Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat and proteins completely. It just means you need to be smarter about the types of meat you eat. Also, try buying meats that you can braise like pork butt. The cheaper price does happen to coincide with a larger time investment to make the meats tender but we will talk about ways to get around this issue when the time is a crunch.
One trick to making the money last is to buy a whole chicken. Buying bone in thighs can be less expensive but the whole chicken offers many more possibilities. The meat can be roast and served as a meal on its own or cut apart and used for several different meals. And the bones can be kept and cooked down to make a delicious broth that can be used in many other things.
Lamb Shoulder Chops are a great rich flavor that can be relatively cheap. The trick is to pick the shoulder and not the prime cuts. These pieces are often larger than the rib and lamb chop and the chewy texture can be tenderized quickly.
A great, cheap alternative to hamburger meat is ground chuck. Ground chuck has less fat and still tastes amazing and tends to have a lower price tag than the sirloin, bison, and other beef cuts. It comes from the primal cut, shoulder mainly with just enough fat to give a great flavor but not enough to be used in those $15 dollar burgers.
Chuck roast, which is a preferred meat for pot roast and beef stew recipes, also comes from the shoulder. These muscles contain long fibers and have a tendency to become tough if not cooked correctly. Long, low-temperature cooking in juices tenderizes the cut and gives it a great beefy flavor without the cost of a typical pork roast.
Flank steak is from a cow’s stomach and has long tough fibers. It’s far more flavorful than some of the more expensive cuts and is a great meat for marinating. The trick with the flank steak is thin slices across the grain and quick sears making sure not to overcook the steaks to keep it from being tough and drying out.
Try to find recipes that use these cuts, or that you can substitute with a cheaper meat to make your money stretch further.