Shop Smart for Meat, Poultry, Fish and Dried Beans

Foods like meat, poultry, and fish can be expensive. You can cut the costs of these foods by using smaller amounts and by trying types of meat that cost less.

You can save money when you use small amounts of meat, poultry or fish and combine them with foods that cost less like potatoes, rice, macaroni and vegetables. There are many cuts and types of meat, poultry, and fish that will give you the most cooked servings for the money you spend. You can save money when you buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself instead of buying chicken parts. Fresh chicken or chicken parts will cost less than fresh or frozen roasted, breaded or fried chicken pieces. Instead of buying stew meat that is cut at the store, try buying a round steak or roast and cut it into cubes yourself. Some cuts of meat may seem like the lowest price per pound but may not be the best value. For example, a high-priced meat may have little or no waste. A low-priced cut may have a large bone, gristle or fat that counts as part of the weight but it will be wasted.

Get all the flavor and food value from a piece of meat by using leftover meats. You can mix less expensive grains and vegetables to make casseroles, soups, stews, salads, and stir-fried meals. Plan to have chicken, turkey or beef left over from one meal to make sandwiches for the next.

To cut down on fat in this food group, you can trim the fat off certain cuts of meat or remove the skin from poultry before you cook it. When you buy canned tuna, look for tuna packed in water, instead of oil. Dried beans like lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and black beans cost less than animal products. They can be used in place of meat in soups, stews or casseroles. Compared to animal products, legumes like these are lower in fat and have more fiber, too.

Adapted from: "Your Money's Worth in Foods," Human Nutrition Information Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Home and Garden Bulletin 183, September 1994.

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