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Bulking Up

As you all know, I only buy meat when it is on sale and then I stock up. The price of protein takes up 80% of your total meal costs. So if you save the most money on the protein by buying it on sale, you can reduce your total meal cost drastically. A great way to get a good deal on your meat is by buying it in bulk, in one of those big family size packs. Even when they’re not on sale, these packs are generally a lot cheaper by the pound than if you were to buy the smaller ones. So what do you do with all of this chicken, pork or beef when you get it home? Unless you’re feeding Brad an Angie’s kids you’ll probably have a lot leftover. Cooking extra and using the leftovers for lunches the next day, or even another meal later in the week is great, but what I usually do is freeze 2 chicken breasts, etc. in quart sized freezer zip bags and label/date them accordingly. Then when I need something for dinner, I can just take out a zip bag and I’m good to go. This does take a lot of work and time at first, but just like the coupon clipping and list making and meal planning, it really pays off in the end.
An additional time saver is to slice the meat and/or add seasonings to each zip bag before you freeze them so yet another part of your meal preparation has already been done. If you know you’re going to have a stir fry at some point, go ahead and cut the raw meat into strips before putting them in the bags. You want cutlets? Pound them out in the bag (careful not to rip it) before freezing. If you want to have beef stew sometime soon, trim and cut your chuck roast before freezing. I do this with ground meat as well. If there’s a great sale on sausage or ground beef in a tube, I slice it into patties and freeze them in a large gallon size bag (making sure they aren’t touching one another), that way I have burgers already cut and sausage ready for the skillet. You can also freeze cooked meat for casseroles, etc. Labeling your bags here is a very important step – you don’t want to pull out your stir fry meat and discover that it was meant for next week’s gyros. What I do is place the bags of meat, (this trick works beautifully for freezing sauces as well), on a large cookie sheet in the freezer so everything freezes flat. After everything is completely frozen, I remove the pan and can stack them, one on top of the other. As I mentioned before, marinades and rubs are welcome in the freezer too. You just add the marinade to the zip bag, seal it, squish it all in there and marinate them for the desired time in the fridge. Then move them into the freezer.
I cannot tell you how much time this can save you throughout the week or even month. This really is a commitment, this whole money saving thing, but the benefits are so worth it. Good luck!
(*Note-look for ongoing sales on freezer-safe zip bags and matching coupons in Sunday’s paper and stock up-you’ll need them!)

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1 Comment

  • Reply cary September 4, 2009 at 1:44 am

    you're so smart 🙂

  • Leave a Reply to cary Cancel Reply