The following is a weekly feature brought to us by Sumiko from Near to Nothing. I’ve asked her to share tips and tricks (and recipes!) that show us ways to replace the items we’d typically buy canned or frozen from scratch at home for less! You’ll find a new From Our Pantry post each Monday.
A few weeks ago I braved the rain with three kids ages three and under to go to Save Mart. I rarely shop at any grocery store except WinCo, but that day, it was worth the trip. They had asparagus on sale for $0.99/lb. and ground beef for $1.97/lb. We love asparagus, but I rarely find it below my $1/lb. limit for produce. So when I find it at such a great price, I buy it, and I buy a lot of it! (NOTE: Save Mart again has asparagus for $0.99/lb. through 2/21!)
So I had the boys help me pick out my six pounds of asparagus, then we headed over to the meat department. I grabbed a chub of ground beef and was about to put it in my cart when some clearance stickers caught my eye. There was a whole section of fresh ground beef with $2 off stickers! I was ecstatic! Instead of buying ground beef for $1.97/lb., I was able to buy ground chuck for quite a bit less!
A lot of stores will use % off stickers to mark down their meat. Even with the markdowns, I rarely find meat within my $2/lb. spending limit. The fact that Save Mart uses $2 off is way better for us consumers if we’re savvy about it. Keep in mind that the most savings will be found on the smallest packages. If a package of meat starts at $3 and is $2 off, that’s a savings of 66%! If a package starts at $5 and is $2 off, that’s only a savings of 40%. My rough mental estimate is that I ended up paying about $1.60/lb. for ground chuck! (Just remember to use or freeze your clearance meat right away.)
Last week I pulled a pound out of the freezer and turned it into sloppy joe’s. The recipe I use came from a church cookbook my mother-in-law gave me when we first got married. It is really simple, really quick, and really tasty! The best part? It costs me well under $3 per batch!
Just out of curiosity, it went to Lucky to see how much canned sloppy Joe sauce and seasoning packets cost. Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce cost $2.29 for a 15.5 oz. can. This is enough sauce for one pound of ground beef. The generic brand, Valu Time, was much more reasonable at $1.59 and was on sale for $1.39. Assuming a great deal on the meat, this isn’t much more than what it cost me, but their directions don’t call for onions.
I then went to the seasoning packet aisle. All three packets I found called for 1 pound of ground beef and a 6-oz. can of tomato paste. McCormick’s 1.31 oz. packet was $1.39 and Lawry’s 1.5 oz. packet was $1.79. Sunny Select was much more reasonable at $0.48 for a 1.31 oz. packet, definitely the most cost-effective. But I’m not a seasoning packet type of cook, especially when I can easily make the sauce with ingredients I already have on hand.
An added bonus to this recipe is that you can make it in large batches and freeze it! If you are planning on freezing it for a long time, zip-top freezer bags work better than plastic containers. You want to avoid air contact with the meat.
1 lb. ground beef