Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meat is expensive...

   After my last post, a few people commented on how hard it can be to keep a budget and be picky about the meat that you cook and eat, including my friend, Geoff, who took the time to comment on the last blog entry.  And this is true.  However, there are ways around this, it just takes a little planning. 
    For the most part, I run our family menu around a Sunday (or Monday if it is a holiday) meal.  This means that when I look at the budget for the entire week, often that big meal takes a big chunk out of the "meat portion" of the budget.  A big chicken, or lean pork loin roast, or flank steak can give you meat for at least two meals (and sometimes three, depending on the size of piece and the number of people you are feeding).  I usually plan for it to be for two meals.  So, on sale ('cause I only buy what is on sale) at the butcher this week are pork loin roasts :$3.90/lb for local pork loin from right here on the Island.   A larger roast can feed us for two meals for certain (and usually at least one lunch).  The first meal would be a regular roast with sides and a salad.  The next meal to plan for would be a stir fry meal, where you can happily stretch a much smaller portion of meat, even between 6 people, when you add lots of veggies and some brown rice or udon noodles.  Now a large roast means about $16.00 (so about 4lbs). 

A little bit of Math to get us through the day:
    First, how many people do you feed? (me = 6)...cost of food per week (taken from Montreal diet dispensary "Eating well on a small budget") $290.00.  I try and keep meat costs (for suppers) to $3.00 a person/per day, so $12.00 a day, which takes us to $84.00 a week.  Now, take into account that fish for one meal will likely cost more $20.00, but a meal without meat (so beans or lentils or eggs), will cost less, about $5.00 (the cost of a dozen eggs + a few extras)...Other meat or poultry bought on sale (or in larger quantities: the MDD estimates the cost of ground beef at a little bit over $8.00/kilogram, but if I wait until the butcher has it for $2.69 a pound, or $5.90/kg, and then buy a few packages to keep in the freezer...and I am buying local beef...If we get ours directly from Mr. McCallum, we will pay about $8.00/kg for the ground beef).  Local poultry however, is quite a bit more expensive, but I am not paying for the extra saline solution the grocery store product comes with (and therefore my chicken legs are a little bit smaller than they might be). 

   As with everything, a little bit of planning goes a long way.  And by budgeting for meat and fish on a weekly basis, it allows you to enjoy the more expensive treats once in a while (like mussels one night, or a nice roast beef) without blowing your grocery finances for the entire month.  Plus lowering your meat costs on a daily basis, means that you are eating more of the healthier foods (like vegetables and fruits and whole grains).

As the month goes on, please share your tips for keeping the grocery budget intact or even cutting from it here and there. 

Happy Packing!


What does a serving a meat look like?
from Healthy Living - Eating Well  
This chart is from the website of Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the details are from the Canada food guide.  What is important to remember is that normal activity only requires one serving of meat & alternatives each day.  Often what happens with children is they eat less than they need, while adults eat more than they need.  Small amounts of protein are found in whole grains and dairy products, but not enough to consider them as servings of protein.

Cost estimates and approximate amounts to feed people of a variety of ages taken from Montreal Diet Dispensary Eating well on a small budget, PDF September 2011

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