I hear you on this one. First thing to remember, meat is very pricey right now. I still serve it, but I always shop for discounts. I don't know if you're familiar with Aldis. They are a small grocer focused on quality food at a low price. I shop their discounts when the dates on meat are getting close. Sometimes, I can get trout for two for $4 total.
I love the cooler weather. I feel it is easier to save money. Casseroles. Chilis. You can stretch small amounts of meat in these types of dishes. (Hint - use a 1/4 # less ground meat and add 1/8 or 1/4 cup of quick oats instead to spaghetti or chili - not too much or it will absorb all the liquid. The oats hide in the sauce and you still get the meat taste. Save the 1/4 # of meat in the freeze as a future hamburger patty)
Sometimes, I eat a smaller portion of meat to give my hubby a large piece too.
Stir fry can use less meat. Shop in-season veggies to add to the volume.
I think it depends on where you live. For example, I'm in NYC and there's an app I can use here and in a few other cities called TooGoodToGo. They basically let you buy food that restaurants will throw away anyway, so you can pick 'em up for cheap (like $5 for a meal or 2).
There might be hacks like that in your area where it's win-win for both you (buying food for cheap) and the restaurant (so instead of throwing away food, they can at least capture nonzero value for selling it cheap)?
I always purchase meats with many meals in mind. Always buy meats on sale. Whole chickens are great to roast on Sunday. You have meals throughout the week. Lunches and leftovers, make chicken soup or chicken salad. Freeze what you do not use for a later recipe. Ground beef can be stretched even further. Meatloaf, chili spaghetti sauce, homemade hamburger helper. Just remember when you are shopping "How many meals can I get out of this?" is a great way to stretch your food budget.
Invest in a bench freezer, shop around, they don't cost that much. In the Fall you can still get good prices on things like corn, apples, pears. etc. Buy extra to store up for Winter months. Also, the holidays are coming. Things like turkey and ham will be on sale. (before and after the holiday) An extra ham or turkey can be used later on. If your not going to roast the turkey, try par boiling it, then break it down to put on the grill. Par boiling it will make it juicier, as well. Also, meat usually has its lowest prices late in the Fall. Farmers don't want to keep livestock over the Winter. Don't forget to check your local butcher for freezer orders.
When I was single, I use to like to take my leftovers from the week, toss them in the crock pot and make soup. Don't underestimate your crock pot. Cheaper meats become tender. Dry beans become soup. Tons of recipes on the internet, Most companies have web sites (Pillsbury, McCormick, El Paso, to name a few.) My wife is disabled. She contacts manufacturers about their products. Most send her coupons. That can really add up.
Another way might be getting hubby in on the meal plans, have him do the research for new recipes that are cost effective. Make him a contributor and he'll see new path and how to stretch the budget in a family friendly way. Bet he can cook too!
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