Money-Saving Hacks To Get The Most Out Of Meat And Seafood

Meat and seafood are staples in many people’s everyday diet, but they can be expensive and difficult to prepare. It’s important to cook them properly in order to get the most out of what you’re paying. Simple things such as knowing how long to thaw and having the right cooking utensils will save people money on their meat and seafood in the long run. Get ready to dig into these easy and inexpensive tips for cooking meat and seafood.

How To Make A Cheaper Cut Of Meat Taste Delicious

pan with butter and beef fillet
Claudio Beduschi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Claudio Beduschi/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Not everyone can afford expensive cuts of meat, but that doesn’t mean the cheaper cuts will taste bad. There are some things you can do to give them better flavor while cooking.

This may sound simple, but adding some butter while cooking the meat in a cast-iron skillet can add a lot of great flavor. All you need to do is brown the butter in the skillet and spoon it on top of the meat when it’s cooked.

Make Sure To Score Meat

A roasted beef sirloin tip on a tray and surrounded by baked potatoes and peppers
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Someone who isn’t familiar with the culinary term “scoring” should know that it simply means to cut slits on the surface of a piece of food. It’s commonly done on raw meat to let steam escape.

Scoring prevents the skin from shrinking and pulling away from the meat. Doing this to both meat and fish is a great way to allow marinades to absorb during the cooking process. It’s important to remember that the slits shouldn’t be more than a quarter of an inch deep.

Tired Of Barbecue? Try A Wok!

meal being cooked using a wok. Cooking using a wok over gas stove, a Chinese meal of chicken and scallions, New York City.
Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While some may think it’s best to cook meat or seafood on the barbeque, there are actually so many different ways to prepare it. One way to give it some added flavor and flair is to get out your wok for a stir fry.

There are endless possibilities for a stir fry with a wide array of vegetables, seasonings, sauces, herbs, noodles, and more. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s also one of the healthier ways to consume meat and seafood.

Add Some Canned Tuna To Your Recipes

a salad with tuna, tomatoes, radishes, and cucumbers
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One item that is relatively cheap at the grocery store is canned tuna. It comes in large packs and single cans don’t usually cost more than $1.50.

Instead of eating the canned tuna on its own, it can be added to dozens of meals. You can try it as a topping for a salad, using it in a sandwich, or stirring it into some pasta. The tuna can jazz up the meal while not breaking the bank.

Finding The Right Cut Of Fish

Raw tilapia fillet over a wooden cutting board in the kitchen
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Some consumers have been buying the wrong cuts of fish at the supermarket. There are certain cuts that usually end up tasting better and those actually go for a cheaper price.

Ashley Brewer from Home Hacks suggests buying the steak-cut and skin-on cuts of salmon, halibut, cod, and other fish because this kind of cut helps retain moisture. “Since they haven’t been as cut or processed, they are often cheaper than other cuts,” said Brewer.

Don’t Throw Out This Part Of The Fish

red curry salmon chowder
Scott Suchman/Getty Images
Scott Suchman/Getty Images

It’s common to chop off certain parts of the fish that wouldn’t necessarily go into a meal. The trimmings, including the head, are actually parts that you should consider saving.

These parts are perfect for making delicious soups and chowders such as the red curry salmon chowder that’s pictured. This means you could potentially get two or more meals from one cut of fish. Also, grocery stores will sometimes sell the trimmings for really cheap prices.

Get To Know Your Local Seafood Seller

worker talking on the phone at a fish market
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

If the seafood options at your grocery store seem a bit overpriced or not that fresh, then there is another way to get it into your kitchen. One thing to do is to get to know a seafood seller in your area.

These people know where the best seafood comes from and can find it for a reasonable price. If you’re not sure who to ask, consider going to a seafood restaurant and talking with the owner to see who sells them their seafood.

Let Meat Rest After It’s Cooked

Grilled spicy beef lyulya kebab on sticks on flat bread with grilled vegetables sweet corn cob, tomato and paprika, tomato sauce on wooden table
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Meat experts should know the golden rule when it comes time to eat. It’s crucial that meat is left out to rest before everyone digs in.

If you eat meat without giving it the proper time to rest, it may turn out tough, chewy, and not have all of its flavor. Each type of meat has a different specified time for how long it should rest. For example, steaks need five minutes per inch and roasts need 10 minutes per pound.

Keep Meat At Room Temperature Before Cooking

Close-up of meat thermometer in cooked turkey
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Not everyone knows all the rules of food preparation, but it’s important to learn a few before cooking with raw meat. Home Hacks suggests letting the meat settle at room temperature before cooking.

This is especially crucial when using grass-fed beef or lean cuts of meat because they have a lower fat content. It’s recommended to let the meat sit out for about a half-hour if it was refrigerated and at least a couple of hours if it was frozen. This will lead to juicier and more evenly-cooked meat.

Ginger Helps Tenderize Meat

cloves of ginger stacked together
Holger Hollemann/picture alliance via Getty Images
Holger Hollemann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Not only is ginger one of the healthiest superfoods, but it a great ingredient to incorporate into your meat dishes. Ginger is loaded with nutritious antioxidants, which can fight chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, lung disease, and heart disease, and it can slow down aging.

It can also help tenderize tough cuts of meat by using its proteolytic enzymes. These break down to make the meat a lot more juicy and tender.

Why You Should Put Mayonnaise On Fish

a mixture of spinach, parmesan, mayonnaise and lemon on haddock fillets
Ben McCanna/Getty Images
Ben McCanna/Getty Images

Knowing how to cook fish is crucial to locking in all of its flavor, moisture, and texture. One simple ingredient that can help with all three is mayonnaise.

Instead of just using mayonnaise straight from the jar, try mixing it with some herbs, spices, vegetables, cheese, and more to get in some extra flavor. The oil from the mayonnaise works to keep all of the moisture in the fish to prevent it from drying out.

Try A Salt Rub On Steak

T-bone and porterhouse steaks sit side by side on a cutting board getting seasoned with salt
Ben McCanna/Getty Images
Ben McCanna/Getty Images

Steak can be one of the toughest pieces of meat to prepare, especially certain cuts such as chuck steak, flat iron steak, or flank steak. These need to be properly tenderized, so they don’t become tough and chewy.

Adding a salt rub before cooking can make most steaks more tender and enhance the flavor. First, coat each side of the steak with a thick layer of coarse salt. Then, let it sit out at room temperature for one hour per inch of thickness. Finally, wash the salt off the meat and get to cooking.

Bring Out The Slow Cooker

an old woman cooking meat in a crock pot
MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Sometimes the only option at the grocery store is to buy the cheaper cuts of meat. While they might not be the best parts to purchase, there are ways to make them taste great.

Slow cookers will come to the rescue with those cheaper cuts of meat. The process of slow cooking will allow the meat to get a lot more flavor and have a texture that almost melts in your mouth. Try adding in some vegetables, spices, or a sauce of your choice to give the meat even more flavor.

Don’t Let Umami Go Unnoticed

mussels in a red curry umami sauce
Edmond So/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Edmond So/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

If you find yourself getting in a slump by cooking the same seafood and meat recipes, there may be a missing ingredient that can make the food worthwhile. Dishes can be taken to another level with umami.

There are five flavors including bitter, sweet, salt, sour, and umami. Umami tastes savory and is best used for meat and protein. There are dozens of spices and sauces labeled as umami, but other foods can make the food have umami flavor, such as blue cheese or mushrooms.

Baking Soda Can Be Used To Cook Meat

a woman using a recipe with baking soda
Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Baking soda can be a perfect ingredient to utilize when you’re preparing meat. It can tenderize it to give it a perfect texture everyone will enjoy.

According to Tasting Table, baking soda alkalizes the meat’s surface, which makes it harder for proteins to bond. This causes the meat to stay tender while it’s cooking. Start by rubbing the meat with baking soda. Then, let it rest for about three to five hours in the refrigerator. Before cooking, rinse off the baking soda.

Get More Out Of Your Meat By Dry Aging

man looks at meat in the dry aging room
Mark Gail/Getty Images
Mark Gail/Getty Images

Serious Eats says, “Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being tripped and cut into steaks.” Dry aging can make meat develop a ton of flavor, but also keep it tender and fresh.

The enzymes from the meat will break down the muscle tissues, which gives it a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Some may think that this can only be done in special dry-aging rooms, but it can also be done at home. Making the meat last for weeks or months on end can save you a lot of money.

Do You Know How To Sous Vide Your Meat?

sous vide raw meat in a sealed plastic wrap with tongs
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Something that many high-end restaurants do to get the most out of their meat is using the sous vide cooking method. The French term translates to “under vacuum” because the meat is cooked in a water bath inside a tight plastic seal.

This allows you to cook the meat at a precise temperature, lets the meat cook with all of its juices to stay moist and tender, and the meat won’t lose its volume. Sous vide also takes a long time, so it’s great for those who want to get other things done while cooking.

Canned Fish May Be The Way To Go

A fork is stuck in a tin of herring fillets
Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have enough money for some fresh fish, there are other inexpensive options. Many types of fish are available in cans or jars for a cheaper price.

Salmon, herring, tuna, and more can usually be found in these forms at the grocery store with prices that won’t take you over budget. These can be delicious on their own, but are also great as additions to other meals such as salads and sandwiches.

How To Prepare Frozen Seafood

Lobsters, crab legs, oyster shooters, and a variety of seafood for sale at a shop
Stephen Ehlers/Getty Images
Stephen Ehlers/Getty Images

There’s an art to making sure seafood is cooked properly. If it’s not, it can come out tasting funky or with a peculiar texture.

It’s important to let frozen seafood thaw for at least 30 minutes before it’s cooked. Cook Smarts recommends letting it thaw for 24 hours, but not everyone has the time to do that. Taking the frozen seafood and putting it directly on the heat can cause it to dry out and cook too quickly.

Want A Fun Way To Get Dinner? Go Fishing

Free Fishing Weekend
Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Carl D. Walsh/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Those who want to skip a trip to the grocery store may want to go a different route to get their fish. Instead, it might be a fun idea to try and catch your own.

First, make sure you find an area of water where it’s legal and you can spend your day fishing for the best ones. It might even give you a feeling of great accomplishment knowing that you caught your own food.