Friday, May 14, 2010

Meat Frugality

Quality meat can get expensive.  Organic, grass-fed, local meat is the most delicious meat you will ever taste yet it can be a bit hard on your pocketbook.  In my opinion, buying quality meat is worth the extra effort to make your money and your meat stretch into several meals.  Being creative with leftovers can save several dollars because buying in bulk is the way to go.  "Bulk" at the Farmer's Market usually means a larger chicken, one big block of ground beef, or a large roast.  By purchasing larger cuts of meat, you will not only be saving money but saving time making dinner as well.
At our local Farmer's Market, it is cheaper to buy one 5 pound block of ground beef than to buy it packaged in single one pound blocks.  After purchasing the 5 pound block, I defrost the meat in the fridge for a few days then cook it all at once.  I cook a few pounds of simple ground beef with garlic, onion powder and a bit of chili powder.  With the other pounds, I mix in other spices and sauces for hamburgers and/or meatballs and freeze it all for later use.  This makes it much easier to make dinner as all I have to do is toss in some meat into soups or throw in a few meatballs into the spaghetti sauce.  Five pounds of beef usually lasts us a bit over a month.
Once in a while, I buy a whole free-range chicken.  When it is defrosted, I roast it in the oven for dinner on the first night.  I then refrigerate the leftovers and in the next night or two I make chicken soup (usually chicken tortilla soup).  If there is any chicken left, which there usually is, I freeze the leftovers for another soup night.  Usually leftover chicken is only tasty in soups in order to retain some moisture to the meat.  I even save the bones, put them in a big pot on the stove for 12- 24 hours and make chicken broth.  So many meals for one chicken!
When I buy a roast at the market (the last roast was buffalo and it was very good), I can usually get three meals out of it as well.  The first meal is roast with vegetables in the crock pot, the second meal is leftover meat in quesadillas and the third meal guessed it!...soup.  I save the broth from the crock pot to make the broth for the soup and it is so delicious and flavorful.  There are many other meal options for leftovers and one may get quite creative.  Casseroles, quiches, and pizzas are just a few extra ideas for leftover meat.  The more you stretch your meat into several meals, the more money you will save.
Now if only our Farmer's Market offered fish!

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