Monday, March 2, 2015

Ways to get meat cheap (without exposing your family to E. COLI!)

My family eats meat. Have you seen meat prices lately? EXPENSIVE!
How do you keep prices down?
*Stock up at holidays: Thanksgiving equals Turkey (this past year we bought four throughout Turkey season - save those bones for broth!) And Easter equals ham (maybe two, you can only tolerate so much of that salt)
*Mark downs: we always check the section at our local grocery store where the "butcher mark downs" are shelved. We buy the cheaper cuts of meat so here we find them even cheaper or nice cuts priced low. The Ogre seems to score the best deals, like when all the items were labeled a dollar, whereas I am more likely to find beef tongues and organic tbones (spendy!). However I once came across all types of fresh sausage 1.99/lb (still have chorizo in the freezer and some Italian sausage is currently thawing in the fridge) and a mother load of bacon in 5+lb packages.
* Let the circulars plan your meals: I won't waste my money on full price meat. It just isn't affordable for my family's lifestyle. That said, I plan my meals around what I have in the fridge, and what I have in the fridge is determined by the weekly sales. I try to do this with all types of food but if you are just starting to ease into saving money at the market, meat can be a huge moneysaver. A helpful app is Big Oven, where you can enter the items you have in your kitchen and access a database of recipes that contain the three ingredients, thus lessening the need to run to the store for specific items. Make your meals based on the groceries you bought, don't buy your groceries based on what you would like to make.
* Split a cow: I like this option because you can do your part to make sure the animal is coming from a safe, healthy environment and hasn't been raised on a corn and antibiotics. You may want to invest in a chest freezer for this, something I haven't invested in, but would love to have . . . were it free . . . And solar operated!
* Raise your meat. This could be chickens in your city lot, a goat or pig on your hobby farm, or quail in your apartment! Not speaking from personal experience here.
* Dive for it. It's cold, it's Minnesota, I hear some grocery stores  throw decent cuts of meat out. No worry that it will rot in the deep freeze that is outside. I have never tried this but if you do I would love to hear how it goes.
However you get your meat, cook it. SUSHI is good if you live in a city on the sea but I don't want to get e.coli here in the Midwest. In fact, I believe that the best way to tell if a meat is done is to measure its temperature. If you cut in to the meat two things happen: 1. You lose moisture/juices /flavor and the meat can dry out 2.You may waste energy. Think of all that hot air lost when you pull the meat out and especially when you cut into it, then if it isn't warm enough yet you have to open the oven again (more air/heat/energy lost) and heat it up again.
I had an instant read thermometer for years and, while it met my needs originally, it has gone on the Fritz and the readings are incorrect.
With the move and little time to book, my household decided to dig into our fourth and final turkey from this past Thanksgiving. I had become so frustrated with my old digital thermometer that I tossed the thing (after unsuccessfully scouring the internet to find a way to fix it) so was greatly pleased to be selected to review the MeasuPro Instant Read Waterproof IPX7 Thermometer and to have just received it in the mail. The Ogre was home with the kids that day and decided to give the turkey a go, when he asked how long to cook it, I gave him a time estimate, reminding him that the only true way to know it is done is to probe that bird!
I was so impressed with the turkey (if you don't have time to brine I suggest you go with the high heat method like Mr. OGRE), and The Ogre was equally impressed with the thermometer. Whereas our last digital practically required you to be coding competent to start it, this thermometer required but one finger to press the 'on' button and it gave instant temp readings. In fact it started with the room temp, jumped up for the turkey temp, then sped back down to room temp within seconds after removing it from the bird.
Besides the simplicity of use, the thermometer boasts simplicity of clean up. Most thermometers are non-submersible, leaving me concerned about their sanitary level, but this thermometer is water proof and can go right through the dishwasher, making clean up a breeze.
Do you use a thermometer on big cuts of meat, like a whole turkey? How about smaller items or non-meat fare?
How do you save money on meat?
*I received this product free to review but the opinions expressed are my own*

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, I need this!! Our thermometer broke and I haven't invested in a new one!