Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Save Money on Meat

I said in the beginning that this blog wouldn’t be just about survival in the traditional sense – it’s really more about day-to-day economic survival. Nowhere is that hitting Americans harder than in the grocery aisles – except for at the gas pump. I told you how you could save a little money on buying gas in an earlier post. Here, I’m going to tell you how to save money on groceries - in this case, meat, which is probably the bulk of your grocery spending, unless you’re vegetarian.
How to Save Money on Beef
When you’re craving a nice grilled steak, you might just go into sticker shock when you see the price tags on T-bones, Porterhouses, rib eyes, and New York strip steaks. Forget about it! Instead of buying those pricey cuts, buy chuck-eye steaks. They’re a heck of a lot cheaper, and when you tenderize them correctly, they’re great on the grill! Try wrapping them in bacon after tenderizing. For tips on tenderizing meats, click.
If you’re planning on splurging and buying filets for a special occasion, don’t. Filets rarely go on sale, and even when they do, they’re cost prohibitive for most people. Wait for Porterhouse to go on sale, instead. One side of a Porterhouse is tenderloin, and the other side is a strip steak. Cut the meat from the bone, and you’ll get two steaks from each Porterhouse.
A lot of folks concerned about fat and cholesterol pay extra for extra-lean ground beef. They also think they’re getting a bargain in the long run because less is cooked off in the form of fat. True, but extra-lean ground beef has a higher water content than fatty ground beef. Buy the cheap ground beef, crumble and fry it, then place it in a colander. Place the meat under running hot water and rinse it to remove most of the fat. If you want to be really frugal, place a pan under the colander as it drains and save the beef broth. Freeze it in bags for the next time you make soup.
How to Save Money on Chicken
When it comes to survival food, chicken is chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are usually about $4 a pound in our neck of the woods, while leg quarters comprised of drumsticks and thighs can be found for 69 cents – sometimes cheaper – when they go on sale. You do the math.
The cheapest leg quarters are usually sold in large bags. Buy a big bag and separate it into meal-size portions and freeze. If you prefer, cook all the meat in a large pot and remove it from the bones. Cool the meat and divide it into meal-size portions and freeze. Use it for casseroles, chicken salad, soups, chicken and dumplings, chicken and rice, chicken and dressing, etc. Don’t throw out all that fat and broth, either! Freeze it for future use.
How to Save Money on Pork
Center-cut pork chops are delicious, but they’re expensive. Use pork steaks, instead. Save even more money on pork by purchasing shoulder roasts or fresh hams and slice your own pork steaks for frying, grilling, baking, and stir-fry recipes.
When you’re craving cured ham, buy a picnic (shoulder) ham instead. These are usually significantly cheaper, and they taste much the same as traditional ham. Save any remaining slices in the freezer for future meals. Freeze small lean pieces for adding to casseroles, ham salad, and scrambled eggs. Freeze chunks of fat for seasoning vegetables.
How to Save Money on Fish
The best way to save money on fish is to catch your own! Fishing is fun and easy, and it provides a healthy food for free. Fish is versatile, too, and can be cooked in a wide variety of fish recipes. Don’t throw out leftover fish, either. Remove the skin and bones and save the flesh for soups and chowders. For some saltwater fishing tips and a recipe for fish chowder, click the link. This recipe uses sheepshead, but any lean fish can be used, including bass, bream, catfish, flounder, seatrout, whiting, redfish, grouper, snapper, tilapia, etc.
How to Save Money on Meals
Don’t throw out leftovers if you’re concerned about survival foods. I always keep a “soup bag” in my freezer. Whenever we have leftover meat and veggies during the week, I add them to the bag. At the end of the week, or whenever the bag contains enough food, I make a big pot of soup.
Serve a meatless dinner once or twice a week. Use eggs, instead. Eggs are much cheaper than meat, yet they’re high in protein. Such dishes might include scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, frittatas, or egg-drop soup.

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