Jul 31, 2008

Quality meat for a frugal price

We have pretty much given up steak here. The average price for a decent steak is about $6 per pound, and that just doesn't fit into my quest for frugal food shopping. But we are meat eaters here, and we do like good cuts of meat. Is it possible to find quality meat for under $2 per pound these days? Yes! Our local Kroger store has boneless pork loins on sale this week for $1.99 a pound. (A year ago the sale price was $1.79, then $1.88, and now $1.99 -- visual proof of the increase in gas prices.) Besides ground beef and whole chickens, there are not many cuts of meat I can get for this price -- so I'm going to take advantage of it. But what do you do with this giant 8 or 10 lb boneless pork loin? You give it over to the butcher in the store, and as him to cut it for you. The pork loin is actually two long pieces of meat, one on top of the other. I choose to have the butcher cut the entire loin in half, first -- one "half" will create two small pork roasts, which will give us two Sunday dinners, two leftover meals (usually a stir-fry), and at least four sandwiches for lunch. Next, I ask the butcher to cut the other half of the pork loin into 3/4 inch boneless pork chops. You can go thinner (1/2 inch would be the smallest I'd go) and get more chops from the loin, but we prefer the 3/4 inch. With a 7 lb roast, I'll get approximately 6 meals of 4 chops each, plus the end, which just doesn't form into a chop and which I cut into cubes to use in another stir fry meal or in soup during the winter. I also ask the butcher to wrap the roasts in freezer paper, so I don't have to do that when I get home. I break the boneless chops into meal-sized portions, wrap them in wax paper and then place them in a Ziploc freezer bag, and label the bag with type of food and date. I also label the roasts before I put them in the freezer. So for approximately $16.00 I will get 14 meals of a very good quality meat and including two Sunday "roasts". These pork loins seem to be on sale every two months or so, so the next time you see one for under $2 a pound, be sure and stock your freezer! Here's a recipe for Shake N'Bake-type mixture that you can use with these boneless pork chops: Make Your Own Shake'n Bake 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons bread crumbs OR corn meal 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon sugar scant 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder scant 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. 2. Prepare pork following the same technique as described on the box of the original mix using 6 chops. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then moisten the chop with water. Use a large plastic bag for the coating and use the same steps as described on the original package: "Shake 1 to 2 pieces at a time, in shaker bag with coating mixture. Discard any remaining mixture and bag. Bake at 400 degrees in ungreased or foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan until cooked through -- approximately 30 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Where do you live that you can get a decent steak for $6 per pound? The price of meat has gone up dramatically over the past year, and nearly $5 per pound is what one can pay for ground round these days. When I buy two rib-eyes or two new york strips (the two types of steak I prefer), I pay between $18 and $28 for these two steaks. Each steak is less than one pound! So...for special occasions, I agree! Lobster, is now cheaper.

Joan said...

I'm in southwestern Ohio, and can buy steak for $5.99 to $8.99 at our Kroger store. Ground sirloin is $3.49 lb. here. Roasts are still the least expensive. Last week I did see a sirloin roast for $2.49 lb.