That's why we asked Mary Ann Moylan -- a registered dietitian and nutritionist from Giant Foodstores -- for ideas on making the most of our meat dollars.
The first step -- she says -- is to always shop the sales.
"We need to look at our weekly circulars all the time to see what kinds of meat are on sale, " she says. She says to use that information as the basis for menu planning for the week.
She also suggests buying enough of each kind of meat for two meals. Leftovers from one night's roast chicken can be mixed with veggies for another night's fajitas. Plus, large packages tend to cost less, especially when it comes to ground beef. One night's meatloaf, she says, can become meatballs to go with pasta or in meatball sandwiches another night.
Mary Ann says buying leaner, cheaper cuts, like leg or shoulder of beef or pork can save a lot of money. She suggests using them for stew or marinating them to increase their tenderness.
And she also suggests using meat substitutes a few nights each week. Meals made with rice and beans, peanut butter, canned tuna, cheese or eggs can also be high in protein, but cost a lot less.
She suggests trying typical breakfast items, like omelettes or pancakes and sausage for dinner.
Here are some recipes from Mary Ann Moylan to help you make the most of your meat dollar.
Here's a recipe you can use if you buy a large top round steak.The first night, use it as a steak or roast. The second night, make Italian Beef Kabobs.1 lb. top round steak, trimmed
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T. cold water
2 t. minced fresh garlic
1 T. dried Italian herb seasonings
1/4 t.crushed red pepper
1/2 t. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small sweet (Vidalia) onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
3/4 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
1. Cut beef into 1/2-inch cubes
2. Mix oil, vinegar, water, garlic, herbs and seasonings together in a food-safe plastic bag or an 11 x 9-inch glass dish. Add beef, coating all surfaces with liquid.
3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 - 20 hours. (Marinating longer will make the meat mushy). Turn the beef several times.
4. Thread the beef and vegetables on five 15-inch metal or bamboo skewers. Brush each kabob with marinade and then throw out the left-over marinade.
5. Grill the kabobs over direct medium heat, about 4 inches from heat source. Grill for 7-8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes.
6. Cook until beef reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees and vegetables are tender.
Beef and Beer Stew
3 lbs. boneless chuck roast
1-1/2 t. each salt and pepper
2-1/2 t. dried thyme, divided
3 T. canola oil, divided
1 lb. onions (4 c. coarsely chopped)
1 T. minced fresh garlic
1/3 c. flour
1 (10.5 oz.) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 c. dark beer
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. each salt and pepper
2 c. fresh, peeled baby carrots
1. Pat beef dry with clena paper towels. Cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes. Mix salt, pepper and 1-1/2 t. thyme together and sprinkle on beef.
2. Working in batches, heat 1 T. oil in a non-stick large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add enough beef, in a single layer, to cover the pan surface. Brown beef on all sides. Transfer cooked beef to a bowl. Repeat twice using remaining oil and beef.
3. Add onions to hot pan and scrap pan to loosen browned bits. Stir-fry until onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook only until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat onions. Continue to cook flour about one minute.
5. Slowly add broth and beer, stirring constantly to blend liquid with flour.
6. Add bay leaves, remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Return beef and juices to pan.
7. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer, covered about 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in carrots. Continue to gently simmer in covered pan until beef and carrots are tender, about 45-60 minutes.
8. Skim fat off the surface. Remove bay leaves.
9. If desired, remove beef and simmer liquid, uncovered, until it is reduced and thickened. Return beef to pan and heat thoroughly.
10. Serve atop hot-cooked egg noodles.
Roast Beef Quesadillas
2 t. canola oil
1 c. chopped onions
1 large fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 c. diced cooked/leftover medium-rare roast beef with juices
1/2 c. thick or chunky salsa
1/4 t. salt
Vegetable cooking spray
4 (10-inch) soft flour tortillas or wraps
1 c. shredded Mexican cheeses blend
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
Extra salsa, if desired
1. Over medium heat, in a medium-size skillet, heat oil until hot. Add onions and jalapeno. Saute until onions are tender. Stir in beef and stir-fry until beef is warm. Stir in salsa and salt and heat briefly. Remove from heat.
2. For each quesadilla: Over medium heat, lightly spray an 11-inch to 12-inch skillet with cooking spray, place one tortilla in skillet and heat for 20 seconds. Turn over and sprinkle warm side with 1/4 cup cheese. Place 2/3 cup of beef mixture and 1 heaping tablespoon cilantro evenly on one-half of tortilla.
3. When cheese melts and all ingredients are hot, fold tortilla in half, pressing the edges together. Remove from skillet an dcut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve warm with additional salsa, if desired.