Clever Ways to Counteract Rising Beef Prices This Summer

By Lee Bellinger / January 3, 2014
  • Hidden food inflation can significantly cut into your cash flow going forward – here are some great ways to stop that from happening.
  • Band together with friends to save money, here’s how.

Even as official inflation rates remain tame, alarming price spikes are showing up in a few areas. Among them is beef prices.

“Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country’s beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs,” NPR reported. “Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds — some even liquidated all their cattle — which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.

“And dry conditions this summer could cause the herd to dwindle even further. That means beef prices may continue on a steady climb…”

Buying Food in Bulk Is Smart if You Do it Right

One way to counteract rising prices is by buying beef in bulk and storing it in the freezer. If you have extra space in your home, consider purchasing a small utility freezer for under $200. The new models are very energy efficient and can be placed in a garage or spare room. This will allow you to purchase meats and other items that can be frozen when they are on sale, leading to significant savings over the long run.

Remember, when you buy meats at Sam’s Club or similar discount chains, you pay less for packaging. In all conventional supermarkets, the trend has been toward steadily reducing portions and increasing the percentage of “packaging.” Buying freezable turkey burgers, roasts, chicken breasts, and pork/beef/ chicken “loafs” at warehouse discount stores is a big money-saver.

You Can Band Together with Neighbors to Get Food Cheaper

You (perhaps along with like-minded neighbors or friends) can also make arrangements to buy beef in quantity at your local restaurant supply store. Check your local stores for information on their respective policies on membership and access to discounted meats.

You may even be able to cut out the commercial middleman by buying your meat or produce directly from a local farmer or slaughterhouse. Large commercial slaughter houses may not sell direct to the public, but smaller family owned meat plants often have retail stores with the freshest cuts of meat you’ll ever find. To get started, find a farm supply store (such as Agway or Tractor Supply) and ask for references to area farmers and butchers. Farmers markets, farm bureaus, and state fairs are also great places to link up with local meat producers.

Cutting Down and “Clucking” Up

Another way to counteract rising prices is to reduce portion sizes, which is probably a healthy thing anyway. Instead of serving individual 12 oz. strip steaks to each member of your family (or to every dinner guest you are entertaining), serve smaller steak portions along with larger sides and fresh summer salads. You can also serve steak along with less expensive meats such as chicken or pork and not deprive anyone of the protein-packed meat they crave!

You can buy frozen chicken breasts in bulk for a very low price compared to steaks. Some grocery chains give huge discounts on quantities of ten pounds or more. Plain, unseasoned, unbreaded chicken breasts represent the best value. They also tend to taste fresher out of the freezer and are healthier without the added salty seasonings.

Chicken is great for barbequing, so fire up the grill like always this summer. Just lighten up a little on beef – you’ll save some moolah and might even lose some weight.

  • Hidden food inflation can significantly cut into your cash flow going forward – here are some great ways to stop that from happening.

  • Band together with friends to save money, here’s how.