Where’s the Beef?

Right now I feel like all the world’s beef is in my freezer! I have spent most of the day packaging and cooking meat from a local supermarket’s Warehouse Sale. Every quarter they allow customers to come “behind the scenes” and purchase meat and other select grocery items in bulk.

As I was carefully placing hamburger patties into freezer bags, I thought about how many people don’t do this simple task or even consider doing such a thing. I am talking about buying your meat at rock bottom prices and putting it in your freezer for use throughout the next few months. Do you do this?

Due to this local grocer’s quarterly sales, I have found great value in this task. With all the responsibilities of a homemaker plus my job of homeschooling my children, I have found it so convenient to pull out a bag of pre-cooked ground beef to defrost in my microwave for a quick dinner. It is also good for menu planning as I have other options for dinner like chicken or pork chops or steak or roast, and I am not having to run to the grocery store and pay premium price for variety.

Each quarter varies in what’s on sale and what I can afford. Maybe telling you what I am doing will help you in your homes and in your finances! Here’s what I did this week:

I went to the sale and spent $300. Here is what I purchased: 30 pounds of ground chuck, 10 pounds of pork chops, 10 pounds of boneless chicken breast, 8 pounds of smoked sausage, 10 packets of pepperoni, 8 pounds of italian sausage, 10 pounds of breaded chicken tenders, 10 bags of tortilla chips, 2 24-packs of bottled water, 3 sirloin tip roasts, a marinade that I test-tasted and had to buy, 2 gallons of milk, and 2 boxes of freezer bags (gallon & quart). This purchase will cover our meat needs for the next 3 months (and we are a family of six).

I have the butcher slice 10 pounds of the ground chuck into patties, slice the pork loin into pork chops, and cut the roast into 3 smaller pieces. So, when I get home, these items are divided into family size servings and placed in freezer bags – going straight to the freezer. This alone is enough for 13 different meals.

Though I should probably do something differently, I often just put the chicken, smoked sausage, pepperoni, breaded chicken tenders, and italian sausage right into the freezer without re-packaging. This is enough for at least 40 meals.

So, that leaves me with 20 pounds of uncooked ground chuck. The next day I cooked 10 pounds and divided into 10 freezer bags. If I have a recipe that calls for 1 pound of ground beef, I can quickly pull out a bag and put it in the microwave for defrosting while I prepare the other ingredients. Sometimes I will freeze several pounds uncooked, so I can use it for meatloaf or additional patties in the future. This will probably make at least 15 meals for us, and probably a few more than that.

This complete meat purchase will cover at least 70 meals, and roughly about 14 weeks of food for my family. Just in time for the next quarterly sale! For the next 14 weeks, I will only have to purchase basic pantry and produce items to compliment what is in our freezer. Each Sunday, I pull out 4 to 5 different meat choices for defrosting in the refrigerator and put a sticky note on the refrigerator door with the meal options for the week. Some meals require more time, but with the list on the door, I can easily pick out what fits the time I have for that day.

I am aware that many of you deal with food allergies or strive to prepare organic or more natural foods. You may be appalled at our meat choices, but we eat a balanced diet of meat, vegetables, and dairy without any health issues. You can always adjust your meat choices to fit your family’s lifestyle and needs.

That brings me to those of you that do not have a local grocer that offers a quarterly sale. Start watching your favorite meat store for sales. When chicken goes on sale, buy in bulk. Instead of just getting a few pounds for a week or so, go ahead and invest in 10 pounds. Take it home and divide it for family-size meals. Then place in a freezer bag and into the freezer. When you see your stock is getting low, start watching for the next sale. You will start to notice the patterns and how much you really need to purchase.

Many websites are available with information about freezing dos and don’ts. I will let you explore that on your own. I simply use freezer bags as much as I can for space-saving and for food safety.

I know this is a lot of information, and I usually try to keep my posts short. I really felt that I needed to share this for someone out there. Sometimes what looks easy for someone else is really how they have learned to organize and prioritize (not a gift, talent, or even desire). Though I have times of enjoying the kitchen, I am often trying to just get it done. Hope this helps you to see another way to meal plan, save money, and add variety to your family meals!