What to do when you find a bargain at the butcher

Learning how to stretch our meat and poultry budget takes more than just utilizing lower priced cuts. From special or seasonal sales to cuts in the bargain bin, stocking up for recipe planning is a great way to save.

Since most poultry is either frozen or super-chilled, it’s a good idea to buy extra when it’s on sale and you have time to cook and freeze the meat. With a large roasting pan, two whole chickens can be roasted simultaneously. The meat can either than be shredded and frozen for soups, stews, tacos and sandwiches, or whole pieces can be frozen for reheating in a variety of sauces.

Late last year, I ran across this handy tip in the New York Times. Guest blogger David Latt purchases prime cuts of beef and pork on sale, coats them with olive oil, seasons them with salt and pepper and then wraps the meat tightly in plastic wrap and then double wraps the bargain find in a freezer bag. I’ve tested the method and have had great results – and, in fact, plain canola or vegetable oil work just as well and are cheaper alternatives to olive oil.

Picking up a stray steak or pork loin chop is also the perfect opportunity to stretch a single piece of meat into more servings. Try some of these ideas:

Thinly sliced steak can be added to salads, layered with leafy vegetables and tomatoes for a hearty sandwich, used as a garnish with a hearty barley risotto or stew, and stretched to make deluxe tacos or quesadillas.

Strips of pork, steak or chicken make great additions to Vietnamese spring rolls or lettuce wraps. And a few pieces are the perfect topping to a hearty bowl of udon noodle soup containing spinach and mushrooms.

Ribs make a great meaty, boney addition to long-cooked stews.

Ground meats are also often on sale – try making them into deluxe meatballs that are pre-cooked, then frozen (in an individual layer on a lined cookie sheet before placing in a freezer bag) for a quick weeknight meal.

- GE 3/3/09 Leave a Comment
Gina Edwards is a cooking instructor and editor of

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