This weekend I spent $196 dollars on meat. That sounds like a lot, but that is my meat budget through the end of the year (excluding Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners). As I wrote in a previous blog, I know what I'm having for dinner until the end of the year. One of the ways I make menu planning work for me, is my massive meat shops. I did one in January and the meat lasted through April. Here's what I ended up getting for my $196 bucks:
3lbs of meatloaf Mix
4 lamb shanks
1 pork loin
2 1 lb packages of mussels
1 bag fish sticks
1 bag of raw shrimp
3 chuck roasts
3 lbs of country style ribs
6 pork chops
2 sirlon steaks
4 lbs of ground beef
3 lbs of bacon
6 whole boneless chicken breasts
3 packages of boneless chicken thighs
1 package of lump crab meat
I'm planning on getting around 115 meals out of this. Probably more. I portion out everything before I freeze it, so all I have to do is pull out the desired portion to thaw and I've got the protein for supper all ready to go. The necessary ingredients for filling my freezer are as follows:
Olive oil, quart freezer bags, kosher salt and a super-sharp kitchen knife.
Be careful with the knife. You don't want to do this.
I cut myself while sharpening the knife. Fortunately I had a registered nurse on hand to apply the bandage. But nothing stops me! I could be on Chopped.
I use quart freezer bags. Since there are only two of us, it works out perfectly. Obviously, if you have more people to feed, gallon bags may be the way to go. Make sure to get the freezer bags and not the storage bags. Freezer bags are thicker plastic and do a better job of protecting the food.
You probably should label and date each package. I don't always do that, though with ground meats and things that could easily be confused in the freezer, it's a good idea. Actually, it's always a good idea. I have no clue why I don't do it every single time.
I press it a little flat for easier storage. I'm into flat. You'll see why later.
The lamb shanks are also salted and packed two at a time.You can toss them frozen into a slow cooker in the morning along with some potatoes, rosemary and a little broth and have dinner when you get home that night.
One pork loin works as two meals for us. For pork I usually both salt and sprinkle a little sugar on the meat. It helps give it a nice sear when you brown it. Pork loin makes a great braise with apples and sweet potatoes.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are perhaps the most useful meat on earth. They don't dry out in stews or braises and they have so much flavor. So I salt them and pack them.
I cut my chuck roasts in half as half a roast does pretty well for the two of us. Salt is especially important to the flavor of beef.
They fit nicely into quart bags.
Boneless country ribs are a great ingredient in sauces and you can also fake a pretty decent BBQ in a Dutch oven. They get the salt and sugar treatment.
Pork chops benefit greatly from salt & sugar.
Two good-sized sirloins yielded four servings of steak. Besides salt, I also put in some olive oil. That way you can get the pan searing hot and add the already oiled and salted meat. Delicious. I also had enough steak over to marinate in soy for a stir fry
The meat is stacking up.
Time to slice up the thick cut bacon. I cut the slices in half. Bacon, of course, does not need any salt. I not only use it for delicious breakfast meat and sandwiches, but also as a flavoring agent in a lot of sauces. Look at how many servings you get from one big package.
Bacon freezes wonderfully.
Ground chuck time. Mommy always said it was the best choice, so that's what I use.
I work some salt in, being careful not to overwork the meat. Then I flatten it out.
I flatten it out, cut it into eight portions and bag it up.
Now for the chicken breasts.
I spread out plastic wrap. Then I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Place your chicken breasts on the plastic wrap. then drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and place more plastic wrap on top.
Now time to pound. Use the flat side of a meat tenderizer or just a big heavy pan like a cast iron skillet. Pound on the thickest parts of your breast. You'll want to make all of the breast relatively the same thickness.
Each breast should about fill up a quart bag. If you're using larger size freezer bags, wrap the portions in plastic wrap before placing in the bag.
This is why I like things flat. I use plastic storage containers and file the little quart bags upright to store in the freezer. It's easier to find things and avoid avalanches falling out of your freezer.
My full freezer makes me happy. :) I bought my meats from my wonderful butcher Meats & More and from Walt Churchill's market. Now time to make bunches and bunches of tasty meals.