Frugal Living 

Standby Recipes: Buying Last Minute Meats

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If you’ve ever walked through your grocery store’s meat aisle, you’ve probably seen those “Save $2.00” or “Save $1.00) (or more) stickers on packages of meat. Those are typically put on by the butcher for quick sale because the product is nearing or at the Sell By date. Take advantage of those quick sale discounts by stopping by your grocery store on the way home and having a few standard recipes handy.

Our Standby Recipes

Chicken: Our standby chicken recipe, when we don’t feel like grilling it, is either a chicken stir-fry or chicken marsala. Chicken stir-fry is a cinch, simply cut it up, grab some veggies, and stir it all up with some rice or noodles into some yummy goodness. Chicken marsala requires a little more work – lightly bread the chicken and hope you have some marsala wine handy. If it’s summer time, you can always just put on some BBQ sauce and grill that sucker.

Beef: The cut of beef will dictate what you can do with it but we typically buy the more tender cuts that require less cooking time if we plan on eating it that day. If not, a great route is to buy the tougher cuts and make use of a slow cooker (if you have one) the next day. Slow cookers can turn even the toughest meats into a nice tender bite after 5 hours of stewing. Also, shish kabobs are always a fan favorite.

Pork: The first meal my wife ever made for me was a recipe she absolutely loved, it was BBQ pork chops. The BBQ sauce is a homemade recipe and you essentially grill the pork chops with garlic and onions and then slather on the sauce to finish. Very tasty. If the meat on sale are ribs or southern style ribs (they look like ribs but have no bones), put on some BBQ sauce and pop them in the over. Ribs are easy. 🙂

Most people will have standby recipes after a few years of cooking on their own, but if you don’t, check the internet. Our favorite site for recipes is, chances are you can just buy the meat, come home, and figure out what to turn it into afterwards. 🙂

Eww Brown Beef!

One thing that turns people off to buying “old” beef is that it may no longer have that beautiful pink color. If the beef is brown, rather than a bright pink, that’s not necessarily a bad thing and not an indicator of spoilage. It’s the result of a pigment known as myoglobin. On freshly cut beef, it’s deoxymyoglobin (deoxy, no oxygen) and a dark purplish/red color. After a little while of air exposure, it forms oxymyoglobin, which is that typical bright red color. If air isn’t available or if it sits for a few days, it becomes metmyoglobin which is grayish brown. This is why you’ll find ground beef is bright red on the outside and that grayish brown on the inside, that inside part doesn’t get enough air to form oxymyoglobin.

Brown meat is perfectly fine. (Brown meat with spots? not fine.) If you’re concerned, ask the butcher.

Use Immediately

Finally, one word of advice, you’ll want to use that meat either that night or the next. Every day after that and you run the risk of spoilage because that particular cut has been “out in the open” already for quite some time. We always use the meat within a day and have never had a problem.

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2 Responses to “Standby Recipes: Buying Last Minute Meats”

  1. Donna Freedman says:

    When I wrote “Late date carnivore bait” for Smart Spending (link) most of the readers were wildly divided: Either “eeeeewwww!” or “shhh, don’t give our secret away!” Some others were intrigued; they’d never noticed “manager’s special” meat before, or had always thought it was substandard. Wrong.
    A couple of weeks ago I bought a package of chicken leg quarters that still had four days before its sell-by date. When opened, it smelled awful and I returned it. (Another reason to keep your receipt.) Sometimes you get a bad batch of “fresh” meat. Funny, though: I’ve never gotten a bad batch of “old” meat.

  2. TJ says:

    I love these specials and in fact by a lot of them and freeze the ones I don’t use right away, they are still fine when I thaw them later on. Our manager’s specials at my local grocery store are much cheaper than $1 or $2 off, they are usually only around 20% of the regular price.

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