How to Spot a Great Price on Meat

meat prices

Don’t you wish we could still get prices like those?

Reader Question:

Can you let us know what a good deal on meat is? I personally don’t know when to stock up or when to hold off. How much a pound is good on all the meats?

Spotting a great price on any product can be difficult.  It takes time and practice. But what I like about meat prices is that the best ones are usually advertised.  On the front page of the weekly circular.

And sometimes hidden within!

The most expensive aspect to consider when making a $5 Dinner is the meat/protein price (with the exception of vegetarian and “breakfast” type dinners, of course!).  My goal is to keep the overall meat/chicken price at $2.50 or less for the meal.  So that means I have to buy meats/chicken at a certain price or below…or this won’t happen!

I have a mental “never pay more than” list that I pull up each time I’m looking through the store circulars, and even when I’m going through the store.

Here are some examples of great meat SALE prices that I look for when shopping:

  • Fresh Fish – $3.99/lb
  • Frozen Fish – $2.99/lb I usually only buy with a store coupon
  • Pork Chops (bone-in) – $.99/lb
  • Pork Chops (boneless) – $1.49/lb
  • Pork Roast – $1.49/lb
  • Beef Roast – $1.99/lb
  • Beef Stew – $1.99/lb Often can be found cheaper in a “family pack”
  • Ground Beef – $1.49/lb
  • Ground Chuck – $1.89/lb
  • Whole Chicken – $.99/lb
  • Split Chicken Breasts – $1.19/lb
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts/Tenderloins – $1.99/lb

And I’ve always got my eye out for packages that are reduced for quick sale.  I’ll either use right away or freeze right away.  My store tends to mark meats down on Thursday and Friday…and they are usually gone by mid-morning.  Just ask your meat dept. manager when is the best time for markdowns at your store!

*Please note: This prices might be dramatically different if you are living in an area with a higher cost of living.

What are your “stock up” prices for your favorite cuts of meats/chicken? I’d love to hear what sale prices are in other parts of the country!

Photo Credit: jbcurio

Comments

  1. says

    At my Kroger in Atlanta, they frequently put split chicken breasts on sale for $.99/lb. My hubby & I don’t mind dark meat, so I buy chicken thighs when they’re less than .99/lb. Chicken wings have gotten a little more expensive lately, so I haven’t been buying those. Here’s a cool article on wings being more expensive than chicken breasts- http://bit.ly/2VpjAJ.

    Also, what are good prices on ground turkey? It always seems expensive to me.
    KATHY!~

  2. says

    That’s about what I pay, too. I get chicken breasts (bone-in) for $0.99/lb regularly, so that’s my buy price. And, I make my own Italian and breakfast sausage, so I like to buy pork butts to grind. My buy price for those is $1/lb. Last week, I found it for $0,83, so I was excited!

    The only expensive meat I regularly buy is andouille sausage, which is about $3.49/lb. There is no real substitute, though, so I just do what I have to do. :)

  3. says

    Believe it or not, the prices in my area, which I would definitely consider to be a higher cost of living area (NY/NJ), are the same as yours.
    Great list! Thank you for putting it together!

  4. says

    I our area I can often get bulk boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.29/lb from a restaurant supply and I usually go for the leaner/leanest ground beef so any time it’s under $2/lb I buy. In the summer I watch for grilling cuts to go on sale and usually try to keep my meats under $2/lb. We live fairly rurally, and the exception is when we’re having a date-night-in and I’ll spend a little more because I know we would have spent a LOT more had we had date-night-out. :)

  5. says

    I think this kind of clinches the fact that I should probably adjust my low-price point by about 50cents/pound. I don’t usually find the prices I’m shooting for (less than $2/lb) and when I do it’s not necessarily a good cut of meat. :)

    And…if you stop and consider it’s been at least 43 years since that ad was relevant, the prices could be much worse today! 😉

  6. says

    Very helpful post! I agree with Cindy. I’m in DC/NoVa area, and I can get those prices here, too. Even in Wegmans, which is a fabulous grocery store that some people think is more expensive. However, it does mean that I may have to buy the club pack (larger) sizes. I just bring them home, separate them into smaller portions and freeze.

  7. says

    I buy a side of beef every year. I get all of my cuts of beef for $1.29lb. At least that is what I paid this year. It lasts my family all year plus a little more. We gets not only burger but steaks and roasts and even a treat for the dogs. I have been thinking about looking into doing pork and chicken this way also.

  8. Jenny says

    What percentage of fat are you buying? Here in Denver, I find that for lean hamburger, $1.88/lb is the cheapest and that’s only once in a blue moon ($2.99 is typical)- so I have to stock up. We eat a special diet and it’s hard to find good deals on healthy foods.

  9. says

    Your list is a little more detailed than mine! My rule of thumb is $1 per pound for bone-in and $2 per pound for boneless (including sausage and ground meat). I’m south of Boston and can always get meat at those prices! I’ll have to try your guideline for fish!

  10. Amy says

    I live in central IL. We use ground turkey instead of ground beef in our house, and the stock-up price is $1/lb, or if it’s 10/$10, get the 11th item free, it becomes $.90/lb! At Aldi’s, the regular price for a whole chicken is between $.69-.79/lb.

  11. says

    I live in the subs of Chicago and plan on doing my meat shopping today. The store with the best deals on meat is Butera (same company as Piggly Wiggly). I plan on doing my shopping today for meats. These are my prices for the day:

    *boneless skinless chicken breasts $.99lb
    *chicken leg quarters $.59lb (I take these and cut them up so that I can freeze them in the size packages I need).
    *pork steaks $.99lb
    *whole chicken $.89lb
    *whole pork butt $.99lb
    *ground chuck 1.49lb
    I don’t buy a lot of fish or steaks. If I do, I check out the prices before we go. On my last meat run, I averaged $2.30 for each meat portion of my meals. I hope to do just as well this month.

  12. says

    Thank you SOOO much for this post. When I first started really grocery shopping for my family (and became a stay at home mom), I did not look at the price of ANYTHING. I just knew we had to have it, so it went into my cart. After I found your site, I was like HEY!! I Need to start paying attention. But, even up until now, I have been confused about what to pay for meat. I knew that boneless chicken was usually on sale somewhere for $1.99 a pound. So, I wouldn’t pay more than that. But, then I thought $1.99 was a GREAT price for ground chuck, until I saw it on sale in my weekly Kroger circular for $1.49/lb. Now, I know I need to be watching out for the good sales!!

  13. Chau says

    Going by your list, should I run out and stock up on Fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts that Randalls have on sale for $1.88/lb?

  14. says

    I live in PA and I just bought split chicken breast at .88/lb. I had to buy 10 lbs to get that price otherwise it was .99/lb. I bought the 10 lbs and put the breasts in freezer bags. It came to 8 or 9 split chicken breasts. I also load up on Perdue oven roaster chickens when they go on sale at .79/lb. Gotta love the freezer!!

    We don’t eat beef, I substitute with ground turkey. I try to buy 93% fat free, when it is on sale, but I don’t remember the sale price. Recently I bought 85% fat free because it was on sale as b1g1f. The packages are 1.3 lbs and the price of one was $3.99.

  15. Alicia says

    Ug, this is just a reminder about how much more expensive it is for food in Canada.
    I have never ever seen a lower price on fresh boneless/skinnless chicken than 3.88 per lb. I generaly only purchase them when they are on 50% reduction for quick sale.

    • Ashley says

      @Alicia,

      I know what you mean! I’m from Canada as well, and have never seen boneless, skinless chicken for less than $3.44/lb (that was at Loblaws a few weeks ago). Even beef is expensive, you’re lucky to get it for $3.49/lb.

  16. says

    We never see fresh fish at that price unless it is tilapia! For cod, halibut, or wild salmon, I look for $5.99 to 6.99 / lb. That is as good as it gets here. You can get that wild keta salmon in season for as low as $2.49 per lb, but the quality is lower. I use it for salmon burgers.

    As for chicken, we stock up on boneless / skinless at $1.67 per lb. Pork Tenderloin at $2.99 per lb.

  17. says

    I live in California, in the Valley. I follow a low-carb diet so our meat shopping expenses is bigger than others. I don’t use a lot of potatoes/rice/or pasta as fillers for meals because my husband doesn’t like to eat a lot of them, either. We are a family of six and I’ve accounted for the extra mouths/meat need by allowing myself to spend up to $8 a dinner, but there are ALWAYS left overs that my husband can take to work and that saves us $8 on him eating at fast food. It’s a win/win!

    Anyway! :)

    I just recently purchased whole chickens that I cook in the crock pot and give us three meals for 77cents/lb. Boneless, skinless will go on sale about once every two months for 1.67/lb. I stock up! I just recently got sirloin steaks (family size pack) for 1.97/lb and saved us $19 on that one package of meat and it served us for two meals. Ground beef I get when it’s under $2 but I find that only the 80% lean goes that low. I wonder how much of my “poundage” is getting cooked out?

    This week, in my area, Vons has Top Round London Broil on sale for 1.77/lb. I’ve never seen fish in our area advertised for lower than $4.99, though. Our Costco has Tilapia fillets and salmon fillets in bulk that are individually frozen, but I haven’t cost compared them, yet.

  18. Mary W says

    I live in a large city in So Cal. My target sale meat prices are pretty much the same as yours. $2 for boneless pork (cut my own chops from part of the roast), Italian sausage, and 93% hamburger (frozen), . Under $2 for boneless chicken breasts. $1 for split chicken breasts. Under $1 for whole chicken. Bacon w/coupon under $1.50.

    For someone starting out I suggest saving the store adverts for 6-8 weeks which is about my grocery stores cycle for sale meats. Then my looking back you can see what is REALLY the sale price. I find my store, for example, will have boneless chicken breasts “on special” one week for $1.89 and then the following week have it “on special” for $2.99. Then back to regular price for a few weeks. 6 weeks later the cycle starts again.

  19. Leah Adamowicz says

    I’m able to find boneless, skinless family packs of ckn breast for $1.68/lb about every 6 weeks here in the DFW area! My pork prices are the same as yours and I usually can find a beef roast for $.99/lb when I buy the huge packages that I can split into 3-4 meals. I’m trying to buy more free range and hormone free meats, eggs and cheeses and I can usually catch some really good prices after the weekend at Target… they usually have some great specials on meat for Monday and Tuesday only!

  20. says

    My grocery store puts their sell by date meat out around 5:00 p.m. each night, and since the store is on my way home from work, I stop a few times a week to stock my fridge. I’ve gotten 1.5 pound porterhouse steaks for $4! That’s enough for my husband and I to split, and then I take the bone and make steak and vegetable soup – yum!

    My sister lives in a different county, and closer to Chicago, and can never find boneless chicken breasts for less than $3.99 a pound! Sadly she has an aversion to meat on the bone – I suggested bone in breasts because they are so much cheaper (and tastier!) but she can’t do it!

    My store sells whole roasted chickens every other week for .69 a pound. I usually stock up on those by buying the biggest ones 6 – 7 pounds. I’ll make roast chicken one night, pick off the meat and make chicken enchiladas, then use the carcass for melt in your mouth spicy Thai noodle soup (which is in a jalapeno chicken broth) – spicy and delish!

  21. says

    Great post! This is something I explain to my IRL friends all the time! It really is possible to buy meat at reasonable prices if you know what a good price is AND actually look for meat at those prices.

    I live in Northern Nevada. Several times a year 85% fat free hamburger goes on sale for $1.69, bl, sl chicken breasts for $1.69 , $0.99 lb. for bl, pork loin, $1.99 lb. for tri tip, whole chickens for $0.69 lb., and roasts for $1.59. When I have trouble figuring out which cut is the best deal, I use the cost per serving calculator: http://www.cheapcooking.com/costperserving.htm

  22. rachel says

    Hooray! I love this list. I stocked up on boneless skinless chicken last night for $1.49 per pound. I wasn’t sure if that was a good price, but I knew it had been a while since I’d seen it cheaper than that.

  23. Camille says

    Last year I started making a price book for all of the regular things I buy. This has been a great tool in knowing what is a good deal and when I should stock up. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I began by using the weekly store ads and writing the prices in a small binder and calculating the price per lb/oz/whatever. It has saved me a ton of money this past year.

  24. Rose says

    I live in NW Ohio, in Minster, just a bit north of Dayton. We have several IGA stores in the area, my favorite “Wagners” has high quality meats at fantastic sale prices. I buy nearly all my meats there, as the quality often exceeds Krogers. (I buy nearly all my other grocery items at Krogers, though, as well as occasional deals on meats.) Wagner’s web site where you can see there ads weekly is http://www.wagnersiga.com. Once every 2 to 3 months they advertise whole NY strips (will slice to your specs free) at anywhere from $2.89 to $3.29, the higher end of the scale being in the summer months, the lower in the winter. I always buy at least one of these, sliced @ 1″ thick steaks, and freeze individually wrapped so I can thaw the exact quantity I need. I also find their meets to be fairly lean compared to the larger chains.
    This week’s ad contains several great buys:
    Ground Chuck $1.69
    Chicken leg quarters $0.39 (in 10# bag)
    Pork Bnls sirloin chops or roast $1.49
    Bnls/sknls Chicken Breasts $1.19 (one-day only-Oct. 24) They’re usually very plump, too.
    Ground Round $1.69 (one-day only-Oct. 26)
    I often find whole Pork Loins (also will slice free) around $1.39 to $1.59/lb. I usually cut into a couple roasts and some chops.
    Also, bulk ground sausage and casing sausage is usually on sale at $0.89 to $0.99/lb.
    As you can see, I stock my freezer with Wagner’s meats! Not that I never buy meats at Kroger (Sidney, Ohio). I do, but more selectively.

  25. Anastasia says

    WOW! I wish I could get meat for some of the prices you guys get! I live in southern Florida and our food is expensive. We only have Publix and Walmart here as Albertson’s and Winn-Dixie have left. That means less competition for sales.

    I got 73% ground beef for $1.25/pound the other day and would have bought out the store and asked for more if I could! Made great pasta for less than $5/meal for our family of five, with leftovers.

    We get frozen chicken thighs for about $4/4 pound package regularly, so I usually buy those.

    I do have to note that our fish prices are a lot lower than some of the other people who posted, but not always fresh fish. We get a lot of frozen white fish for less than $3/pound. I will splurge on shrimp when it is $5/pound and BOGO. It’s just too good to pass up!

    Thanks for the article. It was interesting to see the price differences in different areas.

  26. Kellie says

    Hello from Raleigh, NC! Thanks so much for the great list of sale prices. I often wondered what the best prices could be on meat, and now I know! Today I stopped in at Food Lion and Lowe’s Foods just to take advantage on their sales on meat. Here is what I got:
    Food Lion – $1.68/lb ground chuck (family pack); $1.89/lb BS chicken breast; $1.99/lb chicken tenders.
    Lowe’s Foods – $.69/lb fresh whole chickens; and 2 packages of ground turkey marked 50% off for quick sale making them $1.25/lb.

  27. says

    This is great information. I’ve always wondered what a good meat price is. Now I’ll have a little cheat sheet in my purse so I can scope it out. Yippee. (I can’t believe I’m excited about meat prices. lol)

  28. Rhonda says

    Last week I hit the jackpot with meat sales. A small family-owned IGA in the next town (central OH) had ground round for $1.57/lb. (the leanest ground beef I’ve ever used!) and boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.57/lb. Additionally, Kroger had pork roasts for .99/lb., and I found 20 lbs. of marked-down ground chuck there for less than $1.60/lb. I bought 30 lbs. of the ground round – store limit (along with the 20 lbs. of ground chuck), 7 pks. of chicken breasts, and 4 pork roasts (for shredded BBQ) and last Friday and Saturday made up 63 freezer meals, along with 13 bags of cook/grilled meat.

  29. Kat W says

    Hello. I just found this site day-before-yesterday in Mary Hunt’s newsletter, and so I’m investigating to see if I can shrink my grocery bill a little bit, or….alot.

    I have a question, but first a preface: back in the day when my oldest kids were small, I used to shop 4-5 different stores, including the commissary on post, and save up coupons and store flyers, and track everything like you say, but then we were stationed somewhere where the commissary was the only practical place to buy groceries, and then we came here from there. My husband is out of the Army now, and we don’t have those commissary priveledges anymore, but I found a store where you bag your own groceries, where I spend about as much as I used to at the commissary.

    Now, since we’re in a larger urban/suburban area, I wonder if I should go back to shopping those 4-5 stores, watching the flyers again, and collecting a bunch of coupons to try and shave some off the grocery bill. I mean, to me, it seems like the time I put in to catch meat at a certain price, plus the coupon cutting time, plus the gas, adds up as well.

    Am I off base? We average about $250/every 2 weeks to feed 6 people, 3 of whom are teens.

    Sorry for the length, and thanks in advance for the insight. So far, I’m finding the site very interesting. :)

    Kat W

    • says

      @Kat W,

      Might be worth switching up your shopping to see if you can save enough money to justify the time/gas costs! I’d say you’re doing pretty well with $125/week for 6 and teenagers! Challenge yourself to lower it a bit each week!

      Erin

      • says

        @Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom, See if your stores price match! Instead of driving to 4 stores, you drive to 1, but take all 4 ads in with you and they’ll match prices– takes longer in the checkout, but not as long as driving all those places. Here Fareway not only matches everybody’s prices (and they look at HyVee’s ads and match automatically, instead of doing it manually at the cash register and only for the people who bring in the ads) but takes their coupons too! HyVee and WalMart price match, but don’t take their competitors store coupons

  30. Tara says

    I like how you broke down these prices. It might be cool to do this for a lot of products (i.e. produce?) . Perhaps a weekly post or something? We could all learn from your knowledge. I have looked everywhere for a guide that basically says…here is a good buy on this…

    Thanks for doing the meat!

  31. Stephanie says

    I just made a special trip to my local grocery store that had split-chicken breasts on sale for $.99/ lb. I can never pass a deal up like that. I do not like bones or skin on my chicken, so tomorrow will be my day to take the bone out of the breasts and skin off. I looked at the price for boneless/skinless chicken breasts, $3.49/ lb, last week it was $4.49/ lb. Could never see myself paying that price, so I take a little extra time (with FREEZING hands) to make my “own” boneless/skinless chicken breasts.

    I also buy a lot of my meats when they are marked down for quick sale. If I would go out to my deep freezer, all my meats would have a 25% off sticker.

  32. says

    I just want to echo everyone else and say “thanks” for compiling this list. It’s just so hard sometimes to know if things are a good deal or not when everything says Special on it. Armed with this list I’m off to Kroger for some really cheap chicken!

    I’m in Raleigh, NC for those scanning by and have always found that Kroger has the best meat deals by far (don’t forget to check the small area set aside for Manager specials!).

  33. Jill says

    I don’t think the cost of living of an area determines their food prices. I think it’s the amount of grocery store competition in your town. We live in Arkansas and do not come anywhere near the prices in your post. We basically have four groups of stores: Walmart owned, IGA type chain, 20-store regional chain and Aldis. We do not have a Kroger – how I wish we did! Even Aldi’s meat prices are high. Because other meat prices are so high, sometimes the local butcher beats them with his sales! The nearest other store is two hours away so we just make do with sales, etc. Our regional area has about 125,000 people so we just need more competition among stores. My mother lives in the Nashville area and can’t believe the food prices here. Anyway, I would be thrilled to see those kind of meat prices here – I’ll keep my eyes open and hope for Kroger to come. Thanks for sharing your prices!

  34. says

    Our prices are the same. Although, sometimes a local store has 88cent specials for porkchops and pork roast. It’s always with a minimum $15 purchase. By price-matching it at Wal-Mart I can always find something to get for $15.

    I don’t know about you guys, but the cincher for me is that I always forget how little meat we are supposed to consume per meal according to the Food Pyramid. Only 5 oz per day! Check it out at http://www.mypyramid.gov

    I think I just buy too much meat in general, especially when it’s on sale.

  35. Alaskaslim says

    I wish we could get meat that cheap here in Alaska. I did find the best deal on chicken thighs for $0.89lbs, and countystyle ribs for $0.99lbs. I have not seen prices like this in years. Most of the time pork loin is on sale for $2.79lbs, and chicken thighs for $1.79lbs
    Thanks for all the information, and I hope to lower my weekly food bill.

    Alaskaslim

  36. says

    Why on earth would you buy “stew meat”? It’s just chuck roast that’s been cut up. You’re paying the extra price for the labor to cut it all when you can easily do that yourself.

    • says

      @Lacey, I agree – check with the butcher at your local store, the butchers at BOTH of my major supermarkets will cut any meat up however I like for FREE…so when beef roasts or london broils go on sale whole, I have them cut it for me if I need stew cubes, same for Whole or Half Pork Loins (usually into roasts and boneless chops!).

  37. THE1CHERY says

    ERIN, I’ve been looking through your archives and I saw a dish called TX Cowboy’s Pie but I cant find where you posted the recipe! Could you send it to me? Thanks in advance.

  38. marisa says

    I stock up on whole chickens when they are $.77 a pound and when chicken thighs and drumsticks are $.99. I wish I could find ground beef that cheap!

  39. jay says

    Is this what you are looking for….
    link:

    http://grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/2008/10/stretching-your-food.html

    Ingredients

    Leftover Beef Roast ($1.75)
    2-4 T Barbecue Sauce ($.05)
    3 Large Potatoes ($.60)
    Milk ($.10)
    Butter ($.20)
    Salt/Pepper
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($.83)
    2-3 Broccoli Heads ($.44) Recently on sale and I blanched and froze them!

    Directions
    1. Boil potatoes, mash with milk and butter until desired creaminess. Add Salt and Pepper.
    2. Shred leftover beef and mix with BBQ sauce.
    3. Spread mashed potatoes in bottom of 8×8 baking dish. Top with saucy meat mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
    4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until cheese begins to golden.
    5. Steam broccoli and serve with TX Cowboy’s Pie! Hubs will be thrilled to eat another “meat and potatoes” meal!

  40. says

    I live in Indiana (in farm country) and the sale prices you listed are usually the same around here. This past week, I’ve found some amazing deals though!
    Chicken thighs- $0.49/lb.
    Pork chops (boneless!)- $0.71/lb.
    Bone-in ham- $0.70/lb
    Cornish game hens- $1.19 for two
    And my *super steal* was the whole turkeys on sale for $0.40/lb.!! I bought one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas and spent less than $15 on both! 😀

  41. says

    I LOVE the 10 pound bags of chicken hindquarters, and I never see anyone mention them! Every 6 weeks or so they go on sale for $3.99!!! that’s less than 40 cents a pound. (And I fondly remember when they used to be $2.99) I take the bag home and repackage them and put them in the freezer.

  42. says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have really struggled with really knowing what is “low price” pay-no-more and this has helped me be more aware. We eat mostly chicken and some red meat for stews, so this is really helpful. I have an iPhone that has Grocery Gadget on it that allows me to keep track of expected prices and that helps me immensely. I’ll add these to my tracking list! Thanks!

  43. karen says

    what about higher cost living areas(East coast, west, etc) will the price be higher? I’ve never seen the prices THAT low on the list you’ve given us. :)

  44. Josh says

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

    I needed a list like this so bad! There are so many things I want to make but had no idea what a “good price” was for the protein. This is a HUGE help!

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