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Grocery Shoppers Say These 5 Items Are Cheaper Than Meat Right Now

Get these for a few bucks compared to more than $10.

Meat prices at the grocery store are sky-high right now, and they may not go down for a while. Of course, there are several ways to make the total on your grocery bill lower, such as buying frozen items instead of fresh ones or shopping for exactly what you need online instead of wandering the aisles of a physical store.

Some shoppers like Reddit user @Spacerockdust have decided to cut out higher-priced meats in favor of cheaper alternatives. When they asked other social media users to recommend "meat options that won't break the bank," hundreds offered advice on ways to save. 

Grocery shoppers say these five foods are cheaper than meat right now, and you can use them as substitutes in a variety of dishes. While nothing beats the real thing, these items are good alternatives if you're looking to save.

Related: Shoppers Are Noticing These Shortages at Grocery Stores


rolled cut oats being measured

Oats aren't just for breakfast anymore—several Redditors suggested adding them to dishes like meatloaf to help a small amount of meat go a long way. This is actually the method farmers used to use for a meal that has now become famous, according to user @keepitorig.

A 42-ounce canister of oats typically costs about $2.50, or a little less than $10 for 10 pounds at Costco.

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Black, kidney, navy, pinto, and other types of beans are hearty like meatand they also have tons of fiber and protein. Mash them up, Reddit grocery store shoppers say, to use in chili, tacos, and other recipes that require meat.

Here are some of our favorite recipes for dishes that use beans instead of meat:

Shoppers can find canned or dried beans in cans for about $1, but the latter requires extra prep work in the kitchen.


Sliced block of firm tofu

Tofu has long been known as a vegetarian staple, but it's a pretty cheap swap for beef right now. It can be crumbled and cooked to imitate ground beef in chili, tacos, stir-fries, and more, shoppers on Reddit say.

A block can be found at most grocery stores for about $2, which is quite lower than the expensive meat prices that are ringing up at above $10. That means you can make Healthy Instant Pot Tofu Tikka Masala and other recipes for cheap.

Related: What Eating Red Meat Every Day Does to Your Body


Composition with bowl of lentils on wooden table.

Like beans, lentils can easily mimic the texture of meat without compromising the flavors and taste of the meal, and Reddit users in the thread note that they're also cost-effective. One bag of dried lentils is about $1 or $2 at the grocery store.

Here are some more recipes that use lentils, either combined with meat or without: Plant-Based Lentil and Kale Tots Casserole, An Easy Roast Salmon With Lentils Recipe, and 31+ Healthy Recipes To Make With The Dried Lentils In Your Pantry.

Canned Fish

canned sardines in tomato sauce

Small canned fish are a cheap meat alternative, Reddit user @anotherffxivplayer says, noting that this includes oily fish like herring and mackerel in addition to sardines.

If none of these items spark a craving, others suggest different ways to enjoy meat without paying high prices.

Take simple steps to stretch out your meat beyond one meal.

Meat thermometer
Courtesy of Shutterstock

All of the cheaper meat alternatives above don't have to fully replace expensive meat, but you can take simple steps to stretch out your beef or steak beyond one meal, Redditors say.

It's also helpful to check sales often.

grocery store meat aisle

If any meat will do the trick during times like these, shoppers on Reddit suggest sticking to buying what's on sale. This means you'll have to eat it right away or freeze it, but that you won't have to cut out meat entirely.

For more on what's happening at the supermarket in your neighborhood, check out:

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda