29 August 2013

A Quarterly Meat Shop

You asked for it! You want to know how I shop and how often and what I buy and the prices I pay so seeing as I've just done a quarterly meat shop I'll make that the starting point.

I married a "feed the man meat" man. He comes from farming background and if there's no meat on his plate it's not a meal. He's not fussed about the type of meat, but there must be meat. The boys have followed in their father's taste buds and love their meat too.  Hannah and I can take it or leave, which is a good thing for my grocery budget.

I'm not inclined to not buy meat just to save money. Wayne likes it and if I can get a decent cut at a decent price I am happy to buy, cook and serve it. By the same token I also very often prepare meatless meals to help keep the grocery bill down.

We have always had a freezer. Wayne's parents gave us one for a wedding present. When it died we bought a second hand (third or fourth probably) chest freezer for $50 and used it until it died three years ago. I spent a frantic week shopping around for prices and eventually we bought a brand new chest freezer for $300 (including delivery and taking away the old one).

For my family budget a freezer is essential because it's not only meat I buy in bulk, but that's for another post on groceries.

Time, money and convenience are the factors that keep me shopping for meat once every three months. I used to buy a side of beef, a whole lamb and 60kg of chicken once a year but when the prices of lamb and beef sky rocketed the saving disappeared and so did my once-a-year meat stock-up.

Two years ago I switched to buying once every 12 weeks and frankly I love it and unless beef and lamb drop drastically I'll be sticking with this plan.

My top price per kilo for meat is $8.99/kg.

Steak (rump, oyster blade, bbq, porterhouse, scotch fillet) - $8.99
Roast beef - $6.99
Corned beef - $5.99
Lamb (sides, leg of, chops) - $6.99
Mince - $3.99
Sausage mince - $2.00
Sausages - $.329
Chicken fillets (skin on) - $5.99
Chicken wings -$1.99
Chicken pieces - $2.99
Whole chicken - $3.99

My regular visit to the butcher was scheduled for next Monday (I go on the first Monday of the quarter) but as things have come up, I went today.

Today I bought:
4 x legs of lamb ($5.99/kg - 9.47kg)
6 x whole chickens (No. 18/$5.99 each - approx. 11kg)
3 x pieces of roasting beef ($7.99/kg - 5.32kg)
11kg beef mince ($3.79/kg)
3kg casserole beef ($14 - bulk buy special price)
12kg chicken fillets, skin on ($5.99/kg) 
2 lamb shanks ($5.99 - my splurge)

Grand total:  $270.00 or an average of $23 a week for meat for my family.

There wasn't any steak for under $9.99/kg so no steak this time. And the sausages were OK but we're not huge sausage fans, the trays were almost 3kg and I had some in the freezer so I passed on them. Chicken wings were too expensive, as were the chicken pieces. And corned beef was $6.99kg - it's cheaper at Coles this week at $5.99/kg so I passed on the silverside too.

Every three months I work on buying enough meat for 60 family meals (the others are soup/toasted sandwiches/eggs on toast etc.).

From today's shop, and with the few parcels left in the freezer, there are 65 parcels of meat, in family meal size portions, in the freezer.  I am two meals ahead (I've done the shopping 3 meals early if that makes sense).

You can eat meat, and good meat at that, without going broke. It takes a little planning and you need to be prepared to substitute when prices are high, but it is worth it.

For a family of five carnivores a meat bill of $23 a week is fine with me.


  1. I usually consider myself a smart shopper but i was gobsmacked at how cheap your meat prices were (example $8.99 per kilo for steak) Where are you shopping to get your meat prices so cheap? Is it at local butchers? And do you find youself spending a lot of time doing to different places to find the best deal? After reading your post I think I need to get more serious about shopping around, especially for meat as it's a product that's quite expensive by the kilo!
    Am only new to reading your blog, so look forward to reading some more interesting posts.
    Jackie xo

  2. Jackie yesterday's meat shop came from Tasman Meats in Mt Waverley. The average price was $7/kg for that shop, a little higher than normal because I bought more chicken than I usually would.

    I am not loyal to any particular butcher, I shop where the prices are cheapest within a reasonable (no more than 15 minute drive) distance from home. Three other butchers I use regularly, depending on their prices on shopping day are Knox Wholesale Butcher, Universal Poultry (they do all meats)in Rowville and Discount Meat Outlet in Scoresby.

    I very rarely ever buy meat from a supermarket - prices far too high for budget. It has to be an exceptional price and I need to have money in the slush fund for a supermarket purchase.

  3. Hi Cath, Thank you - this information is so helpful especially with the forever rising cost of food. My very old smal upright freezer is on it's last legs and I want to replace it with a chest model. Do you have any suggestions about size? There is quite a range to choose from (I've been looking for a while!) and I don't want to make a mistake. Any advice would be most welcome.

    1. Theresa I went for the biggest we could afford, 300 litres. I will say it is a generic, I wasn't prepared to pay almost triple the price for a branded freezer. It came with a 12 month warranty, the same as the branded freezers. There are five of us and I buy everything in bulk, grow and freeze most of our vegetables and store a lot of the dry goods we use in the freezer. I ended up with a commercial freezer, complete with lock, and there have been times I've had treats stashed in there and been tempted to lock it - we have fridge and freezer fairies in our house.

  4. Hi Cath, Thank you so much for this information. I had never considered buying a commercial freezer. Unless the price is competitive, like you, I am not concerned about the product being a branded one. Armed with your feedback I will start my search again. Once I have purchased a new freezer, I'm looking forward to changing over to bulk buying. How exciting!
    Many thanks,

  5. Thanks so much for your reply Cath. Shame I'm not in Melbourne (I'm a Sydney-sider) or I'd be checking those butchers out for sure. I got inspired on the weekend and had a look around at prices in some of the buthers around my area, but they only worked out to be anywhere between $1 - $5 cheaper per kilo than the supermarkets so nothing near the prices you have listed in your post. I am super jealous! hehe. I think I might just need to keep my eyes are ears open :)
    Jackie xo

  6. Wow Cath, that is a very good price for meat. We are snookered here in the country (South Australia), with only two butchers in town. They definitely wont be able to match those prices! I am going to take a copy of your list and compare the prices, should be very interesting :)


    1. Tania do the butchers in town do their own slaughtering? Are you able to buy a beast and have it slaughtered and butchered? We used to do this before we moved back to Melbourne, and it was about a third the price of buying even bulk meat from the butcher in town. Alternatively do they do sides of beef as bulk buys - the last side I bought cost $5.99/kg cut and packed, not a bad average for mince, steaks, roasts, stewing meat etc.

  7. Hi Cath, I see these prices are still from 2013. Any chance you could update them to today's prices? i.e. 2016? Winny in Sydney.

    1. The prices are pretty much the same Winny. At the moment I'm buying chicken fillets for $4.99/kg, chicken wings for $1.29/kg. I've noticed mince and roast beef have gone up, I don't buy them anymore. Sausages are $2.99/kg locally. Lamb has gone up, the cheapest I've been able to buy it the last six months is $6.99/kg, it's usually on sale for $7.99/kg. You need to be prepared to shop around and to compare prices to get the best buys.


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