Monday, April 11, 2011

Stretching the Meat!- Meatless Mondays

My family eats a lot.  On average I feed about 15 people 5 days a week and then 5 or more everyday on the weekend.  I fill carts with cans, fruit, veggies, and meat at the store just to turn around and lug my haul into the house.  I try really hard to keep my items in one cart and all the checkout girls know who I am.  Honestly, they probably try to avoid me and my mountain of products.

Last week we made a run to the store and I purchased 20 pounds of hamburger.  My son and I divided them into smaller packages and then froze them in our deep freeze. 

One valuable tip:  Avoid letting your son carry them all in one bag to the freezer.  Chances are he won't unload the bag and he will throw the whole thing in.  Now, they are all frozen together and I have to chisel the packages apart.  Workout for food...It's a new program I am starting. 

With meat prices on the rise I try really hard to get the most for my money.  A lot of people are unable to get a side of beef or pork at one time and need to rely on frugal grocery shopping.  Here are a few of my family's tips.
  • I used to buy ground turkey, but now the price is comparable to ground beef in our area.  I do stock up if it is on sale.  Not all ground turkey brands are created equal and a few provide better quality.  
  • Go meatless for two meals a week.  This isn't really as hard as you would think.  Eggs or cheese provide protein in a lot of dishes.  You can also soak beans and make great dishes from soup to quesadillas.  Pizza can be made meatless if you have to please picky eaters in the family.
  • I only buy meat on sale; and then- I buy the family packs.  10 pounds of hamburger or chicken legs can be easily broken down into smaller servings that fit the family's needs.
  • I strive to get three meals from whole chickens or beef/pork roasts.  The last day usually involves soup.  Soup is great!  Who doesn't like noodles or dumplings?
  • Eggs.  Eggs are cheap and the kids love them.  Serve breakfast for dinner.  Scramble eggs for breakfast burritos or breakfast pizza.  Make egg sandwiches with toast, English muffins, or bagels. 
  • Cut back on the amount of meat you use.  If you ordinarily use 2 pounds, use 1 1/2 pounds.  I am not able to cut back on the daycare amount of meat, but if I am cooking for my family I do.  My boys would feast on meat if I let them. 
I know I am leaving some important strategies out.  I am sure there are strategies out there that I haven't tried.  Do you have any tips on stretching your meat budget?