Thursday, February 12, 2009

recession-proof your meats

a relevent discussion for today may be how to maintain a realistic food budget and still eat good-quality products... here's my eating/cooking/shopping tips of the moment:

eat in! why go out for a steak dinner when you can make a great one at home? even if you buy the best cuts of meat you can find, i guarantee it will be cheaper than paying for a mid-quality restaurant steak. steak cooking is so easy with just a few tools. i usually just marinate it for a few hours in red wine (or 100% cranberry or cherry juice), olive oil, garlic and onions, then sear it in my fabulous cast iron skillet while the oven preheats to 400ish, transfer to a baking dish and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 135 on your trusty meat thermometer for medium rare. while your steak is in the oven, reduce your marinade juices with the meat juices in the skillet for a tasty sauce. don't forget to let your meat rest before slicing! you'll have a perfect steak every time with almost no effort. (and look here! slashfood finally confirms that my dad did teach me the best way to season cast iron.)

stock up on stocks! not the store-bought ones- make your own. much cheaper if you do it frequently, and so much tastier! i buy cheap hunks of meat and boil them to death with onions, garlic, lemon, and whatever fresh herbs i have around. then, i freeze the stock in small containers and use it in soups for weeks-- and you also have lots of low-fat cooked meat to shread on salads or fill sandwiches for days! my favorites are the turkey thighs from whole foods-- huge hunks or organic turkey for less than $3 a pound (or 99-cents a pound if the butcher mischarges you like he did me this week)= yummy food for days. one more plug for whole foods: they also sell additive-free bacon. no nitrates for this lady!

don't disregard "big box" or discount stores completely! costco's meat sells for about a third of the price of grocery store meat- and often is higher in quality. not for the faint of heart- unless you're feeding multitudes of people or shop with meat-loving friends- dividing and freezing that ten-pound pork loin will be necessary. fresh and easy also has decent meats for cheap if you have one in your area-- just make sure to read the labels carefully. their sell-by dates can be tricky, and not all of their meats are happy.

simply eat smaller portions of meat! in meal prep, i try to fill half of our plates with fresh fruits and veggies and cheap, healthy staples like brown rice or sweet potatoes. then, we can be satisfied with little bits of the good stuff without breaking the budget. remember, meat portions need only be about four ounces, or the size of your palm or a deck of cards.

that's all for now! happy (cheap) eating!


  1. I absolutely love costco, and hate it at the same time, and I'm equally conflicted about their meat. I only buy their organic whole chickens and organic ground beef at this point. What's your thoughts on the happiness of the rest of their meats?

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