Monday, January 31, 2011

Meating the Budget Part 1

Giant (our local supermarket) had a sale on meat this week and our freezer was getting low, so I stocked up.

It worked out to 40 cents a meal in meat (per person) which will give me about 80 cents a meal per person total. I stockpiled about 16 (8 person) meals with most of those giving leftovers or stretching to include guests.

The big deal was that they had chicken leg quarters at 79 cents a pound!

Maryland's Eastern Shore (the part on the Atlantic side of the Chesapeake Bay) is home to a lot of mega chicken farms, so chicken is our local cheap meat, but you could do this with pork or beef.

Here's what I do when I buy a lot of chicken legs:

1. I set up with spices and plastic bags. I figure out what I will make and label the bags before I start!

2. I take the leg quarter and skin it by grabbing the skin at the middle and pulling it off. I then chop it in half at the joint. For me, 4 leg quarters is a batch because it gives me 8 chicken pieces. If I have an odd number, I freeze some in 2 piece bags as add-ons for guests, or I give them to my Mom!

3. I sprinkle the pieces with spices and put them in the right bag. This time I had 5 batches and I used lemon pepper, taco seasoning, curry powder, and garlic rosemary. I left the last batch plain.

That's it! I stick them in the freezer. The spices are absorbed deeply into the chicken as they freeze and thaw. I can thaw them and bake them or stick them in the crock pot (thawed or frozen). Leg quarters are also great for making stock and cooked chicken.

I also got boneless chicken breasts. Two make a perfect meal for 8 - 10 people as cutlets or Indian food , and they are easy to cut while semi-frozen.

Lastly, I got some sweet and some hot sausages. I've decided that the best meat to make chili with is hot sausages. Sweet Italian I slice up while semi frozen, fry and then toss with pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, herbs and Parmesan cheese. Yummm.

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