I was never much of a cook before kids. My husband and I ate out quite a bit, and the meals we did eat at home were pretty limited and often from a box. Quite frankly, my meal of choice was cereal.
But when I became a mother for the first time, I realized that I could not raise a family on cereal and instead, I needed to manage our grocery expenses and cook beyond a box.
At the same time I discovered Ina Garten roasting a chicken on the Food Network. She took what seemed to me like an advanced cooking technique and made it seem so easy.
So when I stumbled onto a grocery case full of Perdue oven roaster chickens that had been marked down to $2, I took the plunge. If I screwed it up and the chicken turned out inedible, I wasn’t wasting a lot of money.
I bought 5 of those chickens and for the first time in my life I roasted a chicken and it turned out to be delicious! I was hooked on cooking and I was sold on buying marked down meat.
What You Need to Know about Marked Down Meat:
The meat is typically marked down because it is near the use by date or the store has too much of a product and it needs to be cleared out, as was probably the case with the Perdue chickens.
Many stores mark down their meat 40%to 75% off about 1 – 2 days before the use or freeze by date. Think of it as the clearance section of the meat department. According to the USDA,
“a “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates.”
Over the years, I’ve found all types of meat marked down, such as organic chicken, ground meat, and sausage. To be honest, most of the meat that I buy is marked down.
How to Find Marked Down Meat:
Learn how your favorite stores mark down their meat and if they do so at a certain point in the day. Talk to the meat department manager to find out how and when they mark down their meat. There was a time when my local stores marked down the meat first thing in the morning, but that has changed and I find marked down meat at all times of the day. But it is first come, first serve.
I do the majority of my food shopping at Giant of PA or Weis Markets and even if meat is not on my grocery list, I always walk through the meat department to look for marked down bargains. Giant uses yellow stickers for their markdowns which makes them easy to spot in a distance. Weis Markets has large white % off or $ off stickers on their marked down meats.
What to do with marked down meat when you get home.
You have 3 options:
- Prepare and eat immediately.
- If you’re not going to use immediately, store in your freezer and when you’re ready to use, thaw the meat in your refrigerator. Cook as you normally would.
- Cook the meat immediately and store in your freezer until you need it.
What I got for $17.20:
On this particular day, I scored on meat that we regularly eat.
- 5 packages of breakfast sausage marked down to about $1 a pack. The regular price was $2.99/lb.
- 4 packages of name brand chicken thighs and drumsticks that totaled about 11 pounds. The package listed: no antibiotics, cage free, no hormones or steriods, and fed all veg diet. The regular price was $2.49 a pound. The packs were on sale for $1.98 a pound, but each pack had coupons that brought the price down to about a $1 a pound.
What I did with 16 lbs of meat:
I browned the 5 pounds of breakfast sausage and put in a freezer bag. Now it’s ready for those busy hectic mornings. We just need to reheat in the microwave.
I immediately stuck the chicken in the freezer and am not searching Pinterest for some new slow cooker recipes.
Use your judgement.
If the marked down meat doesn’t look fresh, then pass it by and you might even want to alert the store. But typically the marked down meat I find looks just like the package next to it that has a use by date that is further out.
I have never experienced a problem with marked down meat, and I save 40%-75% off most of the meat that I buy!
What about you? Do you buy marked down meat? Let us know in the comments.