Today, since I'm still sick, I sent Josh to run an errand for me. His mission: to purchase enough meat to fill our freezer and feed our family for the next eight months. I pleased to say, he accomplished the job and I spent an hour repacking chicken breasts, ground beef, roasts and sausage.
Now, why on earth would anyone want to purchase enough meat to feed their family for that length of time? Well, because it saves money (and with Barack Obama as President, who knows if I'll be able to afford groceries two months from now...). Actually, it saves a LOT of money! I was able to purchase all of the following for $152--and some odd cents:
30 lbs ground chuck
30 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
20 lbs of chuck roast
10 lbs of hand ground sausage
That's 90 pounds of meat people! Not only that, but it's GREAT meat...it's from a little market where my in-laws live, and it's delivered straight from the Amish, who produce wonderful food without any crap added to it...and I don't have to worry about recalls from meat packing plants!
If you divide this up, I spent, on average, 59 cents PER POUND for meat...59 CENTS people! That is huge! The last time I purchased ground beef from this store was in September of last year....and we just used the last pack a week ago!
I very much encourage people if they're able to, and find a great meat sale, stock up..I won't have to add meat into my budget for another eight months! There are also some other great ways to reduce your grocery budget when it comes to meat:
1. In casseroles and soups, use less meat than is required in the recipe...a casserole that lists 1 lb ground beef can actually taste just as great and feed just as many people with 3/4 of a pound.
2. Use meat extenders--For spaghetti, I usually use 1/2 pound of ground beef and a can of black beans (even better if you buy them dry and use them). My family actually likes it better this way...and I get more fiber and nutrients into them! (Oh, and did I mention it's cheaper!?) (Or you could just make spaghetti with pasta and sauce...but we're not a big fan of that!) Or grind beans up and mix with meat for hamburgers!
3. Use every bit of the meat you do buy and plan to do so! Leftover chicken breasts? Chop it up and put it in a pot pie for the next night's dinner or make chicken salad for sandwiches for lunch the next day. I very much encourage keeping a tupperware container in the freezer and putting bits of leftover meat and vegetables in it and making a soup when it's filled (wonderful idea from the Tightwad Gazette!). Reuse, waste less, spend less, and eat healthier!
4. Look at meat for other options as well. I've seen tons of sales lately for chicken quarters sold in ten pound bags at .49 cents per pound or .59 cents per pound. Not only can you boil that and get off every scrap of meat and use it for a variety of things: fagitas, casseroles, chicken salad, etc, etc, etc; but you can use the skin and bones as well. From just two or three of the chicken quarters you can create a HUGE pot of stock--and that will well cover the cost of the actual chicken! Here's an easy recipe:
Bones from 2-3 pre-cooked chicken quarters, as much meat as possible removed and the bones broken (explained below)
fat, skin from the chicken
celery (you can even just use the leaves if you prefer to eat the rest of your celery!)
a little bit of salt
Water to fill your large pot.
Put this on low-med and let it simmer all day. At the end of the day, let cool, strain and put in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove any fat that has come to the top. Put in tupperware containers or plastic bags and freeze. Use in any recipe calling for chicken stock or broth.
**The reason you want to break the bones is so that the marrow comes out and flavors the stock**
Hopefully this has given you some great ideas to save on meat too!