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Make your beef stretch as prices rise

The price of beef is rising, thanks to this summer's weather, and especially the Texas drought.

"Early Show" contributor Katie Lee reported the United States Department of Agriculture says beef prices will rise an average of eight percent by next spring -- double the rate of food prices overall.

Customers at Long Island's Bayville Meat Center told Lee they are feeling the pinch -- just like families across the country.

Bob Schwalb said, "Eggs and milk going up. Whatever you say about food, all the prices are up."

So how can you cut your grocery beef bill down to size without giving up your favorite dishes?

Lee visited an old friend - butcher Eddie Vassallo - for advice on how to make your money go the furthest with your beef and still eat delicious meals.

Vassallo's family has been in the meat business for three generations, going all the way back to his grandfather in Italy, and he knows as well as anybody how to stretch a penny for families on a tight budget.

Lee said, "The rump roast, that's what I usually make my pot roast out of."

Vassallo said, "This is it, yes."

Lee asked how much it costs.

Vassallo replied, "This right now is $3.99 a pound."

Lee said, "$3.99 a pound. That's good."

Meat prices may hit an all-time high in coming months. Ground chuck is already up 18 percent and is forecast to reach 32 percent in coming months, but with smart shopping, there are still ways to save.

In this tough economy, Lee said, it's about making changes and adapting. Less expensive cuts are becoming more popular.

With a little creativity and a dash of Parmesan, a $4.99 a pound pot roast can be turned into a delicious dinner.

Lee added on "The Early Show," "It's about making adaptations and changes in your diet and eating less meat and buying less expensive cuts. If you get to know your butcher, he will point you in the right direction. Eddie showed me great options yesterday. You can go with ground sirloin for making your meat loaf here. That is usually about $4.99 but ground chuck it's going to be about $3.99 a pound. Only a dollar savings but that adds up over a year."

She added, "If you like to grill. Instead of throwing a New York strip or a porterhouse on the grill, New York strip would be about $25 a pound. You can do this rib eye, which is $12.99 a pound, and a more affordable cut. Another way to save money is slice it up and people will eat less of it."

When you're talking pot roast, Lee said, "A prime rib roast would be $17.99 a pound. And this top round is about $3.39 a pound, so you're looking at savings of about $14.60 a pound. And when you cook this a nice long time, it falls off the bone. Serve it with something like noodles, which is delicious and that kind of stretches your meat a little bit more."