With food bills rising ever upwards, it is possible to enjoy meat without breaking the bank. Here’s how.
Don’t be squeamish
Some people are squeamish about the thought of eating livers, kidneys, brain or lungs, but nose to tail eating can be exciting and nutritious. Using the whole animal is a matter of pride in some cultures – why not experiment and see what new tastes you discover?
Make your own fast food
Burgers get a bad name, but made at home with fresh ingredients they’re hard to beat. Just mix minced beef with chopped onion and a little mustard and herbs, or spice it up with chilli, cumin or coriander. Make in advance for the freezer and you’ll have the ultimate in midweek fast food – just top with melted cheese, red onion and mayo.
Meat doesn’t always have to be the centrepiece, so eat less of it and you’ll enjoy better quality when you do indulge. Make portions smaller, stretch meals with beans or veg or go vegetarian for at least a couple of nights a week.
Buy a whole chicken
Pre-packed chicken breasts are an expensive way to shop. Buy a whole bird and roast, boil or bone it yourself and cook the pieces separately. You’ll have enough leftovers for a stir fry or curry and stock for another meal later in the week. Or take a look at these other ideas for easy meals from chicken leftovers.
Befriend your butcher
Don’t be shy about asking for advice. Most butchers will be only too pleased to help and will often suggest new ways to cook, or alternative cuts.
Cheaper cuts often come from parts of the animal which work hardest and require long, slow cooking to tease out the flavour. Try lamb neck or shoulder, pork belly, cheek or hock or beef shin, skirt or brisket. Pop in the slow cooker in the morning and come home at night to a delicious unctuous stew.
Supermarkets tend to stock the more expensive cuts of meat as that’s where their profits lie. Go there an hour before they close to check out the ‘reduced’ aisle, or better still avoid supermarkets completely and head to your local butcher or farm shop where you’ll find more variety.
Buy in bulk
Buying a whole or half lamb or pig will save cash, and you’ll be stocked up for weeks ahead. If your freezer’s not up to it, try splitting one with friends – you’ll get great value for money by buying in bulk, and learn how to cook cuts you don’t normally buy.
Try something new
If you’re looking for something different wild game can be a tasty and low-cost alternative to the usual chicken, beef or lamb. Try rabbit, pigeon, pheasant, deer or duck – plentiful in season with some, like venison, available year-round.
Don’t be fooled
Don’t be fooled when it comes to buying cheap meat. Meat is expensive, and with even ‘cheap’ cuts gradually creeping up in price, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Look for value for money rather than rock-bottom prices which often come at the expense of flavour as well as animal welfare.