Fortune favors the cheap

Kinda been having a hankering for meatloaf this week. Thing is, have you seen the prices on ground beef these days? Outrageous. But, I figured I’d hit the remaindered meat bin at my local Albertsons. And, to my surprise, there was this:
20170430_192730Now, let’s do some math. Those are 3# rolls of ground beef. They are on sale at $5.99 per ‘log’. Let’s not split hairs and call it $2/#. They are marked down to 30% off since they need to get it our before it hits expiration. Hmm… lets see how many there are…1..2…3…..10. So thats 10 x 3# @ $2/#, or, another way, it’s 30# of ground beef for $60. That’s a pretty good deal. But….I bet they’d like to get rif of all of it. I wander to the guy in the butchers apron cleaning the meat case.

“Howdy. Is the meat department manager around?”
“No, he goes home at 4pm. Can I help you?”
“Can you point me at someone who has the authority to change prices?”
“I can do it if it’s on something that we already have marked down and today is the expiration date.”


Achievement unlocked…..

“Excellent. Let’s talk money. If you’ll mark these down to 50% off, I’ll take all of them.”
“All of them?”
“All of them.”
“I can call the manager at home.”
“Awesome. I’ll wait.”

And thats how you get this:
20170430_193104And to put that in perspective, thats 30# of ground beef at $0.998/#. That’s right, less than a buck a pound for dead cow flesh.

How does this relate to preparedness? Well, for starters, my deep freeze now has another 30# of meat in it at dang near Carter-era prices. With ground beef hanging in there around $3.99/# that frees up $90 to go towards other foodstuffs.  These sorts of deals are out there, man. You just gotta look and you can’t be embarassed to ask the manager (or whomever has the authority) if they’re willing to make a deal if you take a big enough amount.

It’s a rare thing for me to feel pride in anything I do, but I am a wee bit satisfied with myself on this one.

17 thoughts on “Fortune favors the cheap

  1. Why is it a rare thing for you to feel pride in anything you do? I think you have your act together, and I’ve known you quite awhile now.

    Hell yes, when you find something cheap you use, buy in quantity. Buy it ALL if you can afford it and store it.

    Doesn’t bother me any to haggle. If it did, I wouldn’t have gotten half the things I have from flea markets and thrift stores!

    • guys only here about one part of my life. The rest of it…well…it could use some work.

      • Don’t we all. One of these days I’ll get killed in a road rage incident, and the world will spin on like I’d never been here. But I’ve learned to accept it…

  2. Very nicely done!

    Question: at 73% lean, that’s relatively fatty ground beef. Do you intend to make any special use out of the fat that you cook off when you prepare a meal with that beef, or does it just go into the garbage? I realize the answer to that probably depends entirely on whether we’re talking about normal conditions, or a TEOTWAKI scenario.

      • 80/20 is the ideal burger lean/fat ratio.

        %85 or more tends to be less flavorful and burns a bit easily.
        The %93 and better I can often find on the cheap but its no good for burgers. It is, however, suitable for pasta sauce.

        The 73/27 has good flavor but that plate sized burger shrinks down to saucer sized after cooking. With the %80, its a lot closer to WYSIWYG.

        • Im rather OCD about the urger/bun ratio. I usually take the ground beef and roll it out with a rolling pin to a uniform thickness. Then I use a small bowl of appropriate diameter as a cookie cutter to cut out ideally sized patties. Once they shrink own during cooking, they are still large enough to meet or slightly overlap the edges of the bun…just the way I like.

          Yeah, I got a deal on the 93% a few weeks back and I was very unimpressed with the flavor. Might be good for meatloaf, though. 85/15 or 83/17 is the usual ratio I find at thats sort of an ‘all purpose’ grind, I think.

        • Regarding that fat content: That is determined during the mixing process. The fat comes in 55 gal drums. (Well, it did when I was making hamburger patties for a food distributor back around ’71.) The meat arrived in 40 lb frozen boxes. I sliced that block up with a bandsaw, and then shoved the broken chunks into the grinder which filled the big mixing tub. (After seeing what went into ground beef, I didn’t eat hamburgers for a while.) After weighing out the correct amount of fat chunks, they got fed through the grinder, and then the beater bar got to work to mix it thoroughly.

          TL;DR: Consider asking the butcher/counter guy if he has any fat he wants to sell or give away. You can then adjust your fat content for better burgers.

  3. Really good deal, the worst that could have happened is that the answer is ‘no’. You have meat fixings for quite a while, enough to maybe some small scale experiments with recipes that require no refrigeration (i.e pemmican and others).

  4. Nice going. Finally an American with the balls to haggle at the grocery store.

  5. Commander Zero is a pro at this, but the rest of can learn to be as well. Expiration dates (of any kind, and there are lots, only a few are actually printed on packages) are terrific price leverage, but so is quantity – the two together are unbeatable – and the worst outcome is buying it at the already known price. If you ask for a discount the most they can do is say “no” and you’re still no worse off than before you asked.

  6. Our local soon-to-expire-meat cooler has a sign above it “Don’t even ask about a discount”.

  7. I’ve been buying 80/20 for some years now – I love it. There is NEVER any left over fat. 🙂

    I also only buy it on sale, and I buy as much as I can afford. I have a burger shaper/smasher thing made by NorPro. I weigh out 1/4 lb balls, smash them, wrap them in plastic wrap & put the wrapped burgers in zip lock bags. They stay good in the deep freeze for up to a year – I wouldn’t want to try much beyond that. Haven’t gotten a vacuum sealer yet, which would help them last longer. The 1/4 pound size is handy for recipes & the patties thaw quickly. Tho I usually just fry them up – I’m not too picky about my food.

    • When you put your wrapped burgers into the ziplock bag, dunk the bag in a bowl of water (keeping the open end dry, of course) to get the air out. It’s almost as good as a vacuum sealer.

      • Thanks – I’ll try that! I’ve tried using a straw to suck the air out but it didn’t work very well.

  8. I always check the ‘discounted’ shelves at the supermarket.

    Just yesterday I got 40 pounds of tortilla flour mix for $4. I bought some other stuff from the shelf too, and my receipt said $18 spent, $49 saved. (about half the savings were from store discounts, half from clearance pricing.)

    I find that a lot of ’boutique’ or unusual high end brands don’t sell well at my local store, so the clearance rack ends up with a bunch of very discounted high end stuff. It’s worth picking up and stocking to avoid appetite fatigue, or to try new things.

    I look at the clearance end caps at Home Depot and Lowes every time I walk thru the store too.


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