortillas for cheap, make an echilada sauce and then the meat and cheese.

                                                                                                                                    Goulash, Sloppy Joes, Meatloaf, cottage pie, spanish rice and beef stuffed peppers, Meatball sub sandwiches with provolone,

                                                                                                                                    For pork a pork verde chili is very filling with the potatoes you can eat it like a chili or include a soft tortilla

                                                                                                                                    1. Slow-cooked recipe would be best for cheaper cuts of beef; beef stroganoff, beef stews, beef brisket, and more are great when slow-cooked. With fall approaching, it may be a good time to pull out that slow cooker!

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: rosik929

                                                                                                                                        good call we make an excellent Italian beef recipe in our slow cooker

                                                                                                                                      2. Lots of people have mentioned chili. I make it often but I kind of use it as a flavoring, rather than eating a big bowl of it. Chili mac, chili topped baked potatoes, taco salad, mexican cornbread, cheese enchiladas (or you could do bean to make it cheaper/healthier.)

                                                                                                                                        1. Just ran across this piece by Melissa D'Arabian on how she buys ground beef in 5 lb packages and then pre-preps it for quick meals later..and thought of you. http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/2...


                                                                                                                                          1. BUY CHOICE. Next question? Buy from Costco, they have the BEST CHOICE on the market.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                              lately i have been making japanese beef and potato with a dashi broth. it uses less beef than amrican beef stew. recipe is not strict but youtube cooking with dog has a good example. or curry. i had some with garlic bread that was kind of like a south african curry bunny.

                                                                                                                                            2. This thread really caught my eye, it feels like the price of beef has been really high lately. Also confusing is how some recipe writers refer to flank steak or skirt as cheap cuts when I find in my area they are rather expensive. We also are eating more chicken. Pork isn't as cheap either. So for us beef is a splurge and prepare it nicely to make it special and there are only a few things we have done recently. Really like all the suggestions provided.
                                                                                                                                              charcoal grilled burgers
                                                                                                                                              oven bbq brisket
                                                                                                                                              grilled flank or skirt thinly sliced for tacos
                                                                                                                                              beef kabobs

                                                                                                                                              With it being fall soon it will be easier to do stews and braises and curries and those are more economical because of all the great veggies you can cook with the beef. So even if a chuck roast is expensive it will work out to less per serving and you can have leftovers.

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacheton

                                                                                                                                                Flank & skirt steak is expensive where I live. Beef & Pork has gone up tremendously this year, which was the prediction. Last year, I bought pork chops all the time; this year, not so much. Chicken is still pretty reasonable so we have it weekly. I think using every possible bit of the meat you buy helps get the most for your money.

                                                                                                                                                This past weekend, I cooked a wedding meal for a group of 33 people. They wanted filet of beef so I bought two whole loins at Sam's club and broke them down myself. Instead of discarding the scraps & the chain which contains quite a bit of meat if one is willing to utilize knife skills, it's stored in the freezer. Later, I'll either cut it up for soup or add to a grind for burgers. Now, that's getting your money's worth!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                                                                                  Once upon a time long ago flank and skirt were lower cost cuts. But they got popular. Same with brisket. Same with oxtail even.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: divadmas

                                                                                                                                                    They're not filet. They're less expensive than ribeye. About the only thing that's cheaper is eye of round (or ground beef).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                      from what I've experienced, there is a "TV demand" factor to a lot of less expensive cuts.

                                                                                                                                                      literally years ago our market always had shanks; always beef, sometimes veal (could be 'ordered')

                                                                                                                                                      then BAM BAM Lagasse did a show on ossa bucco and shortly thereafter the price went from $1.xx/lb to $8.xx a pound. then shanks disappeared. so I asked the meat manager; answer: "they always sold well, then there was a big demand so the price went up, then they stopped selling, so we don't carry shanks anymore."

                                                                                                                                                      it's a deja-vu-boeuf all over again with skirt / flank/ flat iron steaks. 3-4 years back, it was $2.59-2.89/lb, then it went to $6.99/lb and yesterday I noticed: $9.99/lb. I had just picked up some Delmonico's from the butcher and he had flat iron at $6.99/lb.

                                                                                                                                                      bacon - same thing - OscarMayer Bacon is near $10/lb here; Wegmans (high end, not a cheap place to shop....) $6/lb. our market (Giant) seems quite focused on shredding your wallet for popular items.....

                                                                                                                                              2. Brisket is usually one of the lowest priced cuts, at least if you buy it as primals but I've never seen a primal at WF.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                  Brisket is almost $7.00 lb where I live, either cut

                                                                                                                                                2. Consider getting an immersion sous vide cooker like the Anova. I've seen the first generation model as low as $149.00. You can turn cheaper, lean cuts from the rounds (top round, bottom round etc.)into fork tender beefy goodness.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Italian Beef using a pot roast or a rump roast.
                                                                                                                                                    This recipe looks popular: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/je...

                                                                                                                                                    Or Ropa Vieja:http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... Add rice and black beans and it's a very filling meal.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I really like flank steak....lots of flavor. I like to grill it, and then repurpose the leftovers. Maybe tacos. Or a Caesar salad with steak.

                                                                                                                                                      1. No idea if you can get these or, if, if they are cheap, but historically they have been regarded as lesser cuts:

                                                                                                                                                        Skirt steak, hanger steak, or flatiron...the secret to all three, IMHO, is to cook them no more than to medium rare. They get tough if cooked more. I like to pan sear and deglaze with a little red wine and plenty of salt and pepper to make a pan sauce. They also make lovely teriyaki or fajitas.

                                                                                                                                                        Eye of round steak is nice pan seared, heavily peppered, and hit with a squeeze of lemon.

                                                                                                                                                        Save a little of each roast, mix a couple and mince for use in a pasta sauce. My fave is minced beef and pork done in a pseudo Bolognese.

                                                                                                                                                        I like to cut a bottom round for rolling and spread with a mirepoix. Add duxelles if you have the shrooms. Roast.

                                                                                                                                                        Who doesn't love braised short ribs. I save my vegetable scraps for making broth and braise in that and add a little wine.

                                                                                                                                                        Pulled pot roast is of course lovely as pot roast but it also is awesome in enchiladas or tossed in BBQ sauce and served on a bun with slaw.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                                                                                          Safeway here has both skirt and flatiron steak, but they're both priced around $8/lb. I love the flatiron steak for stir fries. The flavor is great and it's tender if sliced thinly.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I have yet to fully think it through, let alone try it, but lately I've been tossing around the idea of making some of my purchases a "joint venture" with someone else. If I had more family in the area I probably would have tried it by now, but currently they all live too far away.
                                                                                                                                                          My thinking is that (usually with steaks and ground beef) there are some "family pack" prices I can still afford but can't foot the entire bill of the large package solo due to a limited weekly budget.
                                                                                                                                                          Maybe I should start a "What would you do if a stranger in the market asked you if you would go 50-50 on a big pack of t-bones?" thread.......either that or just keep trying to get ahead of the curve so that I can have more than a weeks worth of meat in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I'm not too familiar with what they offer for beef at WF. I prefer grass fed meats and buy them at my farmers market and yes they are expensive. Aside from ground beef the most economical cuts are chuck and shank for braising. Since it is hot where you are a slow cooker would be ideal for this as it won't heat up your house. For steaks the cheapest are London broil (top round), Denver and chuck-eye. The Denver and chuckeye are pretty tender and fatty. London broil is much leaner and can be tough. Cook it rare, slice it thinly on the bias, and serve with a sauce such as chimichurri. My favorite of these is the chuck-eye if you can find it. Like a rib-eye but half the price. When having a steak cut we eat the first night as a steak and use leftovers in stirfry, salads or most often quesadillas (with the leftover chimichurri sauce!). I will sometimes portion out the amount I want to save for tomorrow in advance so we don't eat it! My other advice is this: eat more veg. Have a smaller portion of beef and A LOT of greens. Add nuts or other healthy fats to your veg if you need to make them more filling. Tofu and beans are other cheaper protein sources to consider.