A few weeks ago I braved the rain with the three younger kids to go to Save Mart. I rarely shop at any grocery store except WinCo, but that day, it was worth the trip. They had asparagus on sale for $0.99/lb. and ground beef for $1.97/lb. We love asparagus, but I rarely find it below my $1/lb. limit for produce. So when I find it at such a great price, I buy it, and I buy a lot of it! See last week's post about freezing asparagus here.
So I had the boys help me pick out my six pounds of asparagus, then we headed over to the meat department. I grabbed a chub of ground beef and was about to put it in my cart when some clearance stickers caught my eye. There was a whole section of fresh ground beef with $2 off stickers! I was ecstatic! Instead of buying ground beef for $1.97/lb., I was able to buy ground chuck for quite a bit less!
A lot of stores will use %-off stickers to mark down their meat. Even with the markdowns, I rarely find meat within my $2/lb. spending limit. The fact that Save Mart uses $2 off is way better for us consumers if we’re savvy about it. Keep in mind that the most savings will be found on the smallest packages. If a package of meat starts at $3 and is $2 off, that’s a savings of 66%! If a package starts at $5 and is $2 off, that’s only a savings of 40%. My rough mental estimate is that I ended up paying about $1.60/lb. for ground chuck! (Just remember to use or freeze your clearance meat right away.)
Last week I pulled a pound out of the freezer and turned it into sloppy joe’s. The recipe I use came from a church cookbook my mother-in-law gave me when we first got married. It is really simple, really quick, and really tasty! The best part? It costs me well under $3 per batch!
Just out of curiosity, it went to Lucky to see how much canned sloppy Joe sauce and seasoning packets cost. Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce cost $2.29 for a 15.5 oz. can. This is enough sauce for one pound of ground beef. The generic brand, Valu Time, was much more reasonable at $1.59 and was on sale for $1.39. Assuming a great deal on the meat, this isn’t much more than what it cost me, but their directions don’t call for onions.
I then went to the seasoning packet aisle. All three packets I found called for 1 pound of ground beef and a 6-oz. can of tomato paste. McCormick’s 1.31 oz. packet was $1.39 and Lawry’s 1.5 oz. packet was $1.79. Sunny Select was much more reasonable at $0.48 for a 1.31 oz. packet, definitely the most cost-effective. But I’m not a seasoning packet type of cook, especially when I can easily make the sauce with ingredients I already have on hand.
An added bonus to this recipe is that you can make it in large batches and freeze it! If you are planning on freezing it for a long time, zip-top freezer bags work better than plastic containers. You want to avoid air contact with the meat.
1 lb. ground beef
½ large onion, chopped
¾ c. ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt