Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Strip District Ritual, a BFF and a Butcher

Coupon blogs are really BIG right now.  I have subscribed to a few and have learned quite a bit about saving money with a food budget.  My friend through the goodness of BFF, Christen, also has her own blog, Journey to Debt Free Living and has taught me quite a bit about couponing and saving.  However, I have some tricks up my sleeve, too.  Christen joined my father-in-law and me as we ventured to world of the Strip District, most notably Wholey's.

My father-in-law is a butcher by trade.  He supported his family by working in different grocery stores before eventually climbing the success ladder to work for one of the big food conglomerates.  With that, at any family function he talks about meat.  In April, our family visited the Strip District to purchase meat and seafood items and I thought it may be a good idea to include some of my saving savvy blogger friends in my ordeals in the heart of all things delicious in Pittsburgh proper.  I invited Christen and she willingly woke up at the crack of dawn to fight the crowds at the Strip.

Here is a plan of attack when you go to the Strip District, especially if you'll be purchasing foodstuffs for consumption at a later date:
1.)  You must arrive no later than 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.  Most of the mentioned stores are open on Sundays, too.
2.)  You must bring a cooler or two-depending upon your budget and your appetite.
3.)  You should bring a few of the grocery chain flyers from several weeks prior to view and compare prices.
4.)  Start at the farthest destination.  I usually start at Penn Mac.  I then work my way to Sunseri (delicious cheeses and specialty breads), Stan's Market (produce), Penzey's (spices), Prestogeorge (coffee/tea), Mancini's Bread and then to Wholey's for some serious shopping.  I try to avoid, sometimes unsuccessfully, Fudgie Wudgie.  There are other sometimes stops on Penn Avenue, too.  However, I usually follow the same pattern with intense focus on deals and delicacies for the family.
5.)  Wholey's has ice bins stationed at the exit--a big bonus to fill up the coolers.

Back to the story...
My father-in-law schooled me about cuts of meat and prices per pound and tenderness, etc. on our trip in April.  With that, I learned that unless you're going to use the back of the chicken to make soup, don't buy whole chickens.  They're a waste of money.  I learned that if you buy a pork loin and cut down the chops you can save over $2.00 a pound on pork.  I learned that it pays to have an awesome butcher in the family BUT you can also buy a larger piece of meat and request that the butcher cut it for you (there may be a charge but it is worth it.  The below picture shows my father-in-law explaining to Christen where the different cuts of meat are located on the cow:

With Ziploc bags in hand, we headed to my in-laws for the meat cutting to commence.  Here is what my receipt detailed:
  • langostinos $8.09
  • pork loin $24.85 (cut into chops, roasts, kebab squares, and city chicken cubes)
  • fillet mignon $32.34 (cut into steaks)
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts $12.97 (cut into butterflied breasts, chicken strips, chicken nuggets, chicken kebabs, etc.)
  • ground beef $6.41

My father-in-law cut the meat.  I bagged the meat for the freezer and started my trusty division.
langostinos @ $8.09 /1 meal
pork loin @$24.85/10
fillet mignon @$32.34/5
chicken @ $12.97/9
ground beef @ $6.41/2
TOTAL:  $84.66/27 meals = $3.13 per meal for a family of four

Many people go to Giant Eagle or their neighborhood market for meat.  I understand it.  It is so convenient.  In fact, I used to do the same thing.  I would tally up my perks and shop, but after buying the meat in the Strip District, I just can't go back.

Did I mention how much I spent at Stan's Produce Market?  I paid thirteen dollars for a seedless watermelon, five yellow bell peppers, three cucumbers, three pounds of apples, a bag of carrots, a bunch of bananas, a head of cauliflower and three pounds of small red potatoes.  $13!!!

For another day:  produce comparison via Stan's Market and the Night Farm Market in Bridgeville.  Until then...happy eating!

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