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How to Turn Cheap Cuts of Meat Into Delicious Dinners

Three images of recipes provided in this article from blogs: Wholesome Yum/ Cooking Classy/ Spend with Pennies
Wholesome Yum/ Cooking Classy/ Spend with Pennies

Nothing quite beats the sweet smell of saving a few bucks on a hot and hearty meal. With prices of literally everything rising day by day, you’ll love learning how to turn cheap cuts of meat into delicious dinners.

From tasty one-pot stews to oh-so-tender roasted chicken dinners, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to transform inexpensive, tough cuts of meat into crowd-pleasing entrees everyone will love.

Whole Chicken

A spatchcocked chicken
Natasha’s Kitchen

A whole raw chicken is one of the cheapest forms of meat you can purchase today and is the way to go, considering how much meat you get for the price you pay. The reason they are cheaper than other cuts is that you are not paying anyone to butcher the meat.

The thing about roast chicken (or turkey) is that you’ll need to cook it correctly for it to turn heads and satisfy tastebuds. When you roast a whole chicken, the breasts typically sit on top while the thighs and darker meat cook from under the bird.

Because the breasts receive direct heat (while the darker meat does not), the breasts always reach a safe internal temperature before the thighs. If you wait for those thighs to cook up, you’ll be left with dry, unpalatable chicken that gravy won’t fix.

Nordic Ware Baker's Half Sheet

Durable with secure raised edges, perfect for a chicken roast.

The absolute best way to roast a chicken is by spatchcocking it first. This means removing the backbone and laying the whole chicken flat to ensure all parts cook evenly. Be sure to watch Natasha’s video for preparing your spatchcocked chicken. While this mild butchering may be a little intimidating, we strongly recommend you give it a try; it’s worth every succulent bite.

Chicken Drumsticks

Crispy chicken drumsticks.
Healthy Recipe Blogs

A general rule for buying chicken is that the less it is fabricated or broken down, the cheaper it will be to purchase. While chicken drummies aren’t, per se, the most inexpensive cuts of poultry, they are still remarkably less expensive than chicken breast.

We all know how delicious crispy chicken skin is, and when cooked right, drummies can boast some of the most flavorful and succulent meat. While deep-fried chicken tastes fantastic, it’s less than healthy. If you want something just as delicious but on the lighter side, this recipe by Healthy Recipes Blog gives you the satisfaction of a delightful guilt-free chicken dinner.

Beef Chuck Roast

A large plate of homemade beef stew.
Cooking Classy

We’re going to let you in on a secret. You can get away with making a delicious pot roast or beef stew with just about any cut of beef you see on sale at the grocery store. As long as you keep that meat in the slow cooker all day long, you will end up with gorgeously tender beef.

Sure there are superior cuts for this classic stew, but the glorious crock pot does wonders for softening the tissue and tenderizing the meat over low and slow temps. Because every state’s prices differ, beef chuck might not be your absolute best choice.

Browse the meat section, check sales, and look for something with decent marbling and a friendly price tag. The broth’s flavor and the appliance’s magical power will take care of the rest.

Chicken Thighs

A large braiser cast iron pan filled with chicken cacciatore
Well Plated By Erin

Chicken thighs might be a bit pricier than they once were, but you’ll find them more affordable than other cuts of meat right now. If you decide to grab a pack for the family, then be sure to give chicken cacciatore a try.

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole, 3.6-Quart

Perfect for one-pot meals like chicken cacciatore!

This classic hunter-style meal is full of flavor thanks to the juicy dark meat swimming in the white wine-infused tomato sauce. The recipe calls for boneless and skinless thighs, but you’ll get a better bang for your buck if you go with bone-in. Just keep in mind bone-in will need additional time to cook through to a safe internal temperature.

Ground Beef

A large pot of chili.
The Wholesome Dish

Nothing beats the ease of throwing everything into one large pot and letting your stove top do the rest. Chili is one of these recipes that comes together in a flash but tastes like it has been simmering all day long.

Mueller 16QT Stainless Steel Pt and Lid

Stainless steel is perfect because the tomatoes won't react the metal.

Grab whatever ground beef you find suits your budget, and get to cooking. While ingredients like avocado, diced onion, and tortilla strips all taste amazing over a big bowl, all you need is a dollop of sour cream or some cheddar to meet your tastebud’s needs.

Shaved Steak

Two picture of a philly cheesesteak
Simply Scratch

If you’re looking for a simple, no-fuss dinner that tastes delicious and costs just a few bucks, you’re looking at it! Steak and cheese sandwiches with all the fixings hit the spot, especially when served with french fries. Plus, shaved steak (also called pub steak) is usually super cheap.

Lea & Perrins The Original Worcestershire Sauce

A few dashes goes a long way in the flavor category.

This recipe is super adjustable depending on what you already have at home. You can save money by grilling regular sliced bread with a pad of butter instead of purchasing hoagie rolls. Use mushrooms instead of peppers or onions, and throw in some cheez whiz if that’s what your fridge is packing. Either way, this meal will please the crowd any day of the week.

Chicken Leg Quarters

chicken leg quarters
Wholesome Yum

Chicken leg quarters are usually inexpensive to purchase because the chicken is far less fabricated than other portions of the bird. You get the thigh, drumstick, and a portion of the chicken’s back with a leg quarter.

McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning

A popular go-to for all cuts of poultry!

With very little prep work, your scorching hot oven will deliver a chicken dinner that is juicy and tender on the inside and oh-so-crispy on the outside. You’ll love serving this with Brussels sprouts and baked potatoes.

Italian Sausage

Sausage and pepper in a skillet.
Spend with Pennies

It’s no secret that Italian sausage (be it sweet or spicy) is both delicious and cheap. Best part? You can do so much with it. Crumble it up and toss it in a red sauce or stuffed peppers. Otherwise, it tastes lovely in stuffing and gives any dip a hearty touch.

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet

The skillet everyone should have in their kitchen.

Sausage and peppers is another simple and inexpensive dinner that comes together quickly. You can either enjoy the feast and keep it low carb or throw it on a hoagie roll with some melty cheese—your call.


For the most part, meat is super expensive right now. But dinner doesn’t have to be. As long as you have the right cuts of meat and quality recipes, you’ll have a meal everyone will love.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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