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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated
to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
When it comes to good comfort meals, there are few things better than foods made with ground beef. there are so many delicious treats that start with ground beef, burgers, meatloaf, tacos…
Not to mention those favorites like sausage and ground turkey. If you and your family enjoy ground meats and use them frequently in your meals, you’ve likely noticed that you’ve been spending more for what used to be a fairly inexpensive meat option.
Like most other cuts of meat, ground meats are getting more and more expensive. And if you are looking for ways to cut down your grocery bill, and don’t really want to eliminate meat from your diet, grinding your own meat may be an alternative.
1. Is it Really Cheaper?
When it comes to answering this question, the best answer we can give, is that grinding your own meat can be cheaper. But not necessarily. Here’s what we mean…
Most ground beef or ground meat that you buy at the store is made from lower quality cuts of meat that you might not want to eat otherwise. They’re not bad, they just aren’t the most tender, or the most flavorful, so they are perfect for ground meat. That is how your meat counter or grocery store can make so much ground meat for a fairly reasonable price.
2. Meat Grinders for Every Kitchen
It is important when you are considering grinding your own meat at home, to think about the cost of a meat grinder. This will play into the equation of whether it is cheaper to grind your own meat, or buy pre-ground. There are a few options out there for you to consider.
This is the old fashioned way to grind your meat. It’s also the most work intensive. On the flipside it’s also the least expensive meat grinder option on the market. Most manual meat grinders will set you back less than $30. They are also free of mechanical parts, and all of the work comes from your arms, so they are more reliable and longer lasting than some of the other options.
These are countertop, small size appliances. In our research electric, counter-top meat grinders range in price from around $50 to more than $500. That’s a big investment, for fresh ground meat. To be fair, the more expensive options are larger, and can handle more meat at one time. But if you’re only grinding meat for your family, a smaller, less expensive option will work just fine. Do keep in mind that electric appliances have moving parts and electronics that can wear out, so they may not be as long lasting as a manual grinder.
Some stand mixers have meat grinder attachments that can be purchased separately. These are a nice combination of manual grinder and electric grinder. They use the motor for the stand mixer to operate the grinder. They are simpler than electric grinders, but don’t require the physical effort necessary with the manual option. Depending on the stand mixer you own, these attachments will run you anywhere from $30 to around $100.
If you are considering grinding your own meat at home as a way of saving money, do consider one of the lower price electric options or the manual grinder for the biggest bang for your buck.
Also, keep in mind that if you don’t want to invest in a meat grinder you can make your own ground meat by hand chopping or processing meat in your food processor.
3. What Kind of Meat Do I Use?
We’ll speak in this section specifically around ground beef, because that is what most people think of when they consider grinding their own meat at home. Do keep in mind however, that you can also grind your own pork, chicken, turkey or game meats.
The key to success with any ground beef is a good balance of lean meat and fat. In general consider meat that is 20% to 30% fat. This is a good mix for cooking burgers to medium temperature. If you want a more well-done burger but don’t want it to be dry, you’ll want more fat (around 40%). If you like your burgers on the rare side less fat is necessary.
4. Other Benefits to Grinding Meat at Home
Grinding your own meat at home has other benefits besides saving you money. First, you know how fresh your ground meat is. When you buy ground meat from the grocery, you just don’t know how long it sat before it was ground.
Second, you know where your meat has been. If you want to know who’s touched your food, how clean the grinding environment is, and how the meat was handled, this is a huge added benefit.
Third, you get exactly what you want, without the complication. Sure, you can ask your butcher to make a mix specific for you, but this allows you to pick and choose and experiment to find the mix that is perfect for your family.
So, is it cheaper to grind your own meat? For some families it most certainly may be a great option for saving pennies. However, the added benefits of fresh foods and knowing where your food is coming from is another great reason to consider grinding your own meats.