In my family, if meat is not on the table, it’s a snack not a meal. But feeding a hungry crew meat at every meal is expensive and while their appetites and meat costs increased, my grocery budget did not, so I had to get creative in the kitchen. These meal stretching ideas will help you save money on meat while keeping your carnivorous family fed and happy.
The slower meat is cooked, the deeper and more intense the flavor and the less it takes to make everyone feel full and satisfied. Slow roast meat in the oven or cook over night in a slow cooker so the meat with be tender with concentrated flavor and provide a rich sauce for pan gravy and side vegetables. Mix up a batch of homemade biscuits for sopping up the gravy and you’ll have a meal that’s sure to please.
Homemade Meat Stock
Use all meat trimming and bones to create your own homemade stock for use when cooking vegetables, soups or rice. Boiling chicken or beef bones along with some meat fat (add onions, celery and carrots if desired for more flavor) will create a rich, flavorful broth that can be used to help round-out flavors of a meal that contains a small portion of meat. Pasta, rice and grains soak up meat stock like a sponge and help to create a more satisfying meal for the carnivores around your dinner table. Freeze the meat stock until needed.
Save the Grease
Save the fat from cooked meats to use in stir-fries, sautéed or fried dishes for meal-stretching flavor. A little bacon grease adds a tremendous amount of flavor to fried potatoes or sautéed vegetables, beef grease will intensify the flavor of any beef-based recipe and pork drippings can make almost anything taste better without adding to the cost of feeding your family.
Buy meats whole and cut them up yourself to stretch your food budget, Not only does buying whole meats save you money on the price per pound, it also allows you to cut the meat they way you want, portion it as desired and provide you with a wealth of bones, fat and scraps for creating money-saving meat stocks and meat grease.
If buying a whole chicken and breaking it down is too intimating, consider buying whole legs and breaking them down into two parts, or buy bone-in chicken breasts and cut the meat off the bone then use the bones and skin to make chicken stock. The more meat processing you do yourself, the more money you will save on the meat.