Think Cost-Per-Serving, Not Price-Per-Pound to Cut Cost, Reduce Waste

Which is the better buy: Pork bone-in tenderloin for $2.97 per pound or boneless pork chops at $3.47 per pound, appearing this week in my local supermarket’s weekly ad? If you answered the roast, you’re in good company (most of us would), and we’d be wrong.

buyer woman looking at cost of meat in supermarket


Price-per-pound can be misleading because not all cuts of meat and poultry yield the same number of servings per pound.

You can feed twice as many people from boneless pork chops as from bone-in pork sirloin roast because the boneless chops have about four servings per pound, compared to two servings per pound for the pork sirloin roast. What you pay for the edible portion is the important factor.

If you want to reduce your food costs and at the same time raise your grocery shopping intelligence, start thinking cost-per-serving rather than price-per-pound.

For example, a whole chicken yields 2 – 2 1/2 servings per pound, while you can count on 3 1/2 to 4 servings from one pound of boneless chicken breasts.


Reader Jacquelyn L. has taken the price-per serving idea further. “I’ve tried clipping coupons religiously and planning meals, but when time runs short these methods fail me.” She says she needed a new method; something that didn’t require organization skills she doesn’t possess. She now uses the dollar-per-person-per-meal method. The goal is to feed her family for under one dollar per person per meal.

A perfect example of Jacquelyn’s principle would be a package of ten chicken leg quarters on sale for $7.00, or 70 cents each. (As I write, my supermarket has chicken quarters on sale for $.99 a pound, not too far off this example). Serve each person one leg/thigh quarter with an inexpensive but filling side dish such as rice, potatoes, or macaroni and cheese. Round out the meal with canned or frozen corn or beans to keep the total cost in the dollar neighborhood.

It’s Give and Take

She goes on, “I don’t deny my family an occasional steak. I simply make sure that I go well below a dollar per person for other meals that week. We don’t want to feel deprived so I make up for indulgences by serving less expensive meals later.”

Make an inexpensive meatless meal such as red beans and rice or potato soup. Or, try stretching your meat of choice. Add breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs to ground beef. Chop up ham to add to beans or soups. Add pieces of chicken to pasta or casseroles. This dramatically reduces the overall cost of the meal so that you can easily feed your family for well under one dollar per person.

Using Jacquelyn’s buck-a-meal method, you don’t have to worry so much about if you’ve found the absolute best price. You only have to ask yourself, “Can I feed each member of my family with say this chicken for about a dollar per person?”

Challenging, Not Impossible

There’s no doubt that in these inflationary times we’re facing, finding buck-a-meal options out there will be challenging. But not impossible! It means finding the store’s loss leaders (items priced below cost just to get you into the store). It means shopping at the low cost grocery store or discount warehouse club. It means weighing and portioning carefully.

This isn’t an exact science. Some meals will be more than a dollar per person, others will be less. The goal is to average a dollar per person per meal. Estimate. And don’t worry too much about the cost of seasonings or other practically negligible ingredients.


If you could use some help figuring out how much meat to buy, cost per serving and servings per pound from all types of meat cuts, the University of Nebraska’s Cooperative Extension has done all the math and created two simple charts you can print to take with you to the supermarket.

Servings-Per-Pound Meat and Poultry

Price-Per-Serving Based on Price-Per-Pound

Free Calculator

Or use this free online calculator based on the information provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension (Buying Meat by the Serving).




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4 replies
  1. Pat says:

    I have been buying pork tenderloin for years, I put it in my freeze for about 40 min. then slice into bone less pork chop and one roast. The trick to getting tender chops is to cut them at a slant, it works. Sometimes they are on sale for $1.98 a lb. that bone less chops for $1.98 a lb.

  2. Naomi W says:

    In your first paragraph, a pork tenderloin is the better deal since it is boneless , like the pork chops. In a later paragraph, you compare the chops to a bone in pork roast. That’s different than a tenderloin, I believe.

  3. cheryl says:

    I was just in my local Kroger’s last night, and noticed that they now have a limit of 5 Per Person of meat purchases that are on sale. I didn’t think to inquire if it is 5 of each item of meat on sale, or if it is just 5 total sale items of meat. I just thought it was odd, but a sign of the times…..they scream there is a shortage of something and then everyone goes nuts trying to hoard it. If you read Mary’s site though, she has been suggesting buying a couple of extras that you can afford each time to build your own little stockpile without depriving others. I remember the article about canned goods that last a long time, and hiding the extras under the bed, also about cutting up the whole chicken, and then making stock outta the bones, so nothing wasted. Thanks again Mary, while everyone else is running around like a chicken w/ their head cut off, we who follow you are a little calmer!!! :0>


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