Most articles and blogs on eating more frugally emphasize the financial and health benefits of cutting back on meat and filling up instead on alternatives like beans or tofu — or suggest using meat as a flavoring, rather than as a main dish. If, like me, you live with a committed carnivore, this type of advice becomes hard to follow/swallow — your meat-lover or Atkins-follower will just ignore your healthful alternative and raid the fridge for piles of cold cuts or hot dogs.
In the interests of family harmony and frugality, here are some tips I’ve picked up over my years of living with a carnivore.
Look for coupons
Yes, there are fewer coupons for meat products out there (and they’re generally on the higher-priced items!), but they can sometimes be found. Johnsonville, for instance, recently ran a rebate promotion where you could earn a $5 gift card when you made a $10 Johnsonville purchase. At the same time, they had a printable local coupon for $5/3 Johnsonville items — and my local store had it on sale for $3/package. I bought 4 packages, which worked out to: Sale price, $12.00. After coupon, $7.00. And, I’ll get a $5.00 gift card back in the mail, which means I should be able to pick up another couple of packages for free when they go on sale around $2.50 at the start of grilling season. Even if he eats a couple of these at a time, each pack of 5 gives dh a couple of meals (or a couple of meals where he supplements our more frugal plant-based dinner with sausage!) — that’s 8 meals of meat for $7.00 (plus more free later). Look for store coupons — Dominicks in my area (Safeway in others) has printable coupons on its site, and these often include store printables for chicken, salmon, and their “Ranchers reserve” beef.
Look for clearance or manager’s specials
You got that freezer, right? Get a sense for when your store puts soon-to-expire meats on clearance. (Monday morning is a great time around here!) These often have a same-day expiration, so will be clearanced at around 50% — the store needs to get rid of that product! Bring it home and either use it that day, or freeze it right away. Package hamburger up into patties and family packs into smaller portions before you freeze it, so it will be easier to use later.
Play the glycemic index game
If you have a loved one on Atkins, you’re probably familiar with the good doctor’s list of “approved” vegetables — those with a lower glycemic index. Basically, here, sweet veggies (carrots, squash) = bad, dark green veggies (broccoli, spinach) = good. Pack your carnivore’s plate — if he’ll let you — with broccoli and heaps of salad.
Do I wish sometimes my husband would give up Atkins? Sure, it would make life simpler sometimes. But, the diet seems to work for him, keeping him happy, full, and thin, so who am I to argue? (And yes, he’s had his cholesterol checked!) With a little planning, you can find ways to make any diet work for you and fit into a frugal shopping lifestyle.
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